JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Eden Royce, author of Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror
Pull up a rocking chair and sit a spell. Soak in these twelve tales of Southern Gothic Horror:
Sinister shopkeepers whose goods hold the highest price, a woman’s search for her mother drags her into the binding embrace of a monster, a witchdoctor’s young niece tells him a life-altering secret, an investigator who knows how to keep a 100% confession rate….
These are stories where the setting itself becomes a character—fog laced cemeteries, sulfur-rich salt marshes—places housing creatures that defy understanding and where the grotesque and macabre are celebrated.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror?
Eden Royce: From my upbringing in the South. Living around women who were magic users—rootworkers—gave me lots of ideas for stories. Sitting around the table with my family, listening to their stories, is always inspiring.
JP: What sets Spook Lights apart from other books in the same genre?
ER: In much of the Southern Gothic genre, people of color are relegated to secondary or even tertiary characters. Spook Lights has stories from the point of view of people of color who are often overlooked, especially in horror and dark fiction tales.
This collection also includes the folklore and traditions of the Geechee people and the Gullah language, a vibrant mix of English and several African languages formulated from the first slaves brought to the United States, still spoken today in certain parts of Charleston, South Carolina, where I grew up. My hope is to bring the Gullah heritage more attention with this collection of tales.
Many books and films make conjure magics like root and voodoo inherently evil, but that was never the initial intention of these magics. I wanted to show in my horror stories situations where they’re used to protect you from the real monsters.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to Spook Lights getting out to the public?
ER: Belief in my project. I wanted the stories in Spook Lights to be read and heard, so keeping that in mind was essential when my motivation dipped.
I also had great Beta readers—those readers who read your book after you’ve edited it but before anyone else sees it—who gave me honest feedback that helped me polish the stories. Sometimes the story is so clear in your head, but in a first or second draft, it doesn’t always come out clearly to the reader. A great Beta reader can point out to you what doesn’t work before editing, so your vision is a sharper, clearer one.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish Spook Lights?
ER: My writing process changes—sometimes I write on the laptop in the mornings, sometimes I sit in bed and handwrite in a notebook. One thing I always do is schedule time to write and lock out distractions. It can be a challenge, but that’s when I’m most productive.
About half of the stories in Spook Lights were written for various anthologies over a five year period. Since the houses that published those stories are now defunct, I reworked them for this collection. The other half of the stories were new—never before published—and a few of them like Doc Buzzard’s Coffin and The Choking Kind I worked on for months and they are the ones mentioned most often in reviews. One of them, Homegoing I wrote in a day and a few readers have told me it’s a powerful story that resonated with them.
JP: What’s next for Eden Royce?
ER: I released Spook Lights 2 in January 2017 and I’m so excited about it. I also have a story called Sweetgrass Blood in Sycorax’s Daughters, an anthology of black women in horror fiction and poetry released in February 2017 from Cedar Grove Publishing.
February was Women in Horror Month as well as Black History Month, so I have a project with Graveyard Shift Sisters that ran that entire month. I’ll also spend a lot of time posting reviews on my blog and recommending books. In and among all of that, I’ll be editing my first novel.
“I’m also one of the founders of Colors in Darkness, a place for authors of dark fiction featuring characters of color to find support and readers of these books to find new work to love.” ~ Eden Royce
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