Recently, StarkLight Press sat down with Leanne Caine, long-time author and contributor, to chat with her about her story in our latest anthology StarkLight 5.
Leanne is author of a number of short stories and flash fiction, has contributed for the past four years to the StarkLight Press Poetry Marathon, and in addition has written for us in several collaborative novels, including our Tales From Space novels The Arkellan Treaty, Space Stranded.
Leanne is currently working on a memoir as well as contributing to the long-awaited sequel to The Irregulars, StarkLight Press’s first novel about the underground world of psychically-gifted homeless children in North America.
SLP: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been up to in the past few years.
This is a hard question for me. I disappeared off the social media map and went back to ghost writing for awhile because I have been going through heavy waters.
The worst thing in the world happened to me, at least, the worst thing that I could imagine, my daughter’s bio dad put his head back into our life. After not being there for her for her entire life he showed up and destabilized everything and on top of it all called me an unfit mother. He used my writing to ‘prove’ it. Ouch.
I went back to ghosting and just about became a ghost myself in the process. It hasn’t been an easy time.
I never wanted that man in my life and I love my little girl, but that isn’t because she reminds me in any way of her sperm donor. I don’t mean I went to a sperm bank, I mean one of his little suckers got by my defences and gave me the only thing in my life I love other than writing.
Fortunately; my baby’s got a good head on her shoulders and sperm donor waited until she was old enough to make up her own mind.
That’s probably more personal than you meant about this question but that’s what I’ve been up to.
I’ve been stripped naked and shorn for all the world to see and nearly lost my baby, nearly lost my writing. I’m back and my daughter isn’t going anywhere.
SLP: Explain for our audience a little bit about the inspiration for your tale, and the themes that inform it.
My story is reaching back to the old stories about revenants and vampires. I was tired of the modern stories about vampires that seem to deviate further and further away from the original stories that our ancestors told about them.
A long time ago, we had a lot of reasons to fear corpses. We still have reasons to fear corpses, but now those reasons are more or less medically founded and we fear them because we don’t want to be contaminated. Even so, we’re also worried that the sheet will fall down, their eyes will fly open and we’ll be forced to fight with the body of the one that we loved.
It’s hard, if you’ve ever seen the body of a loved one, you might get it a bit. They go from being warm and loving to cold and, well, gone. Their eyes change and there’s this feeling of being alone, and yet there’s also the sense of being around a really creepy doll that it could become animated by anything at any point.
It’s armed with claws and teeth and the weight of a human body and it’s scary!
People, even now, often dream about their dead loved ones coming to the door and being asked to be let in. That’s where this story starts, a young wife lets her dead husband in and they make love… well, that’s the implication. It actually starts with the fruit of their intercourse, a demonic vampire baby that’s birth kills its young mother.
The baby’s a monster. There’s lots of signs that used to be well known as signs of vampire babies, this ones got several of them. The midwife thinks about killing the baby but she hasn’t been christianized enough to go running to the priest and start killing babies. Well, maybe in this case that’s the wrong thing, maybe not. It’s a story that’s caught on the cusp between the old ways and the new. There used to be old ways of dealing with vampire babies that would be at least as effective but the midwife’s hands are tied by just enough Christian influence for her to be rather impotent. The result and demon baby on a rampage.
You can read the rest to see how it turns out for everyone. The short answer is: not good.
SLP: What’s your preferred method for writing: computer/smartphone, typewriter, hand, voice transcription? Tell us the most unusual place you ever wrote down a tale- in the elevator at work, on horseback, in a crowded subway?
I really miss Aurora being a baby, it was awesome when she was teething and would scream and hit random key and delete my work. That had to be my favorite. *jk*
Seriously, it’s nice to have a little girl turning into a big girl, I can have some quiet time and it’s a luxury after being a single parent all these years. I went from being a kid at home to being a mommy and it was pretty hard. There’s a lake here and my favorite place to write is anywhere on the lake. I take my computer to the beach a lot and other times I use my friends’ boat or even houseboat for awhile if I don’t have to work. That’s the best, even if I’m limited to pen and paper and have to type it all up when I get home. There’s something about the peace and quiet of being removed from the ground and not being connected at all that makes writing more fluid than anywhere else.
I hate writing in the heat.
I hate writing at my parent’s house even though it has air conditioning and a pool because they’ve never stopped saying ‘I told you this would happen’ since I suddenly got real fat my last year in high school and then suddenly lost all the weight and had this crying baby…
SLP: Where do you like to go best to recharge your creative batteries?
Again, the water. I like to swim. Ironically, I also like to hike in the desert. There’s something about the extreme heat and the deprivation that I like. I don’t like to be sun burned so I go out covered up because I like being fair and have my gothic moments. I like to go skiing and snowboarding in the winter, there’s something about it that’s similar to swimming.
Otherwise, I guess I like to go out and dance my brains out on the dance floor and act like I’m a lot stupider than I am for a portion of the night and blow off some steam that way.
SLP:What, in your opinion is author kryptonite? (antithetical to the creative writing process)
Dealing with family problems. Those are awful. Feeling overwhelmed and having no privacy or quiet time. That sucks all kinds of balls. Feeling like you’re losing what matters most to you. Being attacked for what you’ve already written.
SLP: What are your three favorite mainstream books, and what are your three favorite indie/independently published works?
This question is hard and is responsible for this being late. I’ll tell the truth. I’ve been re-reading group anthologies that I’ve been in in StarkLight and getting ready for next projects. I haven’t had a lot of time for other reading. I’ve been reading the entire GAF Mainframe and all the books I can get my hands on. A lot of the other authors have been writing stuff on the side for The Irregulars and I’ve been sinking my greedy little hooks into that too.
I spent too long on this question, I wanted to make something sound super profound and make me sound deep, but no, oh, and also some manga that likely few have heard of but is absolutely silly and serves no earthly purpose.
SLP: What is the last movie you saw? Give our authors a brief review.
The last movie I saw was a Chucky binge. I don’t think I need to give a review. Doll comes to life, doll kills everyone. Usually, some poor kid gets blamed for being a little psycho. Awww, poor traumatized kids! Watch their family get hacked to pieces and then they get called psychos. Next movie comes along and they’re in a psychiatric hospital, just about to leave and then some dumbass psychiatrist decides that before they leave they need to face their fear and they give the guy a Chucky doll. Wow. Jerk!
It’s a funny horror series if you’re into that sort of thing (which I am) and I love the one where Chucky gets a girlfriend. I can’t recall the name of the actress, but man, she is an awesome actress. She did some stuff with John Waters but mostly does voice acting because she has an amazing voice. She’s a bit buxom and I think that’s why she didn’t do more acting acting, I thought she was pretty hot (but not as a doll, terrifying as a doll).
Anyway, horror binges are awesome and they’re also good things to watch when you’re working on a scary story for ambience.
SLP: What are your next big projects, so that our audience can keep an eye out for them.
I’m working on the sequel to The Irregulars from StarkLight Press. I’m hoping to work more with the character, Jet, that I’m writing. I love this series so much, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written and I love working with the other writers on it. When you get the right people working with a project it just ROCKS.
Thanks for taking the time to fill out our StarkLight Volume 5 Questionnaire!