How did you come up with the idea for your story in Strangely Funny II?
Just before writing “Bedroom Bureau”, I had watched “The Sentinel”, a 1970s film about a portal to hell. It’s an underrated horror classic, but it’s also very dark. I thought it might be fun to take a similar premise, but inject humor and levity—including a whole lot of silly bureaucracy—to demons arriving in the human realm. Evil spirits aren’t usually sporting passports and making appointments, so the absurdity of the concept appealed to me.
Plotter or pantser?
I’d like to say plotter all the way, but if I’m being completely honest, my writing incorporates a bit of both. Plotting does help to keep me focused, but I enjoy the spontaneity from just writing on the fly and seeing where it goes.
Which author do you most admire, and why?
Shirley Jackson. Her ability to perceive darkness in the mundane of everyday life was so astute and ahead of her time. Plus, her language and characters are so richly imagined. I return to “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” again and again just to visit the Blackwood estate. Though there’s nothing overtly supernatural at play, it’s the most darkly magical novel I’ve ever read. I want a best friend like Merricat (though I’d be careful never to take sugar in my tea). Also, if you look into Shirley Jackson’s life, she had to deal with a lot of adversity in her family’s hometown, including injustice not so dissimilar from the townspeople in “The Lottery”. It’s always inspiring to see writers transform their personal hardships into indelible stories.
Which place that you haven’t visited would you most like to go?
Loch Ness. Although I doubt Nessie would make an appearance, it would be fun to have a picnic there and just watch. You never know! I could get an awesome blurry image!
Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
Twentieth century horror stories are my favorites. Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and, of course, Shirley Jackson inspire me every single day.
Thanks for talking with us!
With parents who married on Halloween and read her Bradbury stories long before she started kindergarten, Gwendolyn Kiste considers horror, fantasy, and all things strange to be her birthright. Her genre editorials appear regularly on sites such as Horror-Movies.ca and Micro-Shock, and she is the resident “weird wanderer” for the travel-centric Wanderlust and Lipstick. With a background in cinema and theatre, she has written and directed several feature-length and short horror films, and her plays have been produced as part of the Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. An Ohio native, she currently resides in the wilds of Pennsylvania with her husband, Bill, and cat, McQueen.
We're also giving away three copies on Goodreads - deadline is August 31st!