Clare de Lune recently released her latest book ‘What Lies Within,’ which we had the pleasure of promoting. After promoting her book, we wanted to give horror fans a chance to learn a little more about Clare’s journey from horror fan to horror author. Here’s what she had to say about that journey, her books, and more…
-PH: Lets start with why horror? Where did your love of horror start?
-Clare: Well, I grew up in the middle of nowhere in the swamps, but we had a small video store down the road. My mom was really into horror, sci-fi and mysteries and she and my dad rented a lot of movies that came out in the 80s. My fascination with horror started when I was about 3 or 4 years old. I crept into the living room one night while my parents were watching Halloween 2 and hid behind the chair and watched it. I continued this ritual until they caught me and just decided to let me watch along with them.
I got really into it–I even did a book report on ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King. My parents were totally cool with the whole thing and would always take me to that video rental place and to the library. I guess they figured as long as I was reading, it was okay.
-PH: Do you think your love of horror led you to becoming a writer, or would you have been a writer regardless?
-Clare: It definitely had a lot to do with it. I was completely fascinated by Stephen King back then, but I figured as long as I was working around books, life would be good. What really got me really hooked on writing was an assignment one of my English teachers in the 6th grade gave us. We had to write some kind of story based on Greek mythology, and mine was published in an anthology. I was really stoked about it and have never really stopped since then. It was a big deal to me back then.
-PH: So tell horror fans about your latest book ‘What Lies Within.’ What’s it about and what can fans expect from it?
-Clare: Serial killer Sophia snatches “dirty” runaways, drug users and society’s misfits off the street and gets them clean—by turning their remains into soap. She has an accomplice, but she’s bored with him and wants to replace him with another like-minded sicko, someone she can call her soul mate.
I think I just wanted to make a statement about today’s society. We live in a sick, twisted world and sometimes, you just have to look inward to find happiness and to deal with life’s shortcomings and disappointments.
-PH: Where did the idea of “turning their remains into soap” come from?
-Clare: I wanted to write about a female serial killer who had this deranged point of view, someone who manipulated her world by changing it into something soft and feminine. What could be better than beauty treatment soap? I thought about that crazy commercial back in the day for soap: “Calgon, take me away!” I wanted my killer to be a sick, twisted sort of pseudo vigilante killer who thought she was cleaning up the world in her own insane way.
-PH: I read that you originally were going to make this a vampire story, but then changed it. Why did you make that change, and at any point did ever think about going back to that vampire story?
-Clare: That’s true, I did begin it as a vampire novel. When I first started it, I focused a lot on the whole concept of psychic vampires. A lot of the story has to do with Sophia, the main character. I focus on her obsession with another serial killer, Paul, as well as her desire to consume her victims and make them a part of her, as well as changing them for the better by making them into soap. Therefore, “cleaning” up society. I started researching serial killers and discovered there’s not a whole lot of difference between them and fictional vampires–they often both want their victims to be a part of them. Serial killers felt more real, much scarier than vampires. I love them in fiction if they’re done well, but I wanted this novel to hit home a little harder.
-PH: You’ve written both full length books, and series of short stories. Do you prefer one over the other?
They’re both challenging for me, but short stories are a little more challenging, so they’re my favorite. You have to pack a lot of punch into just a few words. My favorite piece is Second Skin, a novella about a model who is swallowed up by the insanity of L.A. It’s only about 8,000 words, but it was very cleansing for me to write.
-PH: Do you have a certain writing process you go through?
-Clare: Not at all! I’m not consistent at all, to be completely honest. I do carry a leather-bound journal (like Sophia in What Lies Within–go figure) and write it in often, though. I do try to pound out about 500 to 1,000 words a day, but I get lazy about it sometimes. I try to reward myself with chocolate and/or wine, so that motivates me.
I draw on inspiration by painting or walking, and do a lot of traveling whenever I can. I live in New Orleans and often sit and people watch for hours while writing in my journal. I feel like it’s a good way to develop characters. Passersby never know what you’re up to, either, so that makes it especially entertaining.
-PH: What’s been the biggest challenge in writing?
-Clare: For me, the writing is the easy part. I could do that all day long. I suck at marketing, though. I’d rather write anonymously and send it to some magical agent who published it for me and did all the marketing and outreach. I do enjoy chatting online with other writers and folks who are into horror, though, so that part is a lot of fun.
-PH: Who is your favorite author, and is there one who you consider an inspiration for your stories?
-Clare: It’s hard for me to pin down a favorite. I can always find something I admire in every author’s work I read. I know Norman Partridge personally, and when I read his stories, I feel like he’s right there in the room telling me the story. I read a lot of Poppy Z. Brite in the 90s and always connected with those Southern landscapes. I like how Jack Ketchum cuts right to the point and doesn’t hold back. I love Edward Lee’s visceral voice. Really, I’ll read just about anything. Working in a library has a lot of advantages for a writer and I soak up everything like a sponge.
I am a music, art and film fanatic, so I draw on all of those for inspiration, too. It’s hard for me to tap one single artist that I use for inspiration. I appreciate them all.
-PH: Do you have any ideas for your next book yet?
-Clare: Yeah, I just finished a novel about an artist who can’t seem to successfully commit suicide. When she meets a murder of crow shapeshifters, she finds out why–and finds out why they want her help: she can speak to the Grim Reaper and help them handle their dirty laundry.
Once I’m done editing that, I’m going to work on a story that’s an homage to my mom, who owned a bar. She always fantasized about getting rid of her annoying patrons by feeding them to alligators in the swamp, so that might turn out to be a pretty interesting tale. We’ll see where it goes.
-PH: Here’s your chance to promote anything we haven’t talked. Let us know about any of your other books, your site, or anything else you would like to mention.
-Clare: I’ve taken a bit of a break from blogging recently, but you can find me online at https://clarecastleberry.wordpress.com/. I’m really active on Twitter (https://twitter.com/femmebionic) and Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7501551.Clare_de_Lune) and can be pretty chatty on both of those channels. You can also find my other works on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Clare-de-Lune/e/B008IMQK92/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1. And yes, I have a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Clare-de-Lune-823291777797676/, which I suck at maintaining.
If you’re into horror, reach out! I love chit-chatting with like-minded weirdos.
We would like to thank Clare for taking the time to answer our questions. Hopefully you got to know a little about her, and her books. We encourage you to support her on Twitter and Facebook, and check out her blog and author pages at the links above. In case you missed it, you can view our promotion of ‘What Lies Within’ here.