Stephanie, thank you for joining us for a chat. Can you tell us about who you are and also about your writing: for example, what genres and themes do you write in and about, and is there anything that has influenced your choices?
I am a writer based in Southampton, UK, where my day job is a librarian and literacy specialist in a secondary school. I've been writing for several years, mainly short stories but more recently novel-length work – which has always been my aim. I tend to write either folk, gothic or somewhat dystopian/post-apocalyptic horror, but occasionally I move outside my comfort zone. I don’t tend to write zombie stories – “Playlist” is only my second one –but writing it allowed me to share my love of heavy metal. I’ve been to concerts by almost all the bands mentioned! The songs are also favourites. If you connect with me on Twitter, you’ll find me sharing many of my favourite tracks and bands with you.
When I write folk horror, I tend to pull in memories and feelings generated by my time growing up a very rural pub in Shropshire. As to the more post-apocalyptic work, I’ve been bringing in more experiences as a female. For instance, books rarely feature menopausal women, so I’ve been happily showing my characters experiencing hot flushes and mind fogs – much as I suffer! Personal morality and the maternal bond are other themes I’ve touched on. It has to be something that interests me or which I feel is under-represented. Most of the time though, I just want to tell a good story and not worry too much about its central theme, which often seems to appear by itself. I don’t want to preach or teach, I just want to entertain and perhaps think a little.
Can you tell us a bit about your publications and writerly highlights, and what else we can look forward to seeing from you in the future?
This year has been amazing in personal publication terms. My novella, Bottled, was published by Silver Shamrock Publishing at the end of January, and they are releasing my folk horror/dark fantasy novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel, on October 27th. I’ve also been included in their Midnight in the Pentagram anthology. In between I’ve featured in Diabolica Britannica, a charity anthology for the NHS, alongside Tim Lebbon and Adam Nevill and with a wonderful foreword by Ramsey Campbell. I was also published by Flame Tree Press in their A Dying Planet anthology. With a couple of pro sales (at last!) I feel as if my writing has really shifted up a gear and I’m now being offered more opportunities as a result. It’s certainly widened my network and I’ve been able to get a number of fantastic writers to contribute stories to the Infernal Clock’s Inferno anthology which is due out early December. Another plus was the announcement of Black Angel Press which I will be working on alongside friend and writer, Alyson Faye (who has been co-editing Inferno with me). A press for women, we hope it will also serve as a platform for women (and those who identify as such) in the horror community.
Nor has it been only stories. I’ve continued to write poetry, featuring often on Visual Verse online and was again chosen for the HWA’s Poetry Showcase VII. I’ve written about two-thirds of a new collection and will be trying to get that out next year.
This year has presented a lot of challenges for many of us. Instead of discussing those, what are some of your 2020 highlights?
I know we're not dwelling on 2020, but I'd like to mention HorrorTree.com, and Stuart Conover. Whilst many know this site for the submission calls, hosts, articles, online zine etc, we have also started a roundup feature on Fridays, allowing indie writers to announce upcoming publications. In addition, we include those creatives who have lost jobs or suffered income drops due to the pandemic. I would like to make people aware of this and if you are in the suffering in the latter category, please just get in touch with Stuart or I at HorrorTree.com and we’ll do what we can to help.
This is a free service.
Thanks for chatting with me, Stephanie, and sharing a bit about yourself and your work. It sounds like 2020 has been a bumper year for you, too. Congrats on the new publishing venture and all the great work you are doing for authors at HorrorTree.com.
You can find Stephanie on Twitter @el_Stevie and here https://stephanieellis.org.
Stephanie's zombie story "Playlist" appears in Trickster's Treats 4: Coming, Buried or Not! , a charity anthology in support of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.