Books Around the Corner Q&A: Darcy Coates, author of 'Gallows Hill'
A FEW LITTLE SPOILERS OF GALLOWS HILL IN INTERVIEW
"The bond between author and reader has always fascinated me. Without the reader's imagination, an author's words are dead in the dark. Only when you open their book do you make them come alive. It's like a spell. And you spread that magic because you talk about the book, post about it, or give it away to someone." - Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex & Echo.
Our next author featured in our series is Darcy Coates. I thought I'd leave it to a writer to explain why I am doing this series of author interviews and I couldn't have said it better than Thomas Olde Heuvelt above.
You can order titles by Darcy Coates on our website HERE (support indies). I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I did. I am always pleasantly surprised by the Lightning Round.
Stephanie Rose: Can you take us through your writing process for Gallows Hill?
Darcy Coates: Absolutely! I started with the ending and Margot's discovery in the oldest cellar. An ending can make or break a story, so that's usually the part I try to figure out first. From there, I built the story out as I slowly discovered who Margot was and how her personality would shape the experience. I knew, from fairly early in the planning stage, that I wanted to start the story with the funeral and wake. Those are still some of my favourite scenes.
SR: You have written so many horror books. Where do you get your inspiration for your spooky stories?
DC: I have too many ideas! And I don't know how to stop them! Every time I get a new one I add it to a document--some are just one-sentence pitches, and others are complete plot outlines. When I'm ready to start a new story I open that document and read through it to see which idea is speaking to me the most at that moment. I want to write all of them eventually, but at my current rate I'm adding ideas faster than I'm working through them!
SR: If you had to choose only one of your books to recommend which one would it be and why?
DC: Ohh, that's a tough one. I genuinely feel like they all have different strengths. From Below is one of my personal favourites, and is especially good for anyone who gets claustrophobic or has a fear of deep sea diving.
SR: Do you listen to any music when you write? If so what kind?
DC: I either write somewhere busy and loud (like a cafe) or somewhere very quiet. For some reason, it's harder to write with just a small amount of noise. Sometimes, though, if I'm really stuck on a scene and need to brainstorm, I'll put on some mood music. Youtube has some oddly specific sets--"a playlist for gardening in a victorian era greenhouse" is one I keep going back to.
SR: What is the best piece of life advice that you've received?
DC: It's actually a piece of wisdom that ties in with Gallows Hill: A person can love you, and they can still hurt you. Those two things aren't mutually exclusive. We see that in Gallows Hill with Margot's parents: they absolutely loved her with all of their hearts, but their failure to deal with the curse before their deaths meant it became an impossibly heavy burden for Margot. That duality--the knowledge that her parents cared for her, and yet left her in a situation that cost her everything--is something that Margot will need to come to terms with in her own way.
SR: Can you tell us about your upcoming horror projects? Any other adaptations in the works?
DC: I'm usually about two to three books ahead of what's published (to allow time for editing, formatting, and printing). 2023 brings two new stories I'm incredibly excited for: Dead of Winter is a horror-thriller about a group of strangers who become trapped in a snowbound cabin, only to realise that one of their number is a murderer attempting to pick them off one at a time. Next is Where He Can't Find You, a YA horror set in a small town where people have been going inexplicably missing. They're two of my best stories, so I'm very, very excited to get the chance to share them!
SR: Any recent books, films, shows, or podcasts you want to recommend to our readers?
DC: This year has been incredible for horror media! On the movie side I loved Smile, Barbarian, and Incantation. For series, Guillermo Del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities is enormous fun.
Some recent top picks for books: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten, Hide by Kiersten White, The Guest List by Lucy Foley, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and everything by T. Kingfisher.
And, for something slightly different, I'll never stop recommending Crossroads at Midnight by Abby Howard. It's a horror graphic novel that contains five stories and 300+ pages. I've always been a huge fan of horror comics and Abby Howard's art is absolutely captivating (and terrifying!).
Lightning Round | Altered and Borrowed from James Lipton
SR: What is your favorite word?
DC: Macabre. I love the way it sounds like a creaking door!
SR: What is your least favorite word?
DC: Liaison. Awful word. Just the worst.
SR: What is your favorite scary movie?
DC: The Ring!
SR: What is your favorite horror book?
DC: It changes with my mood, but right now I'd have to pick Night Shift by Stephen King.
SR: What sound or noise do you love?
DC: Rain falling late at night!
SR: What sound or noise do you hate?
DC: Metal cutlery on ceramic plates! Sets my teeth on edge.
SR: What is your favorite curse word?
DC: Haha, I love the dorky not-curse ones. Dang, gosh-darn, flippit. They're just too much fun.
SR: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
DC: I do love art! If I wasn't writing, I'd want to try to be an illustrator (for horror, unsurprisingly).
SR: What profession would you not like to do?
DC: Hmm, I think food service. It's hard work, there are lots of complaints, and you're too busy to eat at lunchtime. People working in food service deserve a massive pay raise.
SR: What is your favorite fall/spooky activity to do?
DC: I live in Australia so our seasons are backwards: Halloween is in spring, and autumn happens around Easter, and our shops don't know how to cope. (My local store was selling watermelons to carve for Halloween) But, when October hits, I always love a good movie marathon. I'll make popcorn and set up a mix of beloved movies, and movies I haven't seen before, and absorb as many as I can until I get headaches.
SR: If you knew you were going to die and only had a chance to read one more book what would it be?
DC: Ooh, tough. I think I'd read something I know and enjoy. Maybe We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.
SR: You plan a movie night and can watch one movie with any one writer. What writer and what movie do you choose?
DC: This is going to sound like an odd answer, but I'd choose Jane Austen and the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. Her books weren't especially well-known when she was alive (she lived on their income), and I'd like her to know how loved they are now. Plus, it would be fun to hear what she thinks of the adaptation.
SR: What author dead or alive would you want to spend the night in a haunted house with?
DC: I'd have to pick Ellen Datlow. I was fortunate enough to hear some of her talks from last year's Stoker Con and I feel like we could make a very enthusiastic team. She's read enough horror to know the conventions inside and out, but there's still a good chance I'd die within the first hour.
She lives on the Central Coast of Australia with her family, cats, and a garden full of herbs and vegetables.
Darcy loves forests, especially old-growth forests where the trees dwarf anyone who steps between them. Wherever she lives, she tries to have a mountain range close by.