S. P. Miskowski’s supernatural horror novel Knock Knock is published by Omnium Gatherum Media and is on the shortlist for a Shirley Jackson Award. Her short fiction has appeared in Supernatural Tales 21, Horror Bound Online Magazine, Identity Theory, The Absent Willow Review, Other Voices and the anthology Detritus. She is a member of the speculative fiction group Wily Writers.
My family only kept a few books around the house. We didn’t have much money, so books were something we didn’t buy. We went to the library for books. One of the authors whose work we did own was Edgar Allan Poe. So I started reading Poe when I was about eight-years-old and all that purple prose and psychological misery made a deep impression. Soon after that I started writing stories, most of them about children who murdered their families and disposed of the bodies in gruesome ways. My parents had a very dark sense of humour, and they found these stories entertaining. So I kept going. Later I wrote more mainstream fiction, in college, but it always had a dark edge, or so my friends tell me.
What is your most notable work?
The novel Knock Knock, published by Omnium Gatherum Media. It’s about three girls who are lifelong friends in a small town in Washington State. Trying to make their own fun to escape the tedium of Skillute, WA, the girls take an oath and accidentally awaken something ominous in the woods, something that has lain dormant for years. We follow the girls into adulthood and find that their lives are deeply affected by this childhood event, and perhaps shaped by a supernatural entity that works on them in practical and psychological ways.
What are you working on now?
After completing Knock Knock I had an idea to write three novellas, not as long or as complex as the novel but related to it. Each novella follows one of the characters first presented in Knock Knock. The story of the first novella takes place prior to the events in the novel, the second concurrently, and the third in the aftermath. Right now I’m working on the first novella, which is about the midwife Delphine Dodd, who is seen only briefly in Knock Knock but has a powerful influence over her niece Marietta, a major character in the novel.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
Laird Barron, Steve Duffy, Lynda E. Rucker, Joe Hill and Ramsey Campbell are horror writers whose work I follow with great interest. They strike a wonderful balance between linguistic style and plot. They have a talent for creating an environment that is intimately connected to a character’s state of mind.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
I have no problem with gore in the service of the story. Gore for its own sake doesn’t offend me but it doesn’t keep me interested. I like to know what is going on in a character’s mind. I will stick with a story or give up based on how fascinating the characters are.
Why should people read your work?
My writing presents women who do horrible things. In life, men and women are capable of extraordinary acts of cruelty and selfishness. In fiction, we see men doing bad things but more often than not we see women as redemptive or conciliatory. My female characters will get down and dirty in the throes of an obsession that has nothing to do with love.
Recommend a book.
May I recommend two? Come Closer by Sara Gran and The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan. Lynda E. Rucker recommended both books at her blog, and I love them. Both books feature intelligent women coming to grips with a creepy supernatural force that seems to be taking over their lives. So I guess I’m somewhat obsessed with that.
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