by Mav Skye
Erin Cole is a dark, mischievous writer. She plants stars in your eyes while sewing midnight into your soul. I read everything she puts outs, always anxious to unlock the mysteries woven through her work. She kindly joins me today at Pulp Metal Magazine to talk about her latest release FERAL THINGS from Damnation Books.
MS: What is your definition of a monster?
EC: I think beyond what scares people, whether it is the thing in the dark or Ebola, the monster is also something that threatens people in a more personal way. The monster takes something from us; it wants to see us suffer before or in place of death. That is my idea of a monster at least. Death will come inevitably, but it is all the things leading up to it that are the worst.
MS: Do you think your perception of monsters differ from the mainstream view?
EC: I don’t think so. The delivery may be different—someone’s fear of the woods at night is different from my fear of spiders, but what those fears do to the individual and how it makes them feel is the same. That’s what the monster does, no matter what form it’s in.
MS: What draws you to werewolves?
EC: I love dogs, for one. My Collie-Irish Setter mix, Cosmo, is my gentle giant (the top of his head reaches my waist), but look closer, he has some serious fangs, and those don’t come by eating grass. Werewolves have the same kinship as dogs, but they take ‘wild’ and ‘instincts’ to the extreme. The desire to hunt and kill is hard-wired in them too, but because werewolves are humans, there is an ongoing dissonance in them. The pull of humanity and the need to belong clashes against an inborn desire to run free, hunt, chase, and kill. Vampires have similar conflicts, that subtle line between right and wrong, good and evil that the two creatures always seem to be walking along, which is why they are so popular. Given the two in an alleyway though, I’d much rather encounter the vampire than a werewolf. Werewolves are much more terrifying.
MS: Do you wear a silver necklace? And more importantly, do you take it off or keep it on when the moon is full?
EC: I have a silver star that I sometimes wear. I probably put it on more at the full moon than not, for spirituality, a connection to the Goddess. I liked the idea that something as simple as a necklace could prevent Jamie from changing into a werewolf, especially when it is a piece of jewelry she wants to wear.
MS: One of my favorite characters in FERAL THINGS is Naja. What or who inspired her?
EC: Naja appeared at the beginning of the first draft. I was deconstructing Jamie’s character, and the wolf inside her kept appearing to me as a little tribal girl, a big contrast to the savageness of the werewolf spirit. It was a perfect combination, and she is a character I’ll hopefully return to one day.
MS: Who was your favorite character to write?
EC: It’s hard to choose, but if I had to, it probably would have been the main character, Jamie. She is a simple girl thrown into a complex situation, and it was interesting to see how she dealt with things, and reluctantly so. She knew she had issues to overcome, being hunted and a bloodwolf and all, which is why she approached situations with a sense of detachment despite wanting otherwise. I think when she first met Ray, she thought, here’s someone like me, here’s someone that maybe I can have something with. Still, she is her own demise, and she knows it. Accepting who she is becomes her deepest challenge, beyond that of a psychotic doctor, mobster thugs, and a vengeful detective.
MS: If you were to change places with Jamie on that long, dusty road in the beginning of the book, would you get in the car with Ray?
EC: Absolutely. To me, regret is worse than consequence. The difference is subtle. Consequence is payback for something you did or didn’t do, but regret is something you did or didn’t do and will never get the opportunity to do over again. We learn from consequences, because we usually get another chance to make the right decision, but with regret, you don’t get that second chance and so a little piece of you dies, well, so it feels sometimes
MS: Do you believe our past defines who we are?
EC: I think it does to a certain extent, because our past is the result of our choices, but it shouldn’t limit us in what we could do or be in the present and future. I believe in change; it is the natural way of the universe. Every person can create change through the simple acts of their choices, and every day, we have multiple opportunities to do something good and too many to do something bad. We are not all perfect, but hopefully, the good outweighs the bad. For our characters, they often ride this line, and Jamie walks it better than anyone does.
MS: What about your own past explains why you write dark fiction today?
EC: Probably none of it, despite growing up in the 70’s when horror movies were the in-thing, Kiss was cool, and serial killers were making headlines (Son of Sam, The Zodiac Killer, and in my own neighborhood, The South Hill Rapist in Spokane). Hell, I don’t know what could have possibly piqued my interest in dark fiction and horror. Actually though, I think people are either drawn to the dark or they’re not. Before my children knew that I wrote dark fiction, and before I let them watch scary movies, they were attracted to that thrill, which unfortunately, between my husband and me, they got a double dose of.
MS: Is this your first horror book? Will there be more?
EC: I find it difficult to classify my work. While Feral Things has moments of horror and gore, it’s also dark fantasy and crime noir, but currently, I am writing a book, The Dead in Two Creeks Forest (a working title that continually changes), which I believe is my first (novel-length) horror. There will definitely be more, as I’m starting to gather ideas for a novella length supernatural horror series.
Feral Things : A monster possesses Jamie Fisher, one with claws and sharp teeth. After waking in the Nevada desert, not sure of who she is or how she got there, her key to survival may lie in traveling with a dangerous guy named, Ray. A trust develops as they both flee from state to state, running from Ray’s own troubled past and blindly heading into Jamie’s. Ray will have to face new monsters and Jamie will have to embrace her own if she wants to save Ray and herself. It’s a bloody mess, and only the feral will survive.
Erin Cole writes dark, speculative fiction and is the author of the mystery novels Grave Echoes and Wicked Tempest, and the dark fiction collections Of the Night, After Dusk, and Between Feathers and Fins. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking ‘real’ food, adopts rescue animals, and is a true ally of insomnia.