Sanitarium Siren: Interview with Brooke Warra

As part three of my Women in Horror Month author spotlight, I present to you the one-of-a-kind Brooke Warra.

I met Brooke through the Sanitarium Magazine Faculty forum. After we were both published in the magazine, she and I joined a group of “doctors” who help editor Barry Skelhorn field incoming submissions. Since meeting Brooke, I have been repeatedly impressed with her professionalism and dedication to her craft as well as her wit and down-to-earth nature. Consequently, I decided I just had to feature her on my site. She was kind enough to oblige and answer a few of my questions.

Okay, some icebreakers: when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, and who are your favorite authors?

I don’t ever remember not wanting to be a writer. My parents often joke they should have gotten a typewriter tattooed on my forearm at birth. I remember writing ghost stories for my friends in elementary school- my parents fielded a couple calls from concerned mothers about that–ha! It’s so hard for me to pick my favorite authors! The easy answer is Stephen King, and I have read every book he has out, including his non-fiction. I spend a lot of time re-reading my favorites from childhood–R.L. Stine, Shel Silverstein, and a giant collection of Scandinavian fairy tales. I think the influence of these stories shows quite a bit in my writing.

You recently posted on your author page about working at a daycare. Since children have been the inspiration for some seriously creepy stories, does your proximity to a large group of kids ever inform your horror writing?

Brooke WarraKids are a great inspiration for my writing. They live in this world that is completely new to them, everything is a mystery and magic still exists. You tell them the dollar under their pillow is from the Tooth Fairy and they just accept that as a fact. I think a lot of my stories are like that. When I am storytelling, I’m asking you to let me suspend your reality for a bit and let me lead the way through the deep, dark forest. Childhood in general is a huge inspiration in the way I tell a horror story but make no mistake, my stories are definitely not for kids!

Fiction writing can be a very diverse trade, especially when dealing with fantastic topics like horror. Are there any themes or threads that connect all your work?

I’m really fascinated with my Finnish heritage and like to include little clues about that in my stories. I love writing with mild undertones of fairy tales. Also, I was born with birth defects and raised in a small fishing village in Washington State where I was the only kid with a physical disability in the entire school. So, my monsters always have a connection to their humanity. I create monsters because I have a deep affection and understanding for them.

Out of your published stories so far, do you have a personal favorite piece?

SanitariumOf my published pieces, I’d have to say “Sleepyhead” (published in the December issue of Under The Bed Magazine) is my favorite. When I was growing up, I used to listen to old loggers telling stories about horrific on the job accidents, really gory stuff. That, coupled with the scenery of my hometown, the dark woods, the swamps, the stories we told each other as kids about the things that lived in those swamps, the cruelty of children, all came together in that story. I also love the readers’ reactions to the ending, every time.

In what directions would you like to see your horror career go? More published short stories? Novels? Nonfiction? All of the above?

Definitely more published short stories! That has always been my first love. But of course, I have a writer’s ego and I think there is a novel lurking in my brain as we speak. I’ve actually outlined one! A talented friend of mine is working on a youtube project (think of the days when kids sat around the radio in the living room to listen to dramas complete with actors and sound effects) that I’d really love to be a part of. That’s still in its infancy, right now.

What projects are you currently working on?

Right now I have several projects going. I’m working at getting a blog up and running. My main goal over the next year is to finish a collection of short horror pieces–but in that collection there will be several stories that are all tied together, sort of like a novella hidden inside the book of short stories.

Big thanks to Brooke Warra for answering all my macabre questions. Be sure to check out her Facebook author page where she posts everything from writing advice to creepy, cool pictures. And of course, stay tuned for the upcoming issues of Sanitarium Magazine where Brooke, myself, and a whole host of other talented writers help field the inmates!

Until then, happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!