We're delighted to support Specul8 Publishing's 13 Days of Halloween, bringing you a series of fiction, true stories and interviews from Specul8's team of authors specialising in the fantastic, the gothic, and the macabre. For more horror-themed goodnesss, visit Specul8 on Facebook for 13 days of spooktacular giveaways, competitions, author interviews and more.
Today, an interview with Bee Neilsen, author of newly-released A Little Ray of Obsidian Black.
Hello Bee, what’s your favourite scary movie?
This is like asking me my favourite child! The first movie that actually really scared me when I was younger was Stephen King’s IT starring Tim Curry, so that always has a special place in my heart. At the moment, my favourite horror would probably be The Babadook, I really liked a lot of the metaphorical aspects of it. Anything with Bela Lugosi or Sir Christopher Lee is also a big favourite of mine.
You’ve just released your own book this month. Tell us about it.
A Little Ray Of Obsidian Black is my first solo work, and it is a collection of dark poetry and flash fiction. A lot of it is fragments of larger stories, experiences, or thoughts that I have, and each work is just a little glimpse into an aspect of my life or interests.
How do you get your ideas?
Many times I have a word or a phrase bouncing around in my head for a while; often times that describes a feeling or experience or something I find interesting, and my brain latches onto it and builds on it. For example, right now I’m mulling over the history and use of the word “deadline”, something that you would hear almost everyday but that actually is quite morbid when you stop and examine all possible meanings of the word.
Specul8 also has you back in their Halloween Issue, Behold the Nightmare. Tell us about your story in there.
Oh, this story idea has been in the works for a while! For a long time, I would ask my friends, acquaintances, and even friends’ children, “do you think a zombie and a ghost can come from the same person?” Because, traditionally, a zombie is just the body whilst the ghost is just the soul. So this is an exploration of how that happens and what that may look like.
What was the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
I am a bit of an adrenaline and spook junkie, actually! I have done ziplining, absailing, rock climbing. I jumped off the Auckland Tower once. I also love all kind of horror tours/rides/adventures. Probably the scariest moment that I have experienced was when I was working in a funeral home and the power went out during a storm. There was a floral bouquet right at the back of the refrigerator that I had to retrieve for the next day, so I had to venture through the storm, into the mortuary where all the lights were out except the backup generator red light, and walk through the rows of bodies under sheets and in coffins. Normally death doesn’t bother me at all, but this was just a moment where my animal instincts kicked in and I thought “this is how all horror movies start”.
If you were stuck in a horror movie, how long do you think you’d last?
I’m patient zero, the first victim, the beginning of the end. Doom begins with me.
Werewolves or vampires?
Vampires, but the traditional Bram Stoker, coffin-sleeping-double-jointed-demon vampires.
Why do you think people like horror so much?
I think anything to do with death makes you feel alive. My fascination for the macabre stems from a deep fascination and respect for life.
Which authors inspire you?
Edgar Allan Poe is the obvious answer here, but many people don’t know I’m an avid Agatha Christie fan. I have probably 40 of her books, sealed collectables and second-hand finds alike. I also inherited a love of Kippling and from my grandfather, and I think if you read some of his work (for example If) you may be able to draw some loose comparisons to my poetry style.
If you had to kill someone, how would you do it? Asking for a friend…
Ice shard through the temple, drop the weapon and walk away. The more you tamper with the body, the more likely you are to get caught. Just leave that murder weapon to melt and run.
What scares you the most?
Is now a good time to plug my poem Fathoms of Fear? But I’m probably most scared of things to do with isolation; being buried alive, being trapped in my body, being a brain in a jar. I think social connection is something I value most. Also, I hate the thought of ear spiders.
What advice do you have for other aspiring authors out there?
1. Read your work out loud, even if it is just to yourself. Sometimes, I think I have something fantastic, but when I vocalise it, I am using repetitive words or things don’t quite flow.
2. If you have something stuck in your head, a word or phrase, write it down. Examine it, research it. Save it. One day you may need to reach for it, and you want it to be there.
3. Start drinking coffee now. You want that pumping heart rate and shaking hands; a reckless or paranoid author is an inspired author. And coffee is both cheaper and more socially acceptable than cocaine
Bee Neilsen: she’s sugar and spice and a little bit morbid. Drawing inspiration from the work of Tim Burton, Edgar Allan Poe, and her experience working in a funeral home, Bee Neilsen is a self-described scribbler, coffee-lover, and connoisseur of all things spooky. When she isn’t working or writing, Bee enjoys relaxing with her dog, cooking, and eating her weight in hummus. A Little Ray of Obsidian Black is Bee’s debut collection of dark poetry and flash fiction.