Micro-interview: Colleen Anderson

Candle in the Attic Window, an anthology of Gothic horror, is the latest release from Innsmouth Free Press. We are interviewing some of the book’s contributors. Today Colleen Anderson talks about her poem, “Obsessions (or Biting Off More Than One Can Chew)”.

What makes your poem Gothic?

This poem was written for the 2001 World Fantasy CD-ROM. The theme that year was on the Gothic. So, each verse in the poem deals with one of the tropes of Gothic worlds. It’s dark, sinister, sensual, overladen with oodles of atmosphere and warnings, as any true Gothic tale is. A Gothic poem can’t be short, for it must delve like a worm burrowing to the centre of the brain, into the meatiest aspects of the unknown and existentialism. Even Cthulhu stories are Gothic because of their atmosphere.

What was the source of inspiration for your story?

All those great old movies I watched as a kid: Frankenstein, Dracula, Gypsies and werewolves, fog-ridden nights, mummies, Edgar Allan Poe, the Prince of Darkness then, and Neil Gaiman, the Prince of Darkness now (which includes his black-clad entourages that follow him about at conventions). I reference both of these princes in different ways within the poem. Mystery and dark secrets intrigued me. Sherlock Holmes films of old bordered, if not embraced, the Gothic. I grew up loving these films, sometimes shivering to them, never caring about their campiness. I was immersed in the baying of hounds, the creaking doors, the seeping fog, and the bony hands scraping across coffin lids. I try to capture all the major aspects of Gothic literature, including the misguided romanticism of the era, within the verses.

What are your favourite Gothic movies and books?

Vincent Price in The Fall of the House of Usher. I saw it when I was about five years old. And The House of Seven Gables. They’re epic in my memory and shaped me for Edgar Allan Poe and Ray Bradbury. The Haunting of Hill House is indeed a classic and done well. American Gothic was also great. Gaiman’s Sandman series and, of course, Poe. A.E. Merritt and E.R. Eddison – these two were of an earlier age, like Lovecraft. Their prose was nearly unreadable in some ways (Eddison’s), but Gothic and medieval, and left a lasting impression. I still plan to have the Ourobouros tattooed on my body from Eddison’s “The Worm Ouroborous”. I don’t remember the plots per se, but they resonate still on a deeper level. That is Gothic. There are others, but my memory is notoriously spotty with movies and books.

If you were the star of a Gothic TV show, what would your character be like? Would you be good or evil?

The thing about make-believe is you can be evil and there are no repercussions. Because I am inherently good and moral, I would of course be evil and immoral. I would be the mad scientist, reaching ever farther to unravel the mysteries of the world, and shaping them into new forms of art and life. I would not care about feelings, or life of the individual, for only the greater work would matter. Aren’t you glad I have morals?

Bio: Colleen Anderson writes in various genres and has over one hundred 100 published stories and poems appearing in magazines and anthologies, including, Evolve, Chizine, and On Spec. She has a BFA in creative writing, received an honourable mention in the Year’s Best Horror for her story “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” in Horror Library Vol. IV, and is an 2010 Aurora nominee in poetry. She also edits for Chizine Publications. New work will appear in Polluto, Witches & Pagans and New Vampire Tales.