Amy Grech has sold over one hundred stories and three poems to various anthologies and magazines including: Apex Digest, Fear on Demand, Funeral Party 2, Inhuman Magazine, Needle Magazine, The Flash Fiction Offensive, The Horror Express, Space & Time, The Brutarian, Zombie CSU, and many others. Damnation Books published her second collection, Blanket of White.
She has a story in the upcoming Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled. Amy is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association who lives in Brooklyn. Visit her website: http://www.crimsonscreams.com. Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/amy_grech
1. Why do you write dark fiction?
I was raised Catholic and all of those Bible Stories were downright scary, so religion is definitely a source of inspiration.
Writing is very cathartic for me; it’s a great way for me to work through my fears: loss of control and fear of rejection and get paid for it, too!
2. What made you decide to take up writing as a career and what was your very first paid writing gig?
I started writing seriously in high school after reading several of Stephen King’s novels; I was hooked on Horror at the tender age of twelve when an Aunt gave me a copy of Cujo during a family visit. I noticed there weren’t very may women writing scary stories, so I set out to chance that.
My first pro sale was to Shade Rupe’s Funeral Party 2 at the tender age of 24. Jack Ketcum also had a tale in the book so it was quite a thrill! I got to do a reading with some of the other contributors in Brooklyn.
3. Who were your biggest influences in your early days of writing? Do those authors still inspire you?
My influences include: Franz Kafka, Jack Ketchum, Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft, Joyce Carol Oates, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mary Shelley.
Absolutely! I’ve known Jack Ketchum for years—we met at a Chiller Con in New Jersey. His story, “The Rifle” inspired my “Dead Eye.” I’ve been reading Stephen King’s novels for years, so he’s a constant source of inspiration.
4. Give us an idea of how you approach your writing.
I’ll think up a title, like my story “Dead Eye,” which is slang for expert marksman; the tale follows a nasty progression as a young boy goes to great lengths to impress his father, a seasoned hunter.
Other stories are born from ideas jotted down in a little notebook I carry with me everywhere. I’ll come back to those a few days after I’ve written them; if they still interest me, I’ll start writing! Some ideas are dead-end duds! They can’t all be diamonds…
Sometimes, I’ll get stuck on a project in progress. When that happens, I’ll put it aside and pickup another ongoing project. That usually pleases my fickle muse and I’m off and writing again!
5. What’s your preference – short tales or longer fiction?
For years I was content to have my short stories published in various anthologies and small press magazines until a more seasoned writer pointed out that I was literally selling myself short. Since then, I’ve co-authored a novella, Fallen Angel with Michael McCarty; it sold fairly well, but the publisher folded, so we’re currently shopping it around. I’m currently working on my own novella.
Novelists tell me they find writing short stories extremely challenging because they’re limited by a limited word count. For me the opposite is true; it’s taken me a long time to embrace the novella format. I’m just now getting comfortable with all the extra wiggle room! It’s been a challenge because I value quality over quantity.
6. Your short story collection Blanket of White garnered a lot of praise. Tell us a bit about how the collection came about and the process of selecting the tales.
Blanket of White is a collection of 14 short stories, mainly horror, though there are a few sci-fi/horror hybrids as well.
“Blanket of White” was born from my desire to write a story devoid of sexual content. Up until then, all of my stories focused on sex as erotic horror and several critics questioned if I could delve deeper into the human psyche. I’m pleased to say I can tackle any subject matter! “Ashes to Ashes,” “Come and Gone,” “Perishables,” “Russian Roulette,” and “Cold Comfort” were all written in response to several break-ups with former boyfriends—I end to fall hard for a guy; consequently, I end up devastated when the relationship ends. Writing is a very cathartic coping mechanism. I wrote “Prevention” because I have a twin brother and wanted to play with the evil twin idea. I felt a little paranoid when I wrote “Rampart.” “Raven’s Revenge” was my homage to Edgar Allan Poe. I wrote “Damp Wind and Leaves” against the backdrop of Halloween. I wrote “Crosshairs” as a tribute to my Catholic upbringing. I wrote “Initiation Day” in college—I wanted to put a spin on the peer pressure high school students deal with. I wanted to play with the expression, “You’re the apple of my eye.” “Apple of My Eye” is the result. I wrote “EV 2000” to deal with my fear of needles.
8. What are you working on at the moment… any impending releases?
I’m currently expanding a short story into a novella set in NYC’s Alphabet City. The story centers on a devious eye doctor, looking to let loose. Things get carried away when he meets Ruby, an 18-year-old writer at Anatomy Bar. They witness the latest crazy among college students, Vodka Eyeballing, where they pour vodka shots directly into their eyes to get drunk faster. Ruby invites the doctor back to her apartment near by. They hook up and he kills her with his scalpel. A couple of months later, he meets Gia, her older sister a piercing specialist/tattoo artist with scars on her face at a different bar. She picks him up and invites the doctor back to the apartment she shares with her father, who has a nasty temper. He beats the doctor senseless in their living room then goes for the jugular with the doctor’s scalpel, payback for Ruby’s senseless murder.
The original story felt rushed and after feedback from the Editor who originally bought it, I decided to dig deeper. So far, I have seven pages of notes I’m working from. This is the first project of mine that required extensive notes, but the story is much better for it!
My crime story, “Alphabet City,” appears in the latest issue of Needle Magazine along with David Cranmer, Steve De Jarnatt, Matthew C. Funk, Tom Piccirilli, and Todd Robinson.
I have a story in the upcoming Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled.
9. What are you currently reading now?
I just finished reading a haunting, literary novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender about a little girl who can decipher people’s moods based on the food they cook. To say more would give away several unique plot-twists, but I will say it’s well worth a read.
10. If you could any advice to an up and coming writer, what would it be?
Write every day. When I worked full-time, I’d carry a little notebook with my and jot down story ideas on my way to and from work on the subway. Read, read, read! Immerse yourself in award-winning books, so you know what works; also read books panned by critics, so you know what not to do!
Hi Amy (funny, I was raised Catholic too)! A very good interview. I liked the note on getting ideas–I do the notebook thing sometimes myself as well, though often as not it ends up being backs of envelopes of shopping lists. By another coincidence I just had an interview published by British author Morgen Bailey Friday. Check my blog for a link, if interested.
Hi James! Glad you enjoyed the interview! My little notebook sure does come in handy! Will check out your interview!
Great interview. Amy is a great writer and friend. She wrote the introduction to my A HELL OF THE JOB … and I did the same for her for BLANKET OF WHITE