Monday’s Friend: Diane Dooley
February is Women in Horror month, so I am featuring women horror writers for my Monday’s Friends feature all of this month. My first woman of horror is author Diane Dooley. Welcome, Diane!
SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?
DD: I’ve always been a voracious reader, but for many years the idea as me as a writer never occurred to me. It wasn’t until I was on maternity leave with my second child that I decided to try my hand at it as an intellectual exercise. I wrote a novel in six weeks and it was terrible. But I’d been bitten by the writing bug and I’ve been unable to shake it off ever since.
SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?
DD: Ah, too numerous to mention, but I’ll give it a try. I’m very influenced by music. Often, the first little throb of a story comes while I’m listening to music or reading poetry. And the real world is a big influence, things I’ve seen: a house scarred by lightning rods, an abandoned graveyard, a rusted wheelchair in a ditch. Art is another inspiration, as well as the field of psychology. A short story soon to be published by Liquid Imagination was inspired by this photograph of an infamous psychological experiment:
Among the authors that have most influenced me are Octavia Butler, CJ Cherryh, Shirley Jackson, Philip K. Dick, Daphne du Maurier, Jane Austen, and Vladimir Nabokov. Add to this list an untold number of poets and musicians.
SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?
DD: Most likely you’re going to suck at first. Take the time to learn the craft of writing. Work hard, seek out critique, and don’t rush to publish.
SJT: Tell us about your latest release.
DD: DOWN BY THE DARK WATER is a Scottish Gothic, the first of three I have planned. It’s dark and twisted and is stuffed with characters nobody can like very much. I loved writing it.
SJT: You describe yourself as writing ‘romance, science fiction and horror – sometimes all in the same story’. Do you purposefully set out to mash genres, or does the story usually just develop that way?
DD: I really can’t help mashing up genres. I’ve tried to write to the specific tropes of specific genres, but those projects usually end up getting abandoned due to my lack of passion for them. I use that particular tagline to let potential readers know that anything might happen and to expect the unexpected.
SJT: Plotter or pantser?
DD: Kind of a hybrid. I think a lot about a story before I even sit down to write it. Often, the story is mostly complete in my head, and I just need to type it into words. I keep a few notes on characters and settings, but I don’t do a written outline.
SJT: February is Women In Horror month. Would you say that there is still a misconception out there that women don’t write horror? Have things improved? Discuss!
DD: I think horror is still very much a male-dominated genre. When I browse the book offerings it’s mostly male names on the books. One has to work a bit to find female horror authors, and I rely quite heavily on recommendations from others. I don’t know if I really fit well in the horror genre, to be honest. What I call my horror stories are very dark, very twisted, but rarely have any kind of supernatural aspect to them. My horror stories are usually about the most terrifying monster of all: humanity.
Have things improved for women writing horror? I’d say that self-publishing has allowed female voices to be heard more frequently. On the other hand, the sheer glut of books being published makes them just as hard to discover.
SJT: What projects have you got on the go at the moment?
DD: My main project at the moment is a horror novel set in rural upstate New York, where I live. As usual, it’s got a couple of genres going on. It’s a historical and contemporary dual timeline American Gothic sort of thing with an awful lot of body fluids and rotting vegetation. Typical me, in other words. Side projects are a blue collar romance set in the seedy side of the country music business, and the other two Scottish Gothic novellas.
Thanks for having me, Sara!
Diane Dooley was born in the Channel Islands and grew up in Scotland. She finally settled down in Upstate New York where the summers are short and the winters just might kill you. She lives with her best friend/husband and two obstreperous boy children in a fallingdown farmhouse in the sticks.