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Author Interview with L. Marie Wood

L. Marie Wood courtesy the Author’s website

MP: What is your favorite coffee shop beverage?

LMW: So… I have a hard time finding good coffee out – I’m a blonde or medium roast kind of girl – so I have a new fave – Chai Tea Latte.  It has to be iced and it has to have extra spice.  I love this drink!  But let me be clear – I am a coffee drinker and I crave at least one cup per day.  Thank goodness I found a blend I like at home that doesn’t need anything fancy – just a little cream and sugar!

MP: What does Black Speculative Fiction mean to you? What advice would you give to other Black writers struggling to break into the horror genre?  

LMW: Black speculative fiction, to me, means writing that deals with the supernatural, the futuristic, or the fantastic – in other words, horror, science fiction, or fantasy – penned by people from the Black diaspora.  About that advice… I don’t know that breaking into the horror genre is any more or less difficult than any other genre.  It takes hard work and consistency, as well as talent.  Visibility in the genre is also something thing has to be actively worked on to effectively break through, and that can mean different things to different people.  So, my advice is to keep writing, keep submitting, keep going to cons and asking questions from the panel audience, keep meeting people after said panel to introduce yourself, keep making your presence known.  Keep learning – there is more to writing than just being enthusiastic about a specific topic.  Keep reading – know what is popular, know the classics.  Be seen.  Be present.  And be good. 

MP: What is your favorite sub-genre of horror? 

LMW: Psychological, without question. I love the nuance of it, the slow build.  I love the mental exercise that a good psychological tale puts the reader through.  And I absolutely love the effect a good psychological horror story has on a reader, even after the book is finished.  Psychological horror is so many things at the same time – horror, of course, but also thriller, suspense, mystery – all the tension of each rolled up into one.  When done right, the reader feels like they are in it with the character.  As a reader myself, I don’t think there’s anything better than being able to step outside myself and into a story, losing hours to a book because I just can’t put it down.  That’s what I love to read and what I love to write.

MP: If you could have dinner with one person (living or dead), who would you invite?

LMW: Prince!  All day, Prince Rogers Nelson.  He was on my wall in my youth and is still in my ears to this day.  I remember the moment when I finally got through to Ticketmaster to buy tickets – the line had been busy for what seemed like hours, but it was only a few minutes.  I got through and I bought the tickets – it was the most I had ever paid for tickets to anything at the time and is still in my top three of the most costly shows I have ever spent money on… but oh, it was worth it.  The show sold out in less than 10 minutes, but I was there.  And it was magical.  Over dinner, I would ask him about his creative process and revel in the words of wisdom he most definitely would have to share (in my dream, Prince thinks I’m cool so he doesn’t give me any shade at all!).  

MP: What do you love most about horror; what inspires you to write it?

LMW: I love horror because I see things a little differently.  If we are waiting in line I might start to daydream about what the person three rows up has hiding in the trunk of their car while someone else may just take out their phone and watch a video.  My mind has always leaned toward the darker side.  I’m just happy to have found a place where that is part of the criteria for belonging.  Inspiration – I don’t think I have anything in particular that inspires me – I write because I love to and horror is where that passion comes out.  It has been since I was a child, and I don’t question it.

MP: What is your favorite horror movie?

LMW: Angel Heart.  There is so much happening in there.  The world of voodoo, the debt to be repaid, the mystery to be solved, gruesome images that take you by surprise when you are already feeling raw – I find something that I hadn’t noticed before every time I watch it.  Great acting, great mood… I never get tired of it.

Black Hole book cover featuring a young Black man holding a paintball gun wearing a red sweatshirt.

MP: What inspired you to write Black Hole?

LMW: I went paintballing with a group of people in October one year.  That morning it was unseasonably chilly.  The paintballs were harder than they were supposed to be – not quite frozen, but almost.  When they hit you, they didn’t break… So after watching people get hit with these rock-like projectiles and screaming in pain – someone got hit in the middle of the forehead and the lump that formed a few minutes later was really frightening to see – I got scared!  I was hidden, but not well enough, lying on the ground behind a downed tree, and I could hear people yelling around me… I could also hear leaves crunching from approaching footsteps.  I felt like I was in battle and that the ammunition was live.  When I got shot in the hand, I was just happy for it to be over.  Being shot meant I was able to get up and walk over to the sidelines and no one would shoot me again; when I was hidden, I felt terribly trapped.  The skeleton of a story was forming right then and there as I treated my hand because I thought my knuckle was broken (it was so swollen).  

MP:  What do you hope people take away from your work?

LMW: I hope that my work provides escapism to readers.  I hope they can let go of a stressful day by reading my words.  There are no messages in my long or short fiction, no questions of morality to ponder.  What I write is pure and simple entertainment.  I hope it accomplishes that goal.

MP: If Black Hole was made into a movie, who would you want cast in the main role? Another casting preference? 

LMW: I can see Jonathan Majors in this role.  He would be perfect – he is a great actor with an athletic build and that would serve him well were he to be in a scenario like this in a real life.  I can also see Lil Rel Howery as one of the other friends trying to escape as well.  His comedic timing would be a fantastic addition to the story.

MP: What are you working on now? 

LMW: I took a break (I mean, about 3 weeks…?) and just started writing the next book in a series that will make its debut soon.  It is a horror/science fiction tale with romance elements – new territory for me.  It has been a blast so far!

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