Please welcome my special guest, author Heather S. Ingemar.
Heather has loved to play with words since she was little, and it wasn’t long until she started writing her own stories. Termed “a little odd” by her peers, she took great delight in exploring tales with a gothic flair, and to this day, Edgar Allan Poe continues to be her literary hero. She completed a B.A. in English Literature in December of 2006, and she and her husband reside on the family cattle ranch, with two dogs, two house-cats and many rogue turkeys. She performs music on the side.
When she’s not playing music or riding her motorcycle, she takes pleasure in writing for Indie presses, and her short fiction has appeared with Niteblade Fantasy and Horror Magazine, Membra Disjecta, and MicroHorror.
Thanks for this interview, Heather! How long have you been writing paranormal stories?
Let’s see… I started writing seriously in 2005, and had my first sale in 2006, so what… four years now? Five?
Tell us about the type of paranormal stories you write.
I write stories about love, loss, and finding that last bastion of strength within you never knew you had. I write a lot of stories where the role of the “monster” is reversed — where us mere mortals are worse than the monsters could ever be.
You also have a young adult novel out, Requiem, which was nominated for an award. Tell us a bit about this. What was your inspiration for it?
“Requiem” is a novella — it’s shorter than a full-fledged novel — and it tells the story of a gifted singer, Hattie, who has the odd talent to sing the zombified dead from their graves. Hattie would like to be anything but what she is — but her talent is a source of pride for her overbearing parents. The inspiration for this story came from many things; wanting to write a story involving music, wanting to write another zombie story… Lots of different things contributed to this one.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite author list is too long to name. Y’all would be sitting her for days! But I’ll say this: I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and Edgar Allan Poe.
What do you do to promote yourself as an author?
I make sure I have a website/blog that is updated regularly, and I have a few favorite social networks I am active on (Twitter, GoodReads). For the others, if they offer a RSS feed capability, I make sure they have a feed displayed for my website. It helps minimize my online time.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write what you want to read. Learn to take criticism. Be the pickiest person you can be regarding your grammar.
Do you have a blog or website where readers can learn more about you?
My website is located at http://ingemarwrites.wordpress.com/ and I love chatting with readers on Twitter — my handle is heatheringemar
What on the horizon for you?
I’m working on another story in my ‘demonic’ series — the first tale, “Crown of Thorns” was recently contracted by Drollerie Press — and after that, I’m going to tackle another novella that has been sitting on the back burner for quite a long time. From there, who knows?
About the book:
Then the dead begin to show up in numbers far beyond expected. With each song she sings, they grow pushy and demanding, rushing the stage to reach her. Trapped in a place where her dreams of music become her nightmares, Hattie is left with nowhere to turn.
But then she meets a boy, who promises freedom from her curse.
Now Hattie wonders: is ridding herself of her voice worth losing the music she’s lived to create?
Voted Top Ten Young Adult Book for 2009 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll!
“Are you nervous?” My dad pushed his thick glasses higher on his nose with a stubby finger.
I shook my head and smiled, trying to hide the sinking feeling.
“Of course our girl’s not nervous,” my mother chided, patting Dad’s arm. “She’s our pro. Our little Opera Diva!”
My cheeks burned as they hugged each other, happy and proud of their “prize daughter,” their golden-throated siren destined for Julliard in two years. Didn’t matter I hadn’t even filled out the applications.
“Right, right,” she said. “I know, the Heiligmesse isn’t opera, but it might as well be.” She paused to smile again, and the curve of her lips spoke of possessiveness. My stomach sank even further as she continued. “You need to get going for warm-ups.”
I nodded, edging toward the front door. They followed, crowding each other in the doorway. The hall light silhouetted their bodies like dark cutouts in the bright opening. “We’ll arrive closer to the start of the program, Hattie. Fourth row, like always.”
I stepped out and the door closed. I rolled my neck to relieve the building tension. The springtime air felt cool and clean, and I inhaled deeply before strolling down the concrete path to my ’91 Honda. Not a fancy car, certainly not a sharp-looking car, but I was proud of its good gas mileage.
The door squeaked a little as I opened it and flopped
into the driver’s seat. I leaned back against the headrest, tired, worn down. The cold vinyl leached the warmth from my body. I didn’t want to sing tonight. I didn’t want to deal with the curse of my voice, though I waited three years to sing this piece.
Unfortunately, people counted on me.
Stupid sense of duty.
I gave another relatively dramatic sigh, and jabbed the key into the ignition. The engine rumbled to life, and I put it in drive.
I could have walked, but I wanted to get this over with. The sooner the better. No matter what people tell you, stage nerves never totally go away. Those who don’t get nervous, who don’t experience that heady rush of adrenaline prior to curtain rise, don’t care about their work. A healthy dose of nerves can keep you sharp. It means you care about the music. About doing well.
I never got sick and hid in the restrooms, retching up a half-digested dinner right until curtain time. But things were getting worse. I didn’t like how strong the effects of my voice had become. My guts tightened, sped up my heart rate. My pulse thundered through my hands, my ears, my temples, beating harder and harder with each revolution of the car tires. I focused on the yellow and white lines in front of me and breathed.
I turned onto Sixth Street and the familiar gothic bulk of the Messan Theatre rose like a dark monolith among the residential surroundings. Greensborough’s first theatre wasn’t a theatre to start with. Reverend Messan, a Methodist–set it up as a church back in the late 1800s, and somewhere along the way, the building changed hands and became the civic theatre. The community choir I sang with tonight thought the acoustics were great. I slowed to make
the turn, trolling through the back parking lot.
I parked between a monster, red Suburban and a little Toyota. In the dark, the hood of my car shone orange-yellow, reflecting the streetlight’s mercury glow. Dressed in their best concert wear, the rest of the choir filed into the theatre to prepare. I should be among them.
Yet I stayed in the cool bucket seat, hand on the door handle. My muscles held me down, lethargic, binding me to the seat. People are counting on me, I thought again with bitter savageness. I can’t afford to chicken out now.
My breath fogged a small circle on the glass. I drew a little frowny face in the mist and then got out. The door slammed and the stragglers paused to look. Irritable, I scowled in their general direction. The chill temperature raised goose bumps on my arms and I folded them across my chest. Despite the cold, I hesitated. Yes, people counted on me, but was it worth dealing with the curse?
“The music is worth it,” I muttered, shaking my head. Music made everything right. Music gave me release, freedom from everyone who pressed and poked. Within the notes of the song, I soared and disappeared. At least, I imagined I could disappear. I wanted to disappear.
Disappearing, however, is kind of hard to do when you’re a siren of the dead.
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