Every fall, Uncomfortably Dark hosts the Dark Dozen Interview series. This series spans twelve weeks and includes the twelve chosen authors for the Dark Dozen anthology. This year's theme is Dark Disasters, which focuses the stories around the all too real horrors that Mother Nature can throw at us. Dark Disasters releases November 25, 2023!
Rebecca Rowland kicks off this year's series and I am very excited that her story, WOLF LIKE ME, is going to be part of Dark Disasters. Her interview is below; please enjoy it and help Uncomfortably Dark welcome her to the Dozens.
When did you know you wanted to become an author?
When I was bedridden, home sick, in first grade, I wrote and illustrated my own comic book. It was a weird mash-up of The Hobbit and The Wind in the Willows (both of which my Aunt Karen had introduced me to that year), if you can wrap your head around that. I still can’t and am convinced it was the high fever pushing that bizarro fan fiction out.
If you had three sentences to pitch your work to a new reader, what is your pitch?
I’m my own worst hype man, and I’m not sure I know how to classify my body of work as a whole. I’m not a sci-fi writer, but Optic Nerve is firmly in sci-fi horror territory; I don’t incorporate physical monsters into my stories very often, but Shagging the Boss is a creature feature. I guess I’d say that my stories are closer to Twilight Zone and Black Mirror episodes than anything else: they aren’t there to scare you, but they will make you extraordinarily uncomfortable, disturbed, maybe even paranoid.
What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?
Honestly? I grew up being a bit of a tomboy. Most of my friends were boys, and I smoked and swore and carried myself more like them than like the girls I befriended. (Not much has changed.) Horror embodies a lot of that spirit: the danger and dirtiness and defiance of my formative years. That’s not to say that horror is a man’s world; it’s far from. However, horror is not flawless and pretty, sitting at the dinner table with its hands folded neatly on its lap. I like the rawness of it, the coloring outside of the lines that other genres don’t embrace.
What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world and have you ever written about it?
I use a lot of unreliable narrators—it’s my favorite trope in fiction when it is done well. Many times, my narrators are unreliable not because they are willfully deviant but rather because they have a distorted sense of reality. Losing my mind, losing my memory, losing control of my own body: those things scare the hell out of me, and that’s perhaps why so many of my stories fall into the psychological horror subgenre. For me, it’s not the monster in the closet that is terrifying; it’s not being able to determine if the monster is real that is.
Tell us about a scene in one of your stories or someone else’s that you would not want to be stuck in and why? Name the book and author, if not you.
Everything after the first act in Judith Sonnet’s “Coke Nail” is a true nightmare in the most delicious sense. Let’s just say, if Sonnet had penned this during the Reagan years, Nancy’s Just Say No campaign would have been out of business.
Darkest or most disturbing horror movie ever watched:
Martyrs (2008) was both disturbing and fascinating. It’s one of those films that keeps you thinking about it for days or even weeks later. Speak No Evil (2022), though it begins quite slow, has a jarring climax that positively chilled me as well.
Darkest or most disturbing horror novel ever read:
Not much disturbs or shocks me, but there have been some innovative extreme horror books that have come out lately, ones that manage to straddle the line between socially acceptable and downright f*cking offensive without tumbling into shocking for shock sakes. Ralston’s Woom, Harrison’s Grandpappy, Stockton’s Bluejay: they all push the envelope, particularly in the arena of sexual deviance as horror, and they do it damn well.
Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:
I would not want to drown. Everyone says it is the most peaceful way to die, but that scene in The Abyss, where Mary Mastrantonio is forced to drown herself? It gives me a panic attack every time I see it. I think dying slowly, knowing you are dying and being unable to change your fate, is the darkest way to go.
If you had one hour to speak to any living author, who would it be and why?
I’d love to speak with Joyce Carol Oates. I’ve read every one of her short fiction collections, and it seems like the woman is spewing new fiction out there every other day. I’d take her aside and whisper, Tell the truth, Oates: how do you go without sleep for so many days of the week and not turn positively batshit crazy?
What has been one of the proudest moments of your writing journey?
My latest short fiction collection was sent out to a few fellow authors for blurbs, and I received some of the highest compliments on my work in return, but what really blew me away was Mary SanGiovanni’s reaction. Instead of just penning a blurb, she offered to write me a whole Foreword because she enjoyed the book so much. The Queen of Cosmic Horror! I nearly fainted from fangirl overload.
Who are you outside of being an author? What makes you tick other than the worlds and stories you create?
I really enjoy creating things, whether it’s making visual art, curating an anthology, or writing my own fiction or creative nonfiction. I was talking with a friend the other day; we discussed a common friend who is extraordinarily passionate about making horror—publishing books, making films, etc—but loathes the business side of things. I’m the same way. I am proud of what Maenad Press has put out so far, but man, do I hate the noncreative aspects of running a press. I suppose I thrive in color: the black and white, I can do without.
What is a piece of advice that you WISH someone had given you early in your career?
The best piece of advice I ever received was never to put much stock in what other people think. Years ago, I penned a story that was much more extreme and blatantly sexual than my usual quiet, psychological horror. I almost buried it because I was concerned about what people close to me would think. Someone told me, “You can’t write for other people. Write what YOU want to write, and don’t hold back.” I released the story, and it ended up making a Best of Hardcore Horror collection that year. To this day, it’s one of my favorite pieces because it represents the day, I started writing for me. I wish I had been given that advice much, much earlier.
Rebecca Rowland's Bio:
Rebecca Rowland is the American dark fiction author of two fiction collections, one novel, a handful of novellas, and too many short stories. She is the curator of seven horror anthologies, including the best-sellers Unburied: A Collection of Queer Dark Fiction and American Cannibal. Rebecca is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association and snagged a Godless 666 gold medal for her novella Optic Nerve; her speculative fiction, critical essays, and book reviews regularly appear in a variety of online and print venues.
The former acquisitions and anthology editor at AM Ink Publishing, Rebecca owns and manages the small, independent publishing house Maenad Press. Her latest release is White Trash & Recycled Nightmares (October 2023) from Dead Sky Publishing. In her spare time, she pets her cat, eats cheese, and drinks vodka (sometimes simultaneously). Follow her dark tomfoolery at RowlandBooks.com or on Instagram @Rebecca_Rowland_books.
COMING OCTOBER 10, 2023 FROM DEAD SKY PUBLISHING!!