“The Line” by Michael G. Williams had my eyes glued to the page, wondering what would happen next. It’s a warning against religious cults, but it gives power to one such victim.
Q (Crone Girls Press): Author Interview Question 1: What drove your story for this anthology? Tell us the “story behind the story.”
A (Michael G. Williams): I had a very specific image in mind from the get-go, one of a character standing before the revealed form of some indescribable cosmic horror. That image was very strong in my mind, but the path from a first sentence to that moment was completely muddled. Every time I took a run at starting the story the first two or three sentences came out sounding completely wrong. Eventually I stepped way back and sort of shuffled in different characters and character concepts in that moment, and one of them clicked perfectly. Tommy was the first perspective character I tried who appeared in my mind fully formed and realized. I knew exactly what had brought him to that moment and I knew exactly how his journey started. From there, I just had to sit back and let him show me the rest.
Q: What does it mean to read and write horror when you’re competing with news headlines (for example, this anthology came about in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V Wade)? How has it changed (or not!) your approach to the genre as a writer or as a fan?
A: I’ve always favored horror that’s inclusive, political, and transgressive. I’ve always liked writing horror with a “point,” a progressive message I can drive home with all the ferocity horror allows. As progressives we’re expected to restrict our opinions and our expressions of them to demonstrations of kindness and acceptance, and I do want more kindness and more compassion in the world. That said, the experiences that teach us compassion are often themselves traumatic, and those traumas come with years of emotional and psychological consequences. Horror lets me push back against the abusers and authoritarians in the world. It lets me make them face the consequences of their actions rather than simply hauling them around behind me between therapy appointments. It’s nice to make the bad guys pay for their crimes, and horror allows me to really relish doing so.
Q: There are a number of different flavors of horror. Where does your story fit, and what drew you to this particular category?
A: Mine is definitely a combination of folk horror and cosmic horror. I will never, ever get enough stories of the terrifying celebrations of the strange and unknowable happening on some remote mountaintop or deep in the forest outside of town. I grew up in Appalachia in a family and community where I was assured routinely that the supernatural is real but that we must never, ever speak of it too loudly or we give it power over ourselves. The adults of my childhood, and especially my family, believed very firmly in a supernatural world drenched in blood and covered in teeth. That stuff will always be running around on stage when I write.
Q: Why do you write horror? What about the genre appeals to you as an author?
A: I love stories of outsiders looking in, of found family, and of people finding the ones who believe and support them. So much of my experience as a queer person has been of being disbelieved, discounted, overlooked, and left to the wolves. Growing up gay at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, in the Bible Belt, in the deep hollers of Appalachia, in the Reagan era: it all felt like one or another flavor of being the only person in the movie who realizes the monsters are loose and actively trying to eat them. Horror validated my experiences and told me the monsters could be overcome. Horror is the genre where I find the most satisfying combination of all the questions I’ve had to ask myself time and again in my life: who’s safe, who believes me, who’s on my side, and how will we survive?
Q: What’s next in your writing journey?
A: At the moment I’m working on a cosmic horror novel set in Appalachia, chock full of the ghosts of people we should be glad are dead, weird stuff in the forests, and the too-enticing people next-door. I’m also working on the fourth and final (maybe–we’ll see) installment in my time travel urban fantasy series set in San Francisco, which starts with THROUGH THE DOORS OF OBLIVION. After that, it’s on to the third installment in my AUTUMN series of far-future sci fi detective novels. And, I just turned in the tenth anniversary annotated edition of PERISHABLES, the first book in my vampire series The Withrow Chronicles.
About The Author
Michael G. Williams writes queer-themed horror, sci fi, and urban fantasy about outsiders finding their people and saving the world, including his sci-fi noir A Fall in Autumn (2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award), his vampire series The Withrow Chronicles, and his San Francisco urban fantasy time travel series which begins with Through the Doors of Oblivion. He lives in Durham, NC, with his husband and a variety of animals. More can be found at michaelgwilliamsbooks.com
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Be sure to check out his story in A Woman Unbecoming