The tour of Charon Coin Press’ review of Women in Horror Month continues with the next feature author. State of Horror: North Carolina brought many new names and faces to the anthology. One of these is a wonderfully talented, Susan Hicks Wong, who captures the imagination with her story, “Dead Girl Mary”
Charon Coin Press: What drew you to the horror genre?
Susan Hicks Wong: I’ll just go ahead and wimp out and put myself on Team Dark Fantasy. But that’s pretty close to horror, right? The world has always seemed like a dark place to me, and horror is a way to process that darkness. Plus I enjoy being creeped out. There is nothing as fun as sitting up late reading a scary book all by yourself and as you realize everyone else sensible has gone to bed, there is this *gulp* should I stay here and finish reading or make a run for my bedroom?
And all my favorite writers from childhood were horror, fantasy or science fiction.
CCP: Do you have a favorite monster or horror character?
SHW: I want a monster nobody has heard of yet. I’ll pull for a monster with human eyes and a human heart. That is what scares me and what I find interesting, the darkness in people and also the possibility that they might be salvageable.
CCP: Do you have any advice for other female writers who want to write horror?
SHW: If you love the genre, then write it. Write from where you are and what scares you. Don’t be afraid to bust up some clichés.
CCP: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
SHW: I have three younger brothers. When we were kids we’d scare each other by making up stories. I didn’t sleep through the night until I was thirteen. Most of my stories were recycles of what I read; some of them were misunderstood bits of historical information (think ‘bloody Mary’). I got good enough at telling ghost stories and Ouija board hijinks that I was in high demand at sleepovers for a couple of years.
CCP: Who is your favorite horror author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
SHW: My more contemporary favorites change weekly. I just finished reading Nathan Ballingrud’s “North American Lake Monsters” and it’s just brilliant. In this collection, the dude writes stories with a vampire, a zombie, a werewolf, and what I think is a serial killer and they are fresh and new and the human characters are so disturbing, yet believable.
Shirley Jackson is a favorite. I read “The Haunting of Hill House” as a kid and it just killed me, it was so atmospheric and terrifying. The scene where the main character thinks she is holding hands with Theo and she realizes she is holding hands with something—just not Theo, THAT set a standard for me as far as what is scary. Ray Bradbury, Saki, H.H. Munro. Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft ruined my childhood, but in a good way.
CCP: What are your favorite horror films? What book would you love to see on the big screen?
SHW: I think movie horror falls roughly into two camps. There is the horror that is primarily concerned with some sort of schadenfreude. You know, that’s not ME getting chased by the guy in the leather mask and the chainsaw. It’s fun to watch other people get chased through the woods or carved up in the shower. Think “Friday the 13th”, “Saw”, “Psycho”. And I think there is horror that is a way of dealing with the Big Scary stuff like loss and grief and fear of suffering and death. Movies like “The Orphanage” or “Babadook” would be a good example. I tend to cherish the latter type of movie but I appreciate the simple out-and-out scare factor of the former as well.
The book I most want to see turned into a movie is Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle”. Just think Tim Burton directing with a very fresh, new cast.
CCP: What are three “Good to Know” facts about you?
SHW: I get my best ideas lying awake in bed while everyone else is asleep. I keep a notebook next to my bed to write them down but I have poor handwriting so then I have to make up more stuff.
I write because I can’t carry my art studio with me on the road while I travel.
Yes, more chocolate, please.
CCP: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
SHW: Scheduling the actual writing part in between my regular making money part. Also, getting that oh-so-brilliant idea I had while lying in bed and turning it into something that someone might want to read.
Susan Hicks Wong Bio
While the other children were playing outside in the fresh air, Susan Hicks Wong was scrunched down in a tattered armchair inhaling the miasma of H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe and Shirley Jackson. After stints as an art director and textile designer, she now travels wild and free across North America as a long haul truck driver with her husband. She attended the 2013 Odyssey Writer’s Workshop, an experience she would recommend for aspiring speculative writers. Susan reads and writes as the prairie rolls past and she still loves the funk of decaying old books.