Interview With A.F. Stewart

A.F Stewart is a Canadian author and poet who has dedicated numerous years to the craft, not limiting herself to just horror stories, but also expanding her repertoire into other anthologies concerning the holidays. Her personal works seem to be released during the month of October, always a few weeks before Hallows Eve, and has most recently published Horror Haiku and Other Poems. A veritable cornucopia of creepy creations, the tome is a perfect fit for the fan of the dark and eerie, while also complimenting someone’s intellectual integrity by challenging them with the esoteric set-up of the Japanese poetry style.

I went out and dug A.F. Stewart up a little early for an interview, and wouldn’t you know it she’s already roused herself from the graveyard!

NP: Anita, it’s been too long! How wonderful to see you out and about amidst the living. What roused you from your tomb this time of year?

I always rouse around this time for April’s National Poetry Month, but this year I also have my Horror Manager duties for the Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo. I’m in charge of the dark scary delights happening as part of this great online book convention.

NP: I just wanted to say I snagged a copy of Horror Haiku, and boy am I thrilled at balanced the book is between dark imagery and darker verbiage. Some of the poems are downright macabre as Poe on his worst day. Tell me, how did you get this all cobbled together?

The inspiration for that book came from, believe it or not, Twitter. I joined in on the weekly hashtag game, #HorrorHaikuesday run by @horror_made and I ended up with enough poems for a book. I added a few of my longer poems to round things out, and created Horror Haiku and Other Poems.

NP: For this piece, did you have one artist or multiple? Explain the process of selecting the right images to fit the selected poem, if possible.

I had originally hoped to include the artwork Horror Made did for some of the poems I posted in #HorrorHaikuesday, but alas my meager budget did not allow for that (even after it was kindly discounted, so yeah, I was working on a shoestring). I did include links in the ebook, so you can view the Horror Made art online and it’s worth viewing. The photos I went with are stock photos courtesy of Pixabay, and an inclusion of a piece of my abstract artwork. I chose them to represent the theme of each poem; some hit the mark more than others, but I was satisfied with the final result. I designed the cover, and that was a stroke of luck. I found a near perfect photo, tweaked it slightly and added text.

NP: I must say that your annual publication is something I’ve come to enjoy the past few years. Is there anything we should be looking out for this coming October?

I’m hoping to have my epic fantasy novel, Ghosts of the Sea Moon, out by then, but it’s still too early to tell if that one will be finished in time. I’m also working on a third Killers and Demons book, so you’ll see that published for an October date, either this year or next.

NP: And have you any other projects that you’re a part of?

I’ll be doing my annual National Poetry Month poem a day for April on my website, as well appearing in the Brain to Books Cyber Convention as an author, April 7th , 8th and 9th. Then it’s back to work getting my Ghosts of the Sea Moon novel in publication shape and working on a few more novels that need finishing. I’m also working on a couple of free story serials to be published online at Wattpad.

NP: Tell me, what do you do to start up the writing process? I know I listen to rain from YouTube, but what gets the blood flowing for you?

My muse is fickle and refuses to be jumpstarted by only one thing. Anything can set her off, though she responds best to music, pictures of the moon or dark spooky forests, and writing challenges.

NP: Of all the slashers and stalkers to walk the silver screen, which man or monster have you found the most fascinating, and why? What would you talk with them about, assuming you could be guaranteed safety?

If we’re talking purely fictional, I’d have to go with Dracula, with a nice fireside chat in the castle. I bet he has some interesting stories to tell with a few pints of blood in him, and I’d love to chat with him about history. If it’s a hybrid of real life and cinema persona, I’d choose Jack the Ripper. There would be a deep world of horror research in that dark psyche. At the very least I’d have the scoop of the century knowing his real identity.

NP: So, I’ll wind this down with a final question from you that I think really hits it home for all those reading right now who are also authors: when, and what, prompted you into writing horror? Was it a specific event, or was it something that always lingered beneath your skin as it does now?

I never intended to be a horror writer. I started out with the intention of being a fantasy writer, penning tales about swords and heroes and magic. I fell into horror by accident and circumstance. I wrote a sweet, happy story about angels for a writing group, but found stepping that far out of my comfort zone disagreed with me. To retrieve my writing equilibrium I wrote my first horror story (about the aforementioned Jack the Ripper). I enjoyed the experience, and caught the horror bug. Looking back though, I think was rather leaning that way from the beginning; even my fantasy writing at that point was rather dark. So I’m exactly where I should be.


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