WiHM 2023: An Interview with Ruth Anna Evans
Ruth Anna Evans is a short horror fiction writer from the American Midwest. She is the author of Phantom Pain, Don’t Kill the Dog: A Short Story, and Missing: A Short Horror Story. Recently she edited the anthology Ooze: Little Bursts of Body Horror. Evans does not shy away from difficult topics in her writing. When I pick up her stories, even though I know a happy ending is unlikely, I still get invested in the main character’s fate. Ruth Anna Evans’ stories are dark, gruesome, and delightful.
I met Evans through Twitter and have had the privilege of beta reading some of her work. She is a friendly, kind person and I was delighted to be able to interview her for Women in Horror Month.
HT: Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
RAE: I’m a writer of short horror who also creates covers and just released an anthology I edited called OOZE: Little Bursts of Body Horror. My writing is usually emotionally very dark, but also sometimes funny or absurd or just gross. I’m mostly self-published, but I have a few stories coming out in upcoming anthologies and have two novellas written and in the submission process with indie publishers. I consider myself a hybrid horror author.
HT: What first drew you to horror and writing in general?
RAE: I’ve always written, but I was never very good at fiction. I didn’t have a lot of ideas, honestly. But I had a single idea that knocked around in my head for a while, and during the pandemic I got just bored enough to write it, even though I lacked confidence. It was a YA magical realism novella, and the darker elements of it were my jumping off point. Once I started thinking about horror as a possibility, the ideas started flowing. Every fear I’d ever had came flooding in, and they’ve just been turning into stories nonstop. I have a lot of fears.
HT: What writers and books have influenced your own work the most?
RAE: I love Ira Levin and Joe Hill and Big Daddy King. I love Mariana Enriquez and Brandon Applegate and Bridgett Nelson. I enjoy extreme works when I’m in a certain mood, but I go more for the strange and magical. I’m currently reading Road of Bones by Christopher Golden, and it’s fantastic. My favorite book I read in 2022 was The Terror by Dan Simmons. But I wouldn’t say my work is hugely influenced by other writers. In fact, when I’m writing, I don’t read much. My writing is influenced more by what’s happening in the world around me that I’m desperately trying to process.
HT: You self-publish a lot of your work. What is some advice you can give to authors about self-publishing?
RAE: Self-publishing will not make you a lot of money, especially at first, especially if you are publishing short horror works. But it is incredibly rewarding to be read, to hear what people think about your work, and to connect with people who love your work. It’s much faster, and you have far more control.
I love self-publishing and have a lot to say about it, but if I had one piece of advice it would be that you don’t have to go broke publishing your first book. Covers can be had affordably (look for pre-mades!), copy editing—which is a must—can be had affordably (ask around), formatting can be done through free programs or for a small fee (look for a formatting service or a newer press). I would also say that there are so many people who will help you in the self-publishing world (me included). Don’t be scared to do it—and don’t let awesome stories sit and gather dust. Publish them! And then don’t get depressed when you don’t move a lot of copies—just publish again!
HT: Recently, you edited and released your first anthology, Ooze, what was it like switching from author to editor? What did you learn from the experience?
RAE: Ooh, boy, I had no idea what I was taking on when I had that little idea. I thought I was going to do a chapbook of ten tiny stories, slap it together into a cool little project and move on. I asked Judith and Rowland if they’d be on board, and both were so gracious to agree to contribute a story. I put out a call and it just blew up. I read almost two hundred short body horror stories to get the twenty-one that ended up in Ooze.
I thank holy something-or-other that I am a naturally organized person, because if I were a hot mess, this thing would have fallen completely apart. It took oodles of organization and was WAY more work than publishing my own work. It was also more expensive—I had to pay for the stories, for one. But I am incredibly proud of how it turned out.
A lesson learned would be to only do an anthology if you REALLY love the type of story you are calling for. I was lucky that I was totally in the mood for disgusting body horror, but if I’d done a call for something I was only sort of interested in just to put something out there, the process would have been brutal. As it was, it was a blast.
HT: What aspects of putting together the anthology were the most challenging and the most rewarding?
RAE: Most challenging, hands down, were the rejections. I hated rejecting good stories, and I got so many that I had to reject a good number of awesome stories. That sucked. Sending form rejections was the worst, but I wanted to let people know in a timely manner. I gave as much feedback as was humanly possible. I did learn from this that just because a story is rejected doesn’t mean it’s not good. That was a crucial thing to know as someone submitting my own work for publication.
Most rewarding was seeing the collection take shape and knowing that it is a high quality anthology. I am not an overly humble person, and if something I make is good, I’m going to say so. Ooze is good. The stories are good. I’m really proud of it, and appreciative of the authors for writing such amazing stories.
HT: How do you feel the horror genre has evolved over the course of your career?
RAE: Well, I’ve only been doing this since like 2021, so I’m not the best person to answer that question, but I will say that the horror community only seems to be growing, and I think that’s fantastic. More horror, please. And more women in horror!
HT: What does it mean to you to be a woman in the horror industry and what advice do you have for women who are just starting out in horror?
RAE: Being a woman informs my writing deeply, but it doesn’t limit me. I write all sorts of characters: men, women, children, animals. If you’ve read much of my work, you know that I write a lot about children, child loss in particular, but I don’t think that is a fear unique to women.
When I was choosing stories for Ooze, I was a little less afraid to allow in a softer touch in some of the stories, I think, because I’m happy to be a woman and have a feminine side, and I don’t believe there’s a damn thing wrong with that. But I can be just as brutal as anyone else, too.
My advice on being a woman in the horror industry is to ignore the people who deserve to be ignored, which includes anyone who thinks they are sharing their space with you. Horror is a woman’s place, always has been, always will be.
HT: What are you working on now? What is next?
RAE: Ooh, I love this question, because I’m always so excited about my next project. Right now I’m cranking out cover designs while I mull over my next novella. It’s a story about a family that gets lost in the middle of nowhere in sub-zero temperatures when their car runs out of gas in a blizzard. It’s going to be told from the perspective of the ten-year-old daughter, and it’s going to have a spooky supernatural element.
The next thing you’ll see from me, unless it gets picked up pretty quickly for publication by a press, is a novella about a true crime podcaster who buys a haunted house in the middle of a bipolar episode. It’s the best thing I’ve written so far, and I’m almost hoping it doesn’t get picked up so I can put it out there myself.
HT: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
RAE: Thank you so much for everything you do to support indie and self-published authors. You give new voices a chance every day, and it’s a kindness that cannot be repaid. You are appreciated.
HT: And last of all, where can we find you and your work?
RAE: Amazon is home to almost everything I’ve written. I have an extreme story on godless.com, and I plan to put Ooze there as well. Ooze will also be available for bookstores to stock and be on Barnes and Noble’s website.
My main social media homes are Twitter (@ruthannaevans) and Facebook (Ruth Anna Evans). I live on Twitter, and I have a lot of awesome writer and reader friends on Facebook. I’m also on Instagram as ruthannaevanshorror, but I’m still learning that site, so bear with me. Finally, I can be found on my website at ruthannaevans.com, where you can sign up for my newsletter.
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Melody lives in Ontario, Canada and writes short, dark fiction. She has been published in several anthologies and online publications. In university, she studied Ancient Greek and Roman Studies and often infuses her work with elements of Greek mythology. She also loves reading, embroidery, and martial arts.