We caught up with horror author Loren Rhoads to talk about her book Unsafe Words and how many monsters we can find in the dark!
RE: Tell us the synopsis of your book.
Here’s the text from the back cover:
In Unsafe Words, the first full-length collection of her edgy, award-winning short stories, Loren Rhoads punctures the boundaries between horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction in a maelstrom of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. Ghosts, succubi, naiads, vampires, the Wild Hunt, and the worst predator in the woods stalk these pages, alongside human monsters who follow their cravings past sanity or sense.
Featuring an introduction by six-time Bram Stoker Award-winner Lisa Morton and cover art by Lynne Hansen, these fifteen never-before-collected stories come from the magazines Cemetery Dance and Space & Time, from the books Sins of the Sirens, Demon Lovers, The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, Tales for the Camp Fire, and more. One story, “With You By My Side It Should Be Fine,” is original to this collection.
RE: What do you feel is the most unique aspect of your book?
Loren Rhoads: The first story in Unsafe Words, “Here There Be Monsters,” was inspired by a haunted historical mansion in Northern California. I went up there on retreat with a group of horror writers. Some ghost hunters came along with all their equipment. By night, people prowled all over the house with EMF meters and EVP recorders. We wrote by day. Someone asked the caretaker if he was afraid of the ghosts. “The really frightening things live in the woods,” he said. I was so struck by his remark that I wrote this story.
RE: Tell us about your main character(s).
LR: There are all kinds of people in these stories, but two of the stories have characters drawn from my other works. Alondra DeCourval is a witch who travels the world, protecting people from magical monsters and vice versa. I’ve written a whole series of stories about her, but the story in this collection, “Valentine,” is a departure for her. In it, she has tracked a seemingly immortal man to Oslo. I researched that story by spending a couple of days in a university gross anatomy lab.
One of the other stories, “Never Bargained for You,” was inspired by a throw-away line in my novel Angelus Rose. My succubus Lorelei was reminiscing about the days when she worked in the music industry in Los Angeles in the 1970s. An editor came to me for a story about a succubus and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to explore Lorelei’s past?” I was reading about Led Zeppelin at the time. The short story came together very quickly.
RE: What genre(s) is this and who do you think will enjoy reading it?
LR: These stories range all over the map, from horror to science fiction to dark fantasy to literary, always with a dark sensibility. I imagine the readers are a lot like me: they read everything they can get their hands on. At heart, what they want most is to meet imaginary people who come alive as they read. This kind of reader likes to get a chill while they’re reading, especially at this time of year.
RE: Have you received any feedback on it yet, and if so, what was it?
LR: People have said some truly nice things about this book.
“With Unsafe Words, Loren Rhoads has created a lyrical kaleidoscope of a collection, whose shifting genres reveal ever-evolving visions of shining beauty and immense darkness. I loved it.” — Brian Hodge, author of The Immaculate Void and Skidding into Oblivion
“Loren Rhoads is an uncommon writer in any genre. She sharpens tropes to an unrecognizable edge and uses them to wound you. She raises you from the dead with her unflinching hope and her vital prose. She’s the writer you want to hold your hand on the long, strange walk into hell.” — Meg Elison, author of the Road to Nowhere series
“Unsafe Words is filled with dark, lyrical tales that lift you up before they drag you under into quiet moments of fear and horror. Rhoads has a gift. She takes you deep and, when you come out on the other side, you’re just glad you’re still alive.” — J. Scott Coatsworth, Captain Awesome of Queer Sci Fi
RE: Tell us something about yourself that most of your readers may not know.
LR: I fell in love with vampires when I was very small. My parents lived in their first house until I was four and a half, which is how I can date this memory: One day, I was at the next-door neighbor’s house to play with her daughter. We ran through the living room, where the mother was watching TV. I remember this piece of spooky music. The TV showed a room filled with flickering candlelight and a long polished box. The box’s lid raised slowly and a man’s hand reached out from inside. I had no idea what I was watching at the time. Later, I discovered it was Dark Shadows. Barnabas Collins was my first vampire!
RE: What’s next for you?
I’m working on a novel called The Death of Memory, which features my character Alondra DeCourval. It’s kind of her origin story. She meets a vampire in San Francisco and starts her love affair with the city. I’m really excited about finally telling a book-length story about her.
RE: Where can people interact with you and find out more about you and your books?
My home on the web is at lorenrhoads.com. All my books can be found on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3jAugyX is my author page. If you’d like to get to know me better, I have a monthly newsletter that always includes a morbid travel adventure, often to cemeteries. Here’s the link to sign up for that: https://mailchi.mp/aa9545b2ccf4/lorenrhoads.
Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. Her newest book is Unsafe Words, a collection of short stories.
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/LorenRhoadsAuthor/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Loren-Rhoads/e/B002P905PE/
Unsafe Words on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2FjmmuA
199 Cemeteries on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3jGHtq2
Wish You Were Here on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3d68fWk