Hi, kids. Wowzers. I am super-stoked yet again. Here in the house I have horror author Gina Ranalli, who agreed to do a little interview with me so I could introduce y’all to her and her work. What’s funny is that this comes on the heels of Cliffi’s blog on Tuesday, where she exhorted readers to try something new and different, and to read something other than lesbian romance. Well, guess what? Here I am with Gina, and hopefully some of you will jump the wall and join some of us on the darker side of things.
Gina is the author of several novels and novellas ready for your consumption. Here’s a big ol’ list of ‘em over at her author page on Amazon. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Bits of the Dead (zombies!), The Beast Within, Horror Library (Vol. 3), and Dead Science (more zombies!).
Her latest novels include Unearthed, a tale in which strange things abound in the Pacific Northwest. First, there are noises and earthquakes. Then some rather large insects appear. Sink holes begin to destroy the West Coast, unleashing “digger bees.” Join the widow Rebecca and some people from a café as they face this monster-style apocalypse.
Or how about Dark Surge, in which Tess has to deal with her ex-husband’s philandering and new girlfriend, who seems to have some kind of weird hold on him? But then things get stranger still when Tess and her daughter face an infestation of flies in their home. Who’s behind it? What supernatural force is driving the insects? And how will Tess stop it? (well, golly! Read it and find out!)
source: Dark Regions Press
Or how about some zombies? Praise the Dead features Andrew, a young boy who has the power of resurrection, but like any power, it corrupts, and he uses it as if it were a toy, creating undead creatures that he attempts to enslave. Miles away, a young girl has a different power entirely, and learns that she is the one who has to put an end to Andrew’s reign. Can she do it? (Hmm…guess you’d better read it and see…)
All rightie! There you go. Some of Gina’s latest to whet your appetite, if you will. So howsabout we check in with her?
CLICKIE TO KEEP READING!
ANDI: Hey, G! Thanks for sitting in with me here at Women and Words. Folks, Gina is joining me from Seattle, which seems to be quite a haven for writers, musicians, and other artists of various genres. Now, G, I know you’re kind of shy when it comes to interviews, so I’ll try to make this as painless as possible for you [MUAH HA HA!] So how would you describe the genres of writing you do?
GINA: Shy? [looks at Andi like she has a horn growing out of her forehead and it might prove useful to a storyline] Some of my books fall easily into the horror genre, while others are harder to categorize. I like to think of the others as dark comedies, often with surreal elements. I try not to stick too long with any one genre for fear of becoming too stale, but I bounce around a lot from genre to genre, project to project.
ANDI: And that’s what I like about your work. The mixture of horror, macabre, surreal, and dark comedy. So how did that happen? How did you get started in writing, and what led you to write in the genres that you write?
GINA: I’ve been writing pretty much my whole life as a way to stave off boredom or just escape whatever needed escaping at that time. I’ve always been drawn to both screwball comedies and horror so it was a pretty natural progression that I would end up combining the two eventually. It’s just how I’m wired. Even when I say, “Okay, Gina, there is nothing funny about this story,” inevitably something will happen that I’ll find amusing, and hopefully the reader will as well.
ANDI: Well, I know I do. Let’s talk a little about YOU.
You’re originally from the Northeast, but you’ve been based in the Pacific Northwest for a few years, now. The Northwest is host to a lot of creative energy in terms of writing and art, and it also has a rep for attracting…um…paranormal and other creepy things [note to readers: I am personally a giant fan of the Pacific Northwest]. I’m thinking about the old series Twin Peaks. The Twilight series also has ties to the Northwest. So are there groovy eerie vibes up there that inspire you, especially given the genres in which you write?
GINA: I don’t know about eerie vibes. In truth, I think the Northeast was probably better in that regard, as it’s a place so steeped in history and spilled blood. But I think the Northwest suits my soul better, if you know what I mean. I love the green and the rain and feeling closer to nature than I ever did in Boston. It’s quieter here, which is more conducive to writing for me. I know a lot of people find dark, mossy forests creepy, and I can understand that, but I love them, vampires and all.
ANDI: So do I. Hmm. Maybe I’d better move…I want to talk more about the types of characters you do. You write a range of stories, with a variety of characters, but you do include LGBT characters in your work. Has that been an issue for you in the genres you write?
GINA: It hasn’t been an issue yet, that I’m aware of. No one has said anything to me about it at least. But, yeah, they’re in there, in pretty much all of the books, if you’re looking. I think a lot of people are completely oblivious, which is fine, because the books aren’t about that. Other times, the LGBT characters are just there, in all their glory, and so far, anyway, I haven’t had any negative repercussions because of it.
ANDI: Along those lines, as an LGBT writer, how has your experience been with both readers and other writers, writing in the genres you write? Good? Bad? Scary?
GINA: I actually don’t think LGBT has been nearly the issue that gender has. I know a lot of people — mostly men — won’t read horror written by a woman, but at the same time my biggest supporters are men. The only thing I can take away from that is the suspicion that had I used a pen name or initials, I would have a much wider audience. That part of it is frustrating for sure. It’s hard to get people to take a chance on your work, period, never mind if they already have a false notion of what that work will be like solely based on your anatomy. But, hopefully, that will change in time.
ANDI: I think that we could probably make a good argument that women in literature, period, have had a hell of a time getting the recognition that male authors have and some women have indeed chosen male pen names or just used initials. Hello? J.K. Rowling? She used her initials instead of her name (Joanne), because her publisher was concerned that boys wouldn’t read her books if they saw that they were written by a woman. And some genres are worse than others with regard to women writing. Sigh. Okay, that was kind of a downer. Let me move on to something more uplifting, like dead chicks in the afterlife.
One of my favorite books of yours is Suicide Girls in the Afterlife. What I really enjoyed about it was the whole concept of a run-down hotel (under renovation) where your characters had to hang out before going either up or down, and when they did, they discovered that heaven and hell weren’t at all what they had thought while alive. That’s one of the things I personally enjoy about your writing — your imagery and the quirky characters that inhabit your stories. Your work, I think, tends to push the boundaries of the person reading it, and that, in combination with your really sly wit, makes some pretty dark topics come alive, if you will. Sort of like listening to a great dance tune that has horrible, tragic lyrics. There’s a juxtaposition there that I really like. Can you share with our readers how some of your ideas came to you?
GINA: Thank you! The ideas come in bits and pieces, sort of the way a bird builds a nest or a person makes a stew by just tossing a bunch of random things in it. You pick things up here and there. You have bizarre dreams. Sometimes just a word or two will trigger inspiration and I’ll be off at a gallop. My ideas are almost never fully formed when they arrive; I have to figure things out, like putting together a puzzle. I wish they were fully formed, though. That would make my life a little easier and I envy writers whose muses co-operate that way.
ANDI: Damn those muses. They’re so cryptic sometimes! But hey, cryptic is good, because you can do a lot with that. Okay, so how about writing process? Would you talk a bit about yours? For example, do you have a set work space? Do you listen to music and if so, what kind? Do you have a fave beverage on hand as you write? Do you hide in the Bat Cave while writing?
GINA: Recently, I bought a netbook and I’ve been doing most of my writing on that. I love it. I can bring it almost anywhere, but I get the most done when I’m in a quiet place alone. No music, no distractions. I’m often in a cave-like setting, actually. My little office where I’m surrounded by books. It’s cool and dark in there. I’ll often take a cup of coffee with me but usually get too into the writing and completely forget to drink it. I get sucked in and forget the rest of the world exists.
ANDI: Ah, the exciting life of a writer! Vibrant, crazy stuff happening all the time. . .IN OUR HEADS. For people hooked up with writers who are not writers, well, bless your hearts. [shakes head in pity] But we do have other lives, too. I happen to know that Gina has several guitars as roommates. So, Ms. Ranalli, were you ever in a band?
GINA: Yeah, I have a guitar fetish for some reason. [Andi notes that this is probably better in some ways than a shoe fetish, since you can play a guitar and you'd look dumb playing a shoe] I don’t play very well at all, though. I’m terrible about practicing — I always feel like I should be writing instead. I’ve been in a couple of little bands for shits and giggles. We never played anywhere but a few house parties. We were just terrible, but it was fun being loud and rowdy.
ANDI: WAS fun? You mean you’re not loud and rowdy now?
GINA: I reserve my right to plead the Fifth. [laughs]
ANDI: You’re being coy. As opposed to koi. Although, maybe you could write a story with mutant freaky koi, and how they lie in wait in quiet little ponds and every time a child puts his or her hand in the water to try to play with the koi, CHOMP! Yikes. Look what happens when I hang out with you. Anyway. So here you are, talking to bunches of people who might not have read your work or know the genres you write in. Which of your books would you recommend to them to start on the Gina road?
GINA: I think either Suicide Girls in the Afterlife or House of Fallen Trees would be the best introductions to what I do, depending on if you want something silly or spooky, respectively. I definitely urge folks to check out my website and look over my bibliography for anything they might be interested in. Also, your readers might be interested to know that what I consider my first true LGBT novel will be out sometime this fall. It’s tentatively called “Off” and the LGBT characters are front and center in a bizarre, dark screwball comedy. I really hope it finds a wide audience and people dig it for what it is.
ANDI: That sounds freakin’ AWESOME. I love your genre jumping and I so love your titles. And your covers, too. So kudos to you for the titles and to the designers you work with to get some of those covers. Well, you know I could go and and on, but I know you’ve got things to write, people to create, and scenes to steal. So thanks a whole bunch for stopping by.
GINA: Any time. Thanks for the props. Later!
All rightie, friends. A little taste of Gina Ranalli. You can find her at her site HERE, on Twitter (@GinaRanalli), and on Facebook (Gina Ranalli). And as a personal recommendation, also put Suicide Girls in the Afterlife on your list of Gina reads. Seriously. For reals, yo. I would not steer you completely wrong. Only kinda wrong. MUAH HA HA!
Happy reading and happy weekend!