CHHR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
January 5, 1987.
Just kidding. I don’t know if there was a specific moment, because I’ve always written stories and imagined myself doing it as a career. Before learning to read or write, I used to scribble lines on a page and then “read” what I’d written to whoever would listen. Sometimes, I’d just tell my family an outlandish story and insist it really happened.
CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like?
I don’t have a schedule, because I’m disorganized and impulsive when it comes to my writing. Basically, I try to write or edit something daily, but I usually end up binging, which means I’ll write like a person possessed for several days, and then I don’t write for a while, then I’m possessed again, and repeat that forever.
CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing rituals? If so, what are they?
I have to have noise, but that’s as close to ritual as I get. If it’s too quiet, I can’t think.
CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?
Both have different challenges that appeal to me. Short stories are hard, because I have the characters so detailed in my head it’s hard to keep their stories to just a few thousand words. I love the challenge of trying to make sure only the most important details remain on the page. Novels allow me to spread my wings a bit, but they’re also challenging, because I sometimes lose interest about half-way through. If I’ve lost interest, a part of me believes the reader will too, so it’s easy to abandon the whole thing and start something new.
CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?
Hahahaha! There is no horror scene, unless you count Tweed itself as a horror scene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tweed,_OntarioThere’s not really a book/literature scene at all here. If you want that kind of thing, you have to branch out to larger areas, like Kingston or Toronto.
CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?
Both. Sometimes an idea comes and it’s imperfect, so I’ll outline until it grabs me enough to write it. Other times, I just go with the flow. Cats Like Cream was a go with the flow kind of story, but I did some outlining before writing Church. My upcoming book, Eat the Rich, was entirely spontaneous and written over a couple of weeks.
CHHR: How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?
It didn’t. I wish I’d learned something that made me establish a process, but sadly, I did not.
CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story?
It’s something undefinable, in my opinion, and it changes with each reader. That’s why I love this genre so much. You can write something that scares the bejesus out of one person, while the next might not be affected at all. Finding that disturbing element that will affect everyone is the fun part of writing horror for me.
I think the key to writing good horror is to avoid going for the obvious scare or gross out. Those are fun and have their place in horror, but it’s the subtle things that get under a reader’s skin for more than just the duration of the story, particularly things we encounter in real life.
CHHR: What are you currently working on?
I have three novels I’m editing. One is about an epidemic of migraine headaches that turn out to be something out of this world, and another is about a guy who gets swept up in a tornado and dropped in an alternate reality. He’s not sure if he’s died and gone to Hell or if he’s actually crossed dimensions. It’s more of a dark comedy/bizarro piece than horror. The last is a conspiracy type story where a secret agency attempts to reign in one of its top agents (who has gone rogue) by wiping his memory and dropping him into a disaster. I’m terrible at describing these things, aren’t I? I know.
And I have a lot of “in progress” stories. Some of them may never be finished. We won’t bore everyone with what each of those is about.
CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?
Working on Stephen and Owen King’s Sleeping Beauties at the moment, as well as Itch by A.A. Medina, and The Sea was a Fair Master, by Calvin Demmer. (What I’m reading depends on where I am, my mood, how much time I have, so I usually have at least two books going at the same time) I’ve got Outsiders by Stephen King lined up after those two. There are a lot more than that on my Kindle, including about five or six anthologies, but these are the ones I’ve lined up to definitely read in the near future.
CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?
It’s been a really long time since a book scared me. There’ve been several that made me cringe, like A.A. Medina’s “Siphon,” which I read recently, and some that have unsettled me, like C.M. Saunders’ “Human Waste,” and a couple of stories in Eddie Generous’s “Dead is Dead, but Not Always,” but I can’t remember the last time a book scared me. I think when you write this genre, it’s harder to get lost in the story as a reader. I can admire another writer’s skill, and acknowledge that what I’m reading will be scary for most people, but I don’t forget it’s just a story, so I don’t feel fear at the same level I used to when reading.
CHHR: What is your spirit animal?
This is probably the hardest question of them all. I want to say sloth, because I can get behind moving around as slowly as possible and sleeping most of the day, but that’s not really me.
I’d have to say a cat would be my spirit animal, but not because I’m bitchy and unpredictable. Cats are aggressive when they need to be (even if they’re the only ones who know why) and they’re solitary, but social if they feel like it. I prefer my own company most of the time. I could hermit in my house for weeks and never see another soul (except for my family) and be totally content with that. However, when I have to be around people, once I get over the initial “Ugh” factor, I usually enjoy myself. I talk a lot, so it’s not hard to make conversation or make people laugh. The second I can leave, though, I’m out of there.
CHHR: What is your favorite beer?
I don’t have a favorite beer. I mean, I don’t hate it, but I don’t like it enough to have a favorite. I’m more of a mixed drink person.
CHHR: If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?
Only one? Let’s see… aside from online friends I’d like to meet, an author I’ve always looked up to and would love to have a conversation with is Margaret Atwood. Or John Irving, if she’s too busy.
Renee Miller lives in Tweed, Ontario. She writes in multiple genres, but prefers dark fiction with strong elements of horror, erotica and/or comedy.