Following on from Yesterday’s interview with Mark Nixon, I will be continuing with the Shadows at the Door theme and conducting a series of interviews with some of the authors involved in the site’s upcoming anthology. First up is writer, editor and woman in horror Caitlin Marceau.
When did you first fall in love with the horror genre?
It took me a long time to fall in love with horror, to be honest. I used to be scared of everything as a kid— I used to have really bad nightmares— so I avoided anything to do with the genre growing up, which was hard since my parents both loved it. It wasn’t until high school that I really got into it, reading and watching anything I could get my hands on that was even remotely scary. I was sick of being afraid of my own shadow, so I took on this “if you can’t beat them, join them,”approach. I decided to scare people instead of being scared by them, and I’ve been writing horror since.
Which subgenre/s of horror would you say your work falls into?
That’s a good question. I’d say about a handful of my work falls into the psychological horror subgenre, but I’d hesitate to call all of it that. I’m really not sure about the rest, truth be told. I mean, I tend to root a lot of my work in the Canadian wilderness, or in Canadian myths, but that’s not exactly a specific genre.
What is it about the horror genre that appeals to you as a reader and as a writer?
I find it so versatile. There’s no limit to what you can do, explore, try, create, or twist in the genre. There’s something great about trying to make an old trope fresh, or taking an everyday situation and making it terrifying. Plus the writing community is incredible. There are so many authors, editors, and publishers dedicated to helping budding writers get exposure and encouraging creativity in the genre. So not only do you have all these resources at your fingertips as an author, but you have this sea of original work just waiting for you to read. It’s amazing.
What are some of your favourite horror stories?
I grew up in a household of Stephen King readers, so his work has always been a favourite of mine. I also really love Bentley Little and Kelley Armstrong. Her Otherworld Series features some incredible female protagonists and amazing storylines. It’s definitely worth a read, although it’s admittedly not the most terrifying work out there.
Do you remember being scared by a particular story growing up?
Misery scared me more than I’d like to admit. I always wanted to be a writer growing up, but I’d always been put off by the idea of crazed fans (just look at some of the weird things people do for J.K. Rowling), so this book seemed all too possible to me. It still keeps me awake at night.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Since I was a little kid. My grandfather used to make me these “made-to-order” stories— so I’d tell him how many dragons or trolls I wanted in the tale, and he’d find some way of weaving them into the plot— and that really got me into storytelling. I was also raised with a love of reading, so once I got old enough to hold a pen it was kind of a no-brainer for me.
Are there any writers who have particularly influenced you?
Aside for King and Armstrong, I was definitely influenced by Tamora Pierce. She wrote these young adult feminist fantasy novels that always featured a strong female lead, and I found it so refreshing to read them while I was growing up. I even had the pleasure of meeting her a few times, and she was so inspiring to talk to. I’ve also been greatly influenced by Trevor Ferguson on a personal level. I had the immense privilege of having him as a professor for two consecutive years during my time at university, and his feedback and encouragement during that time has been invaluable. And lastly a woman by the name of Georgia Papoulias. She’s probably the best writer no one has heard of, is one of my best and dearest friends, and has to be one of the most talented people I’ve ever in my life met. I don’t know if I’d be where I am without her. No, actually, I know for sure that I wouldn’t be. So I can’t thank her enough for being such an incredible influence on my career.
Tell us a bit about your previous writing work.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was young, so I actually went to school for it. I attended university for a B.A. in Creative Writing, and while I was there I worked as a freelance journalist for a bunch of magazines, newspapers, and websites. Although I’d been previously published for creative non-fiction and poetry, it wasn’t until my second to last year of school that I finally managed to get a horror short published through Sanitarium Magazine . Since then, I’ve been featured a few more times at Sanitarium , Morpheus Tales , Pseudopod , The Wicked Library , and Shadows at the Door , to name a few. I’m also a guest speaker at conventions, and I’ve given a few workshops on writing for horror at both the Montreal and Ottawa Comiccons.
How do you feel about being part of the Shadows at the Door Anthology?
Excited, lucky, grateful, nervous… have I mentioned excited? I’m beyond thankful that I was invited to work on such an incredible project, and I’m so lucky to be getting published alongside such talented authors. It’s really been a surreal experience.
Are you working on anything else at the moment?
I am, actually. I have a play that should be coming out soon called Shadow Puppets , and I have a few short stories coming out over the course of the next year, including one being featured in the anthology The Women in Horror Annual . I’ll also be presenting two workshops at the 2016 Toronto FanExpo this fall, which I’m really excited about. And I’m hoping to finish my book this year, which has me thrilled. So that’s all really exciting (and a bit overwhelming)!