In today's Featured Friday, we're thrilled to welcome EPIC member and 2000 EPPIE winner for Best Horror, Margaret L. Carter! Sit back and enjoy as Margaret talks about what brought her into the writing world...
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
For a few years, I wanted to be a doctor, which I would have been terrible at for several reasons (I could never have endured the sleep deprivation of internship and residency, for one thing). Around age twelve, after reading Dracula, I decided I wanted to become an author and write horror, although I eventually figured out that what I really wanted to create was fiction sympathetic to the “monsters.”
What were you like in high school?
Introverted, daydream-prone, book-obsessed, focused on maintaining my straight-A average, and largely oblivious to the kind of social maneuvering that plays such a huge role in YA fiction and in TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
How did you get started in the publishing industry?
In my early twenties, I decided the world needed an anthology of classic and modern vampire stories. (Fortunately, I didn’t know a couple of those already existed, although it’s true that there weren’t many.) I assembled the stories, wrote an introduction, and sent the whole package to Fawcett. At that time, I knew almost nothing about submitting to publishers except that you had to double-space on one side of the paper and include a SASE. A year or so went by with no response. I sent a follow-up query in the form of a funny greeting card (as I said, I didn’t know anything!), and they replied with an acceptance. That experience illustrates how much easier it was to sell anthologies then; I managed it as a raw beginner. The editor had to guide me through the process of getting reprint permissions and paying the contributors. That book, Curse of the Undead, was published in 1970. You can readily find used copies on Amazon, in case anyone is interested. When it came out, I thought I would make lots of money and thereafter sell everything I wrote. Ha, ha.
What piece of technology has helped you most in your career and why?
No contest—computers with word processing. Liberation from having to retype documents frees me to revise and polish more thoroughly and meticulously than I ever could with a typewriter. There’s no need to agonize over whether a small change is important enough to justify retyping an entire page. I can focus entirely on what’s best for the work. Other features of word processing, such as spellcheck (to catch typos, but of course I proofread several times, too) and cut-and-paste, also make writing faster and smoother. I’m a painfully slow writer, so anything that streamlines the process helps.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated work?
The Vampire Tapestry, by Suzy McKee Charnas, one of the best vampire novels of the twentieth century. It answers the question, “How would nature design a vampire?”—as a solitary predator at the top of the food chain.
About Margaret.: Reading DRACULA at the age of twelve ignited Margaret L. Carter's interest in a wide range of speculative fiction. Vampires, however, have always remained close to her heart. Her work on vampirism in literature includes DRACULA: THE VAMPIRE AND THE CRITICS, THE VAMPIRE IN LITERATURE: A CRITICAL BIBLIOGRAPHY, and DIFFERENT BLOOD: THE VAMPIRE AS ALIEN. In fiction, she has written horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance. Recent publications include CRIMSON DREAMS (vampire romance), DEMON’S FALL (paranormal romance novella), and LEGACY OF MAGIC (sword and sorcery, in collaboration with her husband, Leslie Roy Carter). “A Walk in the Mountains,” co-written with her husband, appeared in the 2016 anthology REALMS OF DARKOVER. A sequel, “Believing,” was included in MASQUES OF DARKOVER (2017).
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The summer when Heather was eighteen, her dream beast's nightly visits warded off loneliness and swept her away in flights of ecstasy. Now, returning to the mountains to sell her dead parents' vacation cabin, she finds her "beast" again. But he turns out to be more than a dream. She meets Devin in the flesh, apparently not a day older. His first human lover, centuries in the past, died horribly because of her devotion to him. Does he dare to expose another mortal woman to that risk?The summer when Heather was eighteen, her dream beast's nightly visits warded off loneliness and swept her away in flights of ecstasy. Now, returning to the mountains to sell her dead parents' vacation cabin, she finds her "beast" again. But he turns out to be more than a dream. She meets Devin in the flesh, apparently not a day older. His first human lover, centuries in the past, died horribly because of her devotion to him. Does he dare to expose another mortal woman to that risk?