Kym Darkly is a Horror and Thriller genre writer/blogger who operates the content over at thehorrorinmyheart.com. She serves up delectable bite-sized doses of horror for the casual reader who wants to get a gory snippet or spooky scene without necessarily investing all of the time required for a full novel or film. The website is, as I mentioned, set up as a blog so the posts are small blurbs that are perfect to browse before bed or while waiting in line. The only drawback that I have found so far is that when reading the shorts I frequently wish there was more to each stunning post.
I had the opportunity to speak with her briefly about her work and her writing process.
F: What do you like most about writing in the horror/thriller genre?
KD: “I get really excited when I write anything that has a horror or thriller component to it. I like putting characters in unbearable situations and seeing what they do with that. What are they made of? How will they fight back? Will they succeed or not?
I also like problem solving, and horror usually presents a huge issue: how do we stop this disease from spreading and our limbs from falling off? How do we get out of the trunk? How do we get away from a creature when it is dissolving us alive? Lol. Big issues.
Horror lets me write about everything and anything that could happen. It skips along the edges of the unreal, the fantastical, the dead and the darkly spiritual. I get to explore the depths of twisted minds, the madness, and the secrets. I go inside their freaky homes and see what is really going on – how many heads they really have in the freezer. Sometimes I feel like a criminal profiler.
I find human behavior fascinating and I want to explore it and push it to the edge. I want to believe that there is a lot of good out there, but I also want to see what good does when it encounters evil. And there’s a part of me that wants to know what evil is exactly, and how evil at that…”
F: Who/what are your biggest influences?
KD: “When I think of influences, I think a lot of film. When I write, I see scenes and I hear dialogue. When I first started writing I wrote screenplays – many of them – and I have read an enormous amount of scripts. Then I went to school for TV writing so I’m very familiar with that format.
A lot of the great films I love were created from great books though: movies like Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, the Exorcist, and Rosemary’s baby – great adaptations by yet other incredible writers. Other films that have had a big impact on me are Clockwork Orange, Session 9, Alien, The Thing and The Amityville Horror.
The first film I ever remember seeing was The Shining. I hadn’t read the book yet. I was a kid, but the visuals and the story really captured me. I loved the elevator scene with all that blood and the craziness of Jack’s altered mind state. I loved the isolation of that movie, out in the middle of nowhere. I found it fascinating to watch a good, perfectly respectable writer (ahem) completely unravel. The evil spiritual presence was something that intrigued me too. I like anything to do with the paranormal, anything spooky.
I love Stephen King. I love listening to him talk. He inspires me. I think he’s a great guy. I love how he holds his hand out to help other writers. My favorite book of his is On Writing – magnificent. Misery and Carrie hold a special place in my heart too. I have been reading his short stories lately. He has been so prolific.
I also love his writing process. He just starts and lets it go wherever it’s going to go. He has no plan and that’s what makes it exciting for him. I write like that too. I don’t like being constricted by a plan or plot points. I can do that and I have done a lot of it, but ultimately it takes away spontaneity, so it’s not as much fun. It’s work and it doesn’t feel creative to me.
Another writer I find fascinating is the late Ray Bradbury. What an extraordinary creative mind. Something Wicked This Way Comes: every page is so full of delicious ideas. He read poems, short stories, and essays on a daily basis and I can feel it in his work.
I also respect the way he approached his career. He started writing short stories, one a week, to learn how to write, and gradually worked his way up to writing novels. He wasn’t fazed by the weekly rejection letters either. He just had faith that this was his path. If I ever have any doubts about writing, I listen to a Ray Bradbury talk on YouTube.
I’m also inspired by TV shows. I loved Dexter – just fantastic. I currently love Hannibal – such elegance, art and insanity and I really like Bates Motel – a deliciously twisted relationship between mother and Son.”
F: Why did you choose a shorter, blog format? What are some things that you like/dislike about this medium?
KD: “I like writing short pieces on my blog because I have been working on other longer pieces that take a lot of time. The blog lets me continue to explore new topics continuously, so I am always creating something new. I have so many ideas and they need to be expressed and explored.
It is also fun for readers to read short flash fiction, because we are all busy and it’s great to get a hit of horror without having to commit to a whole novel. The short format also lets me work on telling a tighter story. It’s a bit of a training ground. I get to hone my skills over and over. A lot of those short stories are just waiting for some time to open up so that I can develop them into longer formats: novellas or novels. It stimulates me to keep coming up with new ideas.
I can’t say there’s anything I dislike about this format. Part of me would like to have an open writing concept where the readers complete my stories. I think that could be fun.”
F: Do you have any plans for/intentions to work on any different types of projects (Novels, screenplays, etc.) or are you happy with the blog?
KD: “I have a TV pilot for a horror show written called The Halls. I still have to rewrite the pitch documents and then pitch it. I have a supernatural novella that is waiting to be rewritten. It is currently untitled. I am rewriting one mainstream fiction novel, and after that I will need to rewrite yet another horror novel called The Batcavers. I also have another short story that I’d like to pitch around soon after a brush-up. It is currently untitled. I have a lot of things going on, a lot of editing and rewriting, so the blog is a great outlet for me. What I really want to do of course is always start another story and the blog keeps me doing that while I do the necessary rewrites.”
F: What advice would you give fledgling writers/bloggers?
KD: “Don’t look for approval. Write what your gut tells you to write. Even Ray Bradbury said that he spent ten years or so trying to emulate the writers he admired, but one story changed all that. It was about a girl who disappeared one day from a beach when he was a kid. It was a true mystery. Writing that story was a defining time for him. It was when he came into his own and began to write like Ray Bradbury. We all have our own style and it needs to freely show itself, unravel, and evolve.
The other thing is to read a lot and write all the time – write as much as possible. I have written about ten screenplays that I will never show to anybody, but they taught me how to tell a story. The same is true for short stories. I have tons of them. I can’t stop. It’s good to hash out a story even if it doesn’t work. The parts that I love can be reworked and rewritten into a whole other format at some other time. Nothing is ever lost. Those old screenplay ideas could someday become short stories or novels.
The other piece of advice I have comes from Ray Bradbury and I love it. I will paraphrase: if your friends don’t believe in you and don’t support what you do, if they make fun of your writing or belittle you, go home and fire them.”
You just don’t need people in your life who don’t have a belief in you. You need people who are on board with the fact that you are a writer. If you’re writing, you are a writer. It is important to be around people who are excited by that. You have one life. Do what you love with it, keep going and don’t listen to cynics. Everything is possible.”
For more information or to see her work, go to thehorrorinmyheart.com or find her on Twitter or Facebook. If you’re looking for a place to start, I highly suggest you check out Nuclear Mutant. It’s my favorite of her recent work!