Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Lowdown with... Lisa Morton

Photograph (c) Ellen Datlow
Lisa Morton is a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, a screenwriter, a novelist, and a Halloween expert whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening”. Her most recent releases are the non-fiction books Adventures in the Scream Trade and Ghosts: A Cultural History. She lives in the San Fernando Valley just north of Los Angeles.
1. Tell us three things about yourself.
I’m a lifelong Californian; I’m one of the world’s leading authorities on Halloween; and I am unabashedly proud of being called a horror writer.
2. What was the first thing you had published?
A poem about my pet turtle. I was five.

If you mean the first thing as an adult fiction writer, it was the short story “Sane Reaction” which appeared in
Dark Voices 6, edited by Stephen Jones and David Sutton.
3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of?
I think my novel Malediction. There are other works that I’m proud of for different reasons – like The Halloween Encyclopedia, because of the amount of research work that went into it, or my play adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Radio Free Albemuth, because I love Dick’s work and I thought I found a way to bring his unique worldview to life onstage – but Malediction was the work in which I managed to mesh a lot of my goals and interests in a way I found especially satisfying.
4. …and which makes you cringe?
Oh, that’s easy: the movies that bear my name. Note that I don’t say, “The movies I’ve written,” because those might have been pretty decent…but the absurdities and atrocities that I’m credited as writer on don’t look like anything I remember writing. They’re mostly dreadful and embarrassing.
5. What’s a normal writing day like?
I don’t really have normal writing days anymore. At the beginning of 2015 my life completely changed when I simultaneously became the live-in caregiver to an 83-year-old parent, became a first-time home owner, and took over as President of the Horror Writers Association when the former president Rocky Wood passed away. Being HWA’s President is actually nothing compared to the caregiver gig; ask anyone who’s ever looked after an elderly relative, and I’m betting they’ll tell you it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done. I can now write only for a short time at night, during that time between getting the mum down to bed and when I finally pass out from exhaustion. On a good night I can manage a few hundred words.
6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first?
It depends on what they like. If you enjoy short stories, my Cemetery Dance collection Cemetery Dance Select: Lisa Morton is a good introduction, and is available as an affordable e-book. For novel, I’d point to Malediction. For non-fiction, my most recent book Adventures in the Scream Trade will tell you everything you need to know about me.
7. What are you working on now?
HWA’s inaugural StokerCon, which happens in exactly one month. It’s a big show, I have a big part in it, and it eats up a lot of my life.

I don’t even want to talk about fiction because I’m so far behind on several deadlines.

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