Carolyn Haines

The DarklingDM: You've written in several genres including mystery and crime fiction. The Darkling, is in the genre of horror story. I found that even the first few pages of The Darkling reveal ominous events that foreshadow the deaths of the family members and it gave me the creeps. What appeals to you about this genre? Do you like making readers' skins' crawl?

CH: I enjoy a really creepy story, and yes, I do like to give folks that sensation that maybe something, just in the corner of the room, is out of place. I grew up on ghost stories from my grandmother and parents. It's a family thing. I don't like dread, and I don't like anxiety, and I don't like gore, but a little chill can be fun. I think many of us are aware that what we term "reality" isn't all there is.

DM: You said that the story came to you when you were out jogging and you saw a strange blond child. Was that child a ghost? Do you believe in ghosts and the supernatural?

CH: A ghost, a vision, a premonition. Certainly there was no real child there. Maybe just an over-active imagination. Or maybe a gift from my muse. It certainly started me thinking about who and what that child was. And yes, I do believe in ghosts. I have encountered a few and they really scared me. I'm not cool when "I see dead people."

DM: What does The Darkling hope to reflect about human nature?

CH: In the strangest way, the novel is a story about love. In this instance, love can be destructive. But the desire to be loved can be very powerful. Perhaps powerful enough to change reality. I always have a hard time with Frankenstein. My sympathies are with the monster, who only wants to be loved. Yes, he is horrible, but he is also very human.

DM: Is there a message that you hope readers will take away?

CH: To my way of thinking, most people read fiction for emotion. So I hope, first of all, that the story engages the reader on an emotional level, and yes, gives him/her a few of those moments when a chill races along the spine. I also want to showcase the natural beauty of Coden, Alabama, a place few people know about. I think each reader will take something unique away from the story. I constructed it (I hope) in a way that keeps the reader guessing about what is really happening to the Henderson family. What is Annie up to? And what is Mimi's role? The answer depends a lot on what the reader brings to the story.

DM: The Darkling is Stephen King-like. What do you feel makes this genre of books so popular?

CH: The appeal of horror and dark fantasy is to submerge in a "what if" universe. Part of the joy of writing both is the world building aspect. And both allow the reader to view reality through an altered lens. In high fantasy, elves and fairies, often a beautiful world (or it can be very dark). In horror, sometimes even darker. But the best horror, ala Shirley Jackson, Ira Levin, Peter Straub, Sarah Waters, (and yes, Mr. King) examines the human condition. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The best horror is always character driven, and the "monsters" or "demons" are more than one-dimensional, and there is a reason for them to be in the story. (I really hate it when the "monster" just appears to scare people and there is no explanation.) I'm not a "shock for the sake of shock" horror writer or reader. The scariest story is one that is just a shade removed from the norm.

---

Carolyn Haines is the author of eighteen novels, including the acclaimed Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series. She was honored with the prestigious 2009 Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. Haines was also 2010 recipient of the Harper Lee Award. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives in Alabama on a farm with more dogs, cats, and horses than she can possibly keep track of!

Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and Garden of Bliss. A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAwakeintheWorld