I’ve known Christine for quite some time and absolutely love having her here on my blog. It’s interesting: every time we try to do this whole interview thing, something happens, and we fail to communicate. I think I’ve given her the same interview questions every time haha. Let’s hope THIS time we get it right.
Meghan: Hi, Christine. Welcome to the new blog. It’s been awhile since we sat down together. What’s been going on since we last spoke?
Christine Morgan: Overall, things have been going fairly well. Medical-wise, I’ve continued having my facial reconstruction after surgeries, and while the results are (and always will be) weird-looking, so far everything’s holding together. Seeing a new doc for more followups on other stuff, but still cancer free! Writing-wise, it’s been great; Lakehouse Infernal came out in May from Deadite Press and has been getting rave reviews (and Ed Lee’s not averse to me possibly doing a sequel), and my collection Dawn of the Living-Impaired and Other Messed Up Zombie Stories just debuted this month from Death’s Head Press.
Meghan: Who are you outside of writing?
Christine Morgan: After appearing on an episode of the Bizzong podcast, I was dubbed “the Martha Stewart of extreme horror” for my baking and crafts hobbies, so, I’m going to roll with that gladly and continue those pursuits. I also work the overnight shift in a residential psychiatric facility. The rest of my time is mostly spent sleeping and being bossed around by my cats.
Meghan: How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work?
Christine Morgan: The awkwardness continues; my sister recently let my nephew take Lakehouse Infernal with him on a visit to his dad’s, and his stepmom remarked how nice it was to see a teenager reading for a change, while I’m sitting over here the crazy auntie asking if he’s gotten to the character made entirely of boobs. So, y’know, I’m THAT relative, but it’s fun.
Meghan: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
Christine Morgan: This is where we need that gif meme thing with the little girl saying “why not both?” I do think it’s both. A gift, because it is so much fun, being able to create characters and settings, experience adventures (or horrors) in a safe but still thrilling way. A curse, too, because for one thing we can never stop thinking about it, we’re always on the job. For another, when we see it done badly, it’s all the more maddening. But even as a curse, it’s one I wouldn’t trade.
Meghan: How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?
Christine Morgan: I grew up the oldest of three siblings, the oldest of nine cousins, and one of the older kids in the neighborhood, so it often fell to me to come up with ideas for playtime. Even on my own, I was making up complicated storylines for my dolls and toy animals. Not sure where it came from. Just developed naturally, and then as a teenager I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons (by my mom and her friends, no less). I tend to write about relationships a lot, not because of any big family drama but because I find them fascinating. Probably also part of why I ended up majoring in psychology.
Meghan: What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your books?
Christine Morgan: Last time I stopped by here, I mentioned working on my deep-sea chompy chompy and the bizarre stuff I’d been learning about life in the ocean … well, that manuscript’s done now, and let me tell you, nature is freaky and horrible. The sex lives of giant squids, for instance. How much is down there we still don’t know about. Never mind alien planets; just look to the depths!
Meghan: Which do you find the hardest to write: the beginning, the middle, or the end?
Christine Morgan: Endings. Always. I have a hard time with endings. My favorite writing projects are the ones where I’m having fun, and when I’m having fun, it’s hard to see that come to an end. I also still have a holdover from my gaming days where story hooks and continuation ideas automatically get built in – the campaign must go on! – which is why my project list includes several sequels.
Meghan: Do you outline? Do you start with characters or plot? Do you just sit down and start writing? What works best for you?
Christine Morgan: I only very rarely outline, and when I have to (for big complicated projects, or ones where plot details or timing is crucial), I whine and complain about it the whole time. I much prefer starting with a general idea, a situation or setting or character, and seeing where it takes me from there. Again, this even ties back to my gaming … more often than not, the sessions would take off in random directions on player whim, and end up being more fun than whatever I might have had planned. I’m a run with it, roll with it, see what happens kind of writer.
Meghan: What do you do when characters don’t follow the outline/plan?
Christine Morgan: See above … usually run with it, roll with it, see what happens. I like to give my characters a lot of free rein. I love it when they surprise me. I love going into it not knowing who’ll make it, who’ll turn out to be a good guy or not, etc. That’s how I went at Lakehouse Infernal, and again with the deep-sea one. I had this whole list of characters, some of whom I had a feeling would survive, some of whom I couldn’t wait to gruesomely kill … and, several times, they surprised me.
Meghan: What do you do to motivate yourself to sit down and write?
Christine Morgan: I have something of a routine or schedule … I do most of my writing at work, so, it often depends on how calm the night is. If the whole house is up and I actually need to do my real work, I may not get any words in. Even when I’m not actively writing, though, I’ve always got editing to do, or reviewing, or reading for reviewing. I keep a loose to-do list going, mostly stuff like anthology calls with deadlines, and fit them in around or on breaks during the bigger projects.
Meghan: Are you an avid reader?
Christine Morgan: For as long as I can remember. And even before that, if the snapshots from the family photo album of me sitting on a potty chair with Dr. Seuss are to be believed (don’t print that; ah no go ahead). I also read obnoxiously fast. Becoming a reviewer has been its own kind of god-send because suddenly people are bombarding me with free books! At any given time, I have two or three reads in progress – a print book, an ebook, and something via pdf.
Meghan: What kind of books do you absolutely love to read?
Christine Morgan: I have my favorite genres, such as extreme horror, but what I absolutely love is a book – of ANY kind – in which it’s clear that the author was having fun. I’ll forgive a lot of literary or grammatical sins if there’s just sheer joy and play and enthusiasm on the page. By the same token, I could read something technically flawless, but if it doesn’t have that sense of fun and enjoyment, I’m likely to find it a great big yawn. This is why Edward Lee is one of my idols, why I gravitate toward the extremes and the bizarros … whatever these folks are doing, you just know they’re having a blast, and that kind of energy really resonates with me.
Meghan: How do you feel about movies based on books?
Christine Morgan: Oh, there’s good ones and bad ones. I’m as guilty as anybody of being that person who sits there snarking about how such-and-such “wasn’t like that in the book,” (I do the same with history or mythology; one glimpse of a Viking with a horned helmet and it’s buckle your seatbelts time, I’m flooring it). I do think, sometimes, we’re better off with the cinemas inside our heads; sometimes even the biggest big screen and most lavish effects can’t do a book justice or cheapens it trying.
Meghan: Have you ever killed a main character?
Christine Morgan: Oh, yes. Sometimes even on purpose, but more often, it’ll be another of those surprises. I’ve had moments where I end up sitting staring at the screen, thinking, “well, (bleep), didn’t see that coming, now what?” More often than not, though, it’s what was right for the story all along. I think my muse knows a lot more of what’s going on than she tells me, the sneaky thing. But she’s good and she’s clever, so I’m glad to have her on the job.
Meghan: Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?
Christine Morgan: Isn’t that the whole point? Back to the gaming again, my motto always was “it’s easy to kill characters; making them WISH they were dead, now, that’s art!” And same holds true for writing. Especially in horror, where there are so many fates worse than death. Dying might be getting off easy by comparison. More, though, I think I enjoy taking the readers along with them in that suffering, making an empathic journey of it. I’m very into immersion, description, sensory experiences. Good or bad, I like to elicit that response in the reader.
Meghan: What’s the weirdest character concept that you’ve ever come up with?
Christine Morgan: I write a lot of demonic, inhuman, and Lovecraftian stuff, so, things get pretty weird. I get a kick out of those sorts of challenges, writing a relatable, believable character who’s so far from human. Many of the chapters in the deep-sea book are from the points of view of aquatic creatures, and how they interpret and react to the presence of man-made machines in their environment.
Meghan: What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received? What’s the worst?
Christine Morgan: If we’re sharing adages, truisms, or what have you … a friend of mine always liked to say “don’t worry about getting it RIGHT, get it WRITTEN” … the worst finished manuscript is better than the best that never makes it onto the page. On the other end, I hate “write what you know” when it’s taken to mean only writing about external real-world things you are personally familiar with or skilled at; where’s the fun in that? When it’s “write what you know” about feeling and emotion and inner stuff, okay.
Meghan: What do your fans mean to you?
Christine Morgan: I’m still (and always will be) startled and shocked to HAVE fans. Even going back to the days when I was writing fanfic and had a reputation and following, I was just me, didn’t see why all the fuss. The idea that anybody reads something I wrote who didn’t have to for one reason or another (some poor slushpile editor for instance, or guilt-tripped friend) always amazes me. And humbles me. And makes me simultaneously giddy with gratitude and wonder what the heck’s wrong with them 🙂
Meghan: If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why?
Christine Morgan: Pff, I’ve written tons of fanfic, already been there done that! And I’m arrogant enough to think that I did a better sixth Harry Potter than was canon, not to mention a better Gargoyles third season. I also do pastiches and mash-ups and wacky crossovers. So, really, no one is safe once the idea pops into my muse’s head.
Meghan: If you could write the next book in a series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about?
Christine Morgan: More Infernal books as part of Edward Lee’s Mephistopolis series!
Meghan: If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?
Christine Morgan: Edward Lee, Edward Lee, Edward Lee! Another Mephistopolis book! I want to play with some of the other-pantheon suburbs of his more classic biblical Hell, I want to do Niflheim and Tartarus and Xibalba in that universe!
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Christine Morgan: Dreadful Fancies, a steampunkish/gilded age/dark fantasy collection, should be out soon from Lycan Valley Press. I’ve got some short story commitments and other projects to catch up on, and then will be starting officially on Murder Girls 2: Eight Little Words.
Meghan: Where can we find you?
Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview or the last?
Christine Morgan: Did I say (bleep) cancer last time? If not, (BLEEP) CANCER. If so, (bleep) cancer anyway, because it sucks.
Christine Morgan grew up in the high desert and moved to a cool rainy coast as soon as she could. Though anything but the outdoorsy type, she loves trees and water … preferably viewed through a cozy window or from the deck of a cruise ship. Alaska, Norway, Scotland, and Germany/Austria are her vacation destinations of choice. Seeing the Northern Lights in person is on her bucket list. She’s currently three cats toward her eventual fate as a crazy cat lady; yes, she does talk to them, but don’t worry, she draws the line at knitting them little sweaters (because she can’t knit).
January 12, 1888
When a day dawns warm and mild in the middle of a long cold winter, it’s greeted as a blessing, a reprieve. A chance for those who’ve been cooped up indoors to get out, do chores, run errands, send the children to school … little knowing that they’re only seeing the calm before the storm.
The blizzard hits out of nowhere, screaming across the Great Plains like a runaway train. It brings slicing winds, blinding snow, plummeting temperatures. Livestock will be found frozen in the fields, their heads encased in blocks of ice formed from their own steaming breath. Frostbite and hypothermia wait for anyone caught without shelter.
For the hardy settlers of Far Enough, in the Montana Territory, it’s about to get worse. Something else has arrived with the blizzard. Something sleek and savage and hungry. Wild animal or vengeful spirit from native legend, it blends into the snow and bites with sharper teeth than the wind.
Let’s summon a succubus, they said. It’ll be fun, they said…
I have some friends and we had a crazy idea: let’s summon a demon. Not just any demon but a sexy devil chick that will do anything we want—even butt stuff. It’ll be easy. It’s not like it’s going to work. Monsters aren’t real.
We were wrong. Really fucking wrong.
The demon is not what we thought and it’s making horrible things happen. People are cutting into each other’s junk, some guy is fucking his dog, and sex slugs from Hell are raping us and stealing our semen in order to build a goddamn hive!
We didn’t mean for any of this. But we’re gonna fix it… Just after a few more beers and bong hits.
Lake Misquamicus was an unremarkable lake in Florida, unremarkable that is until suddenly it was filled with six billion gallons of blood, bile, pus, piss, shit and …things… directly from the pits of Hell. First the public was in shock, then the government built a wall, and as time passed it became another urban legend. But for some, it has become a travel destination. Spring-breakers, drug-runners, and religious nuts. But a weekend getaway on the shores of Hell, may not be the safest idea…
With an introduction by and officially endorsed by splatterpunk legend Edward Lee, LAKEHOUSE INFERNAL is an official entree in Lee’s infamous INFERNAL series. Christine Morgan expands on this universe with her own twist of hardcore horror tourism.
The furious clangor of battle. The harrowing singing of steel. The desperate cries of wounded animals. The gasps of bleeding, dying men. The slow, deep breathing of terrible things–trolls, giants, draugr–waiting in the darkness. The wolf’s wind howling, stalking like death itself. The carrion-crows, avaricious and impatient, circling the battle-ground, the Raven’s Table.
The skald’s voice, low, canting, weaving tales of fate and heroism, battle and revelry. Of gods and monsters, and of the women and men that stand against them. Of stormy Scandinavian skies and settlements upon strange continents. Of mead-hall victories, funeral pyres, dragon-prowed ships, and gold-laden tombs. Of Ragnarok. Of Valhalla.
For a decade, author Christine Morgan’s Viking stories have delighted readers and critics alike, standing apart from the anthologies they appeared in. Now, Word Horde brings you The Raven’s Table, the first-ever collection of Christine Morgan’s Vikings, from “The Barrow-Maid” to “Aerkheim’s Horror” and beyond. These tales of adventure, fantasy, and horror will rouse your inner Viking.