WiHM 12: Autumn Miller, and why she’s an unofficial “X-Men”
Autumn Miller, and why she’s an unofficial “X-Men”
By Angelique Fawns
Autumn Miller is a horror and poetry author who recently joined the Jolly Horror Press team as a First Reader. She helped choose the stories in their latest anthology, Coffin Blossoms, and is currently working on Fornever After, open for submissions now. Fornever After seeks stories of tragic love with a horror theme, and ask writers to “scare us and rips our hearts out.” Miller also professes a love of cats, calligraphy and crocheting. (Don’t make her angry when she has a crochet hook in her hand.)
I met Miller when she helped revise my story “The Golden Falcon” for Coffin Blossoms. She took the time to let me know my story was “almost there”, but really didn’t like the ending. Would I consider rewriting it? Not every First Reader takes that extra step, so I was interested in learning more about this exceptional woman in horror.
AF: How did you originally become interested in horror?
AM: I think it started somewhere between my love and obsession for Halloween and watching The Twilight Zone and old monster movies with my dad when I was young. I love this quote by Guillermo Del Toro:
“Since childhood, I’ve been faithful to monsters. I have been saved and absolved by them, because monsters, I believe, are patron saints of our blissful imperfection, and they allow and embody the possibility of failing.”
AF: Fictional monsters are the best! (Unless they are hiding under your bed.) Who are your writing influences?
AM: Well, when I was like 11, I joined the Stephen King book club LOL.
I also ran through the essentials at the library that I grew up near, like H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, and Clive Barker. I think that laid a great foundation. I’m a voracious reader, so later came Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman, and anything else I could get my hands on that looked interesting to me. I also love movies and TV just as much, so I am influenced by a lot of people in that space too.
AF: Tell me about how you got involved with Jolly Horror Press?
AM: Jonathan Lambert (publisher of Jolly Horror Press) and I had been friends for a long time, and we both love comedic horror like Evil Dead. He is a busy man with his day job. He knew that I have similar tastes and love to read, and had time to devote to it so he asked me to help and I was glad to. Thankfully, all the authors have been so nice (except for one curmudgeon, but he amuses me) that I still don’t regret that decision and I still love doing it.
AF: You have an unusual health problem. How has this affected your work?
AM: This is a great question, and thanks for asking it. I take any opportunity to raise awareness about it, because often people with chronic illness don’t look ill but can be absolutely falling apart. (Actually, the one good thing about my disorder is that we look younger than we are and usually have great skin).
So, I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. A shortened explanation is that you’re born with it. My collagen genes are mutated, and faulty (I’m one of the unofficial X-Men, but shhh…don’t tell). It’s a connective tissue disorder, and sooo much of your body is made of that, and it all can be affected. Every system. And I have so many other comorbid conditions caused by that too. So depending on what symptoms my body decides to throw at me that day is how much I can do. If I dislocate a joint and can’t move around or walk on it and have to lay around, that’s the perfect time to read. Or if I have kidney stones. Reading also helps me to take my mind off of the pain I’m in and gives me something else to focus on. It has taught me to listen to my body and adapt to things and to change stuff up when needed. I always try to find a way to do something and I’m constantly learning what may work and what doesn’t. Usually, the only time I can’t get any reading done is if I have a migraine or I’m so fatigued that my brain is mush.
I usually try to let people know if they are accepted or rejected as soon as I can, and read as much as I can, just in case I do have a bad day and I can’t do anything for a while. Plus, I know how it sucks to wait forever and wonder what the status of your submission is. Also, if I let people know early then they maybe have time to write something else.
AF: As a writer intending to submit to Fornever After, I really appreciate getting a fast reply. What are you reading right now?
AM: Well, I usually have several books that I’m reading at once, depending on what I’m in the mood for at the time. I’ll have something I can learn from, like a book on different crochet techniques, or some other rabbit hole I’ve gone down at the time. Then another will be true crime, and another will be something that I can escape in and turn off my brain from everything else, and I’ll just rotate through them as the mood strikes until I finish one.
AF: What is exciting you most in the current field of horror?
AM: I’m really digging the technology turning against us thing lately. Like the smart house where everything glitches out and traps you inside, and then your Alexa starts saying creepy things and you see supernatural stuff on the Ring doorbell. I just think there is a lot of scary stuff that could be explored there.
AF: I’m too nervous to even have an Alexa in my house, LOL. What do you look for as a First Reader?
AM: I look for stuff that is written well, and hasn’t been done to absolute death, or if it has, it’s done in a different way than usual and has a fresh spin. Something that isn’t boring. And some humor in there always helps.
AF: Any advice for writers submitting to Fornever After?
AM: Absolutely! First, please read the submission guidelines! Don’t just send us something that has nothing to do with our theme.
Also, I’m a huge animal lover and am very adamant about not having any animal abuse or death in our stories. I think it’s unnecessary and you can get your point across without it. I understand that this isn’t a popular opinion, and it’s so rampant people don’t even give it a second thought. Lastly, if you are new at writing and submitting stories, and have any questions about anything, please let us know! We are just regular ol people! I’ve had a couple of people be hesitant with that and think we are unapproachable, but that isn’t the case at all.
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Angelique Fawns writes horror, fantasy, kids short stories, and freelance journalism. Her day job is producing promos and after hours she takes care of her farm full of goats, horses, chickens, and her family. She has no idea how she finds time to write. She currently has stories in Ellery Queen, DreamForge Anvil, and Third Flatiron’s Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses. You can follow her work and get writing tips and submission hints at http://fawns.ca/.