Author Interview: Seven Questions with Horror Writer Aniko Carmean

What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?

Well, this is more what’s new for teacher Paul D. Dail, but I just started reading The Giver by Lois Lowry with my students.  The first time I first read it, I referred to it as 1984 Lite.  It is a YA book, but there are things that adults can appreciate as well.  Lowry was clearly influenced by Ayn Rand, but if you have younger kids, as a bildungsroman story, this is a little more accessible than Anthem and is a good introduction to dystopian literature.

What does the future hold?

So today is the interview of Aniko Carmean.  Next Friday, I will be reviewing her novel, Stolen Climates.

But without further ado…

I met Aniko last year through a blog hop and consider myself lucky to have done so.  Her blog was obviously the first thing I came upon, and I was immediately struck by her way with words and her ability to make connections that you wouldn’t see coming.  She has an entertaining voice and very often uses it to get across messages that are good to hear, not only as a writer, but as a person in general.

So it’s with great pleasure that I bring…

Seven Questions with Horror Writer Aniko Carmean

1- As far as writing is concerned: a- your favorite pastime, b- your fiery passion, c- your full-time profession, or d- a combination of the above.  Feel free to expand.

I’m going to have to go with E, none of the above. I do not make my living writing, but it is also not something I consider a pastime. Passion, maybe, but it’s a strange passion because when I am overcome by it, I am no longer there. In a sense, writing is something that happens to me – not something I “do.” When I am in the flow, I feel that I am emptied of self, that I am a conduit for something beyond me and there is no longer a self that has pastimes, goes to work, or writes the answer to this question.

[PDD: So is that a hint? 🙂  Just kidding, but I can see why you need to take a break from the internet while you finish your current project. Of course I understand. And interesting answer. I’ve mentioned it before, but I like Stephen King’s take on this.  While he admits to having a hand in the finished product, he has compared writing to archaeology.  He feels that, more than creating a story, he is uncovering something that was there before him.]

2- What was the last book you finished reading?  What are you currently reading?  If it doesn’t seem obvious by title, what are the genres?  Do either of these fall under your favorite genre (you know, the book you pick out when you’re going on vacation)?

The last book I finished was SAD JINGO, by Ron Dionne. It is a literary thriller, and is a beautiful improvisation on the theme of misplaced ambition. I am currently reading an urban fantasy by Eric Garrison named BLUE SPIRIT. Both of these books are far outside my go-to genres of horror and sci-fi. When I’m on vacation, I indulge in tabloids – but only in the anonymity of the airport!

[PDD: Tabloids, eh?  Like the Weekly World News?  Or the rumor mill type?  I admit that while I don’t read the latter, I am guilty of picking up the occasional People when I’m in a doctor’s office.  By the way, why do they call it People?  They should call it Celebrities.]

3- What is the TV guide synopsis of your most recently completed project… or whatever project you’d like to talk about today?  (I’ve heard several people say you should be able to hook someone in 25 words or less, but I’m not offering to represent your work professionally, so 30 words will be accepted)

A cult wants to sacrifice Genny to maintain the global climate. Can a renegade goddess and a neurotic stranger stop them? Should they?

4- Okay, now your book jacket version (200 words or less).

Genny is being hunted by a cult who wants to use her in a deadly ritual. As Summer Solstice nears, carnivorous vines grow out of control and it isn’t safe after dark. Can an acquaintance with his own set of debilitating issues and a renegade goddess save Genny?

STOLEN CLIMATES: Mother Nature isn’t just a metaphor.

[PDD: Having read this–and planning on reviewing it next week–I won’t say anything about it here except that you have succeeded in encapsulating the gist of it in only a handful of words.]

5- What is one of the biggest obstacles you have to (or have had to) overcome in regards to writing?  Could be about content, your process, or any other way you interpret the question.

My arrogance. When I started writing, I was certain I was “meant” to write literary fiction, and anything else would be beneath me. Letting go of my own preconceptions about what I should be writing, and what is worthy, opened up my Muse’s world to me.

[PDD: Funny. I always knew it was horror for me and was always irritated in college by the notion that anything less than literary fiction was sub-par content-wise.  It helped that my first writing professor was also a genre writer. I have a great respect for literary writers; it’s just not how my brain works when I’m telling a story.] 

6- What is something that your readers might be surprised to find out about you?

I spent five years working on my craft without ever considering publication. I took workshops, joined critique groups, and wrote in the mornings before work because I wanted to be a good writer, not a published author. When I finished STOLEN CLIMATES, I realized I had something to share with the world and that keeping it hidden in my desk would be selfish.

[PDD: I think all writing should start with self.  If someone starts out writing because they want to be published, there’s a good possibility that they will have a long and disappointing road to travel.  I’ve always written because it’s what I love to do.  At some point, I just decided that I might as well try to make some money off my passion.]

7- Your blog’s tag line is “The Happy Horror Writer,” and though we haven’t met, I feel like I’ve come to know you pretty well.  Free-spirited. Earth-conscious. Dare I say, airy? Funny.  Kind.  Considerate.  And passionate.  In some ways, I feel like I’ve probably known many people similar to you throughout my life. With one exception.

So first, am I off on any of those assessments of your character?  And second, more importantly, why such horror for such a nice girl as yourself?

Thank you for all of the kind words, Paul! I think you are pretty close to how I would describe myself, although I would say that I am consciousness-conscious, more so than Earth-conscious. I am happy and silly and love to giggle, and I think that this is what trips people out when they discover I write horror! As for why I write horror, even I’m not sure. However, I was a vegetarian for many years, and even went full-on vegan for awhile, but I realized that no matter what, something had to die for me to live. Hello, horror!

[PDD: Okay, I’ll take that one, although I still have a few questions, like perhaps about the shift you mentioned in Question #5. And whether or not you read or watched horror growing up. But here we are at the end of the Seven, so I will remain to wonder (or perhaps go into the back catalogue of your blog for hints 🙂 ) But great response about something having to die for you to live. To quote Tool, “Life feeds on life.”]

My question is, who is eating parrots?
Photo courtesy of Hanumann at Flickr

Last words:

Thank you for the opportunity to answer your Famous Seven Questions!


[PDD: My pleasure. Hope your time away is productive.]

What do I want from you?

Comments? Just want to say “hi” to Aniko?

Aniko was kind enough to answer my questions, but beyond this, she is taking a break from the internet until the end of the year (something which I can certainly understand after taking my own break).  However, it is worth your time to peruse the back catalogue at her blog, The Happy Horror Writer.

Finally, don’t forget to check back next Friday for my review of Aniko’s Stolen Climates. But if you can’t wait for that (or want to get a sneak peek), you can find it at Amazon.  Click here.

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15 thoughts on “Author Interview: Seven Questions with Horror Writer Aniko Carmean

  1. I love the Coffin Hop. One of the reasons is that I got to meet the two of you.
    And I agree with Paul–Aniko, you have a lovely way of putting words together–intelligent without the often accomanied haughtiness.
    That being said, I’ve thought the same myself–the happy horror writer–interesting–yet if the shoe fits!! (And it really does)
    Very interesting about your vegan thoughts too Aniko. You are much more concerned than I am–I hate zoos because I cannot stand to see what should be free caged, yet I never think as I consume.
    Maybe I should…
    Thanks to both of you…loved this post. Learned something about both of you 🙂
    XO Pen

    1. Thank you, Pen!

      I suspect that you consider a lot of things much more deeply, and with more heart, than most. If you haven’t consciously considered where your food comes from, that is only because you are busy considering what it means to be human, what it means to create, what it means to know the darkness yet yearn for the light. The food that you consume is well spent in fueling your creativity.



    2. Hey Penelope,

      Thanks for the comments. I feel like we might have talked about this before, but have your read Life of Pi? It has a very interesting take on the whole zoo phenomenon. I was kind of the same way about zoos as you are, but after reading that book, it gave me a new perspective.

      Anyway, thanks again.

  2. Didn’t realize you had been a vegetarian for awhile, Aniko, but it makes sense, and I can totally see it as being in line with who you are. I did it myself for awhile, so I definitely get why someone would do it – it’s not always just one thing that you can point to, and it sounds similar here. I know exactly why you mean by the literary writing! I had that beaten into me in college and it took years to get back on track with what I had been writing previous to college. Oh well, live and learn. Great interview and I recommend that people who haven’t read Stolen Climates go out and get it right now. You won’t be disappointed!

    1. My inoculation against genre writing happened in high school. What finally turned me around was the fact that I hit a terrible dry spell with literary novels. Not writing them, mind you: reading them. I couldn’t find one that told a story compelling enough I wanted to know how the book would end. It left me feeling lost and I thought back to the last thing I read that really captured my imagination and realized it was genre fiction. To Half Price Books I went, and emerged with a stack of horror. Not all of the books were good, but enough of them were that I got off of my high horse and embraced the vitality and value of genre.

      Little known fact: the first version of Stolen Climates had no supernatural elements, and most of the “action” took place at a dinner party where the characters debated the merits of vegetarianism! It was … boring! After my tryst with that stack of books, I went back to my novel and completely overhauled it – for the better, I think!

      Thanks for repping Stolen Climates, Jonathan! 🙂

      PS – I realize I’m breaking my internet rules by commenting, but….I’m almost done with the book I’m reading now, and then I’m starting Room 3!!! For anyone who doesn’t know, Room 3 is Jonathan’s most recent novel & it’ll be widely available in less than a week!!

    2. Yeah, college was tricky. As I mentioned, fortunately my first professor was a genre writer (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but he co-wrote a few novels with Frank Herbert). He was a great influence and inspiration. However, when I moved up to Montana, I again ran into the more literary bunch of professors, but by that time, I wasn’t going to be deterred. I was also old enough that I think I saw the problems with academia… that cycle of write, get critiqued, revise, get critiqued again, revise again. As far as I could see, it just seemed like a trap to keep one from every just taking a chance and putting their stuff out there. Everyone wanted to be the next Faulkner or Hemingway.

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. Paul,

    I admit to reading “People,” but what I really go for are the alien-abduction-creates-time-warp-lambs type of tabloid. I enjoy the grainy photos, the absurd claims, and the way I almost always read something that makes me laugh (and probably shouldn’t!). Perhaps one of the tabloids should publish an article about the Yeti conspiracy to make Americans believe “celebrities” are regular “people!”

    Thank you for posting the interview. I enjoyed reading your answers. I’m especially impressed that you fit in a Tool quote.It is always lovely getting to converse with you, and I hope someday we’ll get to meet in person. We’ll discuss the pitfalls of literary snobbery re: genre and whether or not we watched horror movies growing up. Then we’ll figure out exactly *who* is eating all the parrots!

    As ever,


    1. Yeah, there is awesome fodder for stories in the true tabloids. They’re harder to find these days, though. At least in the supermarket where I shop. You gotta go to an official magazine stand, but where the hell are those anymore?

  4. Thanks for this post, Paul. I’m sorry that Aniko will be absent from the internet for a little while, but it makes perfect sense in view of the simple need to just write occasionally.

    I too was struck by Aniko’s originality and command of language, a trait which certainly comes across in her blog and also in ‘Stolen Climates’.

    I’m a vegetarian too – fluffy-wuffy little animals are my weak point – but I’ve never had enough self-control to be a vegan for more than a few days at a stretch. The connection between horror and meat-eating is an interesting one: I watch horror films and read horror novels, but one of the most truly horrifying things I’ve ever experienced was the sight of a lorryload of pigs being transported for slaughter. Just horrendous…

    1. Hey Mari, thanks for commenting. Yeah, that lorryload of pigs would be pretty bad. Some time ago, I posted about seeing two pigs being slaughtered when I was living up in Montana . I was pretty traumatized, but apparently had my carnivorous habits engrained enough that it didn’t get me away from meat. I think my wife is looking out for my well-being, though. Most of the meat we eat around these parts is turkey.

      Anyway, thanks again. Hope you are having a good weekend.

  5. Jason Darrick 11/10/2012 — 5:58 am

    Wonderful interview, Paul. Aniko, thank you for giving us such a deep look at what makes you tick. My high school experience set me off of writing for ten years, so I can sympathize with obstacles of any kind being thrown before you.

    I’m attempting to be a vegetarian myself, slightly futile most of the time but it does make me feel good to try. Good luck with your break and all the associated projects.

    1. Much thanks, Jason. So what happened in high school? I was still planning on going the science route in high school, even though I had been writing for years.

      And good luck with the occasional vegetarian attempts. I don’t know that I’ve ever really tried. Growing up with a father who either taught agriculture or participated in it, eating meat was pretty much inculcated since birth.

      Thanks again.

      1. Jason Darrick 11/12/2012 — 6:23 pm

        I had a teacher tell me never to read or write again because my analysis of stories were “dead wrong” and my writing was “too dark”.

        1. Jason, that would be shocking in this day and age, but not so uncommon when we were younger. However, what kind of idiot English teacher tells a student never to read again? As if we don’t already have enough people who don’t read.

          And this teacher told you your writing was “too dark”? Wow, did you go to high school in Utah too? 🙂

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