Today we are interviewing Eden Royce, the author of the book Spook Lights.
Spook Lights is a collection of Southern Gothic short stories, a specific and rare type of horror fiction. What is the difference, you may ask? If a horror story is a man in a mask, chasing a woman through a dark forest with a bloody axe, these stories are the warm embrace of a long lost lover as he slowly drags her down into his grave. A true gothic is dripping with atmosphere, history, and depth. It sneaks up on you when you feel warm and safe, then touches your emotions and psyche in a place that will leave you scarred for life.
1) What gave you the idea for your book Spook Lights?
I’ve always been inspired by my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. The stories and the folklore of the people I grew up with—Southern hoodoo magic users—never ceases to give me story ideas. Since I’ve now moved to England, I felt the time was right to release a collection of stories set in my hometown.
In Spook Lights, I also wanted to include the Gullah language, a vibrant mix of English and several African languages formulated from the first slaves brought to the United States. While it’s still spoken today in certain parts of South Carolina and Georgia, the language is rare to hear now. I hope the collection will renew interest in the heritage of the Gullah people.
2) Tell us about your writing background. Any other published works? Contests?
I have several short stories published in various anthologies, covering different genres: horror, dark fantasy, steampunk, and romance. I also self-published part one of my dark fantasy novella titled, “Containment”.
3) What got you into writing horror?
I suppose it came naturally. One of the things I loved growing up was watching old black and white horror movies with my mother and grandmother. The misty, shadowy castles, the mysterious yet alluring characters…. I was hooked. Then I sought out the same style of horror in books and I devoured them.
We Southerners are born storytellers, so I eventually wanted to write my own stories based on my background and imaginings.
4) Did you self-publish or go through a traditional publisher? Which do you think is better and why?
I self-published Spook Lights because the collection is a combination of new work and previously published stories where the rights have reverted back to me.
Do I prefer self or traditional publishing? They each have their place. If you want complete creative control over your work, I’d say go the self-publishing route. Make sure you put a professional looking product out there, though. Have well edited and proofread work, have an eye-catching and genre appropriate cover, and have it formatted properly for each outlet you choose to release it in.
Self-publishing is like Do-It-Yourself work on your house. If you’re willing to learn how to do it properly, have at it, realizing it may take you a while to get it right. If you aren’t willing or able to put the work in yourself, then pay someone to do it or you may end up with a substandard product.
Traditional publishing is great if you want the security of knowing certain things (editing, proofreading, cover art, formatting) will be done for you. Also, if you go the traditional route you must have patience and be consistent in researching, submitting to, and waiting for responses from publishers. Your work may not be accepted the first time or the tenth time. Keep trying.
It really depends on where you are as a writer and what you feel the work itself would benefit from. Just realize that whichever path you choose, you will need to do your own marketing.
5) What are you doing next?
I’ve been asked to write a screenplay for the 7 Magpies project. It’s the first of its kind: a short horror film anthology written and directed entirely by black women. I’ll be working with some amazing talents in the field and I hope the film does well. Follow the project on Twitter @The7Magpies to keep up with our progress.
In addition to that, I’m finishing up part two of my “Containment” novella series, a dark fantasy story in which a devil-human hybrid raised on Earth—Charlotte, North Carolina, specifically—finally meets the other side of the family.
6) What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Do your research. Whether you go indie or decide to pursue traditional publishing, take advantage of all of the information out there for aspiring authors. With an Internet search, you can find out if a publisher has a good reputation, how to format a manuscript for submission, the basics of querying an agent, almost anything. It’s invaluable information, and will help you avoid the pitfalls many new authors face.
Be professional. Follow submission guidelines, polish your work, respond to and request things of people politely. It helps people remember you as a pleasant person to work with and that goes a long way. The publishing industry can be a small place.
Read. In your genre and outside of it. You’ll become a more well-rounded author and learn the rules of writing so you can break them.
Spook Lights can be found at: