WomenInHorrorHeartDamien Angelica Walters on Horror

Q: Tell us a story about one of your first experiences with the Horror genre.

I’m eleven and my father takes me to see Alien. I made it halfway through before I begged him to leave. Then I spent a week dying to know how it ended and begging my father to take me back. He did and it scared me, but I loved it. It’s my favorite movie now and I’ve seen it over 200 times at this point, but I was definitely unprepared for that amount of fear the first time.

I’m still eleven, reading Lois Duncan and the like, and a friend’s mother gives me a copy of The Shining because “you like that scary stuff.”  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over the bathtub scene. Even so, I quickly abandoned Lois Duncan in favor of King, Jackson, Shelley, Straub, Herbert, and the like.

WomenInHorrorDamienQ: What do you think about the concept of Women in Horror Month? Is it necessary to showcase women in the genre? 

When people ask me if Women in Horror month is necessary, I ask them if they recall the last best-of list they’ve seen or any recent discussions about the best horror authors? As with history, the contributions made by women (and I’m using that term for anyone who identifies as a woman) and people of color are more often than not willfully forgotten and dismissed. Until that stops happening, showcasing women and people of color in genre, in history, in science, etc., is more than necessary.

Q: Where do your best ideas come from?

Most of the time, I’ll get an image or a sentence or a title or an intro paragraph. I could be loading the dishwasher or driving and something will pop into my head and stick there like glue, so I’ll jot it down in my notebook. I’ll toss the idea around in my head for a bit and then start writing longhand. When I know it’s going to be a real story instead of a collection of notes, I’ll create a Word doc and start transcribing. If I hit a sticky point or the story tries to veer in a different direction, it’s back to the notebook until I work everything out.

I think the ideas themselves come from everything I’ve done, seen, heard, experienced. I think the subconscious mind of the creative works as a sponge, soaking it all in. Later, it spits things back out mashed and sewn together a la Frankenstein’s creation.

Bio: As a child, weekly trips to the library fostered Damien Angelica Walters’ love for reading. At the age of eleven, she saw the movie Alien and read Stephen King’s The Shining and her attraction to all things dark and atmospheric turned into true love. Her novel Ink was released in 2012 by Samhain Publishing (under the name Damien Walters Grintalis). Sing Me Your Scars, a collection of short fiction and Paper Tigers, are both coming in 2015. Visit her online.

Read more interviews in our Women in Horror Q&A series.