Linda Addison is the recipient of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry for How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend.
A science-fiction, fantasy and horror collection of short stories and poetry that explores the appearance of demons, inside and outside ourselves. The amazing cover is by Jill Bauman, who has worked with the top writers in the speculative field.
2. Tell us about what inspired you to write How to Recognize a Demon has Become Your Friend?
With the passing of my mother and other personal losses I was having difficulty writing. Bob Booth at Necon E-Books contacted me about putting together a book of short stories and poems and they could be reprints. This was a gentle way for me to re-approach writing and publishing. Once I began to gather reprints I found myself wanting to write new work for the collection also.
The title was suggested by a good friend, Rick Barrett, because of a poem I had written called ‘How to Recognize a Demon has Become Your Friend’. I had to think about that for a couple of days because it wasn’t the usual kind of book title for me. My other titles were more poetic (ex. Being Full of Light, Insubstantial). After looking at the work I had at that point I could see the title fit.
I don’t always consciously decide what a book will be about. This book was more organic. I was struggling to put my losses in perspective. I had to confront some inner demons and without really deciding the concept of demons was threaded through many of the poems and stories.
I wrote the end poem last, “How to Recognize a Friend has Become a Demon” with the help of a friend, Ted Weekes, during a weekend to celebrate the death of a friend and amazing author, L. A. Banks. Having those bookend poems frame the collection made it complete.
I’m deeply grateful to Necon E-Books for that initial contact and to everyone there for the professional and caring work they put into getting the book out.
3. What most attracts you to writing horror?
I didn’t so much pick horror as it picked me. Looking at the half-empty glass perks my imagination. There is enough real scary in the world and it brings images and feelings to me in the form of poetry or story. You will not find victims the main food of my work, there may be people victimized but they are changed by their pain and strengthened, not always in the most forgiving way, there is some vengeance.
I personally have come to believe that compassion is the only true answer to negativity. When a choice comes in real life it is between love or fear, but there is something intriguing about exploring fear in writing.
4. What are you writing now?
I’m currently working on a science-fiction novel based on my short story “Twice, At Once, Separated” from the Dark Matter I anthology (Warner Book). The story takes place in the far future on a multi-generational space ship. There are other published stories that I plan to expand into novels, including a vampire story called “Whispers During Still Moments” published in the anthology Dark Thirst (Pocket Book).
5. What advice would you share with new horror writers? What do you think are the biggest challenges they face?
The main advice I would share is for any writer:
-challenge yourself to write on a schedule that doesn’t overwhelm you, even if its only 5 minutes a day or one new word a day; if I set my goal too high it can make me not want to sit down and even begin writing
-let a first draft be as messy as it wants to be, just get it out; starting a story and not finishing it is the biggest pitfall for writers
-tell the story, don’t turn away from what is coming through you; this is important for horror writers, it’s the emotion in the story that pulls readers in. Whether that comes from your life or your reaction to life. Authentic feeling is the basis for a good story, no matter what the genre.
The biggest challenge I have is finding the time to write. I work a day job, have to manage my life, family and write. I believe writing happens in the subconscious all the time. All we have to do is give it a window to allow the writing to come out. That is why setting even a small opening (one new word or five minutes) is effective. No matter how busy anyone’s life is they can afford five minutes to write.
6. What are three of your favorite horror stories?
Wow, only three? That’s hard.
The following three scared me a lot:
“The Tale Tell Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
The following three are my traditional favorites:
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Stand by Stephen King
Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice
7. What’s your favorite Halloween memory or tradition?
I always loved dressing up. Even now I spend months daydreaming about what I want to wear on Halloween. I love making costumes. Each year, I attend a party hosted by friends and get very excited about planning what I will wear. There’s something wonderful about being able to be anything, anyone on that day and know that its totally acceptable.
I have dressed as Tina Turner, Uhura (from the Mirror Universe episode), a space woman, Morticia (from the Addams Family); the list goes on. I want to dress as Prince from Purple Rain so badly; I’m slowly gathering my costume, one day I’ll have all the pieces.
8. Given a choice, trick? Or treat?
Treat: I love chocolate, so anything thing covered in chocolate is going to make me happy
TODAY’S GIVEAWAY: Linda Addison is offering one copy of her award-winning book How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend. To enter post a comment in the section below or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and put HH CONTEST ENTRY in the header. Winners will be chosen at random and notified by e-mail.
The following two poems are from my collection “How to Recognize a Demon has Become Your Friend”:
1-How to Recognize a Demon has Become Your Friend
[Honorable Mention for Best Horror of the Year (2011)]
HOW TO RECOGNIZE A DEMON HAS BECOME YOUR FRIEND
Song from their open mouth makes you sleep,
upon waking you feel empty and sad,
there is a mark of ash on your chest
where your heart should be.
Their eyes remind you of hunger,
but everything you eat has no taste,
your eyes reflect flames in the mirror
you stare at the sun, but it doesn’t hurt.
They ask you for the time
but you tell them when you were born,
suddenly you can’t remember
your mother or father.
Your other friends stop calling you,
their faces flash as ‘Missing’ online,
you change your status to
‘Possessed’ on your social network.
When you walk past a church with them
you feel sick and have to cross the street,
they joke about being allergic to old
buildings, you laugh with them.
One day you blink and you have no breath,
memories of your life fade like a dream,
all you see is red sky, ash under your feet
and in their burning arms you cannot cry.
There has been no rain
for 300 days
it is not good,
the evil eyes follow me
on this endless highway.
Leafless trees cast no shadow
on the asphalt,
I have lost faith,
evil waltzes in rising heat waves
on the horizon.
The gas tank has been empty
for 200 days,
but still I drive on,
shadows whimper from the edge
of the endless road.
Where am I rushing to
heaven or hell,
random words hang, dim and blinking
on billboards in the distance.
Even in the dark,
with hands tight on the
I feel nothing,
waiting in my clenched fist.
Linda D. Addison was born in Philadelphia in 1952. She is the oldest of nine children and received a bachelor of science in mathematics from Carnegie-Mellon University. She is the author of four collections: How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend (Necon E-Books), Being Full of Light, Insubstantial, Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes, and Animated Objects (Space & Time Books). Her work has also appeared in numerous publications, including Essence magazine, Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine and Doorways magazine,.
In 2001, Addison was the first African-American to win the HWA’s Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in poetry for Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes. Other prominent recipients of this distinguished award include authors, Alice Sebold (Lovely Bones) and J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter Series).
She was honored with her second Bram Stoker Award for her third collection of poems titled Being Full of Light, Insubstantial (Space & Time Books).
Her fourth collection of fiction and poems How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend (Necon E-Books) received a third Bram Stoker Award for 2011.
She is the only author with fiction in three landmark anthologies that celebrate African-Americans speculative writers: the award-winning anthology Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction (Warner Aspect), Dark Dreams (Kensington), and Dark Thirst (Pocket Book).
Her work has made frequent appearances over the years on the honorable mention list for Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and Year’s Best Science-Fiction.