This lady is another talented author that I'm so thrilled to call a friend! I read her novella What Did Not Die early this year, jumped on the chance to beta read for her, and would now even dare call her a mentor! She's a fantastic source of information on self-publishing, and a great example of someone rolling up her sleeves and digging into all sorts of different skill sets, in order to bring her vision to life. Her new release, No One Can Help You, is an excellent example, showing just how much versatility there is within the emotional horror genre. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
I readily admit that "feelings" just aren't my jam, but Ruth Anna is so on point with her depictions of human behavior and the resulting emotions, that sometimes her work feels more like a documentary than a horror story. It's clear how in touch she is with emotions as a whole, and she can craft one hell of a roller coaster!
1. You’ve mentioned before that writing horror is a way for you to process your emotions and deal with the craziness of everyday life – have you always turned to writing for that, or did you just kind of stumble onto your knack for turning emotion into such effective horror stories?
That’s a really interesting question, because I always wanted to write fiction but never felt able to come up with the ideas. My bachelor’s degree is actually in writing, but my main focus was journalism. After I graduated, I was a newspaper reporter (where I wrote about plenty of horrors). For a long time after that, I didn’t write anything.
It was the pandemic that finally got me writing fiction. I was so anxious and so bored at the same time. There was so much to process, and I was failing at it. When I started piecing together my first story, it was really slow going, and I thought it would be the only idea I ever had. When I had another one right away…it was like I had found that part of myself I had always hoped was there.
2. Are you a fan of horror movies, as well as books? What themes do you enjoy if you do?
My husband is a through-and-through horror movie fan, with a severe DVD addiction. So there’s a lot of screaming in our house. Movies are sometimes a little much for me, so I only watch ones that I know are really, really good. The original Candyman, for example, was really, really good. Sixth Sense. Hell House scared the absolute shit out of me. As Above, So Below was stellar. Blair Witch does it for me, 100%. Creep was a favorite, actually. So for me it’s more super well-done titles than themes.
I don’t like summer camp movies. Ugh. To each their own, though.
3. Why did you make the decision to self-publish?
I know myself, and I don’t do that well with rejection. It tends to shut down my muse. In addition, all of the little things that go with self-publishing are fun for me! Except the marketing. Marketing is hard.
I love working on covers and collaborating with beta readers and editors. Self-publishing is for me about creative control and working in a way that I thrive as a writer.
4. What are some of the skills you’ve acquired along the way that aren’t directly related to writing?
I have gotten so much better at Photoshop, with the help of @nw.reader at TrubornDesign. I love designing; it’s almost as much fun as writing.
I would say I’ve gotten better at social media and marketing, but that’s just such a crap shoot. You can put so much effort into something and dead silence, and then shoot off something without thinking about it and it takes off. I haven’t the foggiest. I don’t think anyone else does, either though 😉.
5. A distant, insanely wealthy relative passes away and leaves you the most stereotypical haunted house in existence – do you sell it and walk away, or move in and see what happens?
Sell it. For sure. Sell that bitch and never look back.
6. Is there anything so scary to you, that you have a hard time writing about it?
Sexual assault or abuse of any kind. I just don’t write it, and I grit my teeth through it when I read it.
7. Do you work off outlines/plans, or start writing with an idea and see where it takes you?
I start with an idea, write a paragraph or bulleted outline quickly, and then move to the writing. The story almost never follows the outline, but I tend to move in that general direction. The ending is usually similar to what I had in mind.
8. If you had to become a character in one of your stories (an additional character, not replacing existing ones), which one would it be and why?
Oh gosh. My characters go through it. I would be a character that saves someone. Maybe I would help the poor guy in Sight of Blood. He tries so hard, but everybody always dies anyway. I’d want to help him be the hero he so wants to be, even if I can’t help him save his daughter.
9. What do you think are some of the biggest advantages to self-publishing?
Other than creative control, I would say that it’s really cool to get to know every single time someone reads something you write. I mean, who gets that? It really keeps me going.
Oh, and you can constantly tweak and edit and change. You can have a new cover in one day. I never have to stay unhappy with something; it can always be fixed.
10. Are there any particular resources for you that have been more helpful than others?
This is going to sound silly to some, but it shouldn’t, because romance writers know what the fuck they’re doing. I got my self-publishing start listening to the SPA Girls, which is four ladies from New Zealand who have hundreds and hundreds of episodes about all facets about self-publishing. They are so encouraging and sweet and upbeat, and they know EVERYTHING. Sometimes I have it on in the background because it’s just so soothing.
Written in Red is also a great podcast; those guys are wacko-bazacko.
Get Writing Horror is a great Facebook group. I’ve found so many different types of help there. Cover opinions, beta readers, experts in this or that, thoughts on blurbs, thoughts on titles, encouragement…It’s the best one that I’ve found out there for a self-publishing horror writer.
And, of course, I have made so many wonderful friends on Twitter. It’s a great community.
Thanks so much for the opportunity and your constant support!
Go check out her socials and her site!
Facebook: Author Ruth Anna Evans