Spectacular Horror: Interview with Eden Royce

Welcome to this week’s author interview! Today, I’m thrilled to feature the amazing Eden Royce. Eden is an incredible author who has produced short stories, a novella, and a short fiction collection, and also worked as both an editor and interviewer at numerous venues. Her work is consistently captivating, so if you aren’t already reading her fiction, then remedy that promptly!

Recently, Eden and I discussed her genesis as a writer, her inspiration in Gothic horror, and her tips on time management for writers.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

Eden RoyceI had a micro short story published in the local newspaper when I was about five. It was something along the lines of “Finish this story” and began with “You go into the attic of your house. What do you find?” I think my Mom still has a copy somewhere.

I got away from writing for several years, too long, but I eventually came back to writing and I think I always will.

Some of my favorite authors are J. California Cooper (a reviewer once compared my work to hers and I was beyond flattered), Daphne DuMaurier, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Tabitha King, Isabel Allende, Laura Joh Rowland, and Edgar Allan Poe.

You have been working with Kathryn Kulpa on the Spider’s Web Flash Fiction contest, which focuses on female protagonists. How did you get involved with the project, and what in particular are you looking for in the stories you read?

Spider Road was looking for judges for their flash fiction contest and I sent in my writer’s resume. I was actually surprised when they asked me to be a judge, as I’m sure they had many talented and knowledgeable authors to choose from. I didn’t question it, though; I was happy to be involved with an indie publisher that makes such efforts to invest in the local community and give back to those in need.

What am I looking for in a story for the flash fiction contest? First, a strong female protagonist with complexity to her character—she shouldn’t be one note or stereotypical—so I can root for her to succeed in whatever she’s doing. Next, I’d like a well-crafted story: a great opening line that makes me want to read more, a creative and original premise, and a clever ending that I didn’t expect. After I read it, I want to say, “Wow, that was good.” Not much, right?

Over the last few years, you’ve been a prolific fiction writer, releasing numerous short stories, a short story collection, and a novella. Do you have any specific writing habits (such as writing at the same time every day)? Also, do you have any tips for other writers on time management?

I still occasionally struggle with time management. I have to change my writing location from time to time, even if it’s a different room in the house. I’ll even go to the library. I can get easily distracted by the Internet or by what housework I think needs doing. If that’s your issue, try setting a timer for one hour—thirty minutes at first if you have to—and ignore everything else and write.

Other things that have worked for me:

Spook Lights: Southern Gothic HorrorFind an online writer buddy and schedule a writing sprint. For twenty or thirty minutes, write all you can, as if it’s a race to the finish. Don’t edit, don’t even think too hard about what you’re putting on the page. See what your word count is after that time. I can almost guarantee it will surprise you.

Have TV as a treat. I don’t watch much television, as it can be a huge time suck, but I have my favorite shows. (Yes, I’m looking at you, MasterChef.) Instead of watching your shows all evening, write first, then choose a show or two that you love and watch it afterward. Or go one evening without the TV on, you’ll get so much done.

Stop overthinking it. Just write, even if you think what you’re writing is insane or ridiculous, or you’re making more spelling mistakes than a drunk lemur with a laptop. None of that matters right now. That’s for when you edit later on. Get the ideas, the story, out first. This may be the hardest one, especially if you’re type A like me, but it is so freeing. And that’s what you want to be as an author.

Your stories often touch upon horror or other Gothic elements. What was it that first drew you to the genre?

I used to watch old black and white horror movies with my mother and grandmother: the mist-covered castle on the hill sort of films, with Bela Lugosi as Dracula. They weren’t bloody, but they were dark and sinister and creepy. Loved those! Even the day after watching those movies, I would hear a noise or a creak and I’d remember the look of panic on the heroine’s face. I knew I wanted to bring my experiences and culture to that type of story.

In addition to your writing and editing, you are also an interviewer! I loved your recent article with Miracle Austin! What inspired you to become an interviewer, and what has been the most surprising or interesting part of the process?

I was at a book event once, it may have been an anthology launch, where I mentioned that I was featured in the book, 60 Black Women in Horror Writing. Someone said they didn’t know there were sixty Black women who wrote horror. After that, I made it a point to find more women like me, so I reached out to the website Graveyard Shift Sisters and asked if they’d be interested in a series of reviews and interviews. They agreed and I started reaching out to other women horror authors. I also do the occasional interview on my blog and for Dirge Magazine.

The most interesting part of it is meeting the authors themselves. They are talented, driven artists, most of them indie authors who do it all: writing, book cover concepts, and marketing their work. It’s inspirational to see and to read.

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

“The Choking Kind,” which is the final story in my short story collection, Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror. I loved it from concept to completion, and there was never a time that I thought it might not work. It’s based on a story my grandmother used to tell me, and it always makes me think of her. As it has stuck with me so long, I thought it might stick with readers as well.

What upcoming projects are you currently working on?

I’ve just released part two of my dark fantasy/sci-fi series, “Containment”. I’ve been invited to submit stories to two different anthologies, both coming out this year. One is featuring Feast, the protagonist from the “Containment” series, so that will be fun to write. The other is small-town horror, so I hope the publisher will like what I’ve dreamed up. I’m planning to release another collection of my short stories in January 2017, titled Spook Lights 2.

Big thanks to Eden Royce for being part of this week’s author interview! Find her online at her author site and her blog as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Eden will also be appearing at Nine Worlds Con next month where she will be on a panel discussing race and class in horror, so be sure to meet her there if you can!

Happy reading!