Interview with Rain Graves, author of Four Elements (water)

WiHM2013Seal

This interview is being included in the 2013 Women in Horror Interview Series. Every February, Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support.  You can find out more about WiHM here:

http://www.womeninhorrormonth.com/

The Author

Rain Graves

Rain Graves

Rain Graves is a Bram Stoker Award (2002) winning poet and writer currently living in San Francisco. She has been published professionally in the horror fiction and poetry genre since 1997, in various magazines, books, and webzines. Her latest books include BARFODDER: Poetry Written in Dark Bars & Questionable Cafes (2009), and THE HAUNTED MANSION PROJECT: Year One (2012), and THE FOUR ELEMENTS (2013) with Linda Addison, Charlee Jacob, and Marge Simon–four Bram Stoker Award winning poets. Recent short fiction can be found in the popular Zombies vs. Robots comic book series of anthologies – WOMEN ON WAR (IDW, 2012), TALES FROM THE HOUSE BAND volumes 1 & 2 (2011, 2012), and HIGH STAKES (2013). She is a talented spoken word performer, Hostess of the Haunted Mansion Writer’s Retreat, former musician and retired, award-winning dance instructor. For more information on appearances, visit http://www.raingraves.com

The Book

Four Elements

Four Elements

Four Bram Stoker Award™ winning poets join together to paint a rich, dark tapestry of evocative emotion in The Four Elements. From modern interpretations to ancient mythology, they explore the magic and mystery of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. Their vivid poetry and prose brings to life a universe in a grain of sand, taking the reader through a journey of discovery from the inside out. Hear the hot voice of invisible awareness in Linda Addison’s interpretation of Air. Explore the realm of ethereal and surreal liquidity in Rain Graves’ Water. Burn from crevice to crown in Charlee Jacob’s wild-eyed visions of Fire. Contemplate Marge Simon’s poignant twists of dark irony to eruptions of spontaneous wonder in Earth. There is something for everyone in The Four Elements–conjured especially for the reader that likes to examine the meticulous depth and meaning in every word.

The Interview

Q. February is Women in Horror Recognition Month. Women are still underrepresented in horror fiction writing. Why do you think that is?
A. I think it’s more a factor of there being less women in the past choosing to write horror than men. It’s different for Fantasy, but Horror and Science Fiction have less books published by females than other popular genres. I don’t think it’s because publishers won’t publish them. I think it’s still a male dominated field because of the readership demographics. That’s changing, though. More women are reading horror, and more women are interested in writing horror.When I started going to professional conventions as a writer that had not had much published, out of 200-300 people, there were only a handful of women. Charlee Jacob, Lucy Snyder, Poppy Z. Brite, Nancy Collins, Anne Rice, Nancy Kilpatrick… They were on the shelves, and we all loved reading them. But they only represented a tiny percentage of what was being churned out by the major (and small press) publishers.

When people think of horror, people don’t think of female authors right away. They think of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Chuck Palahniuk, and Clive Barker. But if you were a teenager that happened to be a girl reading those titles in the late 80’s, you were also consuming summer horror movies, and true crime. V. C. Andrews (posthumously, even) produced one of the most horrific series’ I can remember reading as a teen that wasn’t true crime – Flowers In The Attic. Because horror is more closely associated with men, women who write it are underestimated and often over-looked. They’re out there, though, and writing amazing stuff.

Q. I was very excited to find out that you were a part of the Four Elements project – a book of stories by four female Bram Stoker Award winners, each representing an element. How did you become involved in the project, what can you tell us about it and why (besides your name, of course) did you find yourself attracted to the element of water?
A. It’s a book of poetry, really, with some prose in each section. Linda Addison approached me via email a few years ago and said she had this project she was working on with Charlee and Marge, and needed the fourth element author. I asked if I could choose water, and she agreed, and the rest was all writing and collaborating on what to put in, and how to put it together. It was her brainchild, though. I feel very fortunate and honored that she thought of me.The book itself is a journey through time for each author, and what their respective element was in both history and modern ages, and representative to themselves. We found we were all writing on the same wave-length, though we hadn’t each discussed how our sections would pan out until we were putting it all together, and questioning what worked and didn’t.

I chose water originally because I wanted to work with mythology, as well as modern myths of self. The things our mothers and grandmothers tell us as children and leave us with as adults. How that was for me relating to the flow of time, through water. There is a lot I didn’t cover, but what I did, felt right.

Q. Most of the nominees for the Stoker Awards are men. To be a woman and a Stoker Award winner – that’s rare… how did you feel about receiving the prestigious award?
A. A lot of people have mixed feelings about the Stoker Awards, but for me, it was two things –
1) Recognition for something I may not have even been recognizing as an achievement in myself. As a writer, you just tend to plod along, and send your stuff out, and hope there will be more acceptances than rejections. To be recognized for some of that work, was a great feeling, and I’m grateful.2) I feel it brings awareness, not just for women, but for the category of poetry in general. Horror poetry in today’s world is such a misbegotten thing–a bastard child, maybe, and something that shouldn’t be, but is. In the old days, no one batted an eye at Dante, Keats, Shakespeare, or Tennyson for the poetry they wrote that could have easily been categorized as horror.

When the Bram Stoker Award for poetry began to take shape, no one knew how to judge it, or felt qualified, or felt there were enough books being written to nominate. As more and more authors were doing it and being recognized because people liked reading it, more and more poetry was widely accepted by the horror readership as something they wanted to get their hands on and try.

Today, you can go through all the back years of the Bram Stoker Awards list of winners, and begin with all of the nominees to start reading and getting into it, if you don’t know where to start. You couldn’t do that 25 years ago. As long as people are aware of it, they can read it. That makes me happy.

Q. What was it like working with Marge Simon, Linda Addison and Charlee Jacob on “The Four Elements”?
A. It was easy. Everyone had their work to do, and we all worked very well together. We collaborated equally, made decisions, and enthusiastically read each others work. Collaborations aren’t always easy, but this one was seamless. Everyone was so talented, and genuine. It makes a big difference when you go into a project knowing you respect and admire everyone’s work. It gives you the confidence you need to make a good book and trust in everyone else to make it even better than you thought it could ever be.
Q. When I first met you – when we both read at Blow Salon during Sunday Streets in Berkeley – your reading – I believe from “Barfodder” – had the strongest impact on my nieces, age 22 and 12. They were both talking about it after the show; it was very intense, very memorable. Do you do a lot of readings, and do you enjoy them?
A. I had to really back myself up and make sure I wasn’t reading things that would scar them for life. I hope I didn’t! I always get nervous when kids are there because I have to be aware of appropriateness for the audience. They were smart girls, and I enjoyed seeing them there. I’m glad it was memorable, too–in a good way (I hope)!

Sunday Streets Berkeley @ Blow Salon: Patty Overland (front) and Sumiko Saulson, Serena Toxicat, Rebecca Wilson and Rain Graves

Sunday Streets Berkeley @ Blow Salon: Patty Overland (front), Sumiko Saulson, Serena Toxicat, Rebecca Wilson and Rain Graves

I have done a lot of spoken word performances around the bay area and beyond. I love performing, and I love making people think. It brings the written word alive in a way that your reader might not have ever experienced it on their own. Blow Salon was especially fun because I really dig what they do, and when Serena Toxicat turned me on to the event, I was thrilled to be a part of it. I love listening to what other people are doing, and going to these things are a great way to find great new things. We are lucky in the Bay Area, that there is such a strong literary culture here. It’s incredibly inspiring.

Q. Where do you think the intensity of your work comes from?
A. I’m an intense person, I’ve been told. I think I have no choice with that, though I’ve tried to be softer and more subtle sometimes in my fiction and poetry. It either works or it doesn’t; you write what you know, or it comes out wrong.
Q. Your poetry often integrates the brutality of real, urban themes and slice-of-life style events with the surreal and the supernatural. Do you think the monsters – haiku of a cuttlefish Cthulhu – give the reader respite from the stark terror of the darker corners of the reality we face every day?
A. I think monsters are a great way to escape, but also a great way to see ourselves. What else would we fear more, but becoming a monster, or being victimized by one?  Only death, perhaps. It is in understanding monsters, that we understand ourselves–we can see both sides of the story–good and evil, and hopefully in that recognition of yin and yan, we can stay true to our own paths. My favorite monster is the Creature from the Black Lagoon, because he’s the most misunderstood monster of them all. He teaches us to see the good in everyone, even if it’s not obvious, and looks like an ugly truth.
Q. Do you have anything coming down the pike that we can look forward to?
A. I’m working on a few things, but the next two things coming out this year are THE HAUNTED MANSION PROJECT: YEAR TWO, edited by Loren Rhoads (Damnation Books), and some short fiction in a vampire anthology called HIGH STAKES edited by Gabrielle Faust (Evil Jester Press). I’m not sure I’ll get to it this year, but I hope to really dig in to some work on another book of poetry that is dedicated to the Egyptian pantheon, and a Weird Western novella.
Q. Is there anything you want to let our readers know that we haven’t covered already?

A. Good night, sleep tight… Don’t let the bed bugs bite. 🙂

Where to find Rain Online

Find Rain Here:

http://www.raingraves.com
http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com

Find her Books Here:

via Amazon.com

Cemeterydance.com for Barfodder

Bad Moon Books for The Four Elements

On The Radio/Audio Here:

Here is an audio interview from an event on Halloween at SF in SF.  Info:  from“The Real Horror Show” reading plus interview – approx. 15 minutes. 10/22/10 event at SFinSF – (broadcast on KUSP 89.9 FM, 6:00 pm PT, 1/9/11, via the Agony Column.

Promos Here:

IDW Publishing has a preview of the Zombies Vs. Robots: Women on War! Anthology

 

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~ by Sumiko Saulson on February 16, 2013.

One Response to “Interview with Rain Graves, author of Four Elements (water)”

  1. […] Rain Graves […]

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