Just in time for Halloween, Write On! interviews Lia Scott Price, a horror/sci fi novelist and film producer. The creator of Serial Killer and Vampire Guardian Angels (TM), she writes about supernatural serial killers and evil guardian angels. Price has also produced films based on her evil guardian angel characters. Price discusses horror, thriller, and writing with humor, as well as her decision to self-publish, how important it is for writers to become their best advocates, and more.

liascottprice

Why horror? What attracted you to the genre?
I wrote horror as a way to cope with traumatic life events. Creative writing was my therapy. I used my imagination as a way to deal with stress and unpleasant memories.It was kind of an escape, and a way to “vent.”

How did you first go about getting published?
At first I searched the Internet for a way to self-publish my first book. I came across a print-on-demand company called iuniverse.com. I liked the idea of print-on-demand publishing and the do-it-yourself route. I began designing my own covers, writing my own bio and press releases, and utilizing online print-on-demand companies to produce the book. I now use online publishers for my books.

What elements must be present in all horror novels?
The “What If” element. What if something is behind that door? What if the Boogeyman is real? What if an inanimate object comes to life? This is the way I write my novels. I play the “what if” game, like a child asking many make-believe questions. I would see a person walking on the street and ask myself, “What if he was a serial killer?” And so on.

Is there a difference between horror and thriller? Please explain…
Horror’s more graphic with lots of blood, gore, and scary characters. The films don’t hide who they are—you know if it’s a vampire, chainsaw-wielding freak or a zombie right away. Thrillers are more cerebral. You have to build a story and entice the audience into your world; it seems like there’s more of an “art” to scaring people by creating characters, atmosphere, mystery, and suspense.

How do you go about incorporating humor into your dark work?
I see evil characters as sarcastic beings. Sometimes they will say a really cutting remark or two that adds a little humor to the situation. If it makes people laugh nervously, then that’s some humor, especially if the evil character is after a really annoying victim, then the tables are turned and we tend to cheer for the killer in a really screwed-up way. Another way of incorporating humor would be to add a bumbling or air-headed character into a serious killing scene. “Like OMG Why are you grabbing me by my hair? Don’t you realize how many hours I spent at the salon?” (Splat.)

How do you balance all the elements of your career?
It’s really all about time-management. My calendar and notebook are my BFFs. I treat my art as if I’m running a business. What can I streamline? Where can I make time for writing, for marketing, for answering fan mail? I break up tasks into smaller, more manageable projects, so I don’t get overwhelmed. And since all my marketing and PR is online, it makes things a lot easier to manage from anywhere.

How important is diversification for a writer?
I think it is really important to be able to balance creativity and business. As a self-publisher, I had to learn not only how to publish my books, but to develop my own marketing and PR. I am essentially my own literary agent, publicist, book designer, and promoter. Being diversified in these activities is important because it gives you more freedom with your work. A publisher could drop you, fail to promote you, and leave you with no “Plan B.” You can’t always rely on someone else. So running yourself as your own business is just as important as working on the creative part.

Advice for writers?
Even if you do have an agent, remember that, sometimes, not everyone will market your book for you. You need to learn at some point to do things yourself. You cannot sit and wait around for some publisher or agent to “discover you” someday. You have to give people a reason to notice you, so that may mean having to learn to market yourself. Take steps to keep writing and promoting your work, and slowly build up your exposure. People tend to notice more if the see you are doing something and have something to show for it rather than doing nothing with your work. Even if it’s a blog, or a short story, work on it. If you don’t have a publisher, then learn how to self-publish. If you can’t afford publicity, market through social networks or build a website. Keep working on those little things, and the bigger things will follow. But you have to have something to build on.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

I was fully convinced back then that I could not be a writer unless I was picked up by a publisher, so I think I wasted a lot of time trying to cater my writing to agents rather than write the way I wanted to. So it took me a while before I published my first book to gain the confidence to do it myself, and to realize that I had the power to become my own publisher and that I could become a legitimate author on my own rather than put my hopes on someone else to turn me into an author.

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