Micro-interview: Sarah Hans

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 writer Sarah Hans talks about her story.

What makes your story Gothic?

I worked hard, in an effort to fulfill the requirements of the anthology: a slightly different take on Gothic horror. I used several elements of traditional Gothic horror – the beleaguered female protagonist, the domineering male figure who wishes to control the heroine, the weather that responds to the main character’s moods, lots of weeping and sobbing, strange dreams, and, of course, a ghostly presence. The setting in the Sierra Nevada mountains, a cave instead of a manor house, the use of snow instead of rain, the impoverished blue-collar characters, the Chinese heritage of the heroine, and the unique nature of the ghosts should, hopefully, provide a unique perspective, while still inspiring the eeriness of a traditional Gothic horror story.

What was the source of inspiration for your story?

I wasn’t intending to write anything back in February of this year, but then I read that the anthology’s editors were looking for stories set in the American West, and stories about Chinese immigrant workers building the railroads was one of the suggested scenarios; for some reason, that piqued my interest. The next thing I knew, I was researching a story on this very subject, and when I discovered that Chinese railroad workers had built a tunnel through the infamous Donner Pass, synergy was achieved! And then, appropriately, I got snowed in one day and couldn’t go to work, and the story was born.

What are your favourite Gothic movies and books?

As a kid, I was a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe. Although I rarely watch them anymore, I still have a fondness for those strange Vincent Price adaptations filmed in the 1960s. I love any film with a huge, haunted manor house, especially those that use the house as a character, like the original black-and-white The Haunting from 1963, the only film I’ve ever seen that makes rattling window panes and Victorian wallpaper terrifying. Another one of my favourites is the French film Les Diaboliques, from 1954, which was sadly remade with much of the Gothic element removed.

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

My character would probably be the slightly touched psychic medium, not good or evil, never quite giving the other players the information they need, while dropping dire hints about their fates. Mainly, I just want to wear threadbare shawls and spout crazy pronouncements. I’d die or drop into a coma, right when my predictions were needed the most, because isn’t that how it always works?