Sunday, May 24, 2015

Who In The Hell Is Amy Cross?! [Interview]

Before February of this year, I had never heard of Amy Cross. I found her by accident during one of my searches for something new to read. (I was also looking to take a break from the zombie genre.) The first story of hers that I stumbled upon was 3AM.

3AM is so much more than a ghost story with haunted train tracks. First of all, I kept checking my clock to make sure it wasn't 3am. It also didn't help that I could hear the night train passing through my part of town. I was sincerely frightened, and I think other horror fans will feel similar chills. Cross uses classical elements of horror, such as mystery and suspense, and mixes them with not only paranormal situations, but also terrifying events that happen in real life (ex: serial killer). All of the characters interested me, not just the main characters - not something that usually happens when I read horror. The prologue immediately hooks readers (and scared the crap out of me), and, last but not least, the ending is excellent.

WARD Z: REVELATIONS is every camper's worse case scenario. At a UK camp for teens with terminal cancer, four girls are forced to fight for what little life they have left. They soon realize that no one can be trusted as they uncover a plot by an invading species to take over the world. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is nothing compared to this nightmare created by Amy Cross. (You do not need to read Ward Z for Revelation to make sense, but I recommend adding it to your Amy Cross reading list.)

TENDERLING  is not only a damn terrifying nightmare, but also a great piece of fiction in general. You don't even have to be a horror fan in order to appreciate the entertainment value of Tenderling. The epilogue ROCKED! I want to contact my friends in the film industry and make this into a movie!

THE GIRL CLAY was one hell of a demonic tale. I love all the elements at work in this story: horror, mystery, suspense and drama. The horror ranges from real-life issues to the supernatural. There is mystery surrounding Clay - her past, the present and, of course, the demonic entity hunting and tormenting her. The two storylines, set ten years apart, are the perfect way to build suspense throughout the novel, until readers are finally shown all the connections. Last but not least, the drama surrounding the girl Clay, specifically the detachment she maintains with everyone around her. Her non-relationship with Aaron is one of the most heart-wrenching part of the story in my opinion. Amy Cross is such an incredible writer, she is able to create an intense level of intimacy between Clay and Aaron in just a few short scenes.

THE SCREAM is a great short story, if you don't have time for a full-length novel. As soon as I began reading, the scream had me hooked. Cross does an excellent job of describing what the town is experiencing...I felt their desperation. Some readers may find the ending frustrated. Having read The Girl Clay, I felt that I had a special insight into the mystery. The novel is NOT related to the short story, but...remember how Stephen King hid easter eggs from his stories in his other stories? I recognized a name in The Scream from The Girl Clay. That was good enough for me

As far as I'm concerned, Amy Cross writes horror the way it should be written. She is a prolific horror author, possibly the best I've come across since the 80s, so I asked her for an interview, and she was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions...

*****
 
Q: Do you consider yourself a horror author, or do you avoid labels that limit you to one genre?

A: I try to pay attention to the labels without letting them limit me. I don't take a very analytical approach to that side of things, I just trust my instincts and hope that I won't stray too far off course.

I love writing horror, but occasionally I like to try something a little different. Sometimes that works, e.g. with The Girl Who Never Came Back, and sometimes it doesn't, e.g. with The Return. I'm working on something now that's firmly in the fantasy genre, it might even have a few dragons. But horror seems to be my thing, and I'm not complaining.

Q: You have a plethora of short stories and novels. What is your writing schedule like? What’s a typical day for you?

A: I have a real-life job that takes up a few days each week. On those days, I usually write from about 7pm to midnight. On days when I don't have to do the other job, I start at 8am, take a break from midday to 2pm, and then work again until 5pm. So that's between five and seven hours a day. I really enjoy writing, so I usually only have a few days each year where I don't do any at all. It's pretty intense, though, and if someone knocks on the door when I'm in the middle of something, they can usually tell I've been writing because I'm almost in a daze!

When I'm not writing, I'm usually out with the dog, or cooking. Sometimes I even crawl out into sunlight and see other people. I recently moved, so I think that was enough disruption for now.

Q: How do you feel about the controversy over self-publishing? Do you think authors should try to submit to a publisher first?

A: I think authors should do whatever suits them best. Self-publishing suits me, because I can work fast and I get to decide what book to write next. There are advantages and disadvantages to any approach, and I think the key thing is to be flexible.

For example, I doubt any sane publisher would ever have thought that Dead Souls is a good idea, since it's basically a commitment to release a fifty-page episode every week. It took me a while to decide I was ready to commit to that. A publisher would probably want the whole thing written a year in advance, and they'd probably want me to commit to one particular genre with the series, which would be tricky. So far it's a melodramatic horror romance soap thriller with occasional hints of erotica. I'm not sure how I'd have explained that to a publisher at the start.

Then again, I've never worked with a publisher, so if a good one came along, I think I'd have to give it a try.

Q: What kind of fan base do you have? Have they shown a preference for particular titles?

A: I don't really know! I've never tried to analyze it. I was lucky that the first books I released, the Dark Season trilogy, did quite well, and then so did Asylum. I just write the books that I want to write, and I make sure to label and describe them accurately so that people know what they're getting with each one.

Q: Your genre range and writing style remind me of Stephen King from the 70s and 80s. Do you think you will ever be as well-known? What goal do you have for your writing career?

A: I'm a big fan of Stephen King, although I've by no means read all his work. I used to read James Herbert quite a lot, too.

I tend to binge read certain authors, going through all their work without a break. I did that with Graham Greene, and John Steinbeck, and William Faulkner, J.D. Salinger, people who aren't really known for writing horror, but whose books often have individual moments of horror.

My goal is just to keep writing. I don't expect to ever be as well-known as any of those people I just mentioned. I like my little schedule (as described above) and I wouldn't really want anything to disrupt it.

*****

If you haven't read anything by Amy Cross, you are missing out on some excellent fiction. So what are you waiting for? Start reading her stories - the diversity alone will send your imagination into a state of horrified bliss.

As always,
AstraDaemon

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