Welcome to another bright, sunny morning at Unusual Fiction. I’m really excited to introduce my next guest author for Women in Horror Month. Tam Francis is a writer of paranormal ghost stories and paranormal romance, with a vintage flavour.
Tam Francis writes vintage romantic fiction and has taught swing dancing for fifteen years with her husband (a US Navy aircraft mechanic on the carrier flight deck in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars). She’s an avid collector of vintage sewing patterns, vintage clothing, and antiques. On most weekends she can be found sipping vintage cocktails out of eclectic barware.
She’s published, contributed to, and been Editor-in-chief for two indie magazines, as well as a published poet and Poetry Slammer, (two-time National Poetry Slam Phoenix Team Member, Scottsdale Center for the Arts Poetry Art Walk Featured Poet, New Times Feature Poet, Visual Voices Featured Writer) and short story writer (two-time shortlisted for Scare the Dickens Out of Us contest).
She blogs vintage lifestyle tips, recipes, interviews, give-aways, fun and games at http://www.girlinthejitterbugdress.com.
She began the Ghostoria compilation when she moved to Texas and entered the Scare the Dickens Out of Us Ghost Story Contest. Ghost ideas kept knocking her noggin until she wrote them down and assembled a collection.
She now lives in Lockhart, Texas in a 1908 home, which may or may not be haunted.
Which horror genre do you written in?
Paranormal ghost with a little haunted house, slasher, urban legend, and psychological sub genres thrown in. Since I have a collection of short stories, I cover most of these, not all in one story, but with each subgenre focus for different stories. My novel: The Flapper Affair, is a paranormal ghost romance with bits of haunted house sub-genre.
Why do you write horror? Tell us about your horror journey?
I’ve always been fascinated with ghosts and ghost stories. I’ve had some unexplained happening in my life that doesn’t rule out the possibility that they exist. So, I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal. I also grew up watching The Night Gallery, Twilight Zone, and Outer Limits, reading Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft at an early age.
I started my ghost story writing which led to my compilation Ghostoria: Vintage Romantic Tales of Fright, with a contest called, “Scare the Dickens Out of Us.” Once I started writing ghost stories I couldn’t stop. I had so much fun experimenting with different sub-genres and form.
Then I had a dream about a boy falling in love with a ghost and woke up and wrote most of the plot in one sitting. It became my novel: The Flapper Affair.
Of course, all of my stories have a vintage twist and I like to incorporate vintage fashion and dance whenever I can. Sort of vintage chick-lit paranormal ghost genre.
Your favourite horror author and the book you like best by this author?
I hate to be cliché and say the usual. But of course Stephen King. I’ve been reading him, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe, and H.P. Lovecraft since I was young. Later I discovered Neil Gaiman who flirts with horror in many of his short stories. My stories tend to be more a mix of Gaiman and Bradbury. I hope that they keep you thinking long after you’re done reading.
Name a character in film, book or legend that you wish you had created in your fiction. I recently read a short novel (surprising for Stephen King), called Joy Ride. I really loved the lead character in this. I also dig the way Neil Gaiman uses ghosts in many of his stories, especially in Stardust and the Graveyard Book.
Please, include a paragraph of your work – your favourite passage or a few lines from a work in progress.
Excerpt from Ten Knives from: Ghostoria: Romantic Tales of Fright.
They were covered in pimpled red welts, with pus oozing out the middle. Savannah’s arms and feet were covered in sores, and I could see dark splotches on her jeans where they must have bitten through the fabric. The worst were their faces. Devon’s had swelled to almost twice its size, and Savannah’s looked like a pink tomato, their expressions frozen in terror.
“I don’t have any cell phone service,” Claire held up her phone, angling it toward the window.
“What?” I asked.
“My cell phone. I don’t have any service.”
Austin and Harley looked at their phones.
“Shit, mine’s dead, too.” Harley frowned.
“Mine, too.” Austin popped his battery out and put it back in. “Nothing.”
“Well, you were using the flashlights a lot, they do drain the battery,” I said and edged around the bodies to the desk.
A hairy spider crawled out of Savannah’s mouth. I tasted bile at the back of my throat and forgot for a second what I was doing.
“We can uh, use the old-fashioned land-line.” I picked up the receiver. “Um, it’s dead, too.”
Just then the thunder cracked and the museum was plunged into darkness. I shook my flashlight and re-activated its battery. It wasn’t as bright as a regular flashlight, but it was a light in the dark. I grabbed the other flashlights from the drawer and handed them out.
“Look, this is no game. We need to get out of here,” Harley said.
“And how do you propose we do that? The door is locked with a deadbolt that only a key will open and all the windows have bars.” I rubbed my temples in frustration. “Look, I’m sorry to be snappy. This is wrong, all wrong. I just wanted to have a little ghost adventure for Halloween is all, maybe make contact.”
“Well, you can’t choose your ghosts.” Claire shook her flashlight; it emitted a dim light.
“You think this was ghosts?” I pointed at Devon and Savannah.
“Yeah, what do you think it was?” Claire said.
“Spiders? We all saw the spiders.” I looked around.
“When have you ever seen spiders like that, and attacking like a swarm?” Harley asked.
“I don’t know. This is Texas.”
Excerpt from Clouds and Rain: From Ghostoria: Vintage Romantic Tales of Fright
Blood dripped from the mattress like syrup. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. His work shirt clung to his body and sweat trickled down his pale brow. His bare arms and hands stained with her blood, oil, and excrement. He sat motionless, not sure what to do next.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He’d gone to the library and read the medical books. He’d researched for months and learned how to do it. He was sure he could. Ester had trusted him, had faith in him. No hospital would take her. No doctor would come. She was a woman of color, descended from slaves. He, Fergus, was a pale Irish immigrant. He boiled the water from the well, sharpened his best fillet knife, and bought a block of ice. They’d both scrubbed the grubby shack from floor to ceiling.
He never thought they’d end up in a shack, but she had stuck with him when the market crashed and the depression deepened. He lost everything but her. If only he’d had more money. But no one would take the risk, not in the Deep South, and not without a lot of cash.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
His wife lay dying. She had stopped fighting. She had stopped pushing. Her eyes rolled back into her head and were still. Her bloody, sweat-soaked body laid inert, save for the rhythmic contractions, a wave of flesh rippling across her bulbous belly and a slow, shallow breath. He did not know how long they had. If the books were to be believed, minutes. Only minutes.
Her hips were too slim. He’d tried everything he’d learned in the medical books, but he wasn’t a doctor. He massaged her with oil and fed her ice chips to keep away dehydration and vomiting. They had tried every position: standing, squatting, prone. A steady stream of blood poured out of her, and her body refused to open. She was shattered and could take no more.
The heat and darkness of the shack pressed in on him like a coffin.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Suddenly, he noticed the shadows shift and change. His wife’s brown skin glowed with reflected light. He turned to his left and saw her standing there, but not there. He recognized her caramel skin and beautiful body. Her black ringlets hung loose and free—how he imagined she’d looked as a girl—instead of the tight fingerwaves that usually framed her lovely face. But he could also see the back of the shack, the small window opened to the dark night. He reached out and put his hand right through her middle.
Find out more about Tam’s books and writing:
BUY link GitJD: https://amzn.to/2WDpG7Y
Author page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/tamfrancis