Although we are well past Halloween, I, for one, refuse to succumb to the cheer of the holidays.
As an avid fan of horror and supernatural thrillers, I love being kept on my toes. After picking D.M. Siciliano’s debut horror novel, Inside, I can say with confidence that I may just stave off the horrid holiday cheer!
Today I have a special treat: an interview with the mastermind herself! If you are a fan of Stephen King, Stranger Things, Lovecraft, and haunted houses, please give this wonderful gal’s book a try! I promise you won’t be disappointed. You can purchase Inside on Amazon, and be sure to add the novel to Goodreads!
Now, on to the interview!
Tell us a bit about your novel. What’s it about? What are the BIG themes you wanted to incorporate in this spooky read?
First off, it’s set in 1987 in Massachusetts, which is when and were I grew up. 5 kids decide that to make the ultimate entrance into high school, they’d take on the legend of a historically haunted house. What could go wrong?
A few of the big themes I wanted to incorporate into this book were themes of friendship and struggles. I think that is something everyone can relate to. I also wanted to be sure to go a psychological route so that it was less straightforward, and in some ways, open to interpretation of the reader. There’s something so enticing for me about a scary story where you’re not sure if it’s really happening, or perhaps all in your head.
Where did you get inspiration for the house in your novel?
Years ago, a friend told me about a haunted house somewhere in California that is abandoned. Sometimes at night, passersby might catch a glimpse of a light or a spark of a flame when clearly no one was inside.
I transplanted that to Massachusetts, which was more familiar to me, and incorporated the smallest bit of actual history: In the 1600’s there was a ‘war’ against the English settlers and the native Americans called King Philip’s War… not to give too much away, but I thought it would be a perfect touch to add into my story.
Why did you choose to have child protagonists? Why not adults?
Ah, so you’re assuming that an author has a choice when inspiration hits? Kidding, not kidding. Actually, Alex was the first character to come to me after thinking of the concept. He had a lot to say about the story, and he was so convincing I couldn’t not listen. Then, the big bully Reid took over, and the rest is history. And of course, it only made sense that they are kids in the 80’s which was when I was a kid. (Write what you know, and all that!)
What, in your opinion, makes a good horror story?
Two things come to my head immediately:
- Something that frightens you, whether it be a ghost, a real person, snakes, etc.
- Quality characters that you become invested in somehow.
Is there any sub-genre of horror you dislike?
I have a hard time with ‘slasher’ genre of horror. Too much blood and guts and unrealistic characters falling blindly into easy trap does nothing for me.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
The girl/woman being so terrified she can’t even function. It’s like she loses all common sense or brain function all-together. You know, she just screams and screams and runs and falls and gives up.
Given the dark, violent and at times grotesque nature of the horror genre why do you think so many people enjoy reading it?
Well, I’m glad that they do, or I’d be out of a job. But seriously, I think its partly the adrenaline rush you get from watching horror. And also, the departure from reality- you can completely forget about the real world, all your struggles or problems and get lost (and scared!)
Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us?
“A single flame to light the darkness.”
It was one of the first lines to jump into my head when I was dreaming up the story, and its part of the backbone of the legend and the myth of the haunted house. Plus, it was one of those lines I felt so good about I had to google to make sure I hadn’t stolen it from a famous work.
Its funny, too, what you think is going to stand out to the reader the most often doesn’t. I think most people really connected with “Does it burn in the dark?”
Some people are too scared to read horror novels, but what I noticed about the reviews of your book is that it’s drawing in readers who aren’t typically fans of horror. What could you tell someone who might not be a fan of horror to convince them to pick up your book?
I love this question, and it actually came up in a newspaper interview I did, which perhaps enticed people to read it that aren’t horror fans. Yes, it is a horror novel. There are supernatural and evil forces at work in the story, and its pretty dark in some places. But it is a very character-driven story. I needed these kids to be as realistic as they could be so that the reader would care about them, relate to them, hate them, cheer for them, cry for them. It’s the human element that makes the difference, or at least I’d like to hope.
I think Stephen King said it best (and I am paraphrasing) that he takes ordinary characters and drops them into extraordinary circumstances.
That’s exactly what I love to read and its what I always strive to write.
What are you working on now?
I’ve been rotating back and forth between two stories that are giving me trouble. In Between is about a girl who has Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, and when she’s having an ‘episode’ is causes her to be able to see in between the real world, and the world that lies just beneath it.
The Scorch is a bit of an apocalyptic exploration into what might happen when the (theory of) the Collective Unconscious goes horribly wrong. Take the 100 Monkey Principal. Basically, monkeys on one isolated island learned new skills, and scientists discovered monkeys on another island that learned the skills through no contact with the others. Its based somewhat on Carl Jung’s theory of the CU. Here’s a link that explains the 100 Monkey Principal better than I can. http://theconvergencestory.com/blog/2017/1/10/the-100-monkey-principle-and-the-collective-consciousness
If you had to die in a book, how would you die?
Wow! Hopefully in some grand, heroic way. But more likely, it would be due to clumsiness.
Well, that’s all for today! I want to extend a big thank you to D.M. Siciliano for graciously putting up with all my questions, and I hope to continue the conversation about the horror genre! This is definitely a topic worth discussing further, especially with the continued popularity of horror films, podcasts, books, comics, and television shows.
About D.M. Siciliano
DM is a lover of all things creative. From the moment she could speak, growing up in Massachusetts, she had a passion for flair and drama, putting on concerts for anyone who was even remotely interested (and even for those who were not). A storyteller by nature, she first pursued her young dream of becoming a singing diva while living in Arizona. She soon found that stage life wasn’t the only form of storytelling she craved, so she dropped the mic and picked up a pencil instead. She still hasn’t given up on her diva-ness, and hopes her pencil stays as sharp as her tongue.
A dark sense of humor and curiosity for haunted houses and things out of the ordinary led her down the path of completing her first novel, Inside. Several other projects are constantly floating around in her head and her laptop daily, and sometimes keeping her up much too late at night. Occasionally, those projects are so dark and twisted, she needs to leave a nightlight on.
She now lives in Northern California with her two fluffy furbabies, Cezare and Michaleto.