Tuesday 2 March 2021

Interview With Ksenia Murray by David Kempf

When did you first become interested in writing?

     I have been writing and creating stories for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I hit high school and took a creative writing class that I first started to think that maybe this was something that I wanted to do with my life. I have started writing over fifty different novels and over 500 short stories since I was probably in elementary school until now. It hasn’t been until around 2016 that I started taking my writing seriously. That was the year that I decided to pursue it professionally and it has honestly changed my life. I decided that I wanted to create horrific stories that stayed with people long after they finished reading it.

How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

     I’ve loved horror movies and TV shows for as long as I can remember. I even met my best friend growing up in art class talking about the cheesy 90s classic Final Destination. When I was a toddler Tales from the Crypt was all of the rage. My dad and grandma let me watch it before I could even form sentences. I remember watching the Crypt keeper and yelling, “Oh no!”, at the screen. I do not advise other parents to do this, unless you want your kids to turn out like me, haha.

How would you classify the genre you write?

     My favorite horror genres to write in are: psychological, cosmic, fantasy, Lovecraftian, paranormal, fairytale, monster, and folk. The majority of my short stories and including my recently released novel, The Cave, have elements from all of those genres. I love blurring the lines between genres and combining genres that you may not see very often together. It is very rare that I write outside of those genres but I am always open to bending other horror genres into my work.

Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?

    Fear is one of the few fundamental emotions that all creatures on this planet experience at one point or another. Since the world is chaotic, stressful, and draining, people want to find a release. Reading about absolutely horrifying worlds created by many amazing authors transports the reader to a place where they can feel whatever they feel in a safe space. I know for me personally; I have become so desensitized to horror movies and books that it is rare that I actually experience true fear anymore. It makes it all the more exciting when a book makes me feel that strong emotion. Regardless of the content, if a book can make me scared, it is immediately one of my favorites.

What inspires your stories?

    I honestly suffer from nightmares every single night. I can’t remember the last time that I had a good night’s sleep without being awoken by a terrifying dream. The majority of my ideas come from that. If a nightmare sticks with me, I’ll scribble it down in my notes app on my phone and forget about it. Then some days or weeks or possibly months later, I’ll be doing something completely innocuous and an idea will pop into my head. I get extremely energized and excited when I come up with new ideas that I almost begin writing them immediately. It has caused me some issues in my professional career because I have a hard time staying on one project when I have several other ideas I want to complete ASAP. Also, real world happenings inspire me as well. Mental health has been a huge part of my life ever since I grew up with someone who was mentally unwell. I also refuse to write stories that don’t scare me. If I do not have a fear of whatever it is that I’m writing about, I scrap the project. That feeling of not being able to control your emotions, actions, or thoughts has led me to some of my most compelling work.

What do you think the difference between American horror and British horror is?

   I LOVE reading British horror and thriller novels. My Goodreads account can emphasize that, haha. The main difference to me, in my opinion, between American and British horror is that British horror is more character driven. What I mean by that is that the interconnecting relationships between all characters are a huge part of what drives British horror. A lot of the times American horror novels and movies will drop character development for straight to the point gore and scares. I love character driven stories which I hope can be relayed through my own personal work.

What are your favorite horror books?

Oh Lord where do I even begin? Too many to count! I will just list a few that I can think of off of the top of my head:

Coraline by Neil Gaiman, 
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. 
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix. 
The Ritual by Adam Nevill.
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King.
The Third Parent by Elias Witherow.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.
The Call of Cthulu by H.P. Lovecraft.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Here’s a good list of horror movies that I find myself always re-watching:

Final Destination
The Grudge
Oldboy (Korean version. The American remake sucks, haha).
The Thing

Do you have any advice for people who want to be writers?

    Always be reading and always be writing. You learn how to be a good writer by reading. I know it certainly has helped me along the way. Also, don’t worry yourself to death over editing. Just get the story down on paper. Finish the project. Then take a break from that short story or novel and work on something else. The longer you are away from your work the easier it will be to go through and edit with a fresh pair of eyes. I know some of the most popular writing advice is to write every day like it was your job for a certain amount of time. I can’t do that, that’s not my process. Don’t get me wrong, I write all of the time, but I don’t stick to a schedule and I don’t beat myself up if I miss a few days. I can only write when I have great ideas flowing through me. Forcing it has never been good for me. All that comes out if hot garbage and I never even keep the writing that I forced myself to write anyway. Basically, be a reader, write all of the time, don’t worry about editing while you are writing, and figure out a writing process that works for you.

What are your current projects?

    Currently I’m working on several different projects. The first one being my next novel. There isn’t a name for it just yet but it is about two boys who live out in the country. They play in drainage ditches that teleport them to other parallel universes, none of which are good. I am also working on a short horror story collection. All of the short stories have a monster or folklore creature involved. I am hoping for these two projects to come out this year as well, but no promises! Also, another project that has been on the back burner of my mind is writing a novella collection about the deep ocean as it is my worst fear.

Please in your own words, write a paragraph about yourself & your work. 
    I am an avid horror fan and I feel as though that helps me with my work. Growing up in Oklahoma was very boring most of the time so I let my imagination run wild which still works today! My love of travel has influenced my work as well. Pre COVID, I was a world traveler who loved exploring this beautiful Earth. A lot of what I learn and experience from my travels have made it into my work. My writing is mind-bending in nature and the more that I can screw with people’s heads, the happier that I am. I hope you enjoy my debut novel, The Cave, about a young woman with schizophrenia who can’t figure out if what she is experiencing is real or fake. 

Check out Ksenia Murray on Amazon.