These interviews are related to our GHOST AND GHOULS AND OTHER CREEPY THINGS campaign. For those just joining us, we are crowdfunding three projects on Kickstarter and also taking some time to introduce you to our participating authors, some of whom are new to eSpec. The campaign has launched! Check it out to see how we’re doing, and what awesome rewards are left to be had!
eSpec Books interviews Amy Grech, contributor to Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander.
eSB: Even in the Grave is a collection of ghost stories, without spoilers, can you tell us a bit about your story and how you came up with the idea?
AG: My story, “Bruised and Battered Nevermore”, takes place in an NYC apartment building that holds secrets of the dead. It’s an homage to author Edgar Allan Poe. I wrote it a few years after I moved out of my first apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The place was decrepit and the heat rarely worked. When it did, the ancient radiators clanged and moaned—they seemed to conjure specters from beyond. It got me thinking… what if the previous tenant died and the current occupant set out to unravel the mystery.
eSB: Okay, first off the top of your head, who is your favorite ghost and why?
AG: Definitely Casper the Friendly Ghost. He garnered a brief mention in my story, “Bruised and Battered Nevermore.” Growing up, I watched the cartoon. I remember being fascinated by the juxtaposition—Casper was pleasant and personable—the opposite of most menacing, meddlesome spooks.
eSB: Do you believe in ghosts, and why? Is there an experience in your life you can share with us that strengthened that belief?
AG: I wholeheartedly believe we are not alone. In 2011, a few days before my father passed away, I was getting ready for bed in my Park Slope apartment. When I turned off the living room light, I spotted a white, glowing orb floating near the window at eye-level. I stood transfixed by the Illuminated sphere, which I took to be his spirt saying goodbye.
Over the years, after my grandmother passed away in 2009, there were several instances in the same apartment where I felt a weight next to me in bed late at night—you know, like when your dog or cat cozies up next to you before bed… thing was, I didn’t have any pets.
eSB: What drew you to appreciate the horror genre? What inspired you to write in it?
AG: When my family went to visit an aunt living in Kingston, NY, she gave me two of Stephen King’s novels, Cujo and Pet Sematary. I was 12-years-old at the time. Despite the mature themes, I was hooked on his work. I decided that I wanted to try my hand at writing. The lack of female authors published in the genre during the mid-1980s was a huge motivator to seeing my name in print.
eSB: Other than horror, what genres do you write in? Tell us something about your other works and what makes those genres different from writing horror.
AG: In addition to horror, I’ve published numerous noir stories with various publishers. For me, writing horror is about telling stories where the characters are at the forefront, experiencing a range of emotions: whether it’s abject dread, or sheer, visceral terror. I want readers to empathize with my characters’ triumphs and tribulations, whereas my noir fiction blurs the line between right and wrong. My protagonists are seriously and often tragically flawed. Noir also shifts focus away from detectives and overturn standard crime narratives by turning criminals and murderers into sympathetic protagonists, who become humans with complex motives rather than heinous caricatures. Nuance allows for the exploration of difficult questions about the nature of society and humanity. By focusing on antiheroes and amoral protagonists, the ethical constructs of crime and justice and right and wrong become questionable in a world where nothing is black and white.
eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing experiences promoting your books?
AG: A few years ago at the Horror Writers Association NYCC Booth, a man purchased a copy of my now-out-of-print noir collection, Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City. While signing his copy, I inquired who it was for. He told me it was a birthday present for his son, Peter. After he left, one of the other writers at the booth chucked and said, “Peter’s in for quite an education.” Heh.
eSB: As a horror author, where do you find support for your writing?
AG: I’ve been a Member of the Horror Writers Association for over 25 years now. Fresh out of college and eager to perfect my craft, I subscribed to several, print writer’s magazines, including Cemetery Dance and Writer’s Digest. An ad for the Horror Writers Association caught my eye and I decided to become a member. I started as an Affiliate Member and worked my way up to Active Member status in five years.
I met Jack Ketchum way back when the Stoker Awards and accompanying convention were held in NYC during the mid-1990s. He offered me invaluable advice and gave me pointers on how to become a more effective reader. I served as the HWA’s Webmaster from 2001 – 2004—an enlightening experience. I’ve made numerous life-long friends and was proud to give back as a mentor in 2020. I currently co-manage the HWANY Chapter Twitter account with Alp Beck.
eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?
AG: I’m in the midst of final edits for two crime fiction novellas set in NYC, one takes place in Alphabet City, where rage and redemption are the primary focus. A devious eye doctor sets his sights on the wrong girl; murderous mayhem ensues. The avenues in Alphabet City tell a tragic tale: A is for Alert; C is for Caution; and D is for Death… The other is set in Manhattan and Park Slope, Brooklyn. After being caught in gang crossfire, a young woman exacts her own justice with a hot pink, leopard print Concealed Carry Glock 26 9mm that she affectionately calls Vicious Pink. I’ve also got a dystopian novella under consideration where in a post-financial collapsed dystopia, food takes on new meaning. A hailstorm of technicolor RING balls. A Gathering. A four-hour eating orgy. Cyanide. “The Lottery” meets “The Running Man”.
I’ve got a poem in Under Her Skin, due out in April.
Amy Grech has sold over 100 stories to various anthologies and magazines including: A New York State of Fright, Apex Magazine, Dead Harvest, Flashes of Hope, Gorefest, Hell’s Heart, Hell’s Highway, Hell’s Mall, Needle Magazine, Punk Noir Magazine, Scare You To Sleep, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, Tales from The Lake Vol. 3, The One That Got Away, Thriller Magazine, and many others. She has a poem forthcoming in the Under Her Skin anthology.
Amy is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers who lives in New York.
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