The following is an extensive interview with Amy Grech, published author of Apple of My Eye, Blanket of White and Fallen Angel.You will find we cover a vast number of subjects.
But hang on.... We have a lot of good stuff to cover. I always dig deep.
This will get bumpy.
16 years and 100 stories later, any regrets?
Amy: I’d be a liar if I didn’t have a few…When I first started writing, I gave a few really good stories to ‘zines that didn’t pay in $$ only copies. The thrill of seeing my name in print proved to be highly addictive; getting paid in cold hard cash got me hooked.
Why do you write? Not some BS answer that everyone gives; what's your narcissistic answer?
Amy: I write for several reasons: I love attention, scaring people never ceases to amuse me and writing is an excellent outlet for my overactive imagination!
I’m a Leo, so having fans complement on my writing and by signed copies of my books is extremely gratifying! I come across as being very mind-mannered when people first meet me, so they’re always shocked when they learn I’m a Horror Writer!
Have you had good success with your short story collection? Which is your favorite? How do you connect the themes?
Amy: Yes, Blanket of White, available as an eBook and a paperback, published by Damnation Books, is selling fairly well! In 2009, I attended a mass author signing in PA that was great fun!
The title story is my favorite; it was also the most difficult to write due to the subject matter. The title story actually evolved ten years ago, when I saw a real life story on the news about a little girl who had a terminal illness and the compassionate way her father chose to end her suffering. The little girl in my story, Suzy, is extremely remarkable despite her illness. “Blanket of White” has a profound affect on readers who are also parents.
All of the stories focus on love and loss; though some are more violent than others!
Do you think they would be offended? If they were, would you take it down?
Amy: It’s possible. No, I would not rescind the story, stating, “This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”
What happened to the little girl that the story was based off of? How did he get the girl to hold the hose?
Amy: The father told her the hose would end her pain. I embellished.
But how could you state that anything resembling them was purely coincidental if you also said you based it off of them?
Amy: Creative License
Wow. May I quote you on these questions and answers?
Amy:Yes, you can!
When writing crazy sexual scenes, which story of yours grossed you out the most?
Amy: That would be “A Splash of Crimson” which appeared in the anthology Nasty Snips. The sex scene in that one gets quite bloody. There’s some food involved as well!
Can a child play violent games or watch violent movies without it changing them negatively? At what age would you let your kids play GTA or a game like it?
Amy: I think children are impressionable from an early age—they tend to imitate what they see happening around them. I don’t have kinds of my own, but I’d say 10 is a safe age to let kids experiment with violent video games and movies.
Tell us about things you dislike. Corporate America, numbers, petty people.
When you look at Corporate America, what is it that you dislike so much?
Amy: Everything! I toiled for a total of 6 years in Corporate America—that was about all I could stand! I had to wear an ID badge slung around my neck, like a dog collar or a Corporate Noose, take your pick! Corporate America valued my title, E-News Managing Editor for an industry magazine, but not my talent. There’s way too much drama. The “cube farm” layout is designed to discourage creativity and individuality. God help you if you list the Executive Editor in an e-mail first, instead of the SVP of Editorial. There are way too many petty rules! Micro-managing and Meetings are unnecessary evils.
What would you do to improve it?
Lose the “cube farm”. Let people dress casually, as long as they don’t get too casual! Give employees the benefit-of-the-doubt; if deadlines are being met, don’t hover over their shoulder every step of the way. It’s degrading and insulting! Minimize meetings—they’re usually just a huge waste of time.
What makes a person petty?
Amy: A petty person is someone who will lie, cheat, or steal to get his or her way. They don’t care who they hurt on the way to achieving their goal. They are priority number one.
Fears? Falling short, numbers and rejection.
Quirks? I’m pretty kooky about how I arrange my books: By size, then author.
What is your novella in NY about?
Amy I’m still deciding on a title…It takes place in a once-run down neighborhood in NYC, Alphabet City. The story centers around a devious eye doctor, who’s looking to let loose. Things get carried away when he meets Ruby, an 18-year-old writer at Anatomy Bar. They witness the latest crazy among college students, Vodka Eyeballing, where they pour vodka shots directly into their eyes to get drunk faster. Ruby invites the doctor back to her apartment near by. They hook up and he kills her with his scalpel. A couple of months later, he meets Gia, her older sister a piercing specialist/tattoo artist with scars on her face at a different bar. She picks him up and invites the doctor back to the apartment she shares with her father, who has a nasty temper. He beats the doctor senseless in their living room then goes for the jugular with the doctor’s scalpel, payback for Ruby’s senseless murder.
What is the most controversial movie you LOVE?
Amy: Definitely HENRY PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER; it’s so well done! Henry tries to fight his murderous tendencies, but the girl who wants him to love her so badly ends up dead, chopped up, stuffed into a suitcase and left by the side of the road.
What do you do to remain active in the HWA?
Amy: I served as the HWA’s Webmaster from 2001 – 2004; at the time the position was strictly pro bono, but I made some great friends, learned how to manage a team remotely and got some new Web Clients out of the deal!
Who worked for you?
Amy: A team of Web Designer and Web Developers, all of whom worked on the HWA Website.
How does HWA help writers?
Amy: The HWA offers a Mentor Program, where newbies can get helpful pointers from seasoned pros. The HWA also hosts an annual Stoker Weekend, on Long Island this year. I’ll be there! They also have exclusive market listings via their monthly E-newsletter.
What do you do aside from writing?
Amy: I’m also an Online Editor/Search Engine Optimization Specialist. SEO is analytical and creative; I get websites listed on the top search engines: Google, Yahoo and Bing for multiple keywords. So if you Google certain keywords, I make sure my clients’ websites show up on the first page results!
Your homework: Get this blog and this interview to the top of search engines?
Amy: Consider it done!
How can someone learn to do what you do for Bling? I imagine that it is something you can do from home.
Amy: I took a six-week summer course at the New School University way back in 1999. I read a few books in addition to that. When I client wanted a layout I hadn’t attempted, yet, I’d ask them to send me links to similar websites for inspiration.
Yes, I currently work from home. I have a one-second commute to my office! I meet my clients about once a month on Long Island or in Manhattan; we also have conference calls.
I read your collaboration on "Fallen Angel. The story was creepy as heck. I had to skip a number of chapters. I know you said you want to make people uncomfortable, so very good job. I couldn't tell where you wrote, or he wrote. The voice stayed strong and you didn't let up. What did you like about collaborating on your novella, Fallen Angel?
Amy: Michael McCarty and really clicked. The initial story idea was his, but he wanted to collaborate with a woman to bring Angel to life! He’d write three chapters and I’d flesh those out. Then he’d send the next batch and so on, until we finished.
What did you hate about it?
Amy: Mike wasn’t always open to my ideas, but he eventually came around. He also wanted me to turn chapters around faster than I was able to. You can’t rush perfection!
Tell us about hobbies.
Amy: I’m an avid reader, of course! I love going to dinner/movies with friends. During the summer, Prospect Park in Brooklyn hosts concerts, so I attend these events as well!
Do you mentor writers?
Amy: Funny you should ask! A few years ago, Nick Cato introduced himself via the Shocklines Message Board; turns out he worked not too far from where I lived in Brooklyn. He asked if I could offer some pointers on some of his stories. I agreed in exchange for lunch, dinner, and beer. Not necessarily in that order!
Amy: Horror is an intense emotion that everyone has experienced at one point or another—we’re all afraid of something: death, rejection, etc. Horror is also a great outlet, enabling me to work through my fears without the expense of a therapist!
You write some very shocking and gruesome horror sometimes. Do you have to walk away from the writing?
Amy: Absolutely! When a story is going particularly well, my characters tend to take over and do some very nasty things: they cheat, they kill, among other things…I usually take a breather for a week after writing the first draft of a particularly violet story to work on something tamer!
How long does a short story take you now?
Amy: I can write a story in a day or two, depending on the length, especially if I’ve jotted down some quick character descriptions or plot points beforehand.
Views on religion or philosophy?
Amy: My parents forced my twin brother and me to attend Catholic School; I though we were being punished—all the other kids in the neighborhood went to public school. As a result, I’m not very religious! I haven’t set foot in a church since my Grandmother’s Funeral a year-and-a half ago.
When you first wrote, you wrote a lot of stories for free magazines. I am following in your footsteps. Now, looking back, would you tell me to continue to do so? Why or why not?
Amy: I’d say if you’re still new to the genre, only give your work to free magazines only if they are interested in One-Time Rights, meaning all rights to the work revert back to you after a pre-determined period of time, usually a few months.
When you first gave all those stories to free E-zines, did you lose all rights to your stories?
Amy: Only for a few. Several ‘zines were only interested in One-Time Rights. Others folded before my stories were ever published; so all rights reverted back to me.
What is it about scaring people that puts a smile on your face?
Amy: I love it when my stories get under readers’ skin! It means my work resonated with them. Striking a nerve isn’t an easy feat. If my readers still feel uneasy a day after reading my work, then I’ve done my job!
I like to know what makes people tick—everyone’s motivated by something: Greed, love, lust, money, power, sex.
Could you give us a random "Story idea" from your notebook?
Amy: Husband, a Horror Writer, cheats with a younger woman, also a Horror Writer he meet at a Writers’ Convention in NYC. He drives his mistress to Queens, where his clueless wife cooks breakfast for her. They all drive to ChillerCon in NJ with his daughter. Later wife tells husband she likes the young author. That is until the husband drops to many hints with the wife… Tentative title “Hell’s Fury”.
Wow, that will be a good story. I can see you like to play with jealousy and envy a lot. I like to say that if youth was wasted on the young, envy was created so we'd see.
Great interview Amy. I hope everyone takes the time to check out her website and her books, short stories and other ventures. Thank you for your time Amy!
Amy: Thank you for having me, Draven!
Thank you for reading this long interview. We found out a whole lot about her, didn't we? I thought it pretty entertaining and her stories are pretty good. Here is some information to follow:
Fright Done Right: http://www.crimsonscreams.com/
Live Journal: http://amygrech.livejournal.com/