An Interview With Kathryn Meyer Griffith
Today folks for your reading pleasure I would like to present an interview with Kathryn Meyer Griffith. First published by zebra books in 1984, she is now in the process of releasing updated versions of all her novels through Damnation Books
GNOH – Could you tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I’ve been a wife of 32 years (husband, Russell); I’m a mother (one son, James) and grandmother (two grandchildren, Caitlyn and Joshua). I was a graphic designer in the corporate world for over 20 years and have been a writer for almost 40 years. I’ve published fourteen books and seven short stories since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press in the horror, romantic paranormal, suspense, time travel and murder mystery genres and plan to do more soon as I get all (ten) my old rereleases out by July 2012. I’m considered a horror writer but, as you see, I’ve written in a lot of genres; usually blending more than two or three in a book. I love chocolate, cats, nature and classic 60, 70 and 80’s rock music (my brother JS Meyer is a singer/songwriter and when much younger I even sang with him…you can actually hear me with Jim on the soundtrack of my book trailer for BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons from Damnation Books).
GNOH – What first inspired you to start writing?
Gosh, it was so long ago I’ve forgotten. Ha, ha. Nah. At nine years old all I wanted was to be an artist…but I loved books and read everything I could get my hands on, especially ghost or spooky stories. My maternal grandmother, Mary Fehrt, instilled the love of stories in me…she was the first great storyteller I knew. Then at twenty-one, stuck at home with a new baby and bored out of my mind (this was 1971 or so), I read a really terrible historical romance paperback and thought: Hey, I could do better than that. So on a battered, key-sticking electric typewriter, I tried. That was The Heart of the Rose (that has been brought out again rewritten – thank God, because, ironically, it was also sooo bad – from Eternal Press in 2010) which after many rewrites and rejections was accepted and published by Leisure paperbacks in 1985. (It took that long because, between 1971 and 1980 something, I was too busy living life, divorcing, remarrying; getting a real job, etc.) It was my first written novel but second published. My first, a romantic horror, Evil Stalks the Night (coming out July 2012 again from Damnation Books), came out in 1984.
GNOH – Who are some of your literary heroes?
Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and early Dean Koontz. Dan Simmons. And Stephen King, of course. From my younger historical romance days: Rosemary Rogers, Nora Lofts, etc., and others of that genre. Now: whoever writes a good story in any fiction genre. I also love a good murder mystery.
GNOH – It’s been nearly forty years since you were first published, how do you think the genre has changed? Do you think it has changed for the better?
Are you referring to the horror genre? If so, then I’d say it has changed for the worse. I loved the golden age of horror in the 70 and 80’s…most of the books and short stories were just old-fashioned traditional stories without the extreme gore and shock value the genre often has today. I’m afraid I’m of the old school…give me great characters and a decent plot, not much sex or violence for violence’s sake, and that’s a good book to me. A book where the reader cares so much for the characters, they actually care what happens to them. Not to mention, we were all kings in those days and now…people often look down on you because you write horror. I sometimes say I write supernatural paranormal, ha, ha. I guess all those slasher/stupidly plotted horror movies have tainted the genre.
GNOH – How would you describe your brand of horror writing?
Romantic horror…science fiction horror…suspenseful, mysterious horror. I blend two or three other genres with it and, voila! I also pretty much write PG or PG13…except for the few times I mistakenly wandered into the erotic story or two (like The Nameless One short story or the original The Heart of the Rose). In the early days I was pushed by publishers and editors to “sex it up a bit” and, to my future dismay, I sometimes did. In the rewrites now I tone some of that down. These days I stick to my guns and write only what I want to write. Maybe it’ll hurt my sales, but I don’t care. I’m old. I do what I want to do.
GNOH – What do you think makes for a good horror story?
Great human characters with flaws and redeeming qualities. Something truly scary, but not gross out scary. Something that’s universal in its appeal. I’ve written two end-of-the-world novels (The Last Vampire and BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons) and love them because …now…the end of civilization and comfort as we know it, the unknown, stripping all humanity from people and plummeting them to their basest survival instincts…no technology, computers, television, running water and plumbing, or available food neatly stacked on shelves…that’s really frightening. I also think pure heart-stopping eerie ghost stories are really scary.
GNOH – Looking back at Evil Stalks the Night, how do you think your writing stands up against your later work? Do you think you have developed as a writer?
OMG! I just got done rewriting Evil Stalks the Night (for rerelease July 2012 from Damnation Books) and all (7) of the other 1984-1994 Zebra and Leisure paperbacks and was floored at how truly awful they were! So many mistakes. So overly dramatic. So many…adjectives! In those pre-computer, snail mail days – my early days – I just didn’t know enough about life or writing to be a competent writer, I guess. Now, with all I’ve learned (e-book writing and utilizing track-changes in Word the last six years has taught me more than the twenty years before because the editorial process is more collaborative and I’ve seen my mistakes so I can then stop making them – I hope) I believe my stories are far better.
GNOH – Have you learned any lessons that you would like to pass on?
Yes, it’s the journey, not the fame or fortune that should drive a writer. You must LOVE to write. Do it for the right reasons. I’m truly the happiest when I’m creating a new story on my laptop. I live it the first time and then after that it’s just words. I’ve had so many ups and downs in forty years, have wanted to give up so often and sometimes did for times…but never completely gave up. I’m very proud of that. That I have four decades behind me and still have stories to put down on paper. I believe a writer, like an artist or singer, is born to it. I just can’t stop writing, it’s part of me. I’m still in the process of bringing out the old books but am also concentrating on writing a mess of new horror short stories as a way of drawing in new readers for all my books.
GNOH – Do you have a personal favourite out of all your novels?
Yes, two. Evil Stalks the Night because it was my first and it has a big piece of my life trapped between the pages and the lines of words. And The Last Vampire for the same reason. But my readers favourite has always been Witches.
GNOH – You have written a couple of vampire novels, what type of vampires do you like?
Evil, bad ones – though sometimes my vampires have a touch of empathy or humanity to soften them a little. My humans are flawed, but, always in the end, stronger than the monsters they’re pitted against. Good versus evil and the good usually wins.
GNOH – You are currently in the process of re – releasing seven of your novels, why did it take you so long to do so?
Long sad story. A couple of reasons. One, after I lost my editor at Zebra Publishing in 1994, I got a new arrogant editor who didn’t like anything I sent him for years, though I tried, he led me on but never bought anything; and it broke my spirit. After that, for about nine years, I couldn’t give away a book, couldn’t sell a thing. Who’d want my old books if I was a has-been, I thought? I didn’t even try to resell them. Life then got in the way and as I continued to work out of the home full time to support my family, I had no energy left to write or face the disappointments of further rejections. I figured: Even with 12 books behind me I can’t get published…my career is over. Then when I came up for breath three years ago I saw old writers getting their books republished in e-books and print and I began the long frustrating process of getting my older books’ rights back. You need it all in writing, you see. The Zebra and Leisure books all had terrible pot-boiler contracts that held full rights for ten years and then had all these awful strings attached …they had to be out of print such and such a time, gone from the warehouses, whatever, etc. before the publishers would return them to me. Then Zebra and Leisure stalled and stalled. Took me years to get them all back. And right about the time I did in 2010 I had finally sold two new horror books (BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons and the romantic horror The Woman in Crimson) to Kim Richards at Damnation Books and she came right out and asked me if I’d like to rerelease all my old books in e-books for the first time ever as well as print again. Kismet, I guess. I said: Good God, yes! So that’s how it happened. She then scheduled them to come out over a period between June 2010 and July 2012. Meant a lot of work for me, but I wanted it so badly, I was tickled to sign those contracts. A few months ago she also contracted three more of my romantic paranormal novels I had just gotten the rights back to from The Wild Rose Press, as well. I’ve spent the last 15 months rewriting, editing and proofing the old Zebra and Leisure stuff and will be doing that for another year until the last one Evil Stalks the Night comes out on July 1, 2012. Ta da!
GNOH – Have you reworked any of them?
Totally rewrote each one, mainly the grammar, use of repetitious words, etc., too many adjectives, and such, but tried not to lose their heart and soul. I think I accomplished that in each case. Or hope I did. I know most of them are much better books than the originals. I’ve often thought: If I would have published these versions back in their day…perhaps I’d never have had that long dry spell and I’d be up there now with Anne Rice and Dean Koontz. Who knows. Maybe.
GNOH Witches seems to be a fan favourite, why do you think this above all your other books has that spot?
I really don’t know. Truthfully. It combines romance, horror, and time travel, reincarnation…and has a secondary plot of the power of sisterly and family love. Funny quirky animal familiars. Just a good eternal love story wrapped in a supernatural package. I never thought it was any better than my other books, but when it came out in 1993, right before I lost my good editor, Zebra pushed it and, I think, more copies were printed and, thus, more people have read it.
GNOH – The Nameless one is an Egyptian horror novel, what was the inspiration for setting it in Egypt, and why do you think so little horror has an Egyptian theme to it?
The Nameless One is an horror erotic short story…my 1994 Zebra novel The Calling is my Egyptian themed novel. I don’t know why more writers haven’t blended ancient Egypt with horror…what with all the Mummy movies even going back to the 1960’s. I loved those old mummy movies and grew up being fascinated with ancient Egypt. So when I got the idea to set a horror novel in that setting, mixed with the ancient Egyptian stuff, I had no idea that few others were doing it. It took a lot of research, let me tell you, so I squeezed two stories out of it. The Nameless One was rereleased in February 2011 and The Calling will be out again from Damnation Books in October 2011. The new covers (done by Dawne Dominique of Damnation Books and Eternal Press) are STUNNING!
GNOH – Why did you choose Damnation Books?
I think I answered that partially already. But, thinking back, I remember seeing Kim Richards posting on some Horror website two years ago saying she was starting a brand new e-book publisher called Damnation Books and she was asking for submissions. She intrigued me. Great, a real horror publisher, at last. So I sent my BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons in and she loved it. Then I sent her The Woman in Crimson and she loved that. So it all began.
GNOH – You have also written erotic fiction, do you ever get embarrassed when writing it? I must admit that I always skip any hanky panky scenes in horror books. I’m easily embarrassed.
I’ve answered that, too, I think. Yes, I am embarrassed, at times, of my erotic stories. I don’t like erotic much and have, under pressure, only done it twice…and put a little too much once in my first novel. I don’t plan on doing it again, ever, though I tried to make the stories solid ones as well. Eroticism isn’t bad, but I’d rather engage a reader with my characterizations and a good story, not sex. I guess I’m a little of a prude. Can’t help it. I apologize now for those stories. But it’s too late to change them; they’re out there. Sigh.
GNOH – What do you find harder keeping a horror book scary or an erotic book sexy?
Erotic. But I don’t have trouble keeping anything scary, though. My readers all say: How scary your book is! How scary this one part. What? Didn’t seem too scary to me when I wrote it. Ha, ha. I swear. It’s just what I write. I must be odd or something.
GNOH – What do you do to relax? I hear you like bluegrass music. Sad to say over here bluegrass is a four letter word. My 3 year old daughter and myself love it though?
I love to read. Love to take walks in the woods. Watch good television. Be with family. My brother Jim Meyer is a musician songwriter and had a bluegrass band (as well as a rock, folk duo, country band and others over the years) a few years back. Long ago, as a young girl, I even sang with him, folk and soft rock, and his original music which people always label as country rock…until the art and books took over my life. He went on with his music and I went on with my art and novels. I love the best of bluegrass and county music as I love the best of most music genres. It’s the song and the singer that gets me. If it’s good, well played and touches me…I like it.
GNOH – What does the future hold for you?
Get these old books all out. Write more short stories for magazines so I can lure more people to my novels. Maybe write another book or two. Enjoy life and my husband, family. Live. Travel. My husband has four years, nine months and seven days until he can retire from his awful job (they’re working him 6-7 days a week now…isn’t that against the law or something?…terrible). At my age, more years are behind me than will be before me and I’m so conscious of how precious the time left is. I won’t squander it. I just want to be…happy.
Thanks for having me…hope I haven’t bored you all too much. Warmly, an old author, Kathryn Meyer Griffith firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a list of all my published novels and short stories:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure,1984; Damnation Books, July 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure,1985)
Blood Forge (Leisure,1989; Damnation Books, February 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books, July 2011)
The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books, October 2010)
Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books, April 2011)
The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions;
Damnation Books, February 2011)
The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books, October 2011)
Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003)
All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006)
Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007…out again from Eternal Press in
Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008…out again from Eternal Press in
The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008…out again from Eternal Press in November 2011)
Don’t Look Back short story (2008…out again from Eternal Press in 2011)
In This House (short story 2008…out again from Eternal Press in 2011)
BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (2010)
The Woman in Crimson (2010) ***
http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)
Folks you can buy Kathryn’s books from ther links below