Happy release day to You Fed Us to the Roses, Carlie St. George’s horror short story collection. So full of love for the genre, this is a set for horror fans, by a horror fan. I’m excited to have her on the blog to talk about how she comes up with her tales, the way she plays with tropes, deciding the collection’s title, and what’s coming next for her.
Buy Link: Books2Read
Where do you go to refill the short story well?
Honestly, the short story well doesn’t usually require much refilling. Ideas always come a lot faster than I can write them, if I can write them, as I’m often distracted by the new and shiny, especially whenever I get stuck on something. I do draw a lot of inspiration from fairy tales, though, as well from TV and movies. I love examining what doesn’t quite work for me in a story and exploring why that is, what might have worked instead, what I wish I saw more of.
When you sit down to write a story, what do you need? Be it something abstract like tropes or character archetypes or more tangible, like a quiet space and a beverage.
I usually need some kind of jumping off point, an idea I want to play with or a trope I want to dissect. In “If We Survive the Night,” for instance, I wanted to write a story about the girls who typically do not survive slasher films, all the bad babysitters and best friends and queer nerds who rarely get to be final girls. Or in “Monsters Never Leave You,” I wanted to write a different ending for the children in fairy tales whose happily ever after consists of returning to the parents who neglected or abandoned them.
As for the more tangible necessities: usually my laptop, my headphones, and a beverage—preferably sugary.
Of the stories in this collection, which is your favorite in terms of your writing experience?
Ooh, that’s hard. “You Were Once Wild Here” was an awful lot of fun to write. I got to indulge in a few of my favorite things: 2nd person POV, noir slang, psychic detection—specifically, psychic dreams, which are obviously the absolute best kind of dreams. But I also did have quite a bit of fun writing “Some Kind of Blood-Soaked Future,” too. It was certainly the quickest story I’ve ever written, which made for a welcome change.
Which is your favorite in terms of the reader response?
“Some Kind of Blood-Soaked Future,” definitely. This story is extremely on brand for me, a mix of humor, Feels, tropes, and violence, and I honestly wasn’t sure anyone would want it. I worried it wouldn’t be dark enough for horror magazines but far too violent for anyone else. Somehow, though, it’s easily been my most popular story to date, and made it into The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, which was my first Best Of anthology.
Releasing a Collection
How did you go about selecting the stories and their order?
The vast majority of what I write is contemporary dark fantasy and horror, so I first took out any stories that didn’t fit those genres. Then I started listing all the major tropes and themes in my work. When it became abundantly clear that I cycle back to the same tropes and themes, er, a lot, I decided to stick with a narrow focus and pick stories that feature girls who persist, girls who survive—or girls who persist even though, technically, they didn’t survive.
Coming up with the order was actually a lot of fun. It kind of felt like solving a logic puzzle because there were so many factors to consider. 3 of my 10 stories are slashers, and 4 of my 10 stories are in 2nd person. For balance, I wanted to space all those out. But I also wanted the stories to transition well from one to the next, so reading the collection didn’t feel too jarring. And of course, you want your collection to start and end strong, too. “Some Kind of Blood-Soaked Future” is the crowd-pleaser and seemed like a decent intro for what to expect. Whereas “Forward, Victoria” is a bit darker and felt like a solid conclusion to end on.
How did you decide the collection’s title?
I often title my stories with a line from the story itself, so I decided to likewise try and find one line that could be applicable to the whole collection. The line you fed us to the roses is from “15 Eulogies Scribbled Inside a Hello Kitty Notebook,” and in that story, the words you and us represent pretty specific entities. But as applied to the whole collection, the meaning of you and us shifted, which I rather liked.
What has your experience been like working with Merc Fenn Wolfmoor and Robot Dinosaur Press?
Wonderful! Merc is so enthusiastic and supportive, which I’m especially grateful for because this is very much baby’s first collection, and I am fragile. Merc got Evangeline Gallagher for the cover art, whose work is amazing. And they’ve been fantastic about getting the collection out there, sending out for reviews and getting blurbs and making awesome book trailers—all stuff I definitely wouldn’t know how to do well on my own. There’s no way You Fed Us to the Roses would’ve happened without Merc.
What are you working on now?
Per usual, I’m bouncing between several projects with a characteristic lack of self-discipline, but primarily I’m trying to focus on 1) finishing a very weird psychological horror novel with road trips and dead bodies, and 2) finishing a time loop story featuring a nerdy aro personal assistant and her mad scientist boss.
What are you reading next?
Carlie St. George is a Shirley Jackson Award nominated writer from Northern California. Her work has been published in Nightmare, The Dark, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, and multiple other anthologies and magazines. You Fed Us to the Roses is her first short story collection. Find her talking about television, tropes, and other nerdy things on Twitter @MyGeekBlasphemy or at her blog mygeekblasphemy.com