Today I’m proud to introduce you to author Lish McBride. I recently discovered her books myself through a friend, and I love her trademark blend of hysterically funny voice with some darker paranormal moments. Read on to learn more about this excellent author!
GGS: Hi Lish! Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to appear on my blog today! As you know, I’m celebrating the sixth annual Women in Horror Month (#WiHM666) by hosting some fellow female YA horror authors here to spread the word about their work. What book series do you want to tell our readers about today, how would you describe the books, and what inspired you to write them?
Lish: I like to mash up genres. I’m not sure my books–whether we’re referring to the Necromancer books (Hold Me Closer, Necromancer or Necromancing the Stone) or the Firebug books (Firebug and the upcoming Pyromantic–would fall into straight horror. There are elements of fantasy, and the Ava books are definitely action based as well…and then there’s comedy. It makes for an odd but entertaining combo for me to work on.
Inspiration usually comes from a billion different places. For the Sam books, I wanted to write a series based around the kind of guy I grew up with in high school. Fantasy books usually center on an Alpha male and while that’s fun sometimes, I wanted to see the awkward nerdy guy get some screen time. I’m from Seattle, and not many books are set there, so there’s your setting. A lot of things came from research, too. And then the idea of Sam as a necromancer came from reading different books about necromancers and how many of them followed the animal sacrifice for power kind of magic, and I wondered what I would do if I had that power. I haven’t eaten meat in years and years—if I can’t kill an animal to survive, then what would I do if I had a power fueled by death and I had to use it? So Sam is a vegetarian and a softhearted guy stuck with a power fueled by death and he has to figure out how to live his life like that.
For Ava, her books came out of an idea I had while driving late one night and thinking about vampires (I can’t remember why) and how flammable they are, and how the perfect assassin for vampires would be a someone who could conjure flame.
GGS: That’s awesome, thanks for the insights into those series!
Why do you love horror, and when did you first know you were going to become a horror writer?
Lish: I’ve always loved it. I grew up watching horror movies and reading Stephen King, Clive Barker, etc. I have a hard time these days with straight up horror. I tend to need it tempered by other things like fantasy or humor. I never necessarily planned to be a horror writer. I wanted to write epic fantasy. But that’s not what came out. And maybe I’ll never write that kind of book, and that’s okay. I love the genre I’m in.
GGS: I loved your book trailer for the Necromancer series. The snarky tone had me laughing so hard. As a fellow writer of comedic horror, I know how hard it is to balance the horror elements with the humor in such a way that it delivers on the horror experience while also having some light moments. How do you juggle this feat?
Lish: I wonder which book trailer you watched. My publisher made me one and then my friend made me another. (My friend made the one that centers on a burger on the grill.) (GG’s note—yes, that is the one I watched.) To be honest, I’m not sure I think too hard on that balance. My editor and beta readers call my attention to the unbalanced bits and I fix them, but in general, the two emotions are hand-in-hand for me. Horror evokes an emotional response in the reader, and just like with any other strong (generally considered negative) emotion, we develop a coping mechanism. In my family, it tends to be humor. The more upset or on edge we are, the more we have to deal with, the funnier we get. My characters tend to be made from the same cloth. When faced with unspeakable horrors, they’d rather laugh than cry.
But as you pointed out, there must be balance. One thing that new writers sometimes don’t realize is you have to work in resting points for the reader. You can’t keep them constantly on edge. Or crying. Or even laughing. It’s exhausting. So you work in quiet moments–moments for the characters and the reader to rest. Not only does this give everyone a break, but it highlights the moments of emotional tension even more. The more you write, the more you feel the rhythm of this, I think.
GGS: Do you have a favorite comedic horror movie? If so, what about it makes you laugh the hardest?
Lish: Oh, man. I hate picking favorite movies or books. It’s super difficult for me. Shaun of the Dead, of course. I love anything Edgar Wright does. He has definite gore and horror moments, but funny dialogue and physical comedy and sort of every day characters. I know a lot of guys like Shaun. I love Severance—about a bunch of coworkers that go on a retreat only to be picked off one by one. Rare Exports is sort of horror/comedy/Christmas movie. Beautifully shot, perfectly acted, and absolutely bizarre. I love that movie so much. Army of Darkness and the Evil Dead franchise, naturally. Gremlins. Dead Alive—I like to watch this early Peter Jackson blood bath and try to figure out how he got greenlit to do the LOTR movies. Once Bitten is more comedy than horror, but a childhood favorite. Tucker and Dale vs Evil is the best thing ever. Monster Squad made me want a Stephen King Rules T-shirt and made us say “Wolf Man’s Got Nards!” on many an occasion. Tremors. Lake Placid. I have a special place in my heart for the original Buffy movie. Oh god, Black Sheep. Because Killer were sheep. I love that movie so much.
I’m going to stop now. This is a very long list that I could easily make longer.
GGS: Not a problem. My list of fave comedic horror movies is also a mile along.
Because it’s Women in Horror Month, I have a special question to ask. Do you feel that being female has given you a unique perspective as a horror author? If so, could you describe that perspective?
Lish: I’m not sure. Gender is such a sticky question with these kinds of things, and let’s face it, horror (much like fantasy) tended to be a male-dominated genre until about 10-15 years ago. Well, it’s still male dominated, I think, but that’s about when I started to see female authors entering the mix. All my favorite horror writers growing up were dudes…and when I think about it, they were all white dudes. That’s a very specific cultural perspective. I’m not against it, but I think it’s something to be aware of when you read. Does that mean that female horror writers or POC horror writers weren’t around? Doubtful. But growing up I had access to only pretty mainstream books.
It wasn’t until I was older (18? 19?) that I started to see female horror writers showing up on the shelves. Laurell K. Hamilton. Kelley Armstrong. Kim Harrison. Ladies like them stood on the platform Anne Rice and Shirley Jackson built and sort of paved the way for more of us to break in.
That being said, I don’t really think being female has given me a unique perspective in horror. I think being me does. As much as a I love the rise of women in the horror genre (go team!) I think it’s too simplistic a thing to focus on. Writers and the books we produce are the sum of our experience to date. Yes, some of that is gender based, but it’s also so much more. What it means to be a woman to me might be different to what it means for another writer, for example. I’m not a girly girl. I have all brothers and didn’t even have a female cousin until I was 14. I’m not going to write the same stories that a “typical” (whatever that means) girl might write. And that’s okay. Because variety is the spice of life as they say.
I love the diversity that is slowly bleeding into the genre. I want more of it. Because to a greedy reader like myself, that means a larger breadth and depth of story, and that’s something I can get behind.
GGS: Which female horror author (living or dead), do you most admire, and why?
Lish: I think out of all the horror writers I listed, I read Kelley Armstrong the most. I think I would read a grocery list if she wrote it. I love her characters. But what I found inspiring about her wasn’t actually something she mentioned in a book, but from a blog post she wrote. She’s a prolific writer, and it was a post about making time to write even when you’ve got kids. My son was young and I was in my MFA program and I was trying to write my novel/thesis and I stumbled across a post she’d written about the importance of scheduling writing time. How you should treat it like an important appointment—something you can’t cancel. Basically, give it importance and have your family support that. It’s simple advice, but it really hit home for me. I had to make my dream important and my family had to respect it and sometimes the dishes weren’t going to get done, and sometimes my son would have to go to grandma’s so I could finish a chapter, and that was okay. It was more than okay. It was great. It was solid, simple advice that hit me at the right time, just when I needed to hear it. And I liked her books, so I listened.
GGS: That is excellent advice for all the writers in the room. Lish, thanks so much for appearing on my blog today. Readers, please connect with Lish at the following links: