Welcome back for this week’s interview! Today I’m thrilled to feature author teri.zin. teri.zin who writes under the name Zin E. Rocklyn has been published widely, including at Tor.com and in anthologies including Sycorax’s Daughters and Nox Pareidolia.
Recently, she and I discussed her inspiration as a writer, her favorite authors, and what she’s planning on writing next.
A couple icebreakers to start: when did you decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
I never really thought I could hack it as a professional, but it feels like i’ve always written. i enjoyed stories and storytelling; it was fun to come up with worlds and make friends with characters. I think I started writing stories in earnest when I read the Fear Street series by RL Stine around 9yrs old. I remember the first character I’d created who I truly fell in love with: MoniLove Monet. She was everything I wanted to be when I was going to be a teenager. Things turned out much different, except for my love of horror, that only increased.
My favourite authors are NK Jemisin, Octavia Butler, Nathan Ballingrud, Clive Barker, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Helen Oyeyemi, Stephen Graham Jones, and Kathleen Collins, to name a few. There are too many!
Congratulations on the recent release of “The Night Sun” at Tor.com! What can you share about how this particular story developed?
The beginning of the story was sitting in my notes on my phone for literal years after seeing a drawing that struck me. It was until I went to Viable Paradise in 2018 did I have the opportunity to work on it. I had no idea where it was going when I jotted it down, but the prompts we received helped click things into place. The title came from a brain fart. The moon was full and gorgeous one night on Martha’s Vineyard and I mouthed Night Sun instead of full moon. I’m terrible at titles so I just ran with it.
Last fall, your story, “Birds,” was released in Nox Pareidolia from Nightscape Press. What was the inspiration for this story?
I have a deep desire to explore complex familial relationships, especially between a mother and daughter. Though the story is about two sisters, it is the mother’s treatment of either daughter that influences their relationship. As with most of my stories, it was also born of frustration. I was seeing a lot of calls for diversity but only a certain kind of acceptable diversity. It was diversity through a very white lens, a lens not exclusive to just white people either. So I wanted to write something where there are no heroes and the ugliness of white supremacy could be shown: you can have Black friends, lovers, coworkers you get along with, that doesn’t mean you’re not racist.
Your debut short story, “Summer Skin,” appeared in the highly lauded Sycorax’s Daughters in 2017. What is it about body horror that draws you in as an author?
Growing up, I had terrible eczema and when it was my turn for the chicken pox, I got the blisters instead of the itchy welts (trust me, it’s gross). It was traumatic having skin that was actively attacking itself, creating sores and crusty wounds that kids would point and laugh at or be obnoxiously disgusted by. It was also terribly painful. I battle chronic pain and PCOS, plus I was the kid always getting injured in some way. Horror is cathartic for me. It helps me process when my skin rebels, when my body is twisting upon itself. It helps me externalise the pain of depression and the constant discomfort of anxiety.
I love Gothic horror and would love to tackle it! Sci-fi horror and horror-westerns interest me, too.
If forced to choose, which is your favorite part of the writing process: developing characters, crafting settings, or writing dialogue?
Aw, man, that’s tough! I’d have to say crafting setting is the most fun for me. I like feeling creeped out and it’s even better if I can create it for myself!
What’s next for you? What projects are coming out soon? What are you currently working on?
I hope to have some work out soon! Right now, I’m working on a dark fantasy novella and several horror short stories. Times are a bit tough for creating, but I’m still plugging away!
Where can we find you online?
Huge thanks to teri.zin for being this week’s featured author!