Kristi DeMeester is one of my favorite Ladies of Horror. Her writing is so pure and horrific. I feel very fortunate to have been able to interview one of my favorite writers.
Kristi DeMeester is the author of Beneath, a novel published by Word Horde, and the author of Everything That’s Underneath, a short fiction collection published by Apex Publications. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year Volume 9, Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volumes 1 and 3, Black Static, The Dark, Apex Magazine, and several others.
She is currently at work on her fourth novel and seeking representation.
LOHF: Kristi, thank you for taking the time to visit the Ladies of Horror Fiction today.
I’m thrilled to be here! I so deeply admire the awareness this movement has brought to the plethora of truly amazing female horror writers who are currently writing in the genre.
LOHF: We loved your novel Beneath and your short story collection Everything that’s Underneath. In your work there is a strong motherhood theme that runs through both. Do you find that you are drawing on the fact that you are a mother in your writing?
Thank you so much! Certainly becoming and now being a mother has much to do with that focus. Motherhood, for so many women, carries a mountain of fear and doubt and guilt, and when you compound that with also having a career, and your own separate ambitions, it’s difficult to separate yourself from the narrative of what motherhood is supposed to look like. So that when you don’t quite fit into that narrative, for whatever reason, you do feel monstrous. I like to take that idea and expand on it. Additionally, and I’ve talked about this frequently, when you didn’t have a great mother and then become a mother, those fears are amplified a hundred fold. And so even in exploring that predatory maternal nature, I can allay so many of the fears I have in my waking life.
LOHF: In much of horror there seems to be a parallel with the urban legends or folk tales do you feel that is the case?
I think that these stories fascinate us because they tend to be representative of the fears associated with an area or a cultural climate, and then we find ourselves cycling back to them as we try to work out whatever it was that spurned it in the first place. For instance, take one of my favorite films Pumpkinhead. There’s certainly a folk tale aspect and feeling to that film, and yet it deeply explores issues surrounding prejudice and oppression regarding socioeconomic issues. And so by masking that social problem with a folk tale and a monster, we can view it through a less aggressive lens and work to internally identify things that need resolving.
LOHF: Do you feel there are any tropes in the horror genre that are overused? If so what are they?
While I use body horror in much of my work, I’m exceedingly tired of seeing blood and guts spilled or bodily fluids mentioned strictly to create disgust. Disgust and horror, to me, are not related. Searching for the grossest image isn’t frightening to me, but it is good for bringing your lunch back up.
LOHF: What was your first introduction to the horror genre?
In film, it was the first Fright Night. In literature, it was R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike. I fell in love and never looked back.
LOHF: What was the last movie or book that scared the pants off of you?
Last movie was Hereditary. So beautiful and unsettling. The last book was a re-read but Beloved by Toni Morrison. My word. So lovely and claustrophobic and horrifying.
LOHF: There seem to be two types of writers: the writer who has a full outline of the story prior to writing or do you just write and see where the story takes you; which are you?
A mix of both. For short stories, I don’t tend to plan, but for novels, I’ve come to the realization that I need to have some kind of outline; otherwise, the story goes completely off the rails and starts to circle back in on itself.
LOHF: Are there any up and coming Ladies of Horror Fiction that we should keep an eye out for?
Not sure if these could be classified as up and coming, but I can give you some of my favorites: Julia Elliott, Carina Bissett, Helen Marshall, Gwendolyn Kiste, Damien Angelica Walters, Sarah Langan, Gemma Files, Sarah Pinborough, Nalo Hopkinson, Lisa Tuttle, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Hand, Kelly Link, Ania Ahlborn, Ottessa Moshfegh, Carolina Sanin, Lauren Beukes, S.P. Miskowski, Rachel Autumn Deering, Carmen Maria Machado, Karen Russell. This list could go on forever, and I know I’m forgetting several not because I intend to omit, but because my brain swims with amazing Ladies of Horror Fiction!
LOHF: Do you have a WIP in progress? If so are there any tidbits you can share?
From “FiGen: A Love Story”
“I filled out the card with your name, your birthdate, and scrawled my signature across the bottom to indicate FiGen held no liability for the results I would receive or for any corresponding life events. They were held free and clear, and I could do with the information what I chose. When I walked the envelope out to the mailbox, you still weren’t home, and the air pressed in around me with a heaviness that indicated rain. I lingered on the front steps, waiting for the sound of your car, for the ghostly glare of your headlights. I wondered if you saw me, saw how I stood waiting for you, if there would be a twinge in your heart, and you would remember how you’d clasped my hand the night you told me you loved me and said you wanted to always see me at the end of your days. But you did not come home, and I went inside and finished the wine.”
LOHF: As we are all book bloggers and we love to know what is on your nightstand at the moment?
Currently, I am reading The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdich.
Beneath: When reporter Cora Mayburn is assigned to cover a story about a snake-handling cult in rural Appalachia, she is dismayed, for the world of cruel fundamentalist stricture, repression, glossolalia, and abuse is something she has long since put behind her in favor of a more tolerant urban existence. But she accepts the assignment, dredging up long-buried memories as she seeks the truth.
As Cora begins to uncover the secrets concealed by a veneer of faith and tradition, something ancient and long concealed begins to awaken. What secrets do the townsfolk know? What might the handsome young pastor be hiding? What will happen when occulted horrors writhe to the surface, when pallid and forgotten things rise to reclaim the Earth?
Everything that’s Underneath: Crawl across the earth and dig in the dirt. Feel it. Tearing at your nails, gritty between your teeth, filling your nostrils. Consume it until it has consumed you. For there you will find the voices that have called from the shadows, the ones that promise to cherish you only to rip your body to shreds.Crawl across the earth and dig in the dirt. Feel it. Tearing at your nails, gritty between your teeth, filling your nostrils. Consume it until it has consumed you. For there you will find the voices that have called from the shadows, the ones that promise to cherish you only to rip your body to shreds.
Kristi’s books are available via Better World Books or if you click on the picture of the book you are interested in you will be transported to the publisher website.