CHHR: Please give a brief introduction here.
Hi! I’m Gemma Amor, and I write horror fiction- mostly short stories for audio drama adaptations and podcasts at the moment, but I have some novels on the way too. My main passion is the paranormal, so I mainly write about the unexplainable, the nonsensical, and the downright unbelievable.
CHHR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was eleven years old, I handwrote my first novel inside the covers of an old school exercise book. I lovingly decorated it with large dragons, and preserved it with sticky-backed plastic. I gave this book to my 2nd year English teacher, who took the time to read it and give me feedback. It was the usual young adult fantasy fare, full of gutsy women with large boobs and a deadly aim with a longbow, dragons, orcs and wizards. And it was utterly terrible. But that wasn’t the point. I wrote it, and he read it, and complimented my dedication. And that was it. I’ve written something almost every day of my life since.
CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like?
Pretty jammed at the moment! I try and write every day, and set myself a minimum target of 500 words. Habitually writing like this has vastly improved the quality of what I do.
CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing rituals? If so, what are they?
I can’t write without coffee. It just won’t happen. It’s like trying to milk a male cow.
I’ve also learned, the hard way, to stop writing when I hit a block, or start struggling with a plot or character. I’ve developed a ritual of buggering off on a long walk when this happens, to think. During the course of the walk I usually untangle whatever the problem is and then return, refreshed, to finish.
I also like to listen to atmospheric music when I write. Einaudi is good, or any sci-fi or horror film soundtrack: the theme music to Arrival, in particular, seems to tickle my productivity bone in the right way.
CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?
I’ll write anything. I am a literal word whore.
CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?
Bristol has its own Horror Con now and an incredible annual zombie walk, where literally thousands of people wander the streets covered in gore and guts for a whole day, so I would say it’s fairly healthy. It’s an alternative city with a huge creative centre, and lots of ghost stories, legends and folklore to get your teeth into. Plus we have a whole underground network of tunnels and caves from years back, where they often screen classic horror movies as part of the Bristol Film Festival. So, yes, I’m spoiled.
CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?
I should probably use outlines, but if I know what is going to happen in my stories I get bored and stop writing them. I like to see where the words will take me. Basically, I’m shit at planning.
CHHR: How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?
It gave me the confidence to keep going, keep writing, and keep submitting, because you never know when someone is going to take a punt and publish your work. The No Sleep podcast accepted the very first story I submitted, and it was the single most significant thing that set me on the journey I’m on now, where I am developing relationships with so many brilliant shows and other collaborators.
It’s also taught me how to write for different media. An audio drama or podcast needs a very different approach to a written story. I’m still learning this as I go along.
CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story?
For me, it’s about what makes a good story, regardless of the genre, or subject matter.
There are several ingredients that I think are essential: a strong sense of voice, a strong sense of place, and a strong sense of story. Which basically means a well written character, in a believable setting, going through a clearly described journey.
CHHR: What are you currently working on?
In terms of works in progress, I like to keep myself busy on multiple projects, so that I can switch from one to the other when I get bored (I have a mightily small attention span). At the moment, I’m writing a serialized novel based around the (fictional) disappearing town of White Pines, which I release monthly. I’m also writing stories for the NoSleep podcast, Whispers in the Night, and Shadows at the Door, and collaborating on a brand new podcast with a bunch of other, enormously talented women.
I also have my first horror anthology coming out in the winter, so I’m working hard on editing this and painting some illustrations. In addition to that, I have two novels that I am polishing ready to submit to agents and potential publishers.
CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?
Right now I don’t have enough time to read, because my brain is full of my own writing and the million and one podcasts I’ve subscribed to.
CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?
The Seven Days of Peter Crumb by Jonny Glynn. It’s an account of the last week in the life of a psychopath. Blimey.
CHHR: What is your favorite horror book?
Four Past Midnight, by King, purely because of The Langoliers. Then, I’m a classics girl. I’ve got the entire back catalogue of Angela Carter’s work, plus The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis
CHHR: What is your favorite horror film?
It’s probably Darabont’s The Mist (2007), because it was so brilliantly faithful to the original short story by King (ending aside). There’s a black and white print version of the film I haven’t seen, but would love to. I’m a huge fan of monsters, but also of character development, so this film speaks to me. I also really liked Zarriwny’s clever and slick The Midnight Man, and the emotional battering ram that is Train to Busan.
CHHR: What type of music do you listen to? What’s your favorite album?
As with words and whoring, I will also listen to anything. I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite album, although OK Computer by Radiohead would be in the running if I was forced to choose at knifepoint.
CHHR: What is your spirit animal?
CHHR: What is your favorite beer?
I’m a hard spirits kind of girl: single malt, oak-aged, with a cube of ice, please.
CHHR: If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?
Author Links and Bio:
Anthology ‘Four Seasons’ coming winter 2018
Gemma Amor is a writer of horror and speculative fiction. She’s had stories produced by the hugely popular No Sleep podcast, and writes for several other horror community podcasts and audio dramas. Her first anthology ‘Four Seasons’ is due for publication, print and digital, in winter 2018.