1. What do new readers need to know about Damien Angelica Walters?
She is the author of The Dead Girls Club, Cry Your Way Home, Sing Me Your Scars, and Paper Tigers, which is no longer in print, although I think there are copies to be found online here and there. She likes writing about women and monsters and monstrous things and sometimes likes to write stories that make readers cry.
2. What was the inspiration for The Dead Girls Club?
It started with the image of a woman sitting at her desk, receiving a half heart necklace in the mail. At that point I had no idea what had happened but I knew something between two friends had gone horribly wrong. In the horror genre, there aren’t nearly as many coming of age stories centered around girls as there are boys and while The Dead Girls Club is a horror/suspense hybrid instead of outright horror, I kept the novel’s focus on the girls in the story, the women they become, and their interactions and friendship.
3. Can you remember the first thing you read that made you want to become a storyteller?
When I was very small, my father used to take me to the library every Friday night and I’d emerge with a stack of books that I insisted on carrying. I’d have them all read by the end of the weekend, if not earlier and then reread my favorites until it was time to go back. My childhood is filled with the memory of books, and I still have many of mine from grade school on up, so I don’t think there was a giant leap into wanting to become a storyteller. Couple reading with a big imagination and it feels as though it may have been inevitable.
4. Can you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first one I remember writing was when I was about eight. It was called “The Coughing Coffin,” written and illustrated in a stapled together construction paper book. I tried to sell it to my friends, but like most kids that age, they didn’t have any money. I’m not sure what it was about, but I can imagine and why I remember that title and none of the others I wrote around that age is beyond me.
5. Who are your main literary influences?
Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, Shirley Jackson, Alice Hoffman, Agatha Christie, Sylvia Plath, Angela Carter, and I can’t forget Lois Duncan. Stephen King and Peter Straub have influenced me as well, but as time passes, I realize how much more of an impact the women I’ve read had on me.
6. What was the inspiration behind your novel Paper Tigers?
Like The Dead Girls Club, it started with an image. (In all honesty, most of my work does.) I saw a heavily scarred young woman out walking late at night and coming across an old photo album in a junk shop window, a junk shop that happened to be open despite the late hour. I wanted to know where the woman got her scars, why she was so afraid at being seen, and what drew her to the photo album.
7. Who’s your favourite villain in fiction?
I’d say Gilead and the patriarchy in The Handmaid’s Tale. How can you possible fight against something that big and pervasive? And if you do, how can you hope to win?
8. You get to take five foods to a desert island with you – what are they?
Peanut butter, yogurt, peaches, apples, and cottage cheese.
9. Person you would most like to collaborate with?
Kristi DeMeester and I have written a story with Michael Wehunt and Richard Thomas (“Golden Sun” in Chiral Mad 4) but she and I have chatted about collaborating on one together. I’m sure it will be a grim, angry story with disturbing imagery. At least I hope so!
10. What’s next for Damien Angelica Walters?
I just finished the first draft of The Floating Girls: A Novel, the sequel to my 2014 Bram Stoker Award nominated short story “The Floating Girls: A Documentary” and now I’m working on the preliminary bits (outline, synopsis, characters sheets, etc.) of the next novel, tentatively titled Women of a Certain Age. Other than that, hopefully a story with Kristi and after all that, who knows.
Damien Angelica Walters is the author of The Dead Girls Club, Cry Your Way Home, Paper Tigers, and Sing Me Your Scars. Her short fiction has been nominated twice for a Bram Stoker Award, reprinted in Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, and The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and published in various anthologies and magazines, including the Shirley Jackson Award Finalists Autumn Cthulhu and The Madness of Dr. Caligari, World Fantasy Award Finalist Cassilda’s Song, Nightmare Magazine, and Black Static. She lives in Maryland with her husband and a rescued pit bull named Ripley. Find her on Twitter @DamienAWalters or on her website at http://damienangelicawalters.com.