Welcome back! This week, I turn a spotlight on author Rebecca J. Allred. Rebecca and I became acquainted when we were both featured in Flame Tree Publishing’s Chilling Horror Short Stories anthology last year. But that beautiful tome was hardly Rebecca’s only publication. Her fiction has been featured in numerous outlets, including Borderlands 6, Vignettes from the End of the World, and the upcoming volume of Nightscript. In addition to her work as a writer of the macabre, she is also a full-time doctor, dealing with horrors of an entirely different kind.
In the midst of her busy schedule, Rebecca and I recently discussed her favorite authors, her writing inspiration, as well as the intersection of her two careers.
I’ve dabbled in writing for as long as I can remember (I recently found a short story of mine written at some point in grade school – complete with construction paper cover and crayon illustrations) but I didn’t start to take my writing seriously until about three years ago. I’m one of Stephen King’s constant readers, but other authors I’ve recently enjoyed include Jonathan Carroll, Gemma Files, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr, and Brian James Freeman.
So far, your fiction has been primarily horror. What first attracted you to the genre? Were you always a fan from childhood, or was it something you learned to love as you got older?
My mom read everything Stephen King put out in the ’80s and ’90s. She read The Stand while she was pregnant with me and has always said I was cooked in horror. As a kid, I preferred the bad guys in Disney movies and gravitated more toward the darker animated films (Secret of NIMH, The Last Unicorn, and The Black Cauldron) than the glittery princess pieces. Consequently, my art has also always tended toward the dark side. The aforementioned grade school short story is called “The Case of the Strange Noises,” and once, I convinced my younger sister and cousins to let me pose them as murder victims, then took a series of crime scene photos that my mother holds hostage to this very day. There’s a story in there, I just haven’t excavated it yet.
By day, you work as a pathologist. Do you find that elements of the medical industry often creep their way into your writing, or do you tend to keep your day job and your fiction mostly separate?
I find medicine creeps into a lot of my writing. There are so many strange and wonderful and occasionally downright horrifying things that I encounter on a daily basis, it would be impossible (and a waste) not to incorporate those experiences into my fiction.
You and I first met through our shared table of contents in Flame Tree Publishing’s Chilling Horror Short Stories anthology. What was the process for your story, “Ecdysis,” that appeared in the anthology? Also, have you visited the book in the wilds of a bookstore yet?
“Ecydsis” was originally written back in my third year of medical school. I was on my psych rotation and watched the Ashley Judd film Bug. I wrote the first draft in about 30 minutes, and then it sat on my computer for about three years until I decided to revisit and revise it. The first draft had none of the backstory, just a boring session between the unnamed narrator and his therapist. I still liked the idea though, and it occurred to me that giving the narrator a family history that allowed for multiple interpretations of his current condition (and thus lending some ambiguity to the narrative) might make for interesting reading.
Sadly, I’ve not yet seen Chilling Horror Short Stories (or any of the anthologies in which my work appears) in the wild yet, but if I ever do, I’ll flood social media with photos like that friend we all have who just had a baby.
Your story, “From the Fertile Dark,” is slated to appear this October in Nightscript, Volume 2. What fun tidbits can you reveal about this tale?
When I decided that I was going to get back into writing, I did a search for writing contests. I stumbled across a weekly writing challenge called Flash! Friday. It was a weekly flash fiction challenge that gave writers a photo prompt and 24 hours to write and submit a story. The max word count varied, but it was never more than 500. I wrote for Flash! Friday weekly for several months, trying to get myself into the habit and kickstart my idea generator. I created a lot of what I call “seedling stories” for Flash! Friday, and since then I’ve expanded a number of them into longer, more complete works. “From the Fertile Dark” grew from a seedling inspired by a picture of an empty swing with a child riding the shadow.
What upcoming projects are you working on?
I have a six week break coming up between when I finish my last year of training and when I start my first “real” doctor job this fall. During that time, I’m going to attempt a novella with hopes of pitching it to some small presses by the end of the year. I’ve also got about half a dozen short stories in various stages of completion I’m working to finish up and ship off to the slush mines.
Any links you’d like to share?
I have a story appearing in the anthology Borderlands 6, edited by Tom Monteleone. The list of contributors is so amazing that even if I weren’t in this one, I’d encourage people to check it out. Pre-orders for the signed, limited edition can be placed at http://borderlandspress.com, and I’ll be posting links to paperback editions on FB and Twitter as soon as they become available.
Big thanks to Rebecca J. Allred for being part of this week’s author interview series! Keep up with her work at her author site!