I am thrilled to have Sonora Taylor here as part of our Women In Horror Series.
Sonora Taylor is the award-winning author of Little Paranoias: Stories, Without Condition, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, and Wither and Other Stories. Her short stories have been published by Camden Park Press, Kandisha Press, Cemetery Gates Media, The Sirens Call, Tales to Terrify, the Ladies of Horror fiction podcast, and more. Her latest book, Seeing Things, is now available. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband and a rescue dog.
Out of all the possible ideas in your head, what inspired you to write Seeing Things?
Seeing Things started as a short story that came to me during my daily walks through my old neighborhood. I used to always see this elderly man that no one else acknowledged. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be funny if only I could see him? From there, I thought up a story situation where someone could see the dead, but none of them wanted to talk to her. The thought made me laugh, so it snowballed from there. It took a while to develop the idea into what became Seeing Things, but I’m very happy with the result.
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart?
I have a soft spot for Abby’s Uncle Keith. It’s been interesting seeing how people respond to him. Usually it’s with indifference or simple liking, but some readers say he’s really unlikable. I think he’s flawed and deeply damaged—there were definitely moments where even I, the writer, was like “Jesus Christ, Keith, get it together!”—but I also know he has a good heart and that a lot of his flaws come from his damage. He was partially inspired by Nick Miller on New Girl, who’s famously a TV character that a lot of his fans want to fix; so maybe that’s where that comes from, ha ha.
Tell us about the process for coming up with the cover.
I worked with Doug Puller on this cover, as I’ve done with all my covers thus far (except for a standalone short story I released, “‘Tis Better to Want”—that was done by Cassie Daley). I told him I wanted Abby on the cover, and one detail I specifically asked for was to not have her smile. I’d noticed with both my previous novel covers, Please Give and Without Condition, the woman protagonist always faced the reader and didn’t smile. It stuck out to me as a solid choice for a woman subject on a book cover. So I asked him to continue that trend.
The whole story of Seeing Things unravels from an incident in an abandoned locker, so I asked Doug to incorporate that. He did such a good job making it subtle that some folks don’t realize right away there’s a ghost in the shadows. It’s scared a few readers! I love that, ha ha.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I think most readers want originality! I usually write based on an idea I find funny and/or fascinating and go from there. Readers don’t always respond to the story the same way I do, but there’s usually some kind of connection. I’d honestly be a bit bored if everyone read my work the exact same way I do—part of the fun is seeing how different people view your story. I think if you write what’s in your heart, it’ll connect with folks.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Too many unpublished stories to list, ha ha. I have two books in progress. One is my next short story collection, Someone to Share My Nightmares. It focuses on the overlap between horror and love—mostly romantic love, but a couple stories with familial love as well. I’ve also started my fourth novel, currently called Errant Roots. I’ll work on that more when I’ve finished the short story collection.
What are you reading now?
I’m getting ready to start Lucid Screams by Red Lagoe. I love short stories and I’ve heard nothing but good things. I’m also a fan of Lagoe’s work.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an artist. I actually used to draw comics as a kid. I had a series called “Damont,” about a teenage girl named Damont and her family. They were all stick figures and the artwork was atrocious, but the scripts were actually pretty good considering I wrote it when I was 9-10 years old. Guess I was always meant to write and not draw!
Would you rather be in a room full of snakes or a room full of spiders?
Spiders. I can step on them if they get nasty.
Tea or coffee?
Tea. I’m obsessed. I’m one of those tea drinkers that always has a ton of varieties on hand. I drink it every day.
How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
This is cheating a bit because I do plan to finish this one for the next collection, but, a story idea I’ve had for years is one based on a single line I wrote in the dark of a movie theater while watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor: “Mr. Rogers meets a child psychopath.”
Oh, wow, I can’t wait to read that story! (laughs) Do you feel women are treated differently in the genre? If so, how?
Absolutely. I can write essays about how women horror authors are overlooked or discriminated against, especially women of color and queer women. But one I’ll highlight is this: women’s stories are more likely to be scrutinized as “not really horror” than men’s. It’ll get classified as drama or mystery or romance, or any of those genres with “dark” in front of it. Now, some women’s horror can be classified as those things—I’ve written dark romance, for instance—but I think readers are more likely to classify a woman’s story as something other than horror than they would a man’s.
You mentioned being a fan of Red Lagoe. Who are some other of your favorite women writing in the genre?
So many, and I know I’m going to miss some names, but here are a few of my favorite women writers:
- V. Castro
- Helen Oyeyemi
- Chesya Burke
- Sara Tantlinger
- Laurel Hightower
- Alexis Henderson
- Jessica Guess
Thank you, Sonora, for being a part of our Women In Horror Series here at IndieMuse and for planting the seed in my mind of Mr. Rogers trying to combat a sadistic child psychopath with nothing but love and kindness!
Sonora’s latest book Seeing Things is ready for your library, if not already there.
Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor
Abby Gillman has discovered that with growing up, there comes a lot of blood. But nothing prepares her for the trail of blood she sees in the hallway after class—or the ghost she finds crammed inside an abandoned locker.
No one believes Abby, of course. She’s only seeing things. As much as Abby wants to be believed, what she wants more is to know why she can suddenly see the dead. Unfortunately, they won’t tell her. In fact, none of them will speak to her. At all.
Abby leaves for her annual summer visit to her uncle’s house with tons of questions. The visit will give her answers the ghosts won’t—but she may not like what she finds out.
Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.