Way back before I worked in horror, I became aware of Loren Rhoads through her fascinating magazine Morbid Curiosity, which I regularly sought out at my local Tower Records. Sadly, Morbid Curiosity like that Tower Records store is no more, but the curious-minded can still pick up its book version, Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues.
In recent years, Loren has turned her attention to cemeteries (in travelogue-style pieces) and fiction. She’s the co-author (with Brian Thomas) of Lost Angels and its sequel Angelus Rose, which comes out in November. She is also the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers and No More Heroes, a science fiction trilogy that Publishers Weekly accused of bringing grimdark to space opera. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s the new cemetery columnist at Gothic Beauty.
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31 Days of Halloween… with Loren Rhoads
Describe a time when a scene in a horror novel really unnerved you or caused you to turn on all the lights.
The first one that really wrecked me was the scene in The Haunting of Hill House. Something is pounding on the walls and door of the women’s bedroom, trying to get in. The women huddle under the covers, hiding from it. Eleanor thinks Theodora is clutching her hand. Then Theo speaks to Eleanor from across the room. Eleanor wonders whose hand she was really holding… I had to sleep with the lights on all after I read that.
In your opinion, what is the all-time scariest horror novel or short story? (Please feel free to elaborate on your selection.)
This is a personal thing, but John Everson’s NightWhere scarred me. The horror was so intense that I skipped pages occasionally, rather than endure it — but I could not put the book down and walk away. It’s a fascinating take on a BDSM relationship where the husband, rather than being the one wielding the whip, is the one who wants to rescue his wife, despite her insistence that rescue is the last thing she wants. I loved the way John flipped around the perception of just who is really the bad guy here and who most needs the … well, if not rescue, then intervention.
What’s the scariest scene and/or book you yourself have written?
I’m not sure I’m the best judge of that. I’ve written a whole series of stories about Alondra DeCourval inspired by the old occult detectives like Dr. Taverner and John Silence. My short story “Valentine” allowed me to draw on my experiences in a cadaver lab, holding a human heart in my hand. Alondra is willing to step out onto a lot of ledges, but she always drew the line at killing anyone until her guardian needs a new heart. Then she tracks down a mysterious immortal and sharpens her knives. I didn’t know she would go so far.
The story is up on Wily Writers, if you’d like to listen to it: http://www.wilywriters.com/blog/valentine-by-loren-rhoads/
Top three fears?
Claustrophobia is the one I struggle with most often in the real word. It directly inspired my novel The Dangerous Type.
Something happening to my daughter is the one that causes the most nightmares. I haven’t written about that, because it feels like tempting fate.
Blindness is the thing I fear most about growing old. A couple of years ago, my husband and I ate dinner in a restaurant that was completely dark. I thought it would make blindness less terrifying, but I was wrong.
To learn more about Loren Rhoads, visit her website at http://www.lorenrhoads.com