The house was silent as he padded across the landing wrapped in a towel. An electric fan stood next to his bed. He switched it on and felt the gentle caress of its breeze. Lying on top of his covers in a pair of boxer shorts with his hands behind his head, he stared at the ceiling where the shadows of roses and tree branches danced across the white plaster.
The whirring of the fan and rustling of leaves became a secret language that tickled his ears and lulled him to sleep. They told him he could hide here until his father came to protect him.
His knees were against his chest. He tried to straighten, but he was jammed against a wall. He knew he must stay silent, must not be found. Male voices and footsteps echoed beyond the flimsy wall. Both the thunder of feet and the growl of words sounded angry.
“Where is he? We know you’re hiding him here.”
A woman sobbed, pleaded. “There’s no one here.”
Darkness was torn from him as the barrier between Eric and the men was ripped away and thrown across the attic. Hands grabbed his hair and yanked him into the moonlit room. He tried to concentrate on the eaves, but pallid, grotesque faces blocked his view. Some screamed obscenities while others cackled at his terror.
Grabbing claws and gaping maws closed in on him, smothering him as they congealed into a mass of flesh and rage, swallowing him. He struggled against the oppressive weight that was pressed against his nose and mouth, stealing his breath. His heart bruised his ribs, and his mouth tasted of rusted metal.
“Why?” he yelled. “Why?”
A door opened and small hands pulled the death-shroud from his face. His sister’s eyes looked huge in the dark room and shone with tears.
“Eric,” she said, stroking his hair. “Wake up, Eric. Please, I’m scared.”
“I’m awake,” he whispered and sat up.
Carmilla Voiez is proudly pansexual, and an autistic introvert who finds writing much easier than verbal communication. A lifelong Goth, she is passionate about horror, the alt scene, intersectional feminism, art, nature and animals. She lives by the sea in North Scotland and is studying an Arts and Humanities (Creating Writing) BA(Hons) degree.
Carmilla grew up on a varied diet of horror. Her earliest influences as a teenage reader were Graham Masterton, Brian Lumley and Clive Barker mixed with the romance of Hammer Horror and the visceral violence of the first wave of Video Nasties. Fascinated by the Goth aesthetic and enchanted by threnodies of eighties Goth and post-punk music she evolved into the creature of darkness we find today.
Her books are both extraordinarily personal and universally challenging. As Jef Withonef of Houston Press once said - "You do not read her books, you survive them."
Carmilla’s bibliography includes The Venus Virus, The Starblood (four book) Series, Starblood the graphic novel, Psychonaut the graphic novel, The Ballerina and the Revolutionary, Broken Mirror and Other Morbid Tales. Her short stories have been included in Zombie Punks Fuck Off, Another Beautiful Nightmare, Elements of Horror: Water, D is for Demons, Trembling With Fear, and Sirens Call Magazine.
Faith Marlow is a USA Today best selling author of dark fantasy/ paranormal/ horror. Her stories stir emotions and explore the thin veil between human and the inhuman. Dark, yet inviting and familiar, Faith seeks to deliver chills with a sense of class, and sometimes a bit of heat. With each story, she hopes to build exposure for fellow women authors and artists who create horror.
Her debut, "Being Mrs. Dracula", chronicles the lives of Count Dracula's three beautiful, yet very different wives, Valeria, Ilona, and Fleur. The story continues with "Being Dracula's Widow" and the third installment of the series "Being Dracula's Heir". The fourth book is currently in development.
Faith's latest project, the "Scorned Women" series launched in 2020 with its first book, a retelling of the story of Medusa. Each book in this series will focus on a different woman in and seek to give them a second chance.
Faith is also proud to be featured in multiple short story anthologies. When she isn't writing or reading, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching a horror movie, online shopping for Funko Pop! figures, at a rock show, or entertaining her house panther, Teddy. She lives in Tennessee with her husband, Scottie, and son, Avery.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
My name is Faith. I live in East Tennessee, born and raised. My first writing experience was in the fifth grade. Our teacher, Mr. Archer, encouraged my class to write poetry about various subjects. Along with our illustrations, we created little booklets called Visions. This was the first time I saw my name in print, but not the first time I saw myself as an author.
When I was very young, I wrote the date inside of my favorite book, The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, like someone had checked it out at the library. May 30, 1986. I had also marked out the author’s name, and wrote my name over it instead. My one and only act of plagiarism was committed in my bedroom when I was eight years old because I loved that book so much I wish I had wrote it.
I found I had a knack in for fiction and short stories in my English Lit classes in High School and college, but I didn’t pursue novel writing until years later. Movies and stories about Dracula and his brides had always been interesting to me. I had also heard (although debated) that Bram Stoker had drawn inspiration from stories of Vlad the Impaler. The movies I’d watched about Dracula until then always had the “brides” but they were little more than eye candy. Sensual, obedient, beautiful women who only existed to assist Dracula with his agenda. I decided to find out more about these overlooked characters.
I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and was shocked to find that little more was said about these “weird sisters” than what was depicted in the movies I had watched. It was my assumption that if Bram Stoker had drawn inspiration from Vlad the Impaler for Dracula, then perhaps there would be evidence of the brides in his story. What I discovered was tragic. Little more was known about either of them aside from how they intersected with Vlad’s life and conquests. I thought it was such a disservice to these women, and later the fictional characters, that collectively, they were seen and not heard. I wasn’t able to change history, but I could give these fictional women more. Inspired by these fictional characters and the real women of history, I set to writing my first novel, Being Mrs. Dracula. My main character, Vlad Dracula’s first wife, was named Valeria- which means “to be strong” in her native Romanian. Valeria’s story continues in Being Dracula’s Widow and Being Dracula’s Heir. A fourth book in the series is currently being written.
After my experience writing Being Mrs. Dracula, my soft spot for “monsters” was sealed and has become a reoccurring theme in my stories. Ghosts with unfinished business, a woman who chooses to be a werewolf instead being of trapped by her ignored women’s health issues, and most recently, a retelling of the story of Medusa in my new Scorned Women series. I am currently working on the next book in that series, a retelling of the bride of Frankenstien’s monster.
A day in the life of the author?
A day in my life as an author is probably not what most people would expect. It’s not what I thought it would be from films and television shows I watched growing up. I work a full 40 hour week in Information Technology. I only get to focus on writing on the afternoons and weekends. I also have to make time for family, and just living life outside of work. The most ironic part of all is how little of an author’s writing time is spent writing. I often spend more time with promo and the logistic side of writing that I do creating. And I am far from being a unique case. Almost every author I know has a similar situation, which is why it can take us a while to get the next book out.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I really don’t have much relaxation time, which is why I picked this question as one to answer. I am a workaholic by nature, so setting aside time to rest is something I have to consciously do because I will go until I’m exhausted if I don’t make an effort to have a break. When I do, it is usually watching a movie, typically horror or sci-fi, a documentary, or a music venue if Covid-19 guidelines are being followed at the location.
What inspired you to write this book?,
I think Carmilla and I were inspired by many things. Of course, I can’t truly speak for her but it started with us wanting to work on a project together. I think I mentioned I had always wanted to write a straight up ghost story. Then we starting talking about possible locations, and of course the American south is a hotbed of ghost stories and legends. Combine that with the numerous examples of civil and racial tensions and protests, and how that intersects with the south, Our Fearful Roots bloomed from that place. I feel we both try to be socially aware and respectful of other people’s experiences and we both strongly support equality. This story allowed us to explore these ideas, but through a lens of horror, which is a genre we both enjoy working in. I think Our Fearful Roots is most certainly a horror story, not just a ghost story, and not all of the horror it discusses is paranormal.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read. I think Our Fearful Roots is a must read because it is a perfect ghost story for creepy season. It has slow burn tension, legitimate bone chilling scares, and characters that are relatable, so the reader will be able to vicariously have these experiences. I sincerely believe that we have used some elements in Our Fearful Roots that readers will not have encountered in any other story, book or film. It’s a sincere story, thick with emotions, a healthy dose of horror to get hearts pumping just in time for Halloween.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I typically have multiple projects started, but I tend to either finish the project I am on, or at least make some significant progress on one project before moving to another. When the idea of Our Fearful Roots was developed, I put my personal projects on the back burner because we were excited to dive into this story. I think Carmilla has a much stronger skill for working on multiple projects at one time.
What makes a good story?
I think strong, relatable characters are probably the most important part of any story. You could have an iron clad plot, a totally unique story, with a perfect ending, but if readers do not connect to the characters, they will have no incentive to finish the story. Of course, a strong plot and engaging story is very important, but I think it hinges on the richness of the characters.