MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR PAMELA MORRIS
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
I write under my maiden name of Pamela Morris. I’ve been published in the erotica, (under a pen name) mystery-mystery, and Horror genres. Horror is my main focus and greatest love.
Tell me about your books. How do you come up with the stories, angles, and ideas?
After my fifth (and final) erotica title was released in 2010, I turned all my attention towards writing what I grew up loving to read, a combination of Murder-mysteries and Horror. I’d had the image of a flesh-pecked hand reaching up from beneath a fallen headstone in my head for quite a while and knew it was the opening scene of what I’d write next. I wanted to incorporate some experiences I’d had and stories I’d been told as a teenager growing up in a small town, too. This all led to the creation of “Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon”, the first of a growing collection known as The Barnesville Chronicles. Additionally, “No Rest For The Wicked” is a stand –alone ghost story that takes place in an old plantation house in Winchester, Virginia. The idea of writing a ghost story told from the perspective of the spirits came to me from a friend. In March 2018, I released a psychological-horror called “Dark Hollow Road” that deals with urban exploration and the possible mental consequences of being raised by an abusive parent. It’s the darkest novel I’ve tackled to date.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre?
I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew Mysteries as a kid. In my early teens, I started reading authors like Ellery Queen and Agatha Christie. I’ve always been a fan of shows like Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents…and all manner of Horror and Thriller movies . By the time I was in high school I was a huge fan of Stephen King, Tanith Lee, and Anne Rice. I’ve always had a keen interest in the paranormal and occult, too. Each layer built on the next and it only felt natural to go that way with my writing.
What kind of research do you do for your books?
The Barnesville Chronicles required a lot of research into local history as well as reaching back into the witchcraft trials of Connecticut. Between 2004-201,1 I was a US Civil War reenactor. This gave me a great appreciation for keeping anything historic as factual as I possibly could even in a fictional world. My other titles,“No Rest For The Wicked” and “Dark Hollow Road”, took me down other paths in my efforts to blend real events and locations with the elements of the story I’m creating.
an you tell me about your series?
The Barnesville Chronicles all take place in fictional Oneeka County in Upstate New York State. The layout of Barnesville is based on my hometown. Though I’ve changed surnames, street names, and the names of what few shops are located there, anyone from the area almost immediately recognizes it for the real town. What makes Barnesville unique is that it was settled by the ancestors of people executed and/or accused of witchcraft in Connecticut. These folks, however, are actual practicing witches who formed a coven back in the late 1700s. Their beliefs remain a secret, but they also keep a close eye on what happens when it comes to all things paranormal and apparently Oneeka County is full of weird, paranormal happenings. The first books “Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon” and “That’s What Shadows Are Made Of” are both paranormal-themed murder mysteries. The third book, “The Witch’s Backbone” deals more with urban legends that come to life. I have a forth book in progress for this series.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
Definitely. “The Witch’s Backbone” is my favorite. It’s a Coming of Age story that takes place in 1980-1981. I loved going back to the days of my youth to make the settings and language as authentic to that time as possible. It also deals with another of my interests, the origins of local urban legends. What’s the truth behind them and if that truth includes a curse, would that curse really come true if tested?
Where did you get the inspiration/idea for your series?
“Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon” was a culmination of several incidents and experiences from my youth. There were some wild rumors when I was in high school about an active witches coven in the area, for starters. Shortly before starting the book, I learned I am a descendent of Rebecca Towne Nurse, one of the nineteen people accused and hung for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. A couple of movies also added elements of the plot for “…Scarecrow Moon”. It was a lot of little things just coming together. After that, I simply carried over those basic elements and added to them as new storylines have come to mind.
Was it always meant to become a series?
Not at all, but it’s worked out great. The Barnesville books are super fun to write. Despite containing a lot of dark and gruesome events and scenes, I put a lot of myself into each one. I have a deep connection to the locations and characters. “No Rest For The Wicked” and “Dark Hollow Road” are much darker and more detached from the elements that I identify with personally.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Being as I still work a full-time job away from home, it starts out bright and early on Monday morning when the alarm goes off at 5:30. I don’t have a writing schedule to speak of and am unable to set daily writing goals. Unless a scene is burning a hole in my head, I’m usually too tired after working all day to do much (if any) writing at night. I’m also a morning writer, which leaves me with Saturdays and Sundays, those occasional holidays, or a Friday if I play hooky. Writing mornings will start around 7am and I’ll work until about noon. After that production usually slows down as I try to get housework done for the rest of the day.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I’m working on another title in the Barnesville Chronicles right now called “312 Seymour Drive”. It’s set in the village of Owen, the capital of Oneeka County, and is loosely based on the very haunted house my best friend grew up in. As always, some of the events written about took place in the real world but have been fictionalized to suit the plot as needed.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
Character names aren’t as important to me as making the characters well-rounded and believable. You’re not going to be able to tell who the protagonists or antagonists are based on their names, for instance. I’ve been known to just randomly open the phonebook and jab a finger at a name when I’m trying to come up with something.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
My husband loves Science Fiction and has said I should do something with that, but I have a very hard time just reading it, let alone writing something believable. It’s not beyond the realm of possibilities, but I think I need to become more confident with my abilities than I currently am to pull it off.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest part is finding time and the inspiration to write at the same time. Although, I’d love to wake up bright and shiny on any given weekend morning with plot ideas ready to burst from my fingertips, all too often, that doesn’t happen. Sometimes the ideas come to me at work and the best I can do is jot down some notes and hope I feel inspired after dinner that night.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I love book trailers and have made them for all of my Horror novels. All of them are posted on my YouTube channel and I quite often share them on various social media sites as a way of advertising my work.
hat do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
My best accomplishment has nothing to do with my work as a writer. I’m also a mother of two grown children. seeing them as happy and productive adults is about as good as it can get.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Reading positive reviews and knowing that I’ve successfully entertained someone out there.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
My husband and I plan on moving back to his home state of Texas within the next five years. I’d like to think that within another five years after that, I’ll be able to devote a whole lot more time to doing things I truly love, instead of what I have to do in order to pay the bills.
Have you always liked to write?
Yes, for as long as I can remember. One of my first stories was a mystery called “The Strange Well” that I wrote when I was ten or eleven. I still have the original copy of it, too.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write as often as you can and when you aren’t writing, read. Don’t limit your reading material to your preferred genre, either. I struggle to read Science Fiction, but I still read it now and then. Don’t limit your reading to fiction. Read non-fiction, text books, reference books, and read outside your comfort zone. To paraphrase Stephen King, “A writer who doesn’t read, has neither the time nor the tools to write.” Also, learn how to SHOW a story, not just TELL it. Don’t tell me the man is sweating, let me see the sparkles of water on his forehead; let me taste the salt on his skin. Lastly, write what you love!
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I’d love to run an independent book store or work as the librarian at a small public library. On the more outrageous side, I once had dreams of being an archaeologist, anthropologist, parapsychologist, English teacher, and/or a funeral director.
Do you read reviews of your books? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I read them all and I do not respond. Bad reviews have their purpose and I’m not going to change a person’s mind debating the book with them. I got into this business knowing what I would write would not be for everyone. If you’ve submitted your work at all, you know that for the most part rejection is the name of the game. Bad reviews give me advice on how I might do something different in the future. What are my weaknesses? How can I improve?
What is your least favourite part of the writing /publishing process?
Sitting there looking at the screen and having no idea where to take things next is the worst part. Sometimes the voices and scenes in my head go very quiet and still. When it happens for only a few days, that’s fine. When it happens for weeks or months, not so good. I get antsy and depressed and pretty much miserable. I don’t know what to do with myself when things are too quiet up in the old noggin.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
I’m still in the first draft, but here’s a little something-something from “312 Seymour Drive”. A group of people are searching the upstairs of the home of a recently-deceased woman. Her nephew and niece, Brian and Cheryl, who have inherited the property, are with them.
Now that she was inside, Nell studied the space more closely. Pale lilac wallpaper had been hung on all four walls. The ceiling, too, was the same shade of light purple. Area rugs woven through with darker tones of the same color, pinks, and whites had been spread over the hardwood floor. White trimmed the room’s corners, windows, and doors. Doll after doll after doll stood or sat on every available horizontal surface. Unlike the ones downstairs, these were all China dolls, looking old and fragile and not something any child would ever be allowed to play with. Some had tiny smiles with tiny teeth just visible behind the parted lips. Their wide glass eyes seemed to stare everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
At the foot of the bed, a cedar chest held five of the most unique samples of doll-making Nell had ever seen. Not that she knew a lot about such things, but they were clearly not of the same caliber as any of the rest. Three girls and two boys sat with their arms lowered, each touching the hand of the doll beside it, as if they were meant to be holding hands. Their clothes were almost modern, not like the rest which sported high Victorian finery, and despite each little face being unique, something about them was oddly familiar. It was possible she’d seen dolls like them before but none so detailed and frighteningly life-like.
The closer Nell got to the bed, the more her necklace hummed. Was it the little dolls or something else in the room? Nell’s gaze rose to the twin-sized canopy bed draped with more variations of purple and white lace that stood along the windowless wall to the right.
And then she saw it.
“Shit!” her hand flew to her heart and she took a step back.
On the bed, draped with a white gauzy shroud, the figure of a child reclined.
Through the lace, the dark purple dress the girl wore was clearly visible. The folds of the fabric had been carefully placed. White lace ruffles reached just below knees clothed in white tights. Shiny white shoes glimmered despite a fine layer of dust. Her hands, with what appeared to be matching pearl bracelets on each delicate wrist, were folded across the wide white ribbon at the figure’s waist.
Nell inched closer, gawking just as those around her were doing. “Is she real?”
The skin was flawless and pale. Wide ribbons of blonde hair covered the shoulders of the figure. A delicate gold cross on a matching chain rested in almost the exact same place Nell’s necklace rested under her shirt. Nell’s hand moved to cover her own pendent as she looked at the face with its long pale lashes resting shut on rounded cheeks. The lips were a soft pink. Any moment they might part as the form took a breath in and opened her eyes, like Sleeping Beauty awakening.
“It can’t be real.” Cheryl whispered, looking towards the opposite side of the bed where Nell stood staring at the figure. She straightened, turning to find her brother. “Is it real? Did you touch it?”
Brian shook his head. “No. We didn’t touch it.”
“Well, someone’s got to,” Cheryl said, looking across the expanse between herself and Nell. “Someone’s got to,” she repeated.
Where did your love of books come from?
I grew up with parents and family who read a lot. My maternal grandparents always had a book on hand. For my grandfather it was Westerns, Zane Grey and Lois L’Amour mostly. My grandmother used to bring home boxes and boxes of Romance novels. I read a few, but the real treat was finding something spooky that I could enjoy. In elementary school it was always a wonderful day when the Scholastic Book flyer came out and even better when the books arrived! My thirst for Nancy Drew books was ferocious and I’d spend hours at the local library. My parents belonged to a book club and once I was old enough, they got me a membership in an S&SF book club. As with my grandmother’s box of Romances, every now and then the S&SF book club’s monthly flyer also had some sweet horror novels to choose some.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
As a Horror author, everyone expects me to say that Stephen King is my favorite and, though I like his work well enough, I’m also a big fan of Wilkie Collins, E. A. Poe, Agatha Christie, Tanith Lee, and Richard Matheson. My favorite book is probably “Red As Blood” by Tanith Lee. It’s a collection of her short stories, all twisted fairy tales. I got it from the above mentioned S&SF book club. They’ve been a great inspiration when it comes to writing my own short stories.
Of all the characters you have created, who is your favourite and why?
It’s so hard to choose. I’m really attached to a number of them. I’m very fond of Nell Miller who appears in all of the Barnesville Chronicles. Maybe because she’s that small town librarian I wish I was. She’s smart and uses all her available resources with such efficiency. She’s also a powerful witch that wants nothing more than to prove being a witch isn’t always a bad thing. She’s a great judge of character and doesn’t dismiss her feelings. She listens to her intuition and trusts it to a T.
My second favorite would have to be Mary Alice Brown from “Dark Hollow Road”. In the book, Mary’s actions are told in the first person and I was really able to get inside her head writing it that way. She goes from protagonist to antagonist and back to protagonist over the course of the book. You hate and pity her all at the same time and I love that complexity in a character.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
When it’s going the way it should, it’s absolutely exhilarating, like watching a great movie and losing yourself completely in the whole thing. You forget every problem you have in life. Stress and worries vanish. It’s like great sex! When I’ve written a satisfying and gripping scene, I often sit back and bask in the afterglow. It’s awesome.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
As a mom, I’m very sensitive to the emotions of my kids. When they’re happy and content, so am I. When they’re upset or having a hard time of it, it tears at my heart. It doesn’t matter that they are both grown adults, I worry about their safety, health, and happiness 24/7, 365.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
As a reader, nothing bores me more than picking up a book and discovering it’s just the same old-same old story. As a writer, I try to be original while at the same time drawing from a few familiar horror tropes readers of the genre have come to know and love. I really enjoy walking them down a path they think they know then yanking the rug out from under their feet and saying, “No, no, no, we’re going this way.” and throwing them into something totally unexpected.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’ve made so many writer friends over the past five or so year; it’s amazing! All of them have been super supportive of my work. They are honest about what they like and don’t like and give a lot of constructive criticism along the way. Horror author Hunter Shea has gone above and beyond pointing me in the right direction, promoting my work, giving me mountains of advice, and urging me to keep going and keep submitting and writing in the midst of the crippling self-doubt all writers seem to suffer from. Thomas Gunther and Jason J. Nugent have also been wonderful friends and sounding boards over the years, too. We urge each other never to give up and cheer for each other when it’s been a good writing day!
Where can readers interested in your work as well as fans find you and follow??
My website is https://pamelamorrisbooks.com/
I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PamelaMorrisBooks/
and I can be found on Twitter @pamelamorris65
All my books are available on Amazon in as eBooks and paperbacks as well.
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤