In case you missed it, we recently reviewed My American Nightmare, a new horror release currently on Amazon’s Short Story Collection Bestseller List. My cohort Jasmyn and I also recently had the pleasure of interviewing the creator and editor of the anthology, Azzura Nox. Please join us in welcoming her to the site.
Q. Thanks for granting us an interview! How long did My American Nightmare take to complete, from conception to finish?
A: I had been thinking about putting together an anthology for quite some time, but for one reason or another kept putting it off. Then in March I finally decided to try to make my dream come true and put out a call for all horror women writers that wished to send me short stories for an anthology that I was putting together. Between May and June I selected all the stories that I wanted to include in the anthology and by the end of July the anthology was edited and ready to go. So in all, it took about four months.
Q: It’s been said that being an editor is a thankless job. What inspired you to take on this project?
A: As I mentioned before, I’ve always really wanted to put together my own anthology and have the chance to select the stories I found thrilling with readers. I’ve always loved anthologies growing up, especially horror ones, and seeing that women are less represented in the horror genre I decided to focus my efforts on giving talented women horror writers a chance to shine.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of working on the book for you personally?
A: Honestly the hardest process was having to select the stories. There were only a handful that were either outright awful or didn’t fit the theme, but the majority of the stories that were sent to me were really, really awesome stories and it just pains me that I had to select only a few. I had to really think about which stories truly fit the theme and would also fit seamlessly with the others too. The worst part of all was having to write the rejection emails to the others that weren’t selected, especially one author who’s story I really DID love but unfortunately just didn’t fit the theme of the anthology and I ended up telling her just that, that her story was strong and it had really moved me but hadn’t been selected only because it failed to fit the horror genre.
Q. How did you choose the authors you asked to contribute?
A: I initially read all the short stories with the eyes of a reader, meaning did this story entertain me or compel me to keep on reading? Many of the stories selected were ones that I read once and they just stuck with me. Then I did a second reading of all the stories with the eyes of an editor, was the story well written? Did it have strong characterization? Etc. So it was a pretty lengthy process. But I truly loved it, cause everyday during my lunch break at work I was looking forward to reading a new story!
Q: Do you think we’ll see more from these authors? Perhaps in a My American Nightmare, Part II…?
A: I hope so! I can’t say that I’ll be coming out with another horror anthology anytime soon, but I do wish to come out with another anthology sometime in the near future maybe with another theme or genre and would love to have these authors contribute for future publications. But I would also love to see these authors be published elsewhere too, and many of them already are and have projects out such as Nicky Peacock who’s got an amazing zombie series called Bad Blood (Battle of the Undead) published by Evernight Teen, or R.A. Goli who’s had three short stories recently released in MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror, The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30, Volume 2, and See Through My Eyes: A Ghost Mystery Anthology, Spinster Eskie has a chilling story featured in Year’s Best Body Horror 2017 Anthology, or Erica Ruhe who’s had some brilliant short stories published in the anthologies UnCommon Minds and UnCommon Origins by Fighting Monkey Press. And many of the other authors have projects coming up in the future, so I truly hope that readers will follow the authors from My American Nightmare in their other projects and literary journey.
Q: Can you share with us why the anthology presented stories from a teen’s point of view? Were you concerned you might alienate adult readers?
A: I suppose I’m kind of like John Hughes, meaning that I’m deeply fascinated by the adolescent experience because it is one of the most significant periods in one’s life where you’re experiencing a lot of things for the very first time such as first loves, first disappointments, etc. And a lot of the decisions or incidents that happen to you as a teenager can deeply affect you as an adult later on in life and in a horror setting it’s a lot more fascinating to explore it with the eyes of a teenager because they’re more likely to be curious and try to figure things out on their own or how a terrible experience can be horrifically scarring to them for the rest of their lives. I really wasn’t concerned with alienating adult readers, because we’ve all been teenagers and we can all relate to how it feels like wanting to fit in or trying to figure out who you really are, and I think that many of these short stories have those elements at the heart of the story, although propelled in a horror setting. And besides, if a short story is excellent, it doesn’t really matter what age the protagonist it, just look at Stephen King’s use of a little girl protagonist in The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon or Lord of the Flies. Both those books would be entirely different books if they had been written from an adult point of view.
Q: Since you write and edit horror stories, you’re obviously interested in the genre. When did you first become a fan?
A: My love for the horror genre started at a very young age, meaning I was around two years old when my parents figured out that I would cry anytime they’d change the channel and Elvira was on, so they ended up having to keep it on the channel and I can’t recall if she had a weekly show but she’d present horror movies and that’s really where my passion for horror began. When I got a little older and was read fairy tales by the Grimm Brothers before going to bed that kind of sealed the deal too. I honestly can’t even think of a time in my life where horror movies or books weren’t in my life, it’s just been a part of me forever.
Q: What other projects can we hope to see from you in the future?
A: I’m hoping to release another short story collection of my own, kind of a sequel to my previous one, Doll Parts: Tales of Twisted Love and will probably have another anthology out in the future as well as soon as I figure out what theme I want to settle with as I have so many ideas! In the meantime, if anyone wishes to follow me, I curate a lifestyle blog called The Inkblotters (https://theinkblotters.com/) where I review cosmetics, books, movies, gigs, and pretty much write about anything that interests me. It’s updated twice a week, so it’s active! And by the end of the year I should be able to release the short horror film I wrote the screenplay for and directed called “Devil In The Details,” so as you can see I’m keeping myself busy!
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