Interview with Monica S. Kuebler of Rue Morgue Magazine
What inspired you to get into writing?
Article by: Chrisscreama|
"I had the pleasure of interviewing Monica S. Kuebler of Rue Morgue Magazine. This women is talented and best of all geeky! (one of us! one of us!) In this interview she shares a bit of her background, how she came into writing, some fun tidbits about her and what to expect in her recent vampire novel "Bleeder"!"
I had a bit of a traumatic childhood and when I was around eleven I realized that writing was a way to escape the world for a time, something I could use to work through my frustrations. Back then, I wrote mostly poetry – angsty, venting, personal pieces. As I got older, and moved past that part of my life, the love of writing stayed, but my range broadened and my subject matter matured and evolved.
Was there an author or other influence that nudged you towards this career? What did you grow up reading?
I grew up reading any genre stuff I could get my hands on, which wasn’t all that much until I graduated to Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz and Clive Barker around fifth grade. This was before R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike hit, and teen horror fiction became a thing.
I was never encouraged or nudged towards a writing career, but it also wasn’t something I really decided to pursue seriously until my twenties. Up until that point, I’d seen it as a hobby. But when I found myself forced to make an unexpected career change, it turned out to be the perfect fit.
You are a Horror publisher, journalist and the managing editor of Rue Morgue Magazine, that must be exhausting! Does it ever get overwhelming? How do you cope with that stress?
For me, doing what I love doesn’t usually feel like work. It has its moments, I won’t deny that, but doing what you are passionate about is a lot different than getting up every morning to drag yourself to a job you hate. When I start feeling stressed out, I play video games or watch a movie/TV series or lose myself in something from my to-be-read pile. Basically, I take a bit of what I call “selfish time” and use it to remind myself to play in the genre, not just work in it.
What is it like working on Canadian Horror Magazine “Rue Morgue”? And what are your fondest memories?
It’s awesome working at Rue Morgue. I get to spend my days immersed in horror with a super-talented team of really great people, doing what I love. I’ve been a genre fan my entire life, and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to channel that love into a full-time career, not everyone gets the chance to do that.
Working at the mag has given me the opportunity to meet most of my childhood heroes. There was a moment several years ago where I was backstage at a Toronto event with Stephen King and Clive Barker. While I was standing there, doing my best to be professional and not have an utter oh-my-god-I-can’t-speak fangirl meltdown, I realized that if someone travelled back in time and told my twelve-year-old self that someday that would happen, she would have never in a million years believed it. I’m incredibly blessed to have job that allows for experiences like that.
How did you get yourself started in the world of writing and what advice do you have for aspiring writers?
For a long time I just wrote and wrote and wrote. Sometimes I shared my work with my friends, but no one else. Then one of them convinced me to take it out in front of a bigger audience and that’s how I got my start in spoken word and performance poetry. After that, I began writing for ’zines and any publication that would have me, just doing whatever they wanted me to do while I honed my skills and began to learn the craft. One thing led to another, and soon I had a chapbook published, started my own press, and was given a shot at writing reviews for Rue Morgue. At some point, it just started snowballing.
Advice for writers? Writing is a career of lifelong learning. Read. Read outside your comfort zone. Write. Then write some more. Then write even more than that. And once you are ready to start sending that writing out into the world: take pride in your work. Your writing, your introductory email, pitch, etc., is your job interview, so treat it as one. Spelling and grammar count. If you don’t hear back right away, gently nudge the editor/publisher, don’t nag. And above all, always be as professional as possible.
What are some of the biggest struggles in your field of work and what about it do you find rewarding?
Finding a good life/work balance can be challenging, definitely. When you don’t like your job it’s not all that hard to leave it at the door at the end of the day, but when you love what you do, it is so easy to find yourself over-committed, to the point where it starts to become standard operating procedure. As far as rewards go, there are many – getting to pick the brains of fellow writers and creators is definitely one of them – but the biggest and best is when your work affects someone on an emotional level (though admittedly this happens more frequently with fiction than non-fiction writing).
How would you describe your own writing style in only 3 words?
My fiction: Fast-paced, visceral, emotional.
Do you consider yourself a geek, if so, how long did you know you were a geek and what about you do you find geeky?
I think I knew I was a geek when my best friend and I got really obsessed with our Commodore 64 computers in the mid-’80s. I remember designing a maze game, which her older brother helped me program. I definitely wasn’t your standard-issue girly girl, even back in grade school. To this day, I love gadgets and technology. Only now, people don’t tease me about it anymore, because if they did, they know I’d stop fixing their computers (or perhaps start charging to do it). ;)
We read that you play video games, what games are you currently playing?
I’m working my way through the Mists of Pandaria expansion on World of Warcraft. Thought I’d hate the pandas, but I’m actually having a lot of fun with the new monk class. Finally started the Mass Effect series after getting nagged by way too many of my friends to play it, and I’m still playing Skyrim (my hands-down favourite game of last year) or at least returning to it every time a new expansion is released.
Who is your favorite famous “Geek Girl” in the media?
Easy, Felicia Day. She writes, acts, produces. Triple threat.
Who is your favorite "Scream Queen" and why?
Have to go old school with this one and say Jamie Lee Curtis, because when I was a teenager I totally wanted to be her.
So you have been releasing chapters of your upcoming book “Bleeder”, what inspired you to do it this way? What kind of experience has this been for you and do you recommend others to do the same?
While I had been tinkering around with fiction for years, for whatever reason I’d always had a really big case of stage fright about sharing it with others. So one of my reasons for deciding to do Bleeder – which can be read in its entirety at bleederbook.com and on Wattpad, Goodreads, Figment and Movellas (just search for “Bleeder”) – as a serial was to confront that fear and push myself beyond it. Another was that I don’t – or rather can’t – write short stories, which is how many writers break into fiction, so I did Bleeder as a bit of a calling card to introduce people to the type of young adult genre stories I want to tell and to my writing style in general. The last reason was just to get this unused outline I had for a vampire story working for me, since I knew the YA vampire craze was mostly over, meaning the damn thing would have likely just sat in a folder unwritten and unloved for who knows how many years until the cycle swung back to bloodsuckers. I believed in this story far too much to allow that to happen. The experience of serializing a book weekly online has been totally taxing (from a workload perspective) but absolutely amazing as well – lots of readers have been really taken with the story and there’s something quite novel about getting fan reactions while you’re still writing, not that they ended up changing anything that I did narratively, but it definitely helped keep me going during those crazy weeks where I had no idea how I was going get a chapter done and edited and posted on time. Having said that, I would only recommend this approach to writers who are dedicated and serious, because once people become emotionally invested in your story, they get upset if chapters are delayed, etc., so don’t embark on such a journey unless you are absolutely sure that you can do it and finish it. If not, you’re just putting your failure up there for everyone to see.
Tell us more about Bleeder, what makes it unique to other vampire stories?
Vampires are my favourite monster, but they are really overdone, so what I did with Bleeder was rewrite their entire mythology in hopes of telling a fresher story. I also wanted to return them to their more monstrous roots, and subvert the standard YA formula, meaning that every time the reader thought they knew the direction the narrative was going, I planned a plot twist to pull the rug out from under their feet. In short, I posit a world where the Nosferatu, while bloodsuckers, are not undead, but are in fact creatures that broke off at some point during human evolution and became – among other things – largely subterranean dwellers. The Nosferatu society has its own structure, laws, myths, history and beliefs, and these things are brought into sharp focus, and ultimately challenged, when the vampires kidnap our heroine Mills, a fifteen-year-old girl whose blood they believe has magical properties.
What is it about Horror that you find so alluring?
In a word: monsters. I adore monsters and monster stories. What I’m about to say may sound funny, but I find day-to-day existence often kind of mundane and boring, so when I go out in search of entertainment, I usually don’t want to watch or read stories that remind me too much of the trials and tribulations of real life. I’m more than immersed enough in that already! Instead, I want to watch something fantastical, something that takes me somewhere wild or shows me something that I can’t readily see or doesn’t exist – something that ensconces me for a period in a world nothing like our own. I particularly love reading horror/urban fantasy stories set in Toronto, because it’s fun imagining monsters in places I know and frequent. It’s fun imagining them as real and how our world would be different if they actually existed.
What are your thoughts of recent horror films and literature and what recent work stand out to you?
I’ve been thrilled with the move back towards monsters and ghost stories in recent years, as that out-and-out feel-bad torture porn-type stuff has never been my thing. As far as recent films go, I loved Cabin in the Woods and John Dies at the End, both incredibly fun, clever films that do not underestimate the intelligence of genre audiences. (John Dies at the End – which hits theatres next February – was, of course, based on a stellar, though absolutely bonkers, book that also began its life as an online serial.) As for more serious genre films, in recent years I’ve really dug Black Death, Daybreakers, Troll Hunter, The Woman in Black and Midnight Son, which was a wonderfully gritty take on vampire romance that doesn’t glamourize what the realities of it would be like in the least. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do a lot of non-work-related horror reading of late. One, because I tend not to read in the subgenres I’m writing in while writing and, two, because between my responsibilities at Rue Morgue and at my micro-press Burning Effigy and writing Bleeder there has been very little time left for pleasure reading at all, as sad as that makes me. However, sometimes such sacrifices have to be made in order to create.
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December 28 2012