WOMEN IN HORROR: A Month-Long Look into the Ladies Crafting the Worlds of Fear! Day Three – Author Tamworth Grice
NOTE: I’ve never been into splatter or gore—I prefer psychological horror and suspense—so my tastes might seem rather traditional or even pedestrian to some, but here goes:
1. What first drew you into the world of horror?
At bedtime as a very young child, my grandmother and great-grandmother told me Appalachian Kentucky folktales that were mostly ghost and witch stories: I vividly remember one about a witch who could spin off her skin with a spinning wheel. These stories were supposed to help me go to sleep (yikes!).
So horror fiction was my reading genre of choice as a child. My local public library had lots of yellowing books in the children’s section, with titles such as The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Things That Go Bump in the Night.
Of course, I read everything by Edgar Allan Poe. And I mean everything—even his novel.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also a draw—people don’t think of him as a horror writer, but remember that awful snake (I won’t do a spoiler and name the story), and the enormous snarling hound?
I love the scene in another tale where Holmes and Watson watch from a hiding place as a well-dressed upper-class woman confronts her evil blackmailer saying, “You will ruin no more lives.” She empties a revolver into his chest, and as he is dying, she stands over him and grinds her heel into his face. Whoa!
2. What film/book/show was the biggest influence on you?
Twilight Zone. Hands down, no question. I still stream random episodes. It always delivers.
3. What actor/director/writer do you consider your biggest influence?
I can’t think of any actor/director/writer who has directly influenced the writing itself. I don’t know where my stuff comes from—leprechauns? (I’m 1/4 Irish, and I just got back from Ireland!)
But three influences, in general, come to mind:
First: Professor William Allen. He was my university writing teacher and mentor who passed away a few years ago.
He liked horror fiction well enough, but he didn’t write it. He wrote true crime (which I also write and which is, after all, a type of horror—Jeffrey Dahmer, hello?).
Professor Allen was incredibly upbeat and nurturing, and I can say without exaggeration that he taught me everything I know about writing.
Second: Christian Jensen. Years ago, out of the blue and as a stranger, he sent me a private message on Twitter saying he had self-published a book. I’m not very good at self-promoting, and unable to find a publisher, I was about to give up writing.
But as a result of that first little message from him, within weeks I was self-publishing.
Since then, Christian has been very supportive of my work, and I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with him on a screenplay, The Jersey Devil. It’s a great script, thanks largely to his input, and there’s been substantial interest from film industry people.
Third: Takeshi Kaga. He’s an actor who appeared on TV years ago on a cooking show, of all things: the original Japanese Iron Chef.
He starred in a 1980 Japanese thriller, The Beast to Die; a 2006 Japanese supernatural film franchise called Death Note; and a Japanese stage production of Jekyll & Hyde. But other than Iron Chef, he’s unknown outside Japan.
Anyway, I was so taken with his manner and appearance that I created a major character based on him: Yazuka crime boss Sammy Kimura, in my novel Nasty Disposition.
4. Who would you consider to be your horror twin?
If you mean a creator, maybe Poe? I say that because he wrote in multiple genres and media—horror, sci-fi, sea tales, mysteries, poems, a novel, essays, short stories, etc.—as I do.
Alternatively, maybe Hitchcock? He storyboarded everything—every shot for every scene—before filming, and that reminds me of my own compulsive interest in story structure, and of how I overthink everything, both in my life and in my writing.
Of course, Poe and Hitchcock are such giants that these comparisons are arrogant on my part, but that’s who comes to mind.
If you mean a character, I’d say Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I once went to a Chamber of Commerce party, where everyone was talking about boring business stuff. I noticed a thirteen-year-old girl slumped in a corner; she’d been dragged there by her mom. We later struck up a conversation at the food table, and she and I spent the next two hours huddled together, away from everyone else, whispering about Spike and how we wished he were real!
5. What do you think you would you be doing if you weren’t involved with the horror community?
Not sure. But please be aware I’m not very “involved with the horror community” or any other community. I’m pretty reclusive, although I do post on Facebook (as Tamworth Grice) and Instagram (as @wine.nomad).
I believe that because writing is a solitary pursuit, the writer is better off being a loner rather than being involved with a community—but maybe that’s just me!
6. Where do you like folks to follow you on social media?
As noted above, on Facebook (as Tamworth Grice) and Instagram (as @wine.nomad).
My Facebook posts can be about anything I happen to be thinking or doing at the time.
My Instagram posts are mostly about wine, as the name implies, but you’ll also find random stuff about cats, scenery, travel, and my writing.
7. Where can folks find your work?
As eBooks on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Just search “Tamworth Grice.”
8. Which horror icon would you most/least like to go up against?
If you mean a fictional character, I’d jump at the chance fight it out with Annie in Misery—as long as I had a Smith & Wesson .38 loaded with hollow points! (Hey, I live in Arizona, a major gun-owning state.) I despise her, which is, of course, a tribute to the talents of both Kathy Bates and of course, Stephen King.
I’d least like to go up against the Zodiac killer. He was crafty. He was never caught. And maybe he’s still out there.
Another I wouldn’t want to go up against is Jack the Ripper. I’ve taken three different Ripper tours in London, plus I’ve taught a class about him, so I know enough to fear him. A real sicko.
9. Any advice for young ladies aspiring to become involved in the horror community?
If you’re a fan, I’d say start by looking online for like-minded individuals. For face-to-face contact, find out what’s available locally. For example, some public libraries sponsor genre-specific reading groups. Take classes if they’re available. And go to conferences.
If you’re a writer, then, in my opinion, you should put your time into writing and make “community involvement” secondary.
I believe it’s not a good idea to talk in groups about writing projects until they’re complete or nearly so. I think it can zap the project’s energy, the élan vital. It does for me, anyway.
However, I like conferences, such as Wrath James White’s KillerCon conference. Also, although Bouchercon is for mystery fiction, it’s a great yearly event, it’s huge, and it’s held in a different part of the country each year; among the thousands of attendees, everyone is bound to meet some like-minded souls. So I strongly recommend conferences, even if not horror-focused.
10. Who is on your Horror Mt. Rushmore? This can be actors, writers, directors, characters.
A Horror Mt. Rushmore—what a fabulous idea!
Stephen King, definitely.
J.K. Rowlings, because of how she rose from obscurity to achieve immense popularity and appeal to millions of readers and filmgoers.
Rod Serling of Twilight Zone, of course, as already mentioned.
And Edgar Allan Poe also mentioned above and who is, in many ways, the father of the genre.
Can I sneak in a fifth one? Alfred Hitchcock.