Greetings from the Ethereal Plane,
Let the interview commence!
CP: Can you tell us a little bit about your story “The Nocturne of Manigault?” What inspired it and how did it come to fruition?
JC: I honestly don’t know! The tale just sort of came to me. However, I do remember what I was listening to when I started on the story. I was listening to The Chairman’s Waltz composed by John Williams from the Memoirs of a Geisha motion picture soundtrack. The composition struck me as sad and proud and ultimately haunting. It’ll make a lot more sense after reading the responses to follow—I’m all over the place!
CP: While speaking of inspiration, what inspired you to become a writer? And what authors helped carve your path to horror?
JC: I was a scaredy-cat growing up and needed an outlet for my fright. This’ll be telling of my age, but TV shows like Unsolved Mysteries influenced me by freaking me out. At the same time, I worshipped R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps series and Alvin Scwartz’s Scary Stores to Tell in the Dark as a kid. I started dreaming up all kinds of adventures and discovered that I’d always feel better after writing. My mom has always been my biggest fan girl—she continues to motivate me.
More recent influences stem from Gothic literature, my favorite novels being Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and another one mentioned below that is my all time favorite. To me, horror in its rawest form exposes truths about our own capacity for evil.
CP: What are your goals and aspirations as a writer? What does the future hold for Joanna Costello?
JC: My goal is simple: conjure up the most horrific novel known to human kind without the use of gore or science fiction—supernatural to the bone, pure horror. Until then, I’ll continue to write short stories and improve my writing/editing skills. I’m a “carpe diem” type of person, taking life a day at a time, but I hope whatever the future holds for me is good!
CP: Tell us something that not many readers know about you.
JC: I’m a sucker for Western movies. Give me some popcorn and you won’t hear a peep out of me for hours. I suspect it has something to do with the tortured hero thing.
CP: “The Nocturne of Manigault” is a deep, dark story that explores many different facets of horror. How did you convey such a brooding narrative, and what challenges did you face when writing this story? How did you overcome them?
JC: I’d say my greatest challenge was weaving the main character’s internal thoughts and dialogue into the story without slowing the story’s pace or boring the reader. I wanted the audience to grasp the family’s history and struggle without taking anything away from the external horrors occurring around them—I wanted to find the perfect balance. It was also important to me to impart a strong emotional atmosphere of isolation and decay. Overcoming these challenges involved many revisions and lots of feedback from my family. I’m sure I drove them nuts!
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?
JC: I’m currently working on a few pieces that I’ve been having a lot of fun with. I’m exploring crime, mystery, and horror and I’m really pleased with the results so far. One of my poems called Salem’s Lament can be found in FunDead Publications Anthology, Entombed in Verse: An Epitaph for Salem just released in August 2017. I’ll be sure to share future release dates for others on my WordPress blog, Joeatscrow.
CP: If you could meet and converse with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
JC: Aside from the obvious H.P. Lovecraft, I’d love to chat with Mark Twain. I’m fascinated by Twain—he was a true “rolling stone.” He did what he wanted in life, said what he wanted, and wrote what he wanted, when he wanted. I’d be a better money manager though.
CP: What is your favorite novel or work, and/or author? Why?
JC: My favorite writer is H.P. Lovecraft. I admire his ability to convey his supernatural world and the monsters that dwell in it to the audience so precisely or the way he delivers a fright by means of mystery or plot left partially unresolved. For instance, what happened with the well in the Colour out of Space and what the heck happened to Harley Warren?! We are left to wonder and to steer clear of creepy wells and such.
My favorite novel is a modern gothic called The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Kostova spins a tale about the legend of Vlad Țepeș or Vlad the Impaler. The reader is transported across Europe from West to East via an unlikely heroine hot on a trail of clues and suspicious characters. The story offers the horrific slow burn as I like to call it—a full-fledged Goth fest. I’m also a huge fan of Junji Ito, particularly his work called Uzumaki. Ito takes an innocent swirl shape and a few slugs and manages to creep the crap out of people. It’s just an amazing horror Manga.
CP: What is your writing process?
JC: It’s hardly a process. No formal mechanics involved at all. Writing for me arises as a mood that I try to enhance with music—haunting, melancholy, and ambient musical qualities will do the trick. I’ll usually write until the story reaches a small rise in conflict or suspense. Then I’ll stop and edit what I wrote. When the mood strikes at another time the ritual begins over again.
CP: If you could give advice to new, young authors concerning the publishing world, what would it be? And why?
JC: I’d say that new or young authors should write primarily for themselves—explore the craft as a passion. Push your imagination to its furthest limits. Honestly, I’m new to the publishing world and have only recently found the courage to share my work. What I can say with certainty is that I’ve learned to practice patience in navigating the methodologies of publishing. In the meantime, I recommend that new and young authors continue to have fun writing, reading or just immersing themselves in the world of horror. Connect with fellow writers and enthusiasts. Form a foundation within the genre from which to grow. When they feel they have a piece they are proud and confident in, share it! The hordes are all always looking for the next great scare . . .
Read Joanna Costello’s “The Nocturne of Maniagult” today in Hinnom Magazine Issue 002!
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