The Beauty of the Macabre: Interviewing Crystal Connor, A Trusted Name in Terror

The Beauty of the Macabre: Interviewing Crystal Connor, A Trusted Name in Terror

The Beauty of the Macabre: Interviewing Crystal Connor, A Trusted Name in Terror - 649

The Beauty of the Macabre: Interviewing Crystal Connor, A Trusted Name in Terror

Fort Lewis Army brat Crystal Yvonne Connor grew up telling spooky little campfire style stories at slumber parties. Raised on a steady literary diet of Stephen King, Robin Cook, Dean R. Koontz and healthy doses of cinema masterpieces such as The Birds, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, The Outer Limits, and The Twilight Zone, it surprised no one that she ended up a published author of horror & sci-fi.

We asked Crystal for a Women in Horror Month interview and in true above-and-beyond fashion, she came back to us with an edited and produced video response–a master imaginationist, indeed. Watch the video or read the full transcript below.


Crystal Connor: Oh my God, Aigner, so before we get started. I am going to have to apologize for my nervousness and my fangirliness and this is just so incredibly exciting that you, YOU reached out to ME to interview me for the amazing publication Tor Nightfire. Like I’m just beyond just like I can’t stop smiling. I’m super excited and super nervous because you are kind of a big deal. I mean you’re a member of the Science Fiction Writers Association, the Horror Writers Association, you’re a Codex writer, you write poetry and nonfiction, you’re working at Strange Horizons, and at the NIGHTLIGHT podcast. 

Like what is it that you don’t do? So, this is just a super super big deal. I’m super excited that you asked for me to be here. And so I do apologize. For my fangirling, and me being so incredibly nervous. I am… I get nervous speaking in public. I get nervous when I’m talking to people who I look up to so bear with me. I hope this is gonna be an amazing interview. And again, thank you so much for inviting me here to be featured here on Nightfire. So yeah, I’m ready for the first question.

Aigner Loren Wilson: I took a class from you hosted through Clarion West a few months back on writing horror for children. In that class, you asked us at the beginning to share the first story that haunted us. So, I want to know, what was the first horror story that touched or haunted you? Is that story the reason you write horror?

CC: Oh my God, that’s such a good question. Um, and the reason I think it’s such a good question because the answer to this is not the reason why I started writing horror. By the time I read this book, I had already been watching like Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone. I had seen the first Hellraisers already, the first Halloween, you know, the ’80s slasher, I grew up on that. Super entertaining, thrilling. I think I had already gotten through two Stephen King books, Pet Sematary and The Stand by this point, right? 

So, before I started, even before I read this book, horror was a big part of my life. They used to invite me to the slumber parties because I told the scary stories right, and I would always like dream up or write up little short stories to entertain my friends, of course, it was always dark in nature because I’ve always been attracted to things that are dark around the edges or the things that go bump in the night. 

So, this book is not the reason why I started writing horror, but it is the first one that shook me that that really unsettled me, and that book is the Book of Revelations, James version. I read the whole entire thing in like two days. I just could not stop. I couldn’t stop, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And being raised in a Christian household, believing then and still believing now that what is outlined in the Bible is a historical account of what happened and a warning of what could happen or what’s going to happen because the Book of Revelations is not suggestive.

It’s going to happen for those of us who you know believe in the Scriptures. It was just a different type of horror. It was… it was… It was what shocked me, and it is what I’m scared the life out of me because growing up in a faith-based household the scariest thing for me is the idea that God would turn his back. 

Like do you know how bad you have to be to have that happen?

That is super scary, and even now the stories that scare me the most are religious horror because it’s really a little bit closer closer to the Bone than like, you know, Michael Myers who can be shot with a shotgun five times and is still coming for you. I mean that’s pretty scary too, but there’s a… it’s that element of entertainment still it’s fiction. You know that the only thing you have to do to be safe is turn the TV off. Or if you’re reading Stephen King or Dean R. Koontz or you know, Robin Cook, if it gets too much, all you have to do is close the book, right? 

But for the reading the Book of Revelations, there was no way that I could just close the book and act like everything would be okay. So that is the first book that I read that scared, scared the Dickens out of me. It really did, and it does still affect the way that I write. It’s not the reason I write, but it does it does play a big part in the way that I write, so I’ve been called a Biblical science fictionist, which is such an interesting way to title an author, but I’ve been called that more than once.

That’s not the only story that like shook me like that. Another story that really just did me in was the Prophecies of Nostradamus. And that wasn’t a book I read. I watched the documentary. I think my science teacher showed us that when we were in the seventh grade, and I went home devastated and scared. My mom rented it, and again, just because of the realism because it was a prophecy. It’s not suggestive. 

Especially like, you know someone that was so… I was young, so I was very impressionable, and you know watching that documentary on the heels of reading the Book of Revelations, I was you know, I was losing sleep there for a while. It really did. Those two stories together don’t necessarily—aren’t the reason why I write the way that I write, but they do influence my writing.

ALW: Similar to the question about the first horror story that scared you, I’m always curious on how authors found their language of horror. By that I mean, every writer has a unique voice and a way of stringing their stories and lines together, what influences led to you discovering your voice and horror style?

CC: I think the thing that led me to discover my voice and my own writing was almost fated. And the reason I say this is because when I was writing my first book The Darkness, both my main character and my villain are Black women, and so I was super nervous that I wouldn’t… those characters wouldn’t be relatable to the greater horror world? Right? Because let’s face it, especially—I mean it’s changing now, but you know for the longest time the horror genre was dominated by white men, and they’re the ones who, you know narrated how the rest of the people saw how Black people are portrayed in horror, right?

Neither one of my characters dies at the end. And so, I was super—that book was almost being published, so we were in the third line, the third round of edits. So it was edited by a junior editor, and then it was edited by the next person, and then we were in the middle of the edits from the editor-in-chief from the small company that I had decided. I was driving a Lexus at the time, and I needed to get my brakes fixed, so I drop my car off, and I got on the bus, and I was going home, and I saw a book on the bus right here on the seat, and I picked it up, and I started reading it, and I read that whole entire book in 10 hours. 

And that book was Octavia Butler’s Fledgling. I had never even heard of her before, and reading that book, seeing a Black character, front and foremost in a really amazing terrifying social commentary, a horror story, changed everything. It changed everything. So even though I was in the middle of, you know, the last round of edits with the editor-in-chief because at this point, I had made both my characters racially ambiguous so that only other Black people would see the clues that these were really Black [characters].

After reading Fledgling, I went home, and I rewrote The Darkness to showcase these women, and it was an eye-opener because the editor at the time that was working on it she said that no one would believe Black women would be this successful and this knowledgeable and this powerful and this, you know, wealthy, and so I had to go to war with the editor-in-chief to ensure that my story was told the way that I wanted it to be told, and so ever since then that was like a really, a really just eye-opening experience for, you know, a freshman writer, you know, it was my debut book and to like see still the stereotypes people had about like Black characters in horror stories, you know, what their role was to be in how they were supposed to act and, you know, it was still very prevalent.

So, you know, I was waiting for my—you know, I didn’t think that I would be where I’m at now, but I didn’t want to change that story. And so, the thing is, though, six months out of the gate nobody knew who I was. I wasn’t really marketing. I didn’t have a social media platform. Six months after that book was published, I was a finalist in the International Book Awards in two categories. One was multi-genre fiction and multicultural fiction. So, I was validated, and then like I was also starting the convention circuit, right?

So, I was going to cons and meeting fans, and one of the things that I was being told was that my readership was like saying that they had never read anything like that with characters like mine and they were very happy about it. So, I think my ancestors and the fated timing of me reading Octavia Butler’s Fledgling is what gave me my voice in horror.

Now as far as how my stories string together, if you were to come into my home, I have spiral notebooks and pens spread out everywhere. And when I was writing the Spectrum Trilogy, that trilogy is spaced out between 16 notebooks, and nothing is in order. Like if anyone was to like pick up a notebook and read through it. They would think that it was just like the ramblings of a mad lunatic insomniac, like it doesn’t make any sense.

It makes sense in my head, but like as far as like stringing the stories together, what happens is the opposite of writer’s block. So, once I start writing, I can’t stop. And even though I don’t write linear, there’s like moments where I’m like, okay I can watch TV, but then something will happen, and then I’m not paying attention to the TV and I pick up whatever is near me and I started writing and writing and writing, and somehow in the end it all comes together and makes sense. 

I know that that’s not really an answer that will help anyone who’s trying to find their flow when it comes to writing but that’s kind of the best answer that I can give. I really don’t understand it myself. Like when you read the Spectrum Trilogy and see all the different plots and how, you know, the timeline and how many characters is in fact in that trilogy, I’m surprised I got it straight myself.

ALW: Speaking about your process and your relationship to writing horror, how do you usually go about writing your horror stories? Does an idea or image grab you first or does something else creep up on you and make you want to write creepy tales? 

CC: I think it’s a little bit of both. Sometimes I’ve written stories where I don’t know what, you know, sparked the imagination or what made me write it. One of the stories that I’ve written that is like at the forefront of my mind of why I, you know, I don’t know where that inspiration came from is The Lazarus Antidote. The reason it’s even now after everything I’ve done so far, The Lazarus Antidote—that short novella, The Lazarus Antidote is the hardest story that I’ve ever written today.

That was extremely challenging to do, and a little bit of backstory: the zombie is my least favorite monster of all. I’m kind of—and I know that I’m going to get a lot of flak for this cause there’s a lot of hardcore zombie fans, but I, in my own opinion, [think] that the zombie genre is oversaturated. And it seems like the same story is being told over and over and over again.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some really good ones that come up to the top and like shine out above the rest. One of them being like “Blood Quantum” that I just reviewed for Horror Addicts last year. So not only did I write a zombie story, which is my least favorite monster, The Lazarus Antidote doesn’t have any zombies in it. It is about the team who is trying to find an antidote so that there would be no more zombies. And so, it’s almost like a medical thriller. It is a medical thriller, right?

So, I was super nervous that my fans and especially hardcore zombie fans would not like this at all. Imagine my surprise finding out how warmly it was received. Even, you know, my fans they give me a lot of leeway because they’re my fans, but even hardcore zombie fans were like, “This is really good!” So, I was like, you know [relieved]. 

Another story that I don’t remember where the inspiration came from would be like “Bryannah and the Magic Negro.” I have no idea where that story came from. That’s another fan favorite. But then again I know exactly what inspired me to write The Monster is I live in Washington say that not every place in our state is as welcome to diversity as like maybe the inner city, right?

And so, The Monster was inspired by my two encounters .. by my two encounters with racist men. One was some old—he was in a biker’s group, and so he had a giant swastika on his neck, and he had white power on his forearms. And then the second guy a year later that I encountered was just an average skin head, and he had a giant eagle on his chest holding a swastika. And so those two encounters and because they went not how I feared they would go and left me kind of like surprised is what inspired The Monster.

So sometimes I get the idea out of nowhere, and I still can’t trace the source, and sometimes it’s like an interaction, or I do a lot of people watching—well not anymore, but one of the things I used to like to do before, you know, our current health pandemic was I would just go and sit around a lot of people and just listen to people and watch them, and like sometimes like a just a sliver of a conversation will inspire me or like the wild crazy scary things that could say would inspire me or sometimes just the rain.

So, it’s a little bit of both. Sometimes the stories come out of nowhere and sometimes they are inspired by my environment around me and sometimes like with The Christmas Wish they are inspired by people who—like it was a publication that sent out a query call. It was an invite only, and it was for work for some stories. And so that’s where The Christmas Wish came from. I was like I can so do this, and it was so fun.

So yeah, my inspiration and my ideas pop out of nowhere, my environment, or sometimes through challenges.

ALW: I love your energy and how excited you get when you talk about horror. There’s this misconception that to write dark things you have to be dark, but your enthusiasm for the genre clearly shines through in your work and personality. How are you able to balance writing dark things without letting them consume you? Or are you just okay with the consumption? 

CC: You know what when I first started touring—and seriously touring, leaving out of Seattle and going, you know, to like the Days of the Dead Conventions that had shows in Kansas City and Atlanta and Chicago and we went to St. Louis; I can’t remember which con that was for—every single person who comes up to me because like when I am on the road, when I am on a book tour, I am glammed-out. 

No T-shirt and jeans, like I’ve got on the sexiest dress, and the highest heels and my hair’s done, and you would think that I look like I’m, you know, maybe I’m like a model or something. You know what I mean? Like people ask me, they were confused, I used to be asked if I was the booth babe. 

No, I am not the booth babe.

I’m the author like oh my gosh. And so, I’ve had people come up to me after reading my books, and they’re like, they say to me, “You look so normal.” Or like, “Wow, you’re so pretty. How do you write like this?”

And so it is a huge misconception. One of the things that I embrace about horror is the beauty of the macabre and the subtle, sometimes shocking, places that horrific acts can take us. Like for example, a lot of horror writers everything, you know, shit starts getting really dark or when you’re lost or, you know, I mean in the normal settings that you think bad things happen, right? But for me, it’s in the middle of day where you can hear the ice cream, and you can hear the dog playing with the kids, and you can hear, you know, the laundry blowing on the wind.

That’s when I insert my terror and make sure that my readership is never ever going to sleep again. At least, will need some assistance to sleep. So, yeah, I guess it is all consuming but there’s levels to this right, and so I’m not, I guess I am a hopeless consumption as far as how I’m supposed to look to be a writer, like you know what I mean? But I hope to change that because yeah, there’s beauty in horror, there’s beauty in the macabre and there’s, you know, a certain sort of grace and death, and I know that is not going to make sense to a lot of people, but that’s how I see horror. 

It’s not through a filtered lens of like darkness, even though darkness is a big part of it, but there is, if you look closely, there is beauty in the macabre.

ALW: Are you working on anything currently that you’d like to talk about? 

CC: So, one of the things that I’m working on right now—I have two things going on. I have another novel that is going to be a YA. So, I wrote a children’s horror book in 2018. And so this book is going to be for readers who are more advanced than My First Nightmare and not quite ready for the darkness of the Spectrum Trilogy, somewhere in the middle. And it tells a story about a little girl and her dog.

She got a dog because she was afraid of the monsters under her bed and in the closet, and the dog kept the monsters at bay, but then something happens where the monster and the dog have to join forces to save the girl. So, I’m super excited about that story. It is still, you know, dark around the edges, but it is for that middle readership that’s not quite ready for the Darkness, but, you know, have moved past reading chapter books and picture books.

So super excited about that. And then another—so that’s for my YA audience and another novel for the adults is called The Family, and it takes place in a fictional town here in Washington State where I live, right across the mountains. But they go back and forth between, you know, Beaumont and Seattle. 

This very powerful family, you think that they are oil barons, but this is an ancient family, and they worship a deity that’s beneath the Earth. So that is super exciting. I kind of can’t want to get that one out for you guys. 

And hang on, I’ll give you a sneak peak of the trailer.

From The Family book trailer transcript:

Video of the Space Needle and people gathering around park benches talking or taking pictures of the Space Needle while ominous music plays. Ominous music picks up tempo. Cut to a video of a wheat field followed by a video of a person riding their bike along a street with cars and people walking toward a big red marquee spelling Public Market. Next scene is one of a field being harvested by a machine. A red substance drips down a knife before a black background. Ominous music becomes more intense. Cut to a scene of Seattle’s waterfront. Another scene of a field being harvested by a machine. An image of the space needle comes into view above some trees. Cut to cows grazing in a field. Music intensifies again. A dark lit room with a person performing magic within a circle of candles. A scene with a person obscured by something and watching intently. Next scene is of a person in blue coveralls holding their face in their hands and a shotgun in their lap in the woods. Cut to a person running through the woods. Then the person with the gun is running down a grass and dirt road. The music dies down as a company sign is displayed that reads: “Seed, Biotech, and Crop Protection… Optimizing the performance of Mother Nature. B&B Agrochemical.” Music picks up again as a quick succession of dark, science, familial, historical, or plant images plays across the screen. The cover over the book is displayed, showing Crystal Connor’s name at the top and THE FAMILY at the bottom. Behind the lettering is a person wearing red dark makeup with their eyes closed over a pentagram and antlers. Scene of a person pointing a gun at the camera. Blood in a sink and covering a drain before a bloody knife slides into the frame. Video ends.]

And so that’s the Family.

So yeah, the Family and the YA—I don’t have a title for the YA yet, the working title is Mirror Mirror.

ALW: Since February is Women in Horror Month, are there any other writers you’d like to shine a light on for readers to check out? 

CC: Oh my gosh, there are so so many where do I begin?! Actually, I want to spotlight a couple of anthologies so that it will give you a lot of Black women writing horror and then like a couple of regular books. Sumiko Saulson, she put together, this is the first volume, and this is sixty Black women writing in horror [Book title: Sixty Black Women in Horror Writing] And this is nonfiction. But if you guys are looking for other Black women to read who write, you know, we’re all here. 

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And it has like our picture, a little bio, on the back can find out, you know, where to find all of our books. And so, this is a nice companion piece to have in your library if you’re looking for Black women writing horror. So, this is put together by Sumiko Saulson.

Speaking of Saulson! If you guys are looking for Black women who are writing in horror, I would highly highly recommend you picking up this anthology, [Black Magic Women], every single woman that is writing in this book is writing horror, science fiction, or dark fantasy, and are women of color.

This is a bang-up anthology. I read it twice. I’m included, but it’s okay. There are other like amazing women who are writing horror so both these books—both of them are available on Amazon. So that’s Saulson. Okay this book you guys, I’m sorry. I should have been more prepared. This book is so good. [Book title: Everlasting by Rasheedah Prioleau] 

Can you see the cover? Yeah, you can. Not only is it Black—that was my phone. Not only is this an African woman writing horror, this is very culturally specific. They’re down in—you guys, I don’t even want to give anything away. You guys should really check out this book, again, available on Amazon.

Do you guys know who Eden Royce is? If you don’t you need to ’cause she is also a Black woman writing horror. She writes a lot of Southern Gothic horror, so Eden Royce––this is another anthology. [Book title: The Grotesquerie] You know what? In my opinion when I’m looking for a new author, I always get anthologies because it allows me to sample a lot of writers for like, you know, it’s more bang for your buck. But she [Royce] does have her own… she does have her own, her own books. And this anthology was also put together by Mocha Memoirs Press from Nicole Kurtz, I think her last name is Wilson now; she got married. So, you know. She has a whole press that does Black women and horror, dark fantasy and science fiction. 

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So this anthology edited by Eden Royce and then put together by Mocha Memoirs Press. Now, you guys, if you only have to buy one book for the year, please please please pick up this one. [Book title: Sycorax’s Daughters] This amazing little book is the 2017 Bram Stoker’s finalists award recipient. It’s just so amazing. All Black women writing horror. This is from Doctor Kinitra Brooks and Linda Addison, my literary big sister, is a part of this book. It’s just … it’s just it’s pretty amazing. This book is superb. If you can only buy just one, yeah, pick this one.

So, there’s so many of us even with that thing [book] up there that’s not even close to naming all of the women that I think you guys would enjoy. If you guys are on Facebook, I would recommend joining a group called Colors in Darkness. Then there’s even more women and men, but you know, writing for that you guys can connect with and see their work and see what they’re doing.

They’re just so many of us now. I’m super excited about it. And hopefully this community will just keep growing and growing and growing because let me tell you something, we’ve got some pretty dang scary stories to tell.

ALW: Any upcoming or past projects that you’d like to spotlight?

CC: So as far as past projects that I would like to spotlight—this is pretty exciting. So, remember I was telling you guys that I wrote a children’s story—a children’s horror book called My First Nightmare? Well, let me share it with you because I’m super proud of it. So how this book came to be with Rodney and Tayshaun here: a couple years ago, a lot of my fans were telling me or asking me if I would write a children’s horror book. 

I was so scared to do that because… especially because my writing is so dark and at times disturbing like I was wondering like why would you guys want me to write for children? This is crazy. And so, I kept refusing it and kept refusing it, and then I was at a birthday party over at my friend’s house, and they brought up the subject again, and one of the guys was like—I was like, “I’m going to write an ABC book for monsters.” I was joking, and one of the partygoers was like, “Oh, yeah, My First Nightmare by Crystal Connor.” And it just sparked, just like that.

So that kind of like sat in my head for a couple of about a year and a half. What this story is about is two brothers. Rodney is telling Tayshaun about the monsters in the world. And so, they have an ABC book of monsters, and literally each alphabet—so like each letter of the alphabet features a different monster from some place in the world, and it has its own very short story.

And so, I was kind of nervous, but look at this artwork, you guys. 

[My First Nightmare book art description: Two Black boys in a blue bedroom. One of them is holding a red blanket and appears scared while the other boy is sitting in bed, reassuring.]

One of the reasons why it took so long for me to get this book under way was because I was afraid of the artwork. I thought it would be something that I wouldn’t be able to afford. And so, I talked to one of the guy—the guy who I had been working with for years now who helped me develop my logo and my branding artwork and let him know what I wanted. I told him, you know, there’s 26 monsters that we have to tone down for children.

We need the flags. We need a legend, you know, we needed an alphabet, a very original alphabet, and so I was expecting a huge astronomical number that I wasn’t going to be able to afford the numbers that he came back with I was like, “Okay, is this because you like me? Because we’re like, you know. Am I getting the client like homie hook up?” Like I was super excited about it. I was like, oh my God, this is going to happen. And so, each story, like I said, each story has a monster. It shows the flag that they’re from. There’s like, yeah, the legend.

[My First Nightmare book art description: A South African flag with a monster description of a aigamuchab with an image of a brown monster who walks on their hands and has eyes on their feet and a mouth below their belly.]

So that was a lot of art that went on in creating this book. Not only are all the flags represented this is my own alphabet. These guys right here. It was created just for me. 

[My First Nightmare book art description: letter J stylized to look like a monster with one eye, two antennas, and fangs.]

So, there was a lot. And that was just for the flags and the letters and one of the things I wanted to have happen was each story to have a picture of where the child would encounter the monster. So, I have like each story—I have 26 full-page art.

[My First Nightmare book art description: a child walking down the sidewalk and peering down an alley at a monster that appears to be made of stone.]

So, when I reached out to this artist, she is an award-winning children’s illustrator, again I was afraid that the price was going to be way more than I could afford. And I explained to her what I was hoping to do. And I was waiting for this large number. And then again, she came back with a number that I could afford, and I was like, okay, now, why? Why would she, like I don’t know her like, you know, I know my other artist I was working with, like why would she, you know, be so, what I thought, was more than fair as far as how much she should be charging for art, and I just think that it was such a good idea. It was such a wholesome idea that people just wanted to be a part of it. 

And so, My First Nightmare basically introduces children to the horror genre, using actual folklore, mythology, and urban legends from all around the world. Each letter has its own monster, has its own story, it has its own flag. A lot of research that I did for this book was from grandmothers. You know, because a lot of people who have read my book, and were like, “I’m from the Dominican Republic, and I’ve never even heard of that story like super excited about it.”

I did a lot of research to ensure because what I did is I, even though I wanted these stories to stay as close to the original telling as possible, I reimagined them for children living in the United States. And so, I was super scared that I would mess up someone’s story. So, I reached out to elders, native speakers, people who are still living in those countries to see how I did, and the feedback that I got from that was just over the top. Like I was on the moon. 

Like for Finland they were like, “How did you find this monster?” She was like, “No one knows about this monster outside of Finland, like how did you even find it?” And then for Romania, which is one of the scariest ones that I sent to have—so what I did was I wrote the story then I found people living in that country that I felt would be old enough to know the original tales, and I was like, “Hey, you know, this is what I’m doing. Can you read it, let me know if I’ve gone off the rails, right?”

And so, when I sent my story, Zemu, to the Romanian members to review it, it ended up with grandmothers. I sent it to one woman, and she sent it to another woman. And so, in Romania—like here in the United States, we have stories that have a whole bunch of different knights in shining armor, right? Each story has its knight in shining armor. 

In Romania, there’s one, and he’s been on a whole bunch of adventures. And so, what I did is I created a story that was based off his nieces. So, his nieces were going to be the knight in shining armors of their stories. And so, they were just like so blown away by that, and the way the story ended, there was a key piece of information that I just didn’t know because I don’t know the story like that. 

And so that’s why one woman sent it to the other woman, and she sent it to another person and, they’re like, “This is the reason why your story ended like this is because when he did it, he had all these and now you have these girls who don’t have it. It’s a missing link because, you know, it’s a modern world and he was an old-world knight, and so this is why the story ended the way that it did because they were missing a key point. And they were like, “This is brilliant. Like we can’t believe it. This is how you guys see our stories.”

And so that is one of the crowning joys of my writing career so far. And what I’m working on now is finding—trying to find a different distributor for print on demand because it is on Amazon, but because of all the artwork it has, 176 pages of color, and Amazon does not allow you to pick what pages will be color and what pages won’t everything is in color. So, this book is 330 pages. It’s a pound and a half and it does really well in conventions, right? 

Like if I’m sitting with someone, and they can see it and they can flip through and see all the different pictures, like this is the Kelpie, you know, it does really well in person, but the problem is we are not in person anymore.

[My Favorite Nightmare book art description: a horse in a barn with burning eyes.]

This is girls in Scotland. 

[My Favorite Nightmare book art description: girls sitting around a fire outside at night.]

It does really well at a convention, but it’s not doing very well online because it’s $60 and I cannot bring the price down, because Amazon is like this is how much money we need to make the print this book in color. So, what I’m working on now is hoping to find a different distributor that will kind of bring my prices down a little bit and then other avenues to make this available for kids to read it. It is available in libraries, so kids can check it out if they want to, but because of the pandemic and everything being on lockdown, it’s just kind of out of reach for a lot of kids. 

And there are some people who are purchasing the book, who are affluent, but I think Black kids need to see themselves in other stories besides like, you know, Harriet Tubman and what the normal stuff that is showing kids about Blackness. I mean we’re more than just that, right? I want kids like me to imagine themselves being, you know, these monster hunters. 

And so, it is available in the library, but it’s just not enough because kids are not in school, and, you know, with things the way they are, it’s pricey at $60. Like I said, it does really well at conventions, but when people see it online they’re like, “Oooh.” And then there is an ebook, it’s $12 still because of, you know, how big it is, but I’m like trying to find ways to bring the price down and figure out maybe like create serialized books so that it will be more affordable for the kids that I wrote it for. 

I mean I wrote it for all kids, you know, and I’m not saying that this certain kid can’t read it because I want all kids to read it. I think healthy horror especially when you’re like learning how to manage your fears and having a hero right at your side with your big brother and your dog, those are important lessons. I just I’m hoping to somehow bring the price down so that more kids can read My First Nightmare.

Yeah, so that’s what I’m working on.

ALW: Where would you like people to go to purchase your books, read your stories, or support you? 

CC: So, you can—I’m on Amazon, right? You can get paperbacks on Amazon. From my website if you get the ebooks, that goes directly to me because I have a different funnel for my ebooks that I don’t have to sell them on Amazon, but you can get them on Amazon as well. If you guys like audiobooks, I do have an audiobook that you can go and download for free if you haven’t downloaded audiobooks from Audible before. You know how they say get one free download when you sign up, so you could do it that way, as well, or you can just purchase it again.

That’s another distributing platform that I don’t control the cost of, and so—but people buy it at that high price. I’m so very grateful for people. You know, I don’t know. I think I still don’t—I think I need to practice knowing my worth. I have spent $27 on a book before, so why am I like getting all nervous that my audiobook, you know, is more than the paperback? People buy it. 

It was narrated by an amazing voice actor named K Richard, and she went above and beyond. There’s like soundtracks and there’s like, you know, I mean, it’s just not like the boring, you know, standard audiobook. So, like I don’t know why I cringe when I tell people that book is, you know, when I tell them what the price is. I don’t know. I’m working on it I need to embrace that, yes it takes a lot of work to produce an audiobook. So again, thank you to everyone who has purchased that book, let’s just stop it there. 

You guys can find free stories of mine on The Wicked Library, there’s one there now called The Heirloom, and then on the next season it’s going to be a new story that I just finished called The Traveler. Those are free, guys, you can just connect to those podcasts and then listen to them.

I’m on Facebook. My Facebook fanpage is here. I’m on Instagram, again, Notes from the Author. I’m on Twitter, From the Author or @fromtheauthor and, of course—did I say Instagram already? I don’t remember. I’m on Instagram, as well. 

And then yeah, so that’s where you guys can find me and support me and yeah, I think that’s… I think that’s it. Again, I just want to thank you so much, Aigner, for inviting me on Nightfire. I’m super excited. I hope I didn’t ramble too much. I hope this interview isn’t too terribly long.

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