Chris Marrs is a Canadian writer whose short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. She is also the author of the novellas Everything Leads Back to Alice and Wild Woman. In 2013, she co-edited Deep Cuts, an anthology to honor women in horror. Her work ranges from down-and-dirty horror to weird fiction.
JG: So, let’s start things off with a little background. Tells us about yourself and your writing.
CM: First, let me say “Thanks, JG, for having me here!”
Let’s see… I recently left the West Coast behind and moved to Calgary with my daughter, our cat, and ferret. I am an active member of the Horror Writer’s Association. My fiction tends to be more character driven with a light lean towards the literary. Also, I prefer to write more psychological type horror. Although, I just finished a LitReactor course on the Choreography of Violence with John Skipp so who knows?
JG: Women in Horror Month celebrates the contributions of women to the world of dark fiction. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer, and, as part two of that, when did you know you wanted to write in the dark fiction arena?
CM: I grew up on the West Coast of British Columbia and from a young age knew I wanted to write stories for people. Along the way I discovered dance, painting, and acting so, in my teens, I tried those as well. Basically anything creative, I wanted to do it. Writing was always my first love, though. In 2008 I felt my kids were old enough for me to start exploring seriously writing instead of dabbling. To finish what I started and begin submitting. I’ve never been happier!
I knew dark fiction was my arena when all my stories, from the age of ten on, contained a dark element. I remember trying to write a “Serial Romance” for a couple Jr. High friends and in Episode Three a ghost appears and in Episode Four someone loses a leg.
JG: Where does your inspiration for stories come from? Your own fears? World events? Conversations?
CM: I find inspiration anywhere it presents itself. Usually my stories are not based on one thing but an amalgamation of things.
JG: You’ve previously attended writers retreats in haunted houses and hotels. Can you tell us which ones you participated in, and what they were like?
CM: I’ve participated in Rain Grave’s Haunted Mansion Year Two retreat that was a lot of fun. Lovely people, great food, and a surprisingly good amount of work accomplished. As for ghosts, there may have been one or two kicking around…
Also, I’ve been to the Stanley Hotel Writer’s Retreat hosted by RJ Cavender and Dark Regions Press twice. The hotel has a wonderful atmosphere, not too creepy but just creepy enough. Definitely things going on that make you go “hmmm”. The conversations in the bar at night are the best. So many great writers attend and there’s a lot to be learned from them.
JG: If someone wanted to get introduced to your work for the first time, what 3 stories would you pick (tell us where to find them, too!) that you feel best represent you as a writer, and why?
CM: Hmmm, I’d have to say “Paper and Pencil, Skin and Ink” (A DarkePhantastique), “A Chimera’s Tale” (The Library of the Dead), and Wild Woman because they showcase different aspects of my writing and growth.
JG: In addition to writing, you worked as a bartender. Did the people you met provide great characters for your stories?
CM: They did! You get to see the best and the worst of human nature, not to forget everything in between, while bartending. The best being the two brothers who’d take the time to do a four hour drive once a month to bring their ailing mother in for lunch. The worst being the idiots who decided they were going to pick a fight over anything. Oh, and full moon days. Those could bring in the craziest people. All character fodder, of course.
JG: Who are some of the women writing horror/dark fiction today that you think should be getting more recognition?
CM: Oh wow, there’s too many for me to name since right now there’s a lot of excellent women in the field. Off the top of my head, Rena Mason, Erinn Kemper, Angel McCoy, Eunice Magill, Mehitobel Wilson, Katie Cord, Roh Morgan, and Joan Francis Turner.
JG: Because this relates to Women in Horror Month, there has long been an ongoing debate that men and women write differently. Do find that there’s a difference?
CM: I would have to say for mass market fiction, unless you’re Anne Rice, then yes there is a difference. Women tend to be lumped more into Paranormal Romance than Horror. In the Independent or Small Press world, I find there’s really very little difference between the men and the woman. Both genders can write awesomely graphic horror, psychological horror, and literary horror equally. I’d also have to say this is more a reflection on the market rather than the talent.
JG: What words of advice you say to young girls or women who want to become genre fiction writers but haven’t gotten up the nerve to try their hand at it, or submit what they’ve written?
CM: To the young girls and women out there I say, “Go for it! You never know until you try!” Oh! And when submitting, always, always follow the guidelines. I would also suggest joining an organization like the HWA. Their mentor program is more than worth the membership fee.
JG: Lastly, tell us about some of the things you’ve got coming out in the near future, and what you’re working on beyond that.
CM: Right now, I’m working on wrapping up a novella with Gene O’Neill. I also have a story coming out in Rothco Press’s The Frankenstein Experiment anthology, which is an anthology of stories inspired by the Stanley Hotel Writer’s Retreat. Then it’s another novella due in September 2016 and, hopefully, I’ll be able to start my novel this year as well.
Chris Marrs lives in Calgary, Alberta with her daughter, a cat, and a ferret. She has stories in A Darke Phantastique, The Library of the Dead, and Dark Discoveries (the Femme Fatale issue). Her first novella, Everything Leads Back to Alice came out in 2013 and her second, Wild Woman, in 2015. You can follow her on Twitter (@Chris_Marrs), friend her on Facebook , or drop her a message at: email@example.com.