In the last year, Kristin Dearborn has quickly climbed up my horror ladder and now resides with some pretty impressive distinguished authors. Her residence in the horror penthouse is well deserved. Whispers and Stolen Away were two of my favorite reads of 2016 and this year looks like she won’t be letting off the throttle. Thats great news for us horror fans. If you haven’t had the pleasure to read any of her spine-tinglers, here’s your invitation. Kristin brings her stories to life with some of the most amazingly realistic characters you’ll ever come across on the written page. Dearborn doesn’t give you perfectly chiseled “super-hero” types who don’t have a care in the world. Hers are flawed, gritty, and multi-faceted, just like how life is, and it makes her stories come alive. When I had the opportunity to interview this amazing, up-and-coming talent, I couldn’t resist. Here she is…Kristin Dearborn.
Lets get the vitals out of the way –
Name: Kristin Dearborn
DOB: August 3, 1982
Birthplace: Augusta Maine
City of Residence: Burlington, VT
Marital Status: Lone Wolf
Children: One spoiled white furry dog
Pets: See above
Into The Macabre: When did you first start writing?
Kristin Dearborn: Before I could write, I would dictate stories to my mother, then illustrate them. As a kid I dabbled in sequels to my favorite animated movies (All Dogs go to Heaven II). From there, I moved on to my own works.
ITM: What drew you to horror? What/Who were your inspirations?
KD: My parents had a fair number of horror novels around the house growing up. In 1990, for Christmas, my Mom bought my Dad a copy of Jurassic Park and I devoured first that, then most of the rest of what Crichton had written at the time. From there, I graduated to Dean Koontz, and once I’d chewed through most of his catalog, Stephen King. I was pretty young when I got an adult library card, and although my folks were pretty strict on what movies I could watch, books were fair game.
ITM: Describe the process it took for you to become published.
KD: In 2008 I started the masters program at Seton Hill University, and there I really learned the nuts and bolts of what it takes to polish a story. From there I was able to look at markets with a more critical eye, and make my first short story sale. I firmly believe who you know is 60% of the publication process, so remember that and always be nice to everyone in the genre.
ITM: If you could turn back the hands of time and go back, what about the publishing process would you do differently?
KD: Hmmm…interesting question. I’d say nothing, because it’s all gotten me where I am. I will say it’s time for me to get serious about looking for a literary agent.
ITM: They say its not about what you know but who you know. Would you agree with this statement? Who helped you along the way and what did they do?
KD: The connections I made at Seton Hill University have been invaluable. In that program students are matched with two mentors who are writers working in their genre. One of my mentors connected my thesis novel with a publisher, and it became my first novel released. Another sale came as a result of a drunken 2am conversation at World Horror Convention. An author I admired introduced me to his publisher, who liked the idea of my book, and the rest was history.
ITM: What would you say are the biggest challenges you face today as a writer?
KD: Time management, for sure. It’s hard to keep the bills paid and play as much as I like to and still write books. I feel like it comes and goes, sometimes I feel like I have a handle on it, other times, not so much.
ITM: What role has social media played in your successes?
KD: I think it’s helped. Working with a publicist who is actually social media savvy has been huge. My social media strategy is basically just to be nice to everyone and to not talk a lot about my books—probably I should do it more than I do. For all its downfalls, it’s a great place to stay connected to the writer tribe, many are scattered across the country and the globe.
ITM: Many readers are introduced to new authors through sites such as Goodreads. Have you explored Goodreads and what would you say is your level of interaction on there?
KD: I used to do a lot more with it than I do now. I’ll occasionally pop over to say hi, but haven’t been really locked in with it as of late.
ITM: Your latest, Whispers, is a gripping read that blends nicely the Lovecraft foundation with realistic and modern characters. How did this story come about?
KD: I think HPL has great ideas, but I often find his execution falls flat (except for “Color Out of Space,” which I think is his best work). I’ve been drawn to “Whisperer in Darkness” because it’s set here in Vermont. During my most recent read-through, I got thinking about the very destructive flooding that came about after hurricane Irene in 2011, the heroin epidemic which has taken root in Vermont, and GLBTQ rights. I wanted to make it more than just a story about a shut in and the Mi-Go, but something that pulled in issues that are very real to my adopted home state today.
ITM: One of the things that I’ve noticed with Whispers, as well as your previous story, Stolen Away, is that you use gritty characters that don’t have a lot going for them and you make them rise up to the challenges that face them. Is this a conscious effort on your part?
KD: Heroic heroes like Superman don’t interest me. I like a little grit to them, more along the lines of the Losers Club from It or Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie. Flaws make the character, and watching these types power through being dealt a crummy hand and come out victorious on the other side makes for a much more rewarding read. It’s a problem I’ve had with Dean Koontz’s books…his heroes are so squeaky clean. There’s no meat on those bones. I feel like one of the most fantastic character arcs in pop culture, and one that inspired Whispers and Stolen Away both is that of Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad. Over five seasons we watched him go from entitled little shit to becoming a person we could admire (if we admire drug lords—which, you know, sometimes you do).
ITM: You’re starting to rack up an impressive catalogue of books. I know it’s like asking which one of your children is your favorite, so I’ll try to do it in a different way. Which story of yours do you recommend to someone that has never read your work and why?
KD: I’m going to give a TOTAL cheat answer and say my favorite is a novelette called “Jackson House” which isn’t out yet but likely will be in 2017. As for a recommendation of where to start, I think my winter tale Woman in White is a great starting place. There’s a monster, a fun cast of characters, and a blizzard.
ITM: Some writers have to follow a strict routine and can only create while writing in their special designated area on a set schedule. Others drag a laptop around with them and take advantage of any free moment their day may present.. Give me a breakdown of your day and how you create the next Kristin Dearborn masterpiece.
KD: I like to write first thing in the morning, but as of late, that’s not been happening. If I don’t get it out of the way first thing, the need to write hangs over me like a little dark storm cloud, and on days when it doesn’t happen, I feel guilty and crappy. If I don’t kick it off first thing, either in bed or from my desk, always on a laptop, then I wind up trying to shoehorn it in later in the day.
ITM: Stephen King has the spooky house in Bangor surrounded by the wrought iron fence with gargoyles on it. Do you have anything crazy at your house that makes your neighbors clutch their children when they see you coming?
KD: Here’s a little corner of my kitchen: I have a knife block that is shaped like a person and the knives are all impaling him. There are also pictures of Cthulhu and ravens on the wall.
ITM: Nice! I love the knife block. I need to get me one of those! What are you reading these days?
KD: I’m on a bit of a sci fi kick these days. I’m almost done both the 6th book in James S. A. Corey’s Expanse series, Babylon’s Ashes, and the Star Wars novel Bloodline by Claudia Gray. Bloodline is a Leia-centric story which is bittersweet to read after Carrie Fisher’s death. The Expanse is a kick ass Space Opera series with some fantastic characters and settings. Highly recommend.
ITM: Your Top 5 horror movies?
KD: This is such a fun question… Alien, The Thing, Rosemary’s Baby, Blair Witch Project, The Loved Ones and one more bonus on, the French Romanian film Them(Ils)
ITM: Do you do horror conventions? What’s your thoughts on those?
KD: I do a good number of horror conventions. My favorite is NECON, which is less like a horror convention and more like summer camp with some people who happen to write horror. The horror community is a wonderful, tightly knit group of people, especially at NECON, and each time I arrive in Bristol, RI, it’s like I’m at a family reunion. I’ve gone to many World Horror Conventions, and made some fantastic connections there. I love getting to see different cities in different parts of the country, and exploring them with my horror friends. I attended the first ever StokerCon in Las Vegas last year, which was a great con, but for me totally overshadowed by LAS VEGAS! I think there’s a lot of valuable networking that happens at horror cons, the sense of community is huge and affirming, and they almost always stoke my creative fires. However I’m awful at getting out beyond my little cliques and meeting new people, because I’m so excited to see the folks I only see once or twice a year. You can treat them like a horror themed vacation, or a real working event, and to do the latter one must be pretty deliberate and intentional. I try for a blend, sometimes I do better than others.
ITM: What can us fans expect coming down the pike in 2017 and beyond?
KD: More horror! The aforementioned “Jackson House” should be coming out this year, as well as a few short stories. I have a few completed first drafts tucked up my sleeve and am working on a novella about a haunted woman. Y’all haven’t seen the last of me yet!
ITM: I’m really looking forward to your new one coming out. Thanks again. I really appreciate you letting me grill you for my blog and look forward to chatting with you in the future. Take care, my friend.