Interview with Susie Moloney, a famous horror fiction novelist

October 21, 2014

As of today, Advicesbooks is going to publish a series of interviews with famous novelists. They are the only people who can give valid tips to those who dream to get a career in the fantastic world of creative writing.  Just today, we have interviewed one of the brightest international horror fiction novelists.

She is Canadian and her name is Susie Moloney. Among her marvelous works, we can quote Bastion Falls,  A Dry Spell, The Dwelling: A Novel
, The Thirteen, the latter reviewed  by Advicesbooks, too.  Through this great  interview, the author revealed the history of her career and  a few secrets to become a successful writer.

Now, though, we want that is Susie to turn to the Advicesbooks readers because the interview also contains some revelations about the problems of the modern age, such as, for example,  the role of women. Inside our long dialogue, the author also commented on some comparisons with another famous horror writer and the worrying condition of the market of self-publishing that nowdays many emerging authors use widely.  And so, what are you waiting to read this interview? Here is it with the bolded questions written by Rosalba Mancuso, journalist and reviewer of Advicesbooks, and the answers provided by the same keyboard of Susie Moloney.

Mrs.Moloney, could you describe briefly your career?

I started my career as a journalist, and I always thought that was going to be my life’s work. I went to journalism school in Canada and wrote freelance for newspapers while I was in school. I also started working just out of school at a small broadcaster where I wrote a newsmagazine show, for teenagers, called “Generation.” I wrote that series for three seasons. Somewhere in there a magazine I knew of was looking for an assistant editor. I applied and got the job, only to find myself the editor two issues in. It was a wonderful experience, editing a magazine. While I was editing the magazine, called Dateline: arts I started writing what would be my first novel, Bastion Falls.

When did you understand that you would have worked as a writer?

I took a leave of absence from my job at the magazine so I could finish my novel. I took 6 weeks, as I was very close to being done. It was during that time that I knew I wanted to be a novelist. After that I was hooked—there was no real returning to any other kind of work. I was going to be a novelist primarily, and everything else would just be paying the bills. Of course, I went back to the magazine when I was finished and it was a couple of years before I would write full time as a novelist.

How long do you take to write a book?

I think every book is a little different, some are more involved than others. And then there are some that are under deadline. A Dry Spell for instance (my second novel) was eventually under deadline. I wrote the first four chapters in four months. Once it was sold, I wrote the next 16 chapters in just over six months. That was an insane period of time. I had an infant son, a teenager, and we lived in a rural setting on a beautiful island here in Canada. Manitoulin Island, actually. I wrote 2500-3500 words a day to make that deadline. And I did. I don’t recommend that pace necessarily, but it really keeps your head in the game.

Why do you like horror-fiction writing?

I always had a soft spot for scary anything. My mom used to love horror movies, and sometimes she would wake my brother and I up from our sleep to watch with her, if she was frightened. I fell in love with a good scare.

Originally I didn’t think I would write horror fiction. A Dry Spell didn’t start off with a supernatural premise—it was actually going to be a love story. But I liked the ghostly presence that I put in the prologue, and the mystery of the Rainmaker, so I upped the supernatural side of the book. I think I got caught up in writing the spooky stuff and then it became expected. I’m not sure my next book will have a supernatural element at all. If you read my recent collection of short fiction, Things Withered, you’ll find that most of the stories don’t have a supernatural element, although they’re all very dark. I think I really like the dark side of things.

Sacrifice, talent, passion: Among these requirements, which is the most important to become a successful novelist?

Actually, I think persistence is the most likely path to success. If you keep writing, and keep sending out your stuff, you’ll eventually hit some kind of pay dirt. The more you write, the better you get as a writer. The more you read the better you get as a writer. Determination, having a goal in mind—like finishing a novel—and persistence when your book is rejected again and again, these are the elements of success. Fail, fail better, fail again; get back up when you fail, start over. That should be the writer’s mantra.

Some critics affirm that your style of writing is as similar as the one of Stephen King. What do you think about this opinion?

Well, I’m thrilled to DEATH when they compare me to Stephen King. I just hope he’s not insulted, ha ha. He’s a master craftsman when it comes to longform storytelling, so it’s an honour to compared to him. I’m a huge fan, and I thank those critics, from the bottom of my heart.

Your horror and supernatural stories seem focused about evil caused by misery, poverty and troubles of daily life. We can see that inside The Thirteen or A Dry Spell. What are the problems of modern life that inspire your novels?

I think there’s very little about modern life that ISN’T scary, ha ha. The day-to-day business of living is so distracting, and so compelling, that I think the darkness and evil seeps into the cracks when you’re not looking, or when you can’t pay attention. Especially for women—we are pulled in so many directions, we have so much pressure on us, to be so many things. We have to be thin, beautiful, successful, good mothers, good partners/wives, we have to keep a good house, get a nice turkey on the table at Christmas and a ham at Easter, and feed everyone good, nutritious meals the rest of the year. We have to deal with all the shit, and remember all the boring stuff: when recycling day is, the name of everyone’s doctor, when the last time the filter in the furnace was changed—and we have to do it with a grateful heart and a smile. It’s bullshit. I’m utterly shocked every day when we don’t hear of another woman being possessed by a demon (or just acting like one). I think every woman who strives is slowly going mad, letting that darkness seep into those cracks when she’s at the gym, the grocery store, the toy store, the office.

I’m not surprised that it’s always women who are spared at the end of the serial killer movie. We’ve earned it, man. In the end, we’re the heroes.

Today, many new authors seek success through self – publishing. This path is proved by a high number of new books that every day are published on many websites of free download. Could you say to us, what do you think about self-publishing? And more: Have you ever self-published a book in the early stages of your career?

The industry has really changed since I started my career. Right now self-publishing is going mad, everyone seems to be doing it. And everyone’s shilling their book on social media. So far as I can tell, all it’s done is dilute the market, and that’s not a good thing. Everyone is making a little less money. But I think it will all balance out eventually. It’s not a great business to get into now, and it’s still the lottery it always was, the pot’s just smaller. The term “bestseller” has ceased to have meaning because there’s too many ways to measure it.

I wouldn’t rule it out, if the industry went entirely that way, and I guess if it’s working for people then they’ll do it, but without the so-called “gatekeepers,” then there’s no measurement of success other than dollar figures. I’m not sure that’s a good measuring stick. Maybe it is.

I can tell you, from what I’ve seen, it’s a lot more work.

One of your books, A Dry Spell, has been used to make a successful movie. Might you reveal if The Thirteen will follow the same destiny?

Aw, I just love The Thirteen. Those women really got under my skin as a writer. I would frankly love to see it as a film, or a television series, but there are so far no plans. There are an awful lot of books that get optioned for film, but don’t get made into anything. The Thirteen and A Dry Spell have both been under multiple options, but alas, so far no theatrical release. I promise to keep you and your reader posted!

There is some advice you can give to those people who dream to make a career in the creative writing?

Do it because you love it. Strive to be a better writer every time you sit down at the keyboard. And read, read, read. Reading will make you a better writer, ultimately. You know the six rules to being a successful novelist, don’t you? In case you don’t they are: Read, read, read; and write, write, write.

Usually, a novelist has always a sentence or a quote that leads his/her life. My favourite sentence is, for example: ““Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of travelling”. By Margaret Lee Runbeck. What is your favourite quote? And at last: Among your books, what is your favourite?

I’ve always liked, “When I am dead, I hope it may be said/’his sins were scarlet, but his books were read.’” I think that sums me up nicely.

As for favourites, I love my book The Dwelling, which was sold in Europe as 362 Belisle Street. It’s a pretty classic haunted house story, told through the eyes of three families who live in the house at different times, and the realtor who sells it each time. The realtor, Glenn Darnley, was another character who has never left me. She’s still there, in my head, selling me houses I can’t afford.

Thank you so much for this interview, Rosalba, and a big hello to all your readers!

Thank you very much, Susie Moloney,  for this great and really fantastic interview. I wish you a long and endless career.

Image source:

Photo by Richard Wagner Photography

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