October 5th, 2018
I asked Kira where she would like to chat:
We are transported back to 1928, New York City. We’ve just left a screening of “The Fall of the House of Usher”. I took you because so few people understand classic horror, but it’s incredibly important to me and my style of writing—both in film and book form.
We leave a decadent theatre and run through mid-October sprinkles, chilly air, and steam rising through sewer grates into a dark alley. You aren’t sure what we’re doing there, but I reassure you everything will be fine. There is a dark green, chipped and faded door pressed against the brick wall. I smash my finger to my lips and knock three times in odd succession. You giggle and look at me curiously. It cracks. A faint glow peeks from the slivered opening and smoke drifts out from inside, along with the faint sound of voices and a muffled saxophone.
“Catawampus,” I whisper.
The door opens, and we slide in. It is a speakeasy filled with patrons dancing, laughing, and carrying cocktails. We shimmy to the bar, my deep-blue velvet dress dripping diamond raindrops. You’re taken back, knowing the operation is illegal, but finally order your favorite drink. I order a whiskey and Coca-Cola. We find a dark, quiet corner where we can talk peacefully.
Laura Mae: Hello Ms. Kira! Thank you so much for talking with me today. How’s your day been so far?
Kira McKinney: It’s been a hectic morning, which isn’t unusual. Wednesdays are
#HumpdayHorror days on my blog. So, I have been rushing to get that up so we could talk without distractions.
L: Oh neat! Well I very much appreciate that! I’ve been following you for a little while now. You do post a lot of horror related things, which is so great! What do you think got you into that genre? Any author or books that may have inspired you?
K: I was really excited to be included in your interview series. So, I was happy to sit down and talk with you. My adventures in horror started when I was really young–probably too young. Haha. My dad and uncle started letting me watch horror with them when I was 5 or 6. I watched Killer Klownz from Outer Space, Hellraiser, Phantasm, House, Creepshow and so on. I was totally hooked. Then, I started reading R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series. I skipped most of Goosebumps. Moved on to Poe, Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson. Those are still some of my favorites.
L: Very nice! I love the Goosebumps books!
K: My 6th grade teacher read those to us. I liked them, but felt they were a little tame. Haha.
L: True! Haha! So with the HumpdayHorrors, do you post things from your current novel, or what does it mean exactly?
K: I write a new short horror story every week for my blog. Some are longer than others, but they are all full stories. I did give a preview of my upcoming novel “The Blood in Guthrie” a few weeks ago.
L: Oh cool! Do you prefer writing short stories rather than a novel or have you also done a novel?
K: I love short stories. I have a caffeinated squirrel brain so, I can hop from one to another without getting bored. I have written a novella length memoir called “Whispers Down the Hall” and, again, my novel “The Blood in Guthrie” which is horror. That one comes out November 26th. I have been working on a middle grade fantasy called Elise and the Moonstone, which has horror elements, for two years. I also have begun work on a new adult horror novel titled “Hollywood Macabre”. I let the story determine its length. I always say I don’t hold the reins when it comes to my stories. My characters do–my brain does–my subconscious. I am definitely not in control.
L: Haha! I hear you on that front. I personally find short stories very challenging for me and really admire those who can fit great content in such a small package. So, kudos to you!
K: Thank you!
L: Do you think you could tell me how Hollywood Macabre is going with a gif?
L: Lol! Love it! I’m very curios of what it’s about now. Do you mind tell me a little bit about it?
K: Sure! It is about old Hollywood–the golden age of film. It starts in 1928 and jumps back and forth from then to 1944. Hedy is a slighted starlet with a real diva complex, but studios were no joy to work with back then either. Without uncovering too much, a lot of revenge…
L: Excellent! I’ve noticed a lot of your recent pictures on social media resembles the look of that time era. I love how ‘in character’ you get. You seem very creative!
K: Thanks. My heart is really in those eras-the 1920s through the 60s or so. I have been studying them since I was about 12. I took college classes on them. I am also a former pinup–kind of former. I love everything about them, so much so, that I feel more comfortable in those eras than the present.
L: That’s awesome. I can see that very much! What do you think has been the most challenging about writing? Either with the writing process or the things that happen after you published?
K: Marketing is really tough for me. I have PTSD, severe anxiety, and I am agoraphobic in addition to some other things. So, reaching out to people is really stressful. It’s incredibly difficult for me to write up an email and push the send button.
L: Marketing can be very difficult. Well I applaud you because you seem to be doing really well! What does your writing process look like? Anything you need before the ideas start flowing?
K: The ideas just pop up for me. It is kind of weird. I can be in the bath, listening to music, reading, whatever and suddenly, a movie starts playing like an old film on a projector in my head. I see scenes and characters–sometimes I get glimpses of the future parts of the story–and I just run to my computer and start writing what I see and smell and hear. Basically I am nothing but I recording device. The story exists in full in my head, I just write it down so I can share it with everyone else.
L: That’s really awesome! And pretty rare I think! I love that the first thing you write is the senses. It makes me really want to read your work because that seems pretty important to you.
K: I love description!
L: I could tell from the scene you wrote for us! I loved that! So, since I know the element you love writing the most, what is the hardest thing to write for you?
K: I suppose action is the most difficult, although I don’t struggle terribly with it. I just try to keep if fresh, so, I think more about it than most other aspects of the stories I write.
L: Action can be complicated. I struggle with that a bit too I think. So Kira, what do you like to do in your spare time when you aren’t writing?
K: Spare time is so something I don’t get much of. I have two sons, so when I’m not writing I am usually hanging with them. When I do get a reprieve I like to read. I am a Supernatural addict. I have 3 cats named after characters from the show. I also, of course, love horror movies. Also, photo shoots! How did I forget that?
L: Haha! Of course! You are a busy lady! Even more props for being a mom of two little boys AND still having time to write. That is no easy feat! What would you say is your favorite movie then?
K: Let me really shock you, classic horror is my favorite. Lol. Anything Vincent Price hooks me right away. I have a huge tattoo of him on my forearm. I’d say his version of Last Man on Earth is my number one horror film.
L: Nothing wrong with the classics!
K: I like a good story line as opposed to gore for Gore’s sake.
L: That’s why you’re a writer! 😉 I’m the same with video games. It can have crappy graphics, but as long as the story is awesome, who cares? Gonna switch gears a bit. As far as books go, what would you say is your favorite trope AND your least favorite trope?
K: Hmmm. I guess I like ghost stories and everything that comes with them. The Yellow Wallpaper is full of tropes and I saw every one of them coming and I didn’t care. The story of the main character’s descent into madness as she was locked away by her husband was phenomenal. I hate hate tropes that involve poor decisions made by women to further a storyline. I can understand if there is a logical reason behind it, but I am so bored with women running up the stairs when they should run out the front door. I think it’s time to usher in an era of stronger women. Let’s let them take a stab at horror in a way we aren’t used to–pun intended.
L: Agreed! I feel horror and scary stories are littered with women who can’t think straight when frightened, and they do stupid crap. Why does it never happen to the men?
K: Horror is considered a man’s genre. Men are considered the primary audience and Male writers are promoted far more than female ones. They genre caters to what they believe is a Male dominated fan base, but there are just as many women out there reading and watching.
L: You’re here to change that stereotype, right?
L: Haha! Great answer!
K: Lol! I recently did an AMA with an article on the very subject.
L: You did? That’s so great! Would you mind linking it so we can check it out?
K: Sure! #AuthorsAMA
L: Thank you! Alright Kira, one last question! Can you close us out with your personal advice of writing to aspiring authors out there?
K: Read. Everything. Not just in your genre but in every genre, even the ones that sound boring as hell. Because you never know what will inspire a story. You never know what will create that one small spark of life within you!
L: Great advice!! And so true! Thank you so very much for talking with me today!
K: Thanks for having me! It was fun!
Kira McKinney is a 2018 graduate of Arizona State University where she majored in Liberal Studies with a focus on English Literature. She graduated summa cum laude. She earned an AA in Broadcast Communications from Pennsylvania College of Technology in 2004. She released a memoir titled Whispers Down the Hall in 2016 and a horror poetry book Ink and Needles in June 2018. Her book They Come from the Shadows: A Collection of Horror is available on Amazon for pre-order and releases on Kindle and paperback on October 15th, 2018. Her novel The Blood in Guthrie releases on November 26th. Visit her website kiramckinney.com and subscribe to her newsletter to stay up-to-date on all news.
A giant sea creature. A demon possessed cat. A mysterious woman lingering in a graveyard. They all dwell just beyond the seeping tendrils of daylight–just past pleasant dreams and bubblegum palaces.
This is where nightmares live. Let me tell you a story…