Women in Horror Month 2018 – An Interview with Delia Rai

Good morning and welcome to another fun-filled, hang on, what am I talking about? – this is Women in Horror Month 2018, it’s not supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be filled with the stuff of nightmares – ghouls, open crypts, monsters and raving psychopaths wielding blades imbedded in their anatomy, not to mention the zombies. Have to have the zombies! Alright, yes, it is fun – it’s the best kind of fun a writer can have.

Now, we’re all riled up again, let me introduce our author of said horrific fiction – Delia Rai.

the door & zombies (2)

Born in Transylvania, Delia has always been fascinated by tales of horror, fantasy and the supernatural. She grew up in a house with a black and white TV, no phone, and a full bookcase.
Delia moved to Bangkok more than a decade ago where she started making up stories and discussing them with the Key-Bangers, a writers’ group she helped organize since their beginning in 2014. She doesn’t watch TV, her bookshelves have multiplied and she’s sad to admit that all those years not using a phone have finally caught up with her.

Delia is currently working on a short story collection and her first fantasy novel.

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Question 1. What drew you to horror as a genre?

I blame Stephen King for that. I didn’t read horror as a child. It was only when I came to Bangkok and was browsing through a second hand bookstore and this book, Needful Things, caught my eye. What a great title, I thought, and bought it. This book has left such an indelible mark that I became a fan and went on to read many more of his books. I don’t think I had any idea of who Stephen King was before that day but that title just jumped at me. Needful Things. So much promise, so much mystery. How could I resist?
What I like about horror is the fear, the unknown, the setting. I love mysteries, family secrets, monsters, old buildings, isolation, diaries, letters, and there’s plenty of that in the horror genre. Just think of Dracula, Interview with a Vampire or Wuthering Heights. While Wuthering Heights is not classified as horror, there are plenty of elements that give it a horror-like quality. It’s a bleak novel, and my favourite classic.

Question 2. Which horror writers do you read?

I would read almost any horror book I come across but these writers are my favourites: Stephen King, E.A. Poe, Neil Gaiman, James Herbert, M.R. James, Clive Barker, Adam Nevill, Anne Rice, Susan Hill, Kealan Patrick Burke, Robert McCammon, Dan Simmons, Daphne du Maurier. I realize Daphne du Maurier is not a horror author in the strict sense but her novels have a mysterious, dark quality that appeals to me. I loved Rebecca, and I’m now reading the sequel, Mrs de Winter, by Susan Hill. I’m enjoying it very much so far.

Question 3. What inspires your work?

Everything – dreams, the books I read, the movies I watch, even a sentence or a song. I wrote a story called The Bookkeeper based on a dream I had of a tall creepy guy in a book store. It’s my favourite short story so far.
To give you another example of how I get my ideas, a few years ago my husband baked me a cake for my birthday. It wasn’t a perfect-looking cake but it tasted good and I appreciated the effort. It was also in the shape of a heart, which was a nice touch. I cut a piece and as I was eating it, he said: “You ate my heart”. As soon as I heard that I knew there was a story in there somewhere. That story will now be included in a short story collection which I hope to publish this year.

Question 4. Describe your work. In what sub-genre do you write?

I’m drawn to horror and fantasy so that’s what I write. I love Gothic stories, supernatural elements, psychological horror, they sneak into my writing without my permission. With most stories that I write I only have an idea along the lines what if X goes to Y and Z happens? What then? The end is rarely revealed to me before I’m more than halfway through and I like that. It’s a process of discovery. I love the mystery of it. To know the ending before I write the story spoils the fun.
I’m not a gore person in general as I prefer to read and write horror that plays with the mind, but who knows, that may change.

 

Descent into Darkness 1

Question 5. Pick a favourite horror story or book.

I’m torn between Needful Things and The Shining. And then there’s Dracula… I’ve read The Shining a couple of years ago and loved it. I still remember a scene involving a fire hose. So delightfully creepy! The sequel, not so much. But Needful Things will always have a special place in my heart.
As for short stories, I have to mention Adam Nevill’s latest collection, Hasty for the Dark. There’s a story in there called Hippocampus and it’s absolutely amazing. I don’t think I’ve read anything quite as unsettling in a while. And of course, my favourite short story is Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman which is a fairytale retelling. You can probably guess which fairytale. As a reader who’s very partial to a certain creature from the horror genre, I fell in love with this story instantly.

Question 6. Tell us about your favourite horror film, one you have in your collection.

I prefer books over movies and just like with my favourite book, I can’t pick just one. It’s hard.
Pan’s Labyrinth – this is an incredible movie, but it leans towards fantasy more than horror.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula – with Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder. A perfect vampire movie.
Dracula Untold, Underworld (all 4 movies).

As you can see, I love my vampires. ☺ I also like an element of fantasy, something that would take me away from the real world. You’ll never catch me watching Saw (*shudders). Too graphic, too close to reality.

 

Question 7. What are you working on at the moment?

I have a bunch of short stories that I’m editing and I’m trying to make this a priority and not start something new, otherwise I’ll never be done with it. But there’s a story that’s just begging me to write it. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to resist the temptation.
I also have a fantasy novel which has been waiting patiently in a drawer for a few years. Soon, it may be time for a rewrite.

Question 8. Show us the first paragraph of one of your horror stories/novels.

The Door (short story from Descent into Darkness, a horror anthology)

“You know, there is nothing as tempting as a locked door. Or as maddening. A tempting, maddening mystery you’re not allowed to solve. Oh, but we were stupid…”

You can find Delia’s flash fiction and book reviews at her blog –

wrongspelling.com

Check out her pictures here –

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