Today we have an excellent treat–one of our little interviews with the author of our latest serial novella, now available in its entirety here on the site, The Book at Dernier. Thanks for stopping by, Samatha Lienhard!
1. RPP fell in love with The Book at Dernier because it reads like some of our favorite American Horror–Poe, Lovecraft, that great stuff we thrive on. Can you tell us a little about your influences and inspirations?
I think you just named my inspirations right there.
All right, there’s a little more to it than that. I decided I wanted to be an author when I was a kid, and I really loved Poe’s horror stories. It wasn’t long before I discovered Ray Bradbury and read everything of his I could find—and while I liked his science fiction, it was his horror fiction I fell in love with. To me, Poe and Bradbury showed me what short stories were, and I wanted my writing to be just like that. Of course, I didn’t think of myself as a horror writer for a long time. If you asked me several years ago what kinds of stories I wrote, I would have said, “Sci-fi and fantasy,” and if you pointed to all of my twisted little tales in which my protagonists met horrible fates, I would have muttered something about weird fiction.
Now, eventually I discovered H.P. Lovecraft. And it was like reading Bradbury for the first time all over again. This was what I wanted my writing to be. I read every Lovecraft story I could find, most of them late at night. Around the same time, a friend introduced me to the Silent Hill video game series. Up to then, I still made some weak protests about not liking horror, but I just couldn’t get enough of Silent Hill.
And at the height of my obsession with both Silent Hill and Lovecraft, a scene flashed into my mind. I’d been thinking about those times when you’re doing something you know you shouldn’t do, and you say, “I’m going to stop now,” and half an hour later you realize never stopped at all—and suddenly I saw Paul carving those symbols into his arm, unable to stop, unable to give it up.
I went home and started writing The Book at Dernier.
So for my overall horror influences, I would name Poe, Bradbury, and Lovecraft. The Book at Dernier builds on that base, but with an especially strong Lovecraftian influence and a dose of Silent Hill.
2. That explains so, so much. Brilliant answer! What else are you working on right now, where can we find it, and is it anything like your work on Dernier?
Well, I have several projects in the works now. I’m working on three novels, two of which are written and just need to be revised, and one that I’m still writing—it’s my thesis novel for Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. Both my thesis and one of the novels I’m editing are dark fantasy/horror. The other novel is YA fantasy and is considerably more lighthearted. (Technically I started a fourth horror novel, but I only have a single chapter written.)
I’ve also been working on editing several short stories. At least two are very Lovecraftian in nature, along the lines of Dernier, but they still need work. So I’m afraid you can’t find any of these stories anywhere yet.
There are a couple of things I can point to you right now, though. This past October, my horror story “The Shape in the Sky” appeared at The Word Wood. It’s flash fiction, but if you want to see me drag another protagonist into the depths of insanity, you can find it here: http://thewordwood.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-shape-in-sky.html
I also was contracted to write a few other flash fiction stories—“cold and twisted romance” stories, to be precise. In terms of mood and atmosphere, they have more in common with Dernier than they do with the romance genre. If you’re interested, you can find them here: http://loveme.eu/slienhard
Links to all of my work can be found at my website (www.samanthalienhard.com), and if you follow my website or Twitter (@SamLienhard), you’ll learn of any new developments as they happen.
3. The dreaded third question: How would you describe The Book at Dernier in one sentence?
A scholar goes to a small town and uncovers a secret that should have forever remained hidden, which brings the town’s past to the present and threatens his own sanity.
Perfect, thanks so much, Samantha! If y’all haven’t visited Dernier yet, why not head on over now…