T.M. Gray

T. M. Gray has been writing horror fiction since age 17. Currently, she lives and writes from her desk at home in Downeast, Maine. With stories published in print, online on CD ROM, and now in a mega collection titled Feast of Faust, Gray's tales tend to be set in coastal Maine.

Gray's stories have been published in the following: Bloody Muse, Errata, Gathering Darkness, Dueling Minds, Deviant Minds, DeathGrip, Blood Moon's Pillow Screams, The Goblin Muse, UNHINGED OnLine, HorrorFind, Castle Dracula, Lone Wolf Publications Extremes III: Terror on the High Seas (CD anthology), Abe's Tomb Tales of Terror collection, Objet d'Evil anthology (print anthology), Thirteen Stories, Dark Fire Fiction, Short, Scary Tales, Femmes de la Brume (print anthology) and Be Mine (anthology), Chimeraworld #1 (anthology) and The Book of Monsters (anthology).

Questions and Answers

What are you currently working on?
I'm hard at work on two new novels with the working titles Devil's Dream and Hallow House. Devil's Dream is a horror-adventure story that takes place in the Bermuda Triangle, and Hallow House is about a haunting. I'm also working on some new short stories, as well as a final edit of the novel White Meat, co-written with British author and close friend, Mark West.

Are you a member of any writing groups?
I belong to the HWA and a slew of writers' e-groups & newsgroups, all involved in the horror genre. Usually, I'm in lurker mode because I'm busy writing.

Who or what has been a major influence on your writing and why?
Well, Stephen King comes to mind, naturally. Doesn't almost everyone say that? Like Steve, I'm a native Mainer. His success has proven to me, and to the world, that a small town kid can go places undreampt of--it takes a ton of perserverance, lots of hard work, and a great willingness to learn the ropes. When I was a budding writer of 17, I met him in person, and I'll never forget what I learned from that discussion: to not be afraid of what I write. That hit home pretty hard, since I write some pretty freaky stuff. I'm basically a very shy, cautious person; you'd never know that if you've read my work and had yet to meet me in the flesh. <grin>

Who (Fact or Fiction) would you most like to meet, and what would you ask them?
Could we go with Dead or Alive? I would have loved to have met Poe, Lord Byron, Blake, Milton, Lovecraft, Twain, and a host of other greats. Alive, well, everyone currently working in the genre. I'm shy, but I enjoy meeting people. Weird, huh?

Is there a book or story you wish you had written?
Just the ones I'm working on now. I mean it; I have so many ideas, a great, whomping flood of them, and I figure I have only another good 40 or so years left in me. So many stories in my head, so little time.

Is writing your full time occupation, if not what is?
I write full-time now, but in the past, I've worked as a sardine packer, crab picker, lobsterboat sternman, canning plant/factory worker, secretary, administrative assistant and commercial artist.

As a reader do you prefer Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror?
Heh, heh, take a guess....

If you could give one piece of advice to a would-be author, what would it be?
Read. Read all the time, anything and everything you can get your hands on. Learn the difference between good, solid writing and basic crapola, and when you write strive to write well. Re-write and re-write, passionately.

When did you first decide that you wanted to be an author?
It's a definite calling, so I can't say I woke up one day, deciding to be a writer. It's something that's always been with me, a part of me. I couldn't imagine not being a writer.

Are you for or against e-books?
Well, there's a certain romance of holding a book in your hands, of curling up with one, the feel of the pages, the smell of the ink and paper, and because of that, I don't believe e-books will ever replace paper books. I do think, however, that the e-book has a definite place in a reader's world. They're economical and easy on the environment. If you own an e-book reader, you can download the books you want onto it--take them with you and read them almost anywhere. Great for folks who travel or commute back and forth to work because they're so small. For my personal tastes, though, because I write thousands of words each day on the computer, if given a choice of reading for pleasure from a screen or a paper book, I'll choose a paper book every time.

Are you a music fan? If so, what?
I couldn't live without music. Okay, well, maybe I could, but my life would lack a certain sheen without it. I listen to music while I write, and the selection depends on whatever I'm writing at the time. It's all for mood, so it could be anything from Ozzy and Cooper to hits of the 70s (as long as it's not disco or rap, I'm usually cool with it).

Do you have a favourite place to write?
For the most part, I write at the desk in my office, right behind the Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff double doors. It's a small room, over-run with books, located between the kitchen and living room. Sometimes I write in a notebook in the living room, sometimes in the bedroom. Do I have a favorite place? Yeah, but it's nowhere physical. It's that special place every writer has inside their head. The ideas come flooding in, you go into the trance and examine them, each one carefully, digging deeper, ever deeper as the story unfolds.

Do you enjoy book signings/conventions?
I've never attended a convention (but I'd love to go!), but I enjoy signings and readings. It's always a pleasure meeting readers and other writers!

Why do you like SF/F/H?
For me, it's the unknown territories that horror takes me to, whether I'm writing it, reading it, or watching it. It's always the thrill of the proverbial rollercoaster ride.

What is the scariest story you have read?
Well, it takes quite a lot to really scare me now. 'Salem's Lot scared the crap out of me when I was a young teenager, and merited quite a few sleepless nights. Every sound outside my window, I figured it to be a friendly-neighbor-turned-vampire. Thomas Tryon's Harvest Home was particularly scary, along with Bloch's Psycho and Blatty's The Exorcist. When I write, I'm reaching, striving for same kind of dread, to project it into my own work, so someone else can feel it.

What gives you nightmares?
The blue screen of death on the computer. No, seriously, I haven't a clue. I don't usually have nightmares, but when I do, I welcome them wholeheartedly and put them to work for me. If they scare me, they're bound to scare you, too.

Have you ever used real life horrors for inspiration?
Real life horrors really bother me because they're not the safe rollercoaster ride of the dark fiction thriller. In fact, I watch very little television and I could go weeks without reading a newspaper. For the most part, I get my current events through osmosis, usually whatever people around me are talking about.

Given the high quality of horror fiction available, why do you think there are so few great horror movies?
Oh, I'm probably the wrong one to ask because I LOVE horror movies! In most cases, it doesn't really matter if they're cheesy or not. Black and white, B-movies, new stuff, I enjoy them for what they are: a rollercoaster ride. Sure, some rides are made better than others, but 99 percent have a story to tell, a scary, little escape to draw you into for an hour and a half. I'm afraid I'm not much of a critic in this area because when I watch a movie, I'm having too much fun to be a judge of the silver screen. Guess I'll never grow up, heh heh!

But on the serious side, I do try to read the novel before seeing the movie, although I've read some very good novelizations based on movies. Yvonne Navarro's Species comes to mind. I liked it so much I bought it for my son for Christmas.

Is there anything more that can be done with vampires, demons and zombies?
Oh, sure there is! They say there's nothing new under the sun, but what's new are all the different combinations and twists people keep coming up with. Just take a cliche, for example, and reverse it. Throw in some surprises. There's no limit as to what can be done, and I think that the day when the collective group of writers start putting limitations on themselves and their ideas, then it's the death of a genre.

Short story, single novel or novel series - which do you think is the best medium for horror?
Simply put, it depends on the tale, how long it takes to be told from beginning to end. If it contains more than one sub-plot, it's probably best as a novel. As for a novel series, that requires characters with substance and a created world which can exist by itself in one book or in several.

What book are you reading at the moment?
At the moment, I'm re-reading Strunk and White's Elements of Style and Plotnik's Elements of Editing. Two of the best books a writer of any genre can read. I read them both at least once a year. For pleasure, I'm reading Jeffrey Deaver's Hell's Kitchen.

Do you enjoy collaborating?
So far, it's been my pleasure to co-write works with four other writers, and with each one, it's a dance of words, an intricate sculpting of phrases, ideas and paragraphs, carefully preserving the fingerprints of each writer, while the outcome speaks to the reader as one voice. From my experience, a collaboration is a very unique and magical thing.

Do You Always know a Story's Ending When You Begin Writing?
Well, I like to have some idea of where the story will take me as the writer, but I prefer to leave it up to my characters to make the final decision.

What's the most memorable thing said in a review of your work?
Well, a few years ago, I submitted a story to an editor who wrote back and said it was the sickest thing she ever read, but then she said it was "sick in the best sense of the word". I may be warped, but knowing that the editor had seen a lot of bizarre stuff in her career, I took her comment as a huge compliment, especially since the story was as psychological as it was gritty-physical. I went on to sell it elsewhere (twice!), and it received a Stoker recommendation, so I guess others thought it "sick" as well. <laughs>

Have you won any awards for your writing?
A goodly parcel of Stoker recommendations, and some cool website awards, but as a rule, I don't do contests. The best awards in my book are the rewards from people who read my work, strangers who take the time to say how much they enjoyed it (or how much it frightened them!).

Plug away - what do you have coming out?
Well, first off, there's THE RAVENOUS coming soon from Black Death Books. If Jaws made you afraid to go in the water, and Psycho made you afraid of taking a shower, I wouldn't suggest a woodland hike after reading this novel! This summer, I have another novel, MR. CRISPER, to be published by Hellbound Books--it's a darkly humorous tale about the Devil taking over a snack food company. And then there's GHOSTS OF EDEN coming out in hardcover from Five Star Books. That's the one which took the longest to write because of all the research I put into it. It's a chilling ghost story,and the backdrop is a real-life wildfire that devastated a Maine town in 1947. Aside from the novels, I have short stories coming out in anthologies: BE MINE, CHIMERAWORLD #1, and THE BOOK OF MONSTERS. Drop by my website, check it out. It's fairly interactive, and I try to keep things interesting. There's an online newsletter to keep my readers in the know--and for those with questions or comments, I answer my own email.

Thank you for the interview, Steve. It's been a real pleasure.

Many Thanks

Relevant Links

T.M. Gray Main Bibliography
T.M. Gray's Website
Black Death Books Website