Do you like psychological creepy?

I’m really excited to have Kathleen Palm visit my blog today. She loves horror and YA, so when I invited her to submit a story for the anthology MURDER THEY WROTE, it threw her:) But IN THE PLUM ATTIC has been mentioned as one of the favorites in reviews a few times. And for good reason. Two sisters haunt an attic. Why? And how does the new family who moved there get rid of them? That’s mystery enough for me!

Welcome, Kathy! Thanks so much for visiting my blog.

1.  What worried you the most about writing a story for the anthology, MURDER THEY WROTE?      The fact that it was a mystery. *cue laughter* My brain isn’t a plotting, mystery thinker. So…I relied on what I know. Creepy. As I thought about writing a mystery, I focused on ghosts, for the mysteries that catch my attention, the ones where I follow the clues and deduce the truth involve spirits. How they died. Why they continue to haunt the world. And how to free them. Which is how Within the Plum Attic came to be.

2.  You usually write in first person, present tense, don’t you?  What draws you to that?      The immediacy. You are right there with that character as terrible events unfold and there is no escape. I love first present for my horror shorts. Because that deep POV, that feeling of no way out is very important to the creepy, scary vibe. Though I have written in third person, past tense, and the middle grade I’m working on now is third present.

3.  You love horror.  I know you go to every horror movie you can and host a twitter horror movie night for Midnight Society.  Is that once a month?  Can you tell us more about that?       I haven’t been to a theater in such a long time. I miss it. And yes, I’m part of the writing team of the Midnight Society blog, which celebrates all things horror. Once a month I host Midnight Society Movie Night on Twitter, where I live-tweet a horror movie. Usually the last Friday of each month at 9 pm EST under #MidnightSocietyMovieNight. Pretty much, it’s me tweeting all my thoughts and reactions into the Twitterverse to entertain myself.

4.  What are some of your favorite horror movies?  Books?      Oh. That’s a tough question. I love the range horror offers. The Elm Street series is fun. Freddy is one of my favorite slashers. But my very favorite movies involve ghosts and demons. Poltergeist. The Conjuring. Insidious. The Orphanage. IT. The Babadook. On the book side of horror, I love Stephen King, and The Shining will always be one of my favorites. Right now, I’m reading the middle grade horror series Lockwood & Co. and enjoying it immensely.

5.  You also love YA.  The twin girls who are the protagonists in your story are in high school.  What draws you to YA?      I hated being a teenager. It’s this awful place of trying to be yourself without having any idea how, existing between still believing in magic and moving into the land of being an adult, which no one wants to do. I like to tap into the part of teens that still believes, that doesn’t want to fully grow up, and maybe help them realize that they don’t have to…not completely.

6.  Who are some of your favorite YA authors and their novels?    Neal Shusterman is my very favorite YA author. His Unwind series is fantastic and will always be on the top of my list. I was hooked after reading his book Downsiders. A couple others that stand out are The Schwa was Here and Scythe. Holly Black’s Curse Workers series, Tithe, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and co-wrote The Spiderwick Chronicles (middle grade) are all books I loved. Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds is a mighty fine read as well.

7.  You have another short horror story due out soon.  Would you share the particulars?     My horror short “The Path” has been accepted into the Gothic Blue Book Vol VI: A Krampus Carol, which will be released October 31st! I am excited to be a part of this Krampus themed anthology with my interpretation of what happens after Krampus stuffs someone in his sack and carries them away.

8.  Care to share your social media links with us?  And thanks so much for visiting my blog.   I like to haunt Twitter. Please come find me @KathleenPalm and say hi. I also have an author Facebook page (Kathleen Palm, @writerkathleenpalm), where I post things sometimes.

Genre Fine Tuning

Someone recently asked me, “What are the variations of genres?”  We were talking fiction.  Still, I had to stop to think.  I could list the basics:  romance, mystery, fantasy, horror, and sci/fi.  Book stores separate those out for you.  I had to think harder to come up with children’s, erotica, historical fiction, literary fiction, young adult, women’s fiction, and westerns.  But these terms are so broad, there are lots of smaller, specialty niches within each.  I don’t pretend to know what all of these niches are.  I usually wander up and down shelves to find them, but book covers give you a clue.    Cozy novels have cozy covers.  Noir tends to go dark.  But there are finer intricacies to look for.  You’d have to study particular markets to get those right.  But it’s worth making the effort to know what the subgenres are in your favorite.

Certain expectations go along with each genre.  Readers expect particular ingredients to be in each mix.  If you write a romance, you have to deliver a boy meets girl, things get bumpy, boy almost loses girl, and then boy wins girl type of plot.  Harlequin does a great job at this, and it’s no easy thing.    I went to a workshop with Shirley Jump, and she creates character wheels for her heroes and heroines so that their needs and wants bump against each other in the storyline, increasing tension, before attraction finally pulls them together.  But Harlequins are only one type of romance.  There are plenty more.

If you promise a paranormal romance, you’d be wise to have something paranormal in your story, along with one heck of a romance plot.  I read Katie MacAlister’s Zen and the Art of Vampires, and she mixed a regular, mortal heroine (a little on the overweight side) with a hot, sexy vampire, and tossed in a dash of humor.   Readers get exactly what they’re looking for–a taste of the unordinary in our ordinary world, mixed with a steamy love/hate relationship that veers toward disaster before romance conquers all.

A friend of mine is working on a historical, Christian romance, so I read A Hope Undaunted, by Julie Lessman–one of her favorite authors–to see what the ingredients are for that type of novel.  Set at the end of the 1920’s, the book captures the flavor and feel of the era.  The heroine wants to be liberated and to have an important career, but then the Depression wipes out her hopes for an expensive education, and she meets a lawyer who cares little for money, but is determined to rescue as many street orphans as he can.  Faith plays a big part in each of the character’s lives.   The time period influences culture and attitudes.  Both elements are necessary for this type of novel.

I could  go on, but suffice it to say that there are many different types of romance–contemporary, Western, Gothic, Regency, historical, the old “bodice rippers,” etc.   The thing is, there are plenty of subgenres for every genre, and for readers to find what they like in a book, that’s a good thing.

I love Georgette Heyer.   I love Touch Not the Cat, by Mary Stewart.   But their moods and tones aren’t the same.  When I want to read a Regency, I want dukes and ladies, not Gothic atmosphere.  That’s where knowing what type of novel you like and where to find it helps.  That’s the purpose of genres and subgenres.  I might grump about them sometimes and long for more crossover books, but the truth is, genres serve a purpose.  And when I pick up a book and think it’s one thing…but it’s not…I’m not happy.  Along with good writing, I want books to deliver the elements I’m in the mood for.