Today, the talented Rachel Lee Weist is joining us on Meghan’s House of Books for the first time. She is a very talented author whose short story, 6 Dicks, is included in the anthology, Burnt Fur, released earlier this month from Blood Bound Books.
Meghan: Hi, Rachel. Welcome to the blog. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Rachel Lee Weist: I grew up in Redding, California, before I moved to the coast to graduate with honors from Humboldt State University with my BA in English. I’m a life-long horror fan, from books, films, and video games to art and graphic novels. I was married on Halloween of 2019. I love nature and draw a lot of creative inspiration from hiking the forests and beaches of northern California. I get along with animals better than I do people, and I am always surrounded by a variety of critters.
Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?
Rachel Lee Weist: I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a child, I had the same recurring nightmare about E.T. for years. I am terrified by the two deeps, sea and space, although they are two of my favorite settings in books, video games, and films. My husband bought me a tricycle because I can’t ride a bicycle, and I still managed to crash it and break my hand. I really love to hunt and hide marbles, and I am lucky enough to live in Humboldt County, home of Humboldt Marble Weekend, with a community of folks who share the obsession.
Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?
Meghan: What are you reading now?
Rachel Lee Weist: I am currently reading the Nox Pareidolia anthology of short stories.
Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?
Rachel Lee Weist: Stonefish, by Scott R. Jones, was phenomenal. It falls within an area of the horror genre that I haven’t delved into much until recently, so those who know my typical reading habits might be surprised to find that I’m expanding my interests.
Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?
Rachel Lee Weist: I have been writing, in some form or another, since middle school. I’ve always been an avid reader, but I needed a way to project ideas that didn’t exist outside of my own head in order to create the stories that I wanted to read. I made the decision to actively pursue my writing interests after taking a creative writing course during my final semester of college. Receiving feedback from those workshops was the final push that I needed to focus my efforts on becoming a published author.
Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?
Rachel Lee Weist: I often write in my library, because I can see out the second story window, where the rooftops of houses poke through the trees below like a neighborhood of tree houses. I do my early-morning writing in the kitchen, my other favorite room of the house.
Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
Rachel Lee Weist: I wake up very early in the morning and sneak downstairs to the kitchen, make a pot of tea, and write before all of my animals (and the world outside) wake up to start the day. When I finish a story, I will usually let a few days, sometimes weeks, pass before I return to edit it so that I’m not too emotionally close to the story to recognize any short-comings.
Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Rachel Lee Weist: I find the absence of feedback most challenging. When I’m working in a vacuum, without the opinions and fresh perspectives of a workshop atmosphere, it can be difficult to tell whether a story is translating to readers the way I’ve intended.
Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?
Rachel Lee Weist: I just completed the first draft of a short story that is my version of a wendigo tale. It is a subject that has fascinated me for years, so it was satisfying to see the idea through to completion.
Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?
Rachel Lee Weist: I have been deeply inspired by most of the works of my favorite author, Stephen King, especially his earlier novels, short stories, and the Bachman books. Other authors who have influenced or inspired my work include Nick Cutter, Dan Simmons, Bentley Little, S.L. Grey, Joe Hill, Peter Straub, Kristi DeMeester, and Nathan Ballingrud.
Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?
Rachel Lee Weist: A good story is one that immerses the reader in the setting, while creating emotional investment in the characters.
Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?
Rachel Lee Weist: It takes a great deal of depth in characterization, of time spent with that character, exposure to their thoughts, and reactions, for me to love a character
Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
Rachel Lee Weist: I don’t consider any of my characters to be like me, because I try to write outside of myself when creating characters to avoid projecting my personal beliefs, opinions, or mannerisms into a work of fiction.
Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?
Rachel Lee Weist: Yes, I am very turned off by bad covers. I have also been lured, many times, by great covers that housed terrible books within. I have not been involved in any book cover creation yet.
Meghan: What have you learned throughout the process of creating your books?
Rachel Lee Weist: I have learned not to pull punches when it comes to the fates of my characters, trying to find a balance between attachment to a character and the willingness to follow the story to its natural conclusion.
Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?
Rachel Lee Weist: I have a currently unpublished short story in which a young girl regurgitates a kitten-sized mass of her own hair… that was rough.
Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
Rachel Lee Weist: I like to explore the weaknesses or flaws of characters, because sometimes these are more instrumental in forming an attachment. Imperfections are believable, human, and I feel more involved in the character’s struggles when failure is an option. I am still an emerging author, so I hope to eventually develop my style in a way that will make my work easily distinguishable from others in the genre.
Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours?
Rachel Lee Weist: A story’s title plays an important role in enticing the reader with a preview of what’s to come. I usually title mine after they are finished, because the few words are representative of the tale as a whole. I chose mine, “6 Dicks,” because the story is focused on resource acquisition, each with its own challenges and triumphs.
Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?
Rachel Lee Weist: I have only ever written short stories to completion.
Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.
Rachel Lee Weist: I am still an emerging author, so my current published works are few. I hope that those who read my stories will feel affected by them afterwards in some way, whether that be a lingering horror, reflecting on an interesting idea, or perhaps mourning the loss of a character.
Meghan: I am always excited to get my hands on anthologies, especially ones from publishers that I have grown to trust. Tell us about Burnt Fur and your story in it.
Rachel Lee Weist: Burnt Fur is a furry-themed horror anthology. My story follows the journey of an opossum, named Wax, who must obtain soft human flesh for the creation of a fetish suit.
Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?
Rachel Lee Weist: I didn’t leave anything out.
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Rachel Lee Weist: I am in the preliminary stages of writing my first book, and I will continue to submit short stories for publication in magazines and anthologies. I hope someday to assemble these stories into their own anthology.
About the Author: Rachel Weist lives in a century-old Victorian house on the coast of northern California, with her husband and the host of strange animals that she calls family. When she isn’t writing horror, roaming through the forest, or painting fungi, she can be found with a cat in her lap and a book in her hand.
About the Book:
Sit. Roll over. Who’s a Good Boy?
There are no good boys in in this anthology, only twisted, deviant, and burnt encounters with pets, people in costume, animals who behave like humans, and creatures who blur the line between the three. Violent pigs, killer ducks, horny bees, a naughty rabbit, and many more fill these pages with tale after tail of hair-raising horror.
Don your Fursuit, slip into your Fursona, and ride the dark wave of horror that is Burnt Fur. You may never go back to wearing your normal skin again.
The Moon in Her Eyes by Sarah Hans
Mallard’s Maze by Joseph Sale
Salivation by Theodore Deadrat
The Hamford Pigs by N. Rose
The Willingness of Prey by Paul Allih
6 Dicks by Rachel Lee Weist
The Others by C.M. Saunders
Randall Rabbit by Elliot Arthur Cross
A Concubine for the Hive by Rue K. Poe
Five Nights with Teddy by Thurston Howl
Oh Piggy, My Piggy by Matt Scott
Ware the Deep by Stephanie Park
The Molt of a Diminishing Light by Michelle F. Goddard
The Victims by James L. Steele