Kay Hanifen was born on a Friday the 13th and once spent three months living in a haunted 14th century castle. So, obviously, she had to get into horror writing. She's a certified monster nerd and a former contributor to Screen Rant. When she isn't reading, writing, and taking in pop culture with the voraciousness of a vampire at a blood bank, you can find her on Twitter @TheUnicornComi1.
When did you begin writing your own stories? What inspired you?
I honestly don't remember when I first began writing, but storytelling has always been a big part of my life. As a little girl, I'd dictate my stories to my mom and then illustrate the little picture books we made. My family also played this game that was one-half improv and one-half campfire tales where someone would start a story and then we'd go around in a circle adding to it until we finished. I was a big reader, and I wanted to inspire others the way that I had been inspired by the writers that shaped me.
In your bio, you said you lived in a haunted castle for three months. Where was the castle, and what was it like? How did you get this opportunity?
It was through a study abroad program. My college has a campus in the rural Netherlands that also happened to be a 13th-century castle. During the week, we'd live and study there, and on the weekend, we'd travel to other countries. My room was at the top of a guard tower, and we had to climb a dark, claustrophobic spiral staircase up there that I called "the nightmare stairs." Aside from feeling uncomfortable when alone in a certain part of the castle near the computer lab and my fully charged laptop's batteries randomly draining one night, I didn't experience anything supernatural. However, some of my friends heard whispers in the common room in the middle of the night. One of them also said that a ghost laid down in her bed while she worked at her desk. She saw a depression in the mattress, but no one was there. Reportedly, the ghost of a little girl called Sophie roamed the halls.
How did you get the idea for "Advice on Dating a Succubus: An Asexual’s Perspective?" It's different, even for this series.
The idea has been rattling around in the back of my head since high school. In the first draft, the asexual woman goes on a blind date, only to discover that the date was a succubus and shenanigans ensue. At the time, I was just growing comfortable with the labels of homoromantic and asexual for myself. I wanted to see some positive representation and explore what such an odd couple's relationship might look like. I decided to write it like an advice blog post from another world because I've always enjoyed the epistolary style of writing and I'm fascinated by advice columns. You're reading the story of an anonymous person's problems and the advice in response but rarely find out the whole story. It's just a snapshot, but you learn so much about the person sending the letter and the advice giver. It seemed like a fun way to build a world and characters. I chose Lilith as my romantic interest because she's one of my favorite mythical figures. I'm admittedly a bit of a monster nerd, and I once went on a research binge about her for a school project. The thing that stands out to me about her story is that she's powerful and is condemned for demanding equality. She also lends herself surprisingly well to humor. From what I've read, although she's been referenced in other ancient texts, her first appearance as Adam's wife was actually in a medieval Jewish satire called The Alphabet of Ben Sirach. In the story, she leaves Eden over an argument with Adam about who's on top in their relationship and the angels fail to bring her back. I just think the mythical figure of her is so fascinating and hopefully, I did her justice.
Who is your favorite author, and what really strikes you about their work?
It's hard to choose just one! I'm a huge fan of Shirley Jackson, especially The Haunting of Hill House. She's a master of capturing atmosphere and her prose is just beautiful. I also take a lot of inspiration from Neil Gaiman, especially in the way that he blends mythology and urban fantasy. Another author that I admire is the comic writer, Gail Simone, because she's so great at developing characters with distinct personalities and humor in the face of impossible odds. A more recent favorite is Jonathan Sims. I discovered his writing through his fantastic cosmic horror tragedy podcast, The Magnus Archives. It's so well written and I recommend it to basically everyone I meet. His debut novel, Thirteen Storeys, is also excellent. He's so skilled at creating distinct and memorable characters in a short amount of time and knows how to weave plot threads into a complex tapestry of horror.
Thank you for talking to us!
To read Kay Hanifen's account of an unlikely (but lovable) couple, download or order a copy of Strangely Funny VIII. Perhaps they'll be in a rom-com movie one day!
Strangely Funny VIII is available in print and Kindle now!
Fans of Tales of The Bastard Drunk, take notice! Ever wondered what one of The Sons Of Satan's songs might sound like?
A hardcore band, The Fall of Kronos, have released "Wake The Dead" as a single, with words from The Bastard himself! It's inspired by the song from the tale "Vannigan's Grudge".
Update: Thunderclap has launched. Thank you all!
Tales of The Bastard Drunk, by D.M. Woon, is competing in the 2015 Preditors & Editors™ Readers' Poll for best horror novel.
Naturally, we'd like to see him win.
If you're interested, go to:
And hey, there are swell entries in other categories. Look around when you get there.
D.M. Woon hosted a Goodreads giveaway for his novella in Great Britain. Now, we are hosting a giveaway in the USA and Canada.
Click below to enter the giveaway. These are print copies, so you will get the full benefit of the boss cover.
And, I must warn again: this giveaway is for people over 18 years of age. There's a lot of gore and perversion in the tales The Bastard Drunk shares.
Now that we've shown you the cover to Tales of The Bastard Drunk, we would like to better introduce you to the author, D.M. Woon.
You started writing at a young age. What were those early stories like?
One of the first stories I remember writing was about a young girl moving to a new school and finding her classmates reluctant to accept her as one of their own because she was different. As much as I'd like to say that my earliest work was teeming with social commentary, it was actually pretty nonsensical. I think her name was Safari and she had a magic watch; either way, it was all child-friendly until the likes of R.L. Stine and Louise Cooper corrupted my mind. I read Say Cheese And Die! and pretty much everything I wrote from then on was horror.
Tell us more about the origins of The Bastard Drunk, a character with an undeniably strong voice. He emerged from one of your short stories?
The Bastard's voice came from a short story I wrote during my final year at university, when I was actually supposed to be writing my dissertation. I was working on a submission for an anthology that was looking for homages to the kind of films you'd see in Grindhouse theaters. I was already a fan of the Tarantino/Rodriguez double-feature, and the next thing I knew I was writing my own B movie, with all the sex and violence that were characteristic of the genre. Grindhouse is an American term, so the narrator was American. It was my first real attempt at writing in a voice different to my own, and I wanted to explore it further.
Gina is a major power in Kramusville, and a real shock to read. Would you tell us a little more about her?
Gina has always been aware of her 'special abilities'; her memory stretches back to when she was still in the womb, and she claims to have used her powers for only good, to ensure that her mother felt no pain. Her parents did not believe her, nor did they accept that she had a gift, and for this their relationship suffered. School was Gina's escape - her classmates were in awe of her. She felt in control of them, and as she grew, so did her desire for command over children. They gave her solace. When her parents announced they were expecting a second child, Gina wasn't so kind with her powers...
Did any of the story inspirations come from real life? The tales are pretty horrifying, but so are people sometimes.
The tales weren't inspired by any specific real life events; at least, not from my own personal experiences. 'Clean Up On Aisle Gore' was the first tale I started to write, and at the time, all I wanted to do was place my narrator into a mundane setting and have something extraordinary occur. I tend to write horror that preys on the fear of the horrible things that could occur in everyday life, but with Tales Of The Bastard Drunk I wanted to incorporate the paranormal to broaden the scope and have a bit more fun with it.
Who are your current favorite authors? What do you enjoy about them?
Stephen King will always be a firm favourite for obvious reasons, and I've been reading classic Raymond Carver quite a bit recently. I like to think that I'm versatile when it comes to reading, and believe it or not I prefer books that make me laugh. I really like Danny Wallace, and Yes Man is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time. Comedy is a welcome escape from my own writing; when I finished writing The Bastard's tales, the first book I picked up was Ron Burgundy's autobiography.
What are you working on next?
I recently finished a short novella called The Recherché, which is set in an alternate, dystopian reality where blood is currency. Among my current projects is The Cure, which is a short fantasy story set largely in the imagination of a young girl, who is confined to her bed due to illness, as she searches for her remedy. There is another novella in progress with a working title of Kentucky Fried Christian, and there's always the possibility of more tales from The Bastard in the future...
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