Getting personal with Gerri R. Gray
Gerri R. Gray is a poet with a dark soul, and the author of the bizarre adventure novel, The Amnesia Girl (HellBound Books, 2017). Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Beautiful Tragedies and Demons, Devils & Denizens of Hell 2 (both published by HellBound Books). She has also contributed to the book, Ghost Hunting the Mohawk Valley by Lynda Lee Macken (Black Cat Press, 2012). She is a lifelong aficionado of horror, dark humor, and camp, and blames her twisted sense of humor on a wayward adolescence influenced by the likes of Monty Python, Charles Addams, Frank Zappa, and John Waters.
1. How old were you when you first wrote your first story?
I wrote my first story at the ripe old age of thirteen. It was a short (and somewhat dreadful) play called Won Ton Soup, complete with a musical score that I composed.
2. How many books have you written?
I’ve written two-dozen non-fiction books on the subjects of witchcraft and the occult, under a different name, all of which have been published. I eventually grew disenchanted (pardon the pun) with that genre and yearned to branch out as a novelist – a dream that I had for many decades. So far, I’ve written one novel and a collection of poetry and short stories under my real name, and I’m currently working on a second novel.
3. Anything you won’t write about?
I enjoy writing dark poetry (the darker, the better), twisted humor (the more twisted, the better), and horror – especially if it has peculiar characters and/or a bizarre twist to it. However, if a subject matter doesn’t interest, excite, or amuse me, I simply won’t write about it. It would be a boring mental torture for me, like doing math homework or income taxes.
4. Tell me about you. Age (if you don’t mind answering), married, kids, do you have another job etc…
I’m old enough to be an antique car, although in my head I’m still thirteen at times. I’m a Capricorn; originally from the Chicago area; my favorites colors are red and black. I’m married to a wonderful Canadian man named Brian, who’s retired, and we have no children. Up until several years ago, we operated a bed and breakfast out of our restored Victorian mansion. It was called the Collinwood Inn and themed after the 1960’s supernatural daytime drama, Dark Shadows. Before the B&B, I owned and operated an antique shop outside of Jamestown, New York (a city whose claim to fame is having a graveyard where Lucille Ball’s remains are buried.)
5. What’s your favorite book you have written?
The Amnesia Girl! I really had a blast writing it. It actually started out in the 1970s as a weird little play called The Joy of Insanity, but never went anywhere. In fact, not only did an agent reject it, but she also expressed her disdain for it by writing on the first page, in red pencil, that it was “vulgar.” I felt completely discouraged by that and literally tossed the manuscript into a box and moved on with my life and my writing career. But it nagged at the back of my mind for years until I decided one day to re-write it as a novel, give the story a major overhaul, and breathe new life into the characters. Completing it was kind of a bittersweet experience for me I have to admit. I was delighted with how the story turned out and excited to begin shopping around to find a publisher for it. But on the other hand, when the time came for me to type ‘The End’ on the last page, those two little words made me feel like I was letting go of an old friend that had been a part of me for such a long time, and the finality made me feel a little melancholy.
6. Who or what inspired you to write?
I developed an interest in writing, including songwriting, early in life when I was in grammar school. I can’t really give credit to any one person or thing as being my sole inspiration, as I draw inspiration from so many different sources, including individuals and events from my own personal life, dreams, nightmares, the arts, and underground culture. I’ve always been attracted to the absurd and the abnormal, and, in many ways, those things inspire my writing as well. Even though my novels and short stories are works of fiction, I’d say nearly every one of my characters is based, to varying degrees, on actual people who I’ve known or who have affected my life in one way or another. As far as what inspires my poetry, I tend to write some of my best poems when I’m in my darkest, gloomiest moods.
7. What do you like to do for fun?
Writing is the number one thing that brings me pleasure. I also have a passion for photographing old cemeteries, paranormal investigating, watching old films, rummaging through second-hand shops, adding to my record collection, reading books, playing board games, and doing jigsaw puzzles. I’m not really a “people person,” so I tend to enjoy things that don’t require or involve large groups of people.
8. Any traditions you do when you finish a book?
Sometimes I’ll have a big Brown Cow to celebrate. Sometimes I’ll have more than one.
9. Where do you write? Quiet or music?
I don’t know how this will affect my public image as an author, but I almost always do some writing in the bathroom while sitting on the “mystical throne of inspiration.” I also write in my bedroom or in my home office. Wherever and whenever the mood strikes me, I suppose. My usual modus operandi is to write down the words on paper first, and then type them into the computer. Quiet is essential, as is solitude. When I’m working on a horror story, I’ll sometimes like to have “mood music” like Henry Mancini’s “Experiment in Terror” or Humphrey Searle’s “Suite from the Haunting” playing in the background.
10. Anything you would change about your writing?
In a perfect world, I would do away with writer’s blocks and grammatical errors, and everything I cranked out would become an instant best seller. (Hey! A girl can dream, can’t she?)
11. What is your dream? Famous writer?
What writer doesn’t dream about being famous or writing a best-selling book? We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. I’ve always believed that a person without a dream is a person who’s dead inside. Without our dreams, we have no hope, no passion, and no drive. My dream had long been to see my novel, The Amnesia Girl, get published; and, thanks to HellBound Books, it’s a dream that’s been realized! My new dream is to see it made into a motion picture someday!
12. Where do you live?
I live in the central part of Upstate New York in what used to be called the Leatherstocking Region. (That has kind of kinky sound to it, don’t you think?) Our home, a mid-19th century Italianate mansion, is the quintessential haunted house, complete with a tower and resident ghosts. It’s also a money-pit, so I hope to sell lots of books.
Yes. A Siamese cat named Aristede.
14. What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I love the entire creative process of writing, and being able to touch people in some way with the fruits of my imagination, whether it’s making them laugh, scaring them, shocking them, or whatever. I love getting a reaction. I’ve always felt that one of the best things about being a writer is the freedom to be eccentric. A lot of people are of the opinion that all writers are eccentric, so they automatically expect you to be that way. They’re totally discombobulated if you aren’t. (Believe it or not, I think this is the first time in my life I’ve ever used the word, ‘discombobulated.’)
15. What is coming next for you?
Hopefully, it won’t be the IRS. I’m currently working on a new novel that will be even more bizarre than my first, and I’m also compiling and editing short horror stories for an all-women anthology called The Graveyard Girls. Additionally, I have a book called Gray Skies of Dismal Dreams due out in early 2018. It’s a collection of my dark poetry and fiction, and some of my cemetery photography as well.
16. Where do you get your ideas?
Most ideas just pop into my head from out of nowhere, and usually when I’m in bed and drifting off to sleep. I’ve had so many stories, poems, characters, and dialogue come to me that way that I’ve lost count. It’s almost like channeling. And when I was working on The Amnesia Girl, I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and have entire yet-to-be-written chapters of the book play out in my brain as though I were watching a movie. Sometimes it was a little weird, but always entertaining. I started keeping a notebook and pen next to me in bed because if I don’t write all these things down when they come to me, I almost always forget them in the morning.
You can connect with Gerri R. Gray here:
Official website: http://gerrigray.webs.com/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/gerri_r_gray
HellBound Books author page: http://www.hellboundbookspublishing.com/authorpage_gray.html
Some of Gerri R. Gray’s books: