WIHM 2022: My Horror Writing Journey

My Horror Writing Journey

By: Caroline Giammanco

My path to becoming a horror writer was unexpected, but many good adventures in life are. Horror isn’t the centerpiece of my writing, but it does make its appearance when it’s necessary for a story I’m telling. 


I grew up loving The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. My family sat around the television in our small farmhouse, holding each other’s hands for support and screaming together. Later, we talked about the possibilities of aliens, ghosts, and other creatures that go bump in the night. 

I’ve never been a huge fan of slasher horror movies, and I never set out to be a horror writer. In fact, I never set out to be a writer at all. I’m a high school English teacher, and I love a good story, but I never saw myself as a writer. 


Then I started teaching in a maximum-security prison, met my husband, Keith Giammanco, and found myself on the path to becoming a whistleblower against corruption in our prison system. 


My first book, a nonfiction true crime, wasn’t started until I was in my late forties, and it grew out of the experiences of my husband and myself. Keith’s journey from middle-class dad next-door to notorious bank robber was a compelling story. My life-changing experience of speaking up against a dangerous system combined with his to create Bank Notes: The True Story of the Boonie Hat Bandit. 


Two more nonfiction books followed, with the most recent being my own story of going from the youngest daughter of a deputy sheriff to an advocate for criminal justice reform. Inside the Death Fences: Memoir of a Whistleblower was an emotionally draining book to write, however. 


It took a toll on me to put our lives out into the world. It was worth it, but I was exhausted. I began writing short stories for fun, and since I love science fiction and paranormal, those genres became my go-to favorites to write. It’s much more enjoyable to create monsters than to tell people about the real ones. 


Horror stories were a natural progression from paranormal. Not every paranormal story is a horror story, but when the story concept invites an aspect of horror, that’s the direction I go. 


Some ideas scare even me, and when that happens, I know I’ve probably come up with something that will scare others. My best window for writing comes at night. During the day, I have the demands of a busy teaching job and a farm to attend to. At night, the house is quiet, I’m more relaxed, and it’s easier to be creative. Sometimes it’s unnerving to realize it’s the middle of the night in a pitch-black house and I’ve just taken myself down a dark path in my writing. 


I don’t believe in forcing myself to write a set number of words per day. Sometimes I write nothing at all. However, when the idea and opportunity come together to create a tale, it’s one of my favorite ways to spend time. Writing should be fun for both the writer and the reader. 


My science fiction and paranormal story collection, Into the Night, runs the gamut from sweet to scary. It was definitely fun to write. Demons, ghosts, and the Grim Reaper all weave their ways through different stories. I avoid the cliche, and I try to have my readers look at previously mundane items in new ways. There’s nothing better than a good twist. 


I am currently writing more short stories to compile into another, as yet unnamed, collection. Just thinking about some of my ideas makes my heart race for getting that next set into the hands of readers. 


I am fortunate to have a podcast dedicated to my stories. Voice artist Nari Kwak does an outstanding job of bringing my stories to life. You can find the Into the Night Anthology podcast on all major outlets. 


I’m on Facebook at Caroline Giammanco Author and on Twitter @GiammancoBook. The podcast is on Twitter @IntotheNightPod. Feel free to follow us and to come along with us…Into the Night. 


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