1--What is the title of your latest release?
2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?
Reluctant Immortals is about the forgotten women of gothic literature—Lucy Westenra from Dracula and Bertha Antoinetta Mason from Jane Eyre—who are living as undead immortals during the Summer of Love in 1967 California when Dracula and Edward Rochester make a sudden and shocking return to their lives.
3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?
I’ve always been so fascinated by the 1960s in America. It seemed like the perfect period to set a story featuring Victorian-era characters, mainly because of the stark contrast between who these characters were and how different this era was from the period when they originally lived. That opened up a world of possibility and tension right from the start. Add in how tumultuous the 1960s were, and that seemed like an exciting era to explore in a gothic horror novel.
4--Would you hang out with your heroine in real life?
Oh, absolutely! I would love to meet both Lucy Westenra and Bertha Antoinetta Mason! That would be so much fun. Now, of course, I’d have to be careful around Lucy since she is a vampire and all, but it would definitely be worth the risk to hearing all the fascinating stories she and Bertha could tell.
5--What are three words that describe your hero?
Determined, uncompromising, and undead.
6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?
It was so much fun overall researching the 1960s in America and working to get all the specific details correct, in particular about the Haight-Ashbury District in San Francisco. It was also a great chance to revisit the different versions of Dracula and Jane Eyre, especially the movies. A few of them I hadn’t seen for years and a couple I’d never seen at all, so that was such a cool part of the research process.
As for something really specific, I loved learning about an old amusement park in San Francisco called Playland at the Beach. There are a lot of excellent documents and pictures about the park, so it was such a neat experience combing through all of that information as I incorporated the setting into my book.
7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are done?
I edit a little bit as I go, but I mostly wait until a draft is finished before I fully dive into editing. I like to have more of the story mapped out before I get too specific in the editing process. Otherwise, I could end up editing something that will have to be completely overhauled again when the draft is finished anyway.
8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?
It’s not a typical luxury food by any means, but I adore potato chips. I sometimes jokingly tell my husband—who is not a fan of chips at all—that I’m a full-on potato chip connoisseur. They’re such a great snack food, especially when I’m sitting at my computer writing. That being said, I have to be careful, because otherwise, I’ll look up and I’ve suddenly eaten half a bag. The perils of loving snack food!
9--Describe your writing space/office!
My writing space is in our home office, so there’s my computer, my husband’s work computer, and our regular desktop, all in one little corner of the room. It seems like it should feel really cramped, but it’s actually so nice and homey. It’s become such an epicenter of our world over the past two years that our two cats started to compete for space near us. One of our earliest pandemic purchases was cat beds for them, so now we can all easily hang out together (even though the cats still occasionally scowl at each other over who gets which cat bed!).
10--Who is an author you admire?
Too many to count really! I admire Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter, and Ray Bradbury as they’re among the major inspirations for my writing. But I also admire a lot of authors who are writing today. Christa Carmen, Eden Royce, Anya Martin, Sara Tantlinger, K.P. Kulski. The list goes on and on!
11--Is there a book that changed your life?
Without a doubt, that would be We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I’d never had a book that felt like it was reaching into my heart and soul and then pulling out bits and pieces of who I am. The weirdness and the whimsy of that novel affect me in a way no other book has ever been able to.
12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)
I feel like mine was a series of calls discussing details with my editor at Saga Press. The first call came on Friday the 13th of March 2020. It was right at the very start of the pandemic when everything was closing down, so it was so strange to be getting such good news during such an unstable and terrifying time. Even so, it’s certainly been an exciting process getting this book from the idea in my head all the way to the bookshelves.
13--What’s your favorite genre to read?
This is probably an obvious answer because it’s the genre I write, but it’s definitely horror. I’ve been reading horror ever since I was a kid, and it just feels like such comfort food to me now.
14--What’s your favorite movie?
I’ve got so many favorites, but one that I absolutely adore is Casablanca. I’ve been calling it my favorite movie since I was probably twelve years old, and even though it’s been years since I’ve seen it, it has a very special place in my heart as a classic movie fan.
15--What is your favorite season?
Autumn is my favorite, followed closely by spring. It’s so beautiful watching the world go to sleep in September and October, but it’s also just as beautiful watching it wake up again in April and May.
16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?
You know, I don’t have a specific way of celebrating each year. I mostly just spend the day with my husband and cats. Birthdays are such an exciting occasion. Maybe it’s because I write horror and think a lot about the morbid side of existence, but especially as I get older, every year of life just makes me more grateful to be here. And heck, if there’s some ice cream or cake that day to help me celebrate, that makes it even better!
17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?
I’m currently reading Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai. It’s such an inspired take on the Frankenstein story, and Tsai’s writing is so rich and wonderful. The novel was just released, so I encourage everyone to pick up a copy ASAP.
18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?
My favorite cuisine is honestly whatever my husband and I are cooking together. It’s always so much fun when we get a chance to make dinner or lunch together. We’ve been able to cook more during the pandemic now that we’re both working from home, so it’s been a nice silver lining for the past two years.
19--What do you do when you have free time?
Answer: I love photography, yoga, and painting. I don’t feel like I have enough time for any of them, but they’re certainly all wonderful ways to unwind after a day or a week of work! In particular, my husband and I have been experimenting with film photography during the pandemic, and that’s a really fun artistic rabbit hole to explore. There are so many different nuances and techniques to film, and the grain on the photographs is so distinct from digital. It’s been an interesting adventure so far!
20--What can readers expect from you next?
Right now, I’m working on a lot of short fiction. I’ll be part of several anthologies throughout the rest of the year. As for novels, my next one is with my editor now. It’s all about a haunted neighborhood filled with secrets and the three women who escaped years ago but must now face their past whether they like it or not. It’s gothic, it’s weird, and it’s filled with ghosts, so those are absolutely some of my favorite things. I hope that readers will find a lot to be excited about when it’s released.
Reluctant Immortals is a historical horror novel that looks at two men of classic literature, Dracula and Mr. Rochester, and the two women who survived them, Bertha and Lucy, who are now undead immortals residing in Los Angeles in 1967 when Dracula and Rochester make a shocking return in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.
Horror [Gallery / Saga Press, On Sale: August 23, 2022, Trade Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781982172350 / eISBN: 9781982172367]
Gwendolyn Kiste is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens, from Trepidatio Publishing; And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, from JournalStone; and the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Shimmer, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Interzone, LampLight, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye, among others. Originally from Ohio, she now resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts
1 comment posted.