Meet the Writer: Paula D. Ashe

Paula D. Ashe is a writer of dark fiction. She lives in the Midwest with her family.

What attracted you to horror writing?

Honestly, that’s difficult to answer. I think it was a mix of things. I’ve always been drawn to the dark, the fantastic, the weird. I think I always enjoyed “weird” stuff as a kid and as I grew up realized those things were often roughly categorized as horror. I loved reading about various mythologies (like every soon-to-be-diagnosed-with-something-child) because mythologies were where the weird shit was. It was disturbing and grotesque and I found that I liked it and I also liked that other people seemed afraid of it. It made me feel brave and I didn’t feel that way often as a kid. In real life, I was afraid of everything but with books I was afraid of nothing.

What is your most notable work?

We Are Here to Hurt Each Other, by far. It’s my debut collection that came out in February 2022 from Nictitating Books. It was edited by Sean Malia Thompson (EIC of Nictitating) who did an incredible job. It’s been a bestseller on Amazon several times, it’s made the Top 10 on the Godless Horrors platform, and it’s been on so many favorites, best-of, and top ten of [whatever] lists. And it’s been nominated for a Bram Stoker award. I say it often but I *really* am so floored and grateful for the response this book has gotten. I have to say, the people who have reached out to me to thank me for writing about their pain or their trauma, for helping them better understand or articulate something that was done to them … that really means a lot. That means everything.

What are you working on now?

I just finished a short story called ‘A Confession of Earwigs’ for From Beyond Press, This World Belongs to Us: An Anthology of Horror Stories About Bugs. Next up is a novella outline for a dream publisher who I won’t name because what if they hate it and I look like a fool, I am also working on a story for the upcoming anthology No Trouble At All: An Anthology of Polite Horrors from Cursed Morsels Press and I am one of three featured writers for Mae Murray’s The Book of Queer Saints, Volume II. (Check out the Indiegogo page.)

We Are Here To Hurt Each Other by Paula D. Ashe - coverWhat is your writing routine?

Y‘know, Audre Lorde once wrote, “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing” and while I can’t say that’s true for me in my everyday life, it is the attitude I take to my work.

I don’t have a routine in terms of logistics or location. I wish I did, someday I probably will. But for now, I write when I can and where I can. I’m writing this while my daughter’s in dance class. A lot of my writing is done on my phone because it’s always with me and I can kind of do other things while writing. I use my phone, usually late at night after everyone else is asleep. I’m usually doing some kind of chore like dishes or laundry or cleaning up after dinner. That’s one reason those things take me so long, but the ADHD also doesn’t help for sure. Most of the first draft happens on my phone, usually. It takes me a long period of time to hammer down the story. I used to be mad at myself for that but I don’t do that anymore, it serves no purpose.

I had the enormous fortune of talking to Simon Beckwith and Gemma Files of the No Darkness but Ours podcast, and Gemma—who is one of the best to ever set pen to page, one of my absolute favorites—said to me that I am “doing the work”. No matter how long it takes. That was very validating because I admire Gemma’s work SO MUCH because of the clear deliberation, the intentionality and intensity of her work, I just love writers who don’t fuck around (in terms of their writing, I mean). So yeah, I’m a slow writer but there’s a reason for it.

Anyway, I have found that with most of my stories, I need to feel a kind of … intrigued repulsion. Like, “that’s disgusting, tell me more.” I don’t know, trying to describe my routine is impossible because I don’t have one. It’s like trying to nail jelly to a wall; when it works it works but don’t ask me how, I’ve no idea.

Who do you admire in the horror world?

There are so many people in the horror world I admire and I’m going to skip some people and feel like an asshole but … actually, instead of listing specifics I’ll mention characteristics; firstly I admire the people who do the work. My favorite Bible passage (I’m not religious) is “Seek out your own salvation, with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12-13. That’s what I mean by ‘the work’. And that can mean so many different things for different people. I also admire the cheerleaders, the folks who are always cheering other people on, sharing other folks’ work and hyping them up. And I really admire the people that nobody seems to see. I don’t want to say I always see them either, like everything there are some bigger personalities who overshadow others sometimes. But I really appreciate the folks who keep trying, the folks who have just started, the folks who have been at it for a while. I hope for good things for all of them.

Do you prefer all-out gore or psychological chills?

GIMME BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. Seriously, these two aren’t mutually exclusive, and honestly when handled well they enrich each other (at least for me). I suppose if I had to absolutely choose between the two I’d say psychological chills, but I really do appreciate both.

Why should people read your work?

Are you having a pleasant day? Do you wish to not? Have I got the fiction for you!

Recommend a book.

Tamika Thompson’s Unshod, Naked, and Cackling.


Buy Paula’s books

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