The recording device from which this transcript came was recently found on a church doorstep near Salem Massachusetts. It involves a conversation between J. Aurel Guay and author A.F. Stewart. The whereabouts of Dr. Guay are still unknown.
Aurel: Hello Ms. Stewart, it was so good of you to accept my invitation for an interview. Although I must say, your choice of setting here in this centuries old cemetery, under a full moon is a little… unorthodox. Fortunately, I’ve brought along a little picnic basket. Help yourself to a fruit tart and a glass of wine, and we will begin.
Stewart: Oh, blackberry and sour cherry tarts. My favourite flavours. I’ll pass on the wine, though, as I don’t imbibe. I’ve also brought something, my own little delectable delicacy, Deviled Egg Eyeballs (holds out a container of deviled eggs in the shape of bloodshot eyeballs). Care for one?
Aurel: Don’t mind if I do! As I understand it, you have just released a new work of fiction and are celebrating with gifts to your readers. What can you tell us about it?
Stewart: My new book is a sequel to my horror story collection, Killers and Demons. This volume, Killers and Demons II: They Return features thirteen stories honouring the delightful wickedness of villains, those scoundrels we love to hate. I’ve rummaged far and wide over on the dark side to dredge up the perfect set of terrors to entertain my readers.
Pauses to chew a bite of tart, swallows, and then continues…
A lovely place the dark side, I highly recommend visiting. Very scenic, and surprisingly full of interesting people. Plus, they serve cookies. They may be poisoned, but they’re decadent chocolate fudge.
But I digress. Getting back to the book, the stories present a multiplicity of mayhem, showcasing serial killers, homicidal marriages, demon bounty hunters, undead witches, silent shadows, and other fiendish things. There really are some fascinatingly horrid characters in the sequel, including a reader favourite from the first book, Balthazar. He’s back hunting escaped souls, and this time he goes toe-to toe with a witch. I also have several murderous pairings this time around, including Millicent and Jane, a duo you should never invite to afternoon tea, Hannah and Mr. Greeley, who walk on the seedier side of Victorian England, and Simon and Zoe, an unhappily married couple dying to be single again.
Stewart: I shouldn’t worry about snapping twigs, the ghosts are very friendly here.
Yes, the book is self-published, and I’ve been in the DIY indie publishing scene for quite some time; since 2007 when I self-published my first poetry book through Lulu.com. When I originally chose that route, it was a testing of the waters, to see if there was an audience for my writing. I still find it’s a great way to publish less commercially viable books, like single author story collections, and short novellas.
Aurel: How interesting. Tell me Mrs. Stewart, do you have any other published works?
Stewart: A few. I have more than a dozen or so self-published books, consisting of my story collections, books such as Fairy Tale Fusion and Passing Fancies, three poetry books, and some fantasy novellas like Ruined City and Gothic Cavalcade. Plus, I have some stories published in anthologies such as Mechanized Masterpieces, Coffin Hop: Death by Drive-In, and Christmas Lites III. I even have a non-fiction book, The Incomplete Guide To Action Movies.
Aurel: My my, I had no idea you were so prolific! What moved you to become an author?
Stewart: The voices in my head… I mean my passion for writing. I’ve been putting words on paper since I was a youngster, poetry, stories, even a book or two, including one sad attempt at a romance that will stay buried forever. I finally decided to throw it out to the world and see if anything would stick. So far, the response from readers has been most pleasing.
Stewart: Again, I wouldn’t worry, but if you think you see figures shuffling around the headstones, don’t make eye contact. Especially if they’re moaning, or look hungry. Or hairy. Definitely avoid eye contact if they look like they have fur, particularly tonight, under the full moon.
Aurel: Heh, I’ll ah… do my best… So can you tell us about some of your most favorite authors?
Stewart: I’ve been a voracious reader for years, so I have a very long list of favourite authors, but topping the list are Neil Gaiman, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Ray Bradbury. I’ve been a fanatic for Neil Gaiman since his Sandman days, and I adore the dark slant he brings to his work, without ever losing a sense of wonder. I’ve bought entire anthologies simply to read one of his stories.
I also love the brilliant books from Guy Gavriel Kay. He’s a fellow Canadian, and he writes alternate history/fantasy novels that are simply stunning. His words are poignant, beautiful and lyrical, and almost breathe the images off the page.
And Ray Bradbury is a very personal favourite, as well as one of my deepest inspirations. His writing stimulated my love of short stories, and my own desire to write them. He painted pictures with words that could make you smile and cry, often at the same time.
I also have to give mention to authors Morgan Llewellyn, Agatha Christie, Robert B. Parker, Ellery Queen, Maeve Binchy, and Jennifer Roberson. Their books are always entertaining and enjoyable.
Aurel: What is it that inspires your writing? …Are you sure there is nothing out here?
Stewart: I’m certain there’s nothing lurking out here of dangerous consequence… well probably nothing. A full moon night can be a bit unpredictable. But I wouldn’t worry.
As to your other question, many things inspire me. Snatches of conversation, odd thoughts, old photos, art, wondering what kind of spatter pattern a shotgun blast to the head would make on the wall. You know, normal everyday things. I like to take simple, innocent characters and events and twist them… yes, twist them until their necks snap and the heads pop off. Oh, sorry my mind was wandering there for a minute.
Aurel: Do you have any words of wisdom for the burgeoning authors reading this interview?
Stewart: You should write what you feel comfortable with and what you love exploring, be it cozy mysteries, thrillers, non-fiction, or the next great literary novel. Start within your comfort zone; branching out beyond it can come later with more authorial experience and wisdom.
Oh, and never be afraid to maim and kill your characters.
Aurel: Splendid advice. Now, what is next for you?
Stewart: Next up are a couple of anthologies. My modern day tale of Camelot, Grail Days, will be appearing in the new paranormal anthology from Xchyler Publishing, and I have a steampunk story appearing in the charity anthology Christmas Lites IV, called The Professor’s Christmas Ghost. I’m also working on a steampunk adventure novel, and a fantasy novel which revolves around a prophecy of seven deaths.
And at the end of October I’ll be participating in the annual Coffin Hop, a blog hop for devotees of horror and Halloween.
Aurel: This has been marvelous Ms. Stewart, simply marvelous. Now at this point I usually ask my guests to compete in a friendly game, or offer an exotic dish. But, seeing as the shadows from all over this cemetery seem to be making their way towards us at an unnatural rate, I suggest we forego the usual pleasantries and seek shelter in the Church or other nearest well-lit holy place.
EVERY AUTHOR FOR HIMSELF! AAAAaaaahhhhhhhh!
A.F. Stewart can be found at the following locations:
Her upcoming short story collection Killers and Demons II is available from these fine vendors: