Greetings from the Ethereal Plane,
Let the interview commence!
CP: Can you tell us a little bit about your story “Godmouth?” What inspired it and how did it come to fruition?
PL: Honestly, the inspiration for this story was a bit of a fluke. One day I misheard someone and thought they’d said the word “godmouth.” They hadn’t but it got me thinking what a “godmouth” would be. From there the story was born. The cosmic horror overtones definitely come from Lovecraft’s influence on my life. In the end, most of my stories are inspired by the mundane or by random thoughts. I’m a bit of a pessimist so usually I start thinking what the worst-case scenario would be and things spiral into horror from there.
CP: While speaking of inspiration, what inspired you to become a writer? And what authors helped carve your path to horror?
PL: It’s quite simple, really. My love of reading inspired me to become a writer. Starting from a young age, I read at a prodigious rate. My mom had to resort to buying bundles of books from thrift stores to feed my hobby. Through elementary, the majority of these were R.L. Stine’s series – Goosebumps and Fear Street – with a spattering of Christopher Pike. Stine’s stories quickly became my favourite and I both read his books and watched the TV series religiously.
My love of Stine’s writing inspired me, in Grade 4, to try writing my own horror series complete with illustrations – rest in peace the many red pencil crayons sacrificed in that pursuit. I wanted to share my stories with my friends at school, to thrill them in the same way Stine’s stories thrilled me. Needless to say, my teacher wasn’t as enthusiastic. She had a call with my mom, saying she wasn’t sure it was healthy that such a young girl be writing such bloody stories.
Props to my mom though. She told my teacher off for not supporting my creativity. That night, she sat me down and said it might be best to keep my horror writing at home and write something else at school. In spite of my teacher’s worries, my mom also continued to buy me horror novels and let me watch whatever scary movies I wanted.
CP: What are your goals and aspirations as a writer? What does the future hold for P.L. McMillan?
PL: I am working my way towards finishing a novel and will pursue getting that published. Other than that, I’ll continue to respond to anthology calls with my short stories. One of my ultimate dreams is to be involved in the production of horror survival video games, akin to Silent Hill.
CP: Tell us something that not many readers know about you.
PL: Despite loving all things horror, usually I am too chicken to complete scary video games and have to either resort to watching a playthrough on YouTube or get someone else to play it so I can watch. The last one I played was Outlast and I made it through the tutorial, up to the first chase sequence, and had to quit.
CP: “Godmouth” is the featured story for Hinnom Magazine Issue 002. The combination of Lovecraftian themes, cosmic and psychological horror, will likely captivate audiences around the world. Can you tell us how you managed to craft such a strange narrative and the paranoid tension that builds throughout the story?
PL: I am definitely honoured to have had my story be chosen as the featured story for Hinnom Magazine Issue 002. As to how I crafted my narrative – I relied on the sense of unknowing, of the protagonist being powerless before the moving forces of the universe. To me, one of the greatest things to fear is to be left without control as your life falls to pieces. To doubt yourself and everything around you as you struggle to regain control of your own life. I think Lovecraft put it best in his 1927 essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature”:
“[Weird literature should have a] certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain–a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.”
CP: Do you have any other works releasing soon that our readers can look forward to? If not, are you currently working on any pieces?
PL: Currently I am slaving away at my novel. My short story writing has taken a backseat, though I’ll likely continue to respond to anthology calls that really grab my attention. I do have a website that readers can check out should they wish to be updated on future publications or read any of my current ones – plmcmillan.com.
CP: If you could meet and converse with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
PL: H.P. Lovecraft by far. I would love to be able to talk to him on where he got his ideas from, what inspired him to create Cthulhu and all the other Elder Gods. I think it would be a fascinating conversation. Especially if I was able to convince him to read “Godmouth” and have him let me know what he thought!
CP: What is your favorite novel or work, and/or author? Why?
PL: I’ve always gotten the impression that authors were supposed to have a hard time choosing a favourite novel but I’ve always had one: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I don’t know if it seems strange that a horror writer’s favourite book isn’t a horror novel, but it is what it is. A family friend bought me the abridged version when I was about thirteen. I read it through and fell in love with Edmond Dantès’ unwavering determination to exact revenge on those who’d wronged him. From then on, I read it once a year without fail. In university, I finally bought the unabridged version and fell in love all over again. I think, as a young girl who’d been bullied, the idea that those who did wrong to another person could be punished so thoroughly was refreshing, liberating even. Even as an adult now, knowing a wider perspective on a world that isn’t so black and white, I fall back to The Count of Monte Cristo as a novel that never gets old.
As for authors, I wouldn’t be able to choose just one. Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Shirley Jackson; so many authors came into my life and fulfilled it in so many different ways.
CP: What is your writing process?
PL: I sit on my couch, laptop in my lap, with some awful B horror movie playing on the TV for background noise and plug away at it. Usually I’ll get an idea for a story and mull it over for a while, filling it out in my mind before I commit it to typed reality. After I have my first draft, I try and leave it for a few days before looking it over again. If ever unsure of any part of it, like the ending or dialogue, I force a friend or loved one to be a beta reader.
CP: If you could give advice to new, young authors concerning the publishing world, what would it be? And why?
PL: I’m terrible at giving writing advice, I think, I am never sure what to say. I suppose, the thing that made me hesitate the longest before submitting my first short story to an anthology call was the fear of rejection. That first story got rejected and it definitely stung to get that generic email back telling me so, as did the rejection emails that came after it. Eventually though, it stopped bothering me. I think that’s an important thing to remember. The first couple of times your story or novel gets rejected, it will hurt. But with all things, you’ll get over it. It’s important to remember that each reader is subjective, and while your story may not fit what is ideal in a specific reviewer’s opinion, doesn’t mean that others haven’t enjoyed it or that the next reader will feel the same way. Be persistent.
Read P.L. McMillan’s “Godmouth” today in Hinnom Magazine Issue 002!
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