We’re back again to continue a week full of Issue 035 author interviews. Today we’re sharing a chat with Alyssa Striplin about her short story “Necromance.”
LSQ: Second person narrative is a tricky one. Why did you choose it?
Alyssa: I’m not usually a fan of second person narrative, so I can’t say it was my first choice for this story. Originally, it was in third person and Max was the only named character (the naïve necromancer was just referred to as “she”). When I started revising, though, I was teaching second person narration to my creative writing students and I was struggling to find examples they could connect with. Somehow, that led to me revising my story into second person, since my students liked horror. I ended up using a different, already published example in class because the story wasn’t ready yet, but I had already fallen down the rabbit hole with second person, so I kept going until it became what it is today.
LSQ: The horror in this story is palpable, from the macabre notion of Max’s heart being transplanted into her best friend, to Max’s horrific undead appearance. What is your favorite part about writing horror?
Alyssa: You get to make dead things look pretty. I love writing about blood, bone, and broken teeth in a way that makes them beautiful. I blame Guillermo del Toro because he always makes terrifying things look so aesthetically pleasing. Like the blood red ghosts in Crimson Peak—they’re absolutely grotesque, but you can’t look away even if you want to. I guess writing horror is kind of like being a mortician—you take something dead and you bring it alive with vivid description.
LSQ: What was the most challenging thing about writing this story?
Alyssa: Editing it down to the necessary parts, mostly because I have a tendency to get carried away with details and descriptions. I have a tendency to keep adding and adding to a story. I’ve got a whole backstory to go along with the protagonist—what happened to her mother, how she came across necromancy in the first place, her first interactions with Max, and so on. Not to mention all the gory details I had to cut out because my description of a freshly risen corpse was turning into an epic. It’s the same problem I have with everything I write, really. I’ll paint you a picture, sure, but I’ll keep adding layers and layers of acrylic paint until it’s practically touching your nose standing ten feet away and you can’t see the whole portrait.
LSQ: Are you working on other projects currently? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?
Alyssa: Right now, I’m just planning two Halloween parties for October and drafting up my 31 days of Halloween movies list. As soon as that’s done, though, I’d love to finish the novel I’ve been working on, Cryptid, and at least get some spooky story ideas I have down on paper (so far, I’ve got a mermaid in the Ozarks, a girl who wants to grow into a monster, and a story from the perspective of the gorgeous forest monster/goddess in the Netflix movie, The Ritual).