1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?
Brianna Malotke, I’m from Ohio but somehow keep moving west as time passes. In my free time I typically read for fun, drink way too much coffee, and try to fit in as much boxing as possible.
2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?
My most accepted work is a short story titled Breaking Bread. It’s included in the anthology Their Ghoulish Reputation: An Anthology of Folk-Horror, from Dark Lake Publishing, LLP. My folk horror story is inspired by the tales of Baba Yaga.
3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?
For this story my main character is a strong woman who is willing to risk everything for the chance of freedom and the life she dreams of having on her own.
4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?
Not for this story, but my hardest scene I’ve written was a different anthology I’m in. My main writing form is poetry and in one of my pieces for Under Her Skin: A Women in Horror Collection, I had written a piece that involved the death of a mother. The timing was not the best since I had lost someone in my family. But I do think that the intertwining of my very real and recent experience had provided me with the ability to put myself in the character’s shoes and write my poem, Lilies Left for Mom.
5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?
I have recently had my book pitch accepted by a publisher. I was a little overwhelmed with the self-publishing process while also working full time and trying to continue to submit short stories elsewhere. I had decided to continue to submit my manuscript to publishers while I worked on other things. I am happy to say that one has accepted and my very own debut horror poetry collection will be released in 2023!
6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?
I would say the most difficult part is just the waiting that comes with it. You have to wait for places to get back to you about submissions and it can be a little daunting. My advice would be to stay organized, don’t be afraid to query when they suggest it, and to reach out to other writers. Within the horror writing community everyone has been very friendly and happy to help. There are tons of writing groups you can join that range in providing feedback on stories to just posting submission calls.
7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
My horror poetry collection is inspired by deadly historic fashion trends. The list of inspiration is certainly never-ending, but this will be a standalone collection.
8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?
We’ve Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite go-to horror books. Between that and growing up with the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, it’s no wonder I ventured into the horror genre.
9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?
At the moment I think it’s a combination of using Instagram and being in the various writing groups on Facebook.
10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?
I’m not a huge fan of the whole “clumsy and super sexualized straight female” character in horror. I just feel like it’s overused. If it works for the story then great, but I want more variety. Give me variety of sexuality, give me female strength, and give me more femme serial killers.
11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?
Yes, I like reading how the book affected people and what they thought. Depending on the negative bits, they’re sometimes amusing to read why exactly the reader didn’t like it. One anthology I’m in the negative reviews were all about the illustrations and how they were just wildly different than the front cover.
12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?
I don’t plot everything out, sometimes I’ll make different versions to see which way the story went and which route I liked the best. As far as quirks, I do make moldboards for my main characters and my overall vibe of my story. This comes from my background as a Costume Designer and how would design a play. It’s really helpful to create backstories and descriptions. I also listen to music when writing. I’m one of those people who desperately need background noise to focus on a task. Depending on my mood, my playlists range from combinations of Orville Peck and Florence + The Machine to My Chemical Romance and AFI.
13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?
When I participated in the Horror Writers Association’s Mentor Program, my mentor gave some advice about not being afraid to start over. He said it’s okay to rework scenes, to start completely over, to put it away and come back. It was very helpful to just hear from someone else that it’s okay to just let go over a plot, not to feel the need to force it if you’re not sure of it. So, for all the new writers, don’t be afraid to chuck everything out the window and start again.
14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?
I’m currently finishing my debut poetry collection. With its release next year, I will then focus on my next big idea (which will hopefully be split into multiple books). Other than that, I have a lot of individual horror poems and short stories coming out in different anthologies over the next year. I typically share everything on social media and update my author website as books get release dates.
15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:
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