Lucy Taylor is the author of seven novels, including the Stoker Award winning THE SAFETY OF UNKNOWN CITIES. Her most recent work includes the collection FATAL JOURNEYS, the novelette “A Respite for the Dead”, and the Tor.com short story “In the Cave of the Delicate Singers”, which was selected for Ten Best Short Stories 2015.
Upcoming work will appear in the anthologies PEELING BACK THE SKIN, FRIGHT MARES, and AXES OF EVIL 2. Taylor lives in the high desert outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is at work on a collection of New Mexico-themed horror stories.
Cezarina Nicolae: Tell us what other things define you besides writing. What hobbies do you have, if you have any pets, you’ve been to unusual places etc.?
Lucy Taylor: Santa Fe offers so many things to do that sometimes it’s hard to choose. Among other things, I enjoy belonging to the local French group and attending Spanish class. Love museums, archaeology, and exploring the southwestern Indian pueblos and sites like Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon. Chimayo at Easter is one of my favorites as well. Local art fairs like the open studio tour here in Eldorado are also a great way to enjoy the local art scene. And the hiking out here is wonderful year round.
Of course I have animal companions—five fabulous felines who fill my home with energy, joy, cat hair, and the occasional decapitated mouse or pack rat. It’s their house, I always say, I only work here.
C.N.: The first book you published was a collection of travel stories. What was it that triggered this shifting from non-fiction to horror fiction?
L.T.: I wrote non-fiction that included travel writing, interviews, business journals, newspapers, and the like at the start of my writing career. For a time I worked for a small paper in Petersburg, West Virginia. In Tampa, Florida, I worked for a sports magazine and had a boxing/wrestling column each month. When I moved to Boulder Colorado, in the early 90’s, I discovered a flourishing horror community and began writing horror fiction full-time and that helped me make the transition to full-time fiction writing. I had always written horror off and on and knew that was what I really wanted to be doing.
C.N.: You have a vivid passion for travel, you have seen a lot of exotic places all over the globe, and you even lived in Japan for a few years. This passion of yours is present into your latest short story collection, “Fatal Journeys”, which have exotic places as settings. What part of these new places does inspire your plots? Is it the architecture, the people, or maybe the local stories?
L.T.: “Fatal Journeys” takes the reader to some interesting and exotic lands such as Japan, Iceland, Namibia, and New Guinea. With the exception of New Guinea, I’ve visited all of the settings in the stories. Whether it’s the people, the location, or the folklore depends on the story. In The Butsudan, I was inspired by having seen butsudan when I lived and taught English in Tokyo and also by friends of mine who have a butsudan in their home. That, coupled with the Bon Odori festival, when the dead are said to return to visit their former homes, seemed a wonderful premise for a story.
Another story in FJ, Summerland, was inspired by my many trips to Nassau in the Bahamas during the years I lived in Florida. And The High and Mighty and Me was inspired by friends in Colorado who run a fireworks stand every 4th of July.
C.N.: Which one of your books would you recommend reading to someone new to your work? And why?
L.T.: “Fatal Journeys” (Overlook Connection Press) because it contains a mixture of erotica, supernatural, and gore. A “Respite for the Dead” (Omnium Gatherum) because it’s set in a fictionalized version of a small New Mexican town. And “The Safety Of Unknown Cities”, erotic horror that will be reprinted by Overlook Connection in an edition illustrated by artist Glenn Chadbourne this year.
C.N.: Your debut novel, “The Safety of Unknown Cities”, was awarded a lot of literary distinctions, including the Bram Stoker Award. Did they embolden you to keep writing horror stories or this career path was already made up in your mind?
L.T.: Actually for a few years I focused on writing mystery/suspense and published three novels with Penguin (“Nailed”, “Saving Souls”, “And Left To Die”). I enjoyed writing those books, but one thing it taught me is that I am first and foremost a horror writer. Winning a Stoker definitely gave me confidence, but I knew I would always write horror, especially erotic horror, because that’s what I enjoy. For writers starting out, I would repeat the old adage: write what you love to read.
C.N.: “The Safety of Unknown Cities” is a very interesting metaphor for a horror novel, as it has both hope and fright in it. What inspired you to use it?
L.T.: The title comes from my observation that I always feel safest while wandering the streets of an unknown city. The anonymity, coupled with the knowledge that no one knows where I really am, gives me a sense of peace and calm. Granted, this isn’t true of every city or every place, but in general, that sense of utter aloneness is very enjoyable to me.
C.N.: In our current issue, Romanian readers have the opportunity to read one of your stories from Fatal Journeys, Nikishi. What can you tell us about its making-of?
L.T.: Nikishi was originally written for the ”Exotic Gothic” series, edited by Danel Olson. The idea of the EG anthologies was to capture the gothic flavor in a foreign place, and I was fortunate enough to write for all the volumes in the series. I had visited coastal Namibia on a cruise down the coast of west Africa years ago and thought the amazing sand dunes and brutal surf would make a fine setting. I researched Namibian folklore and found the belief among some tribes that there are shapechangers, or nikishis, roaming the desert. The ghost town in the story is fictional, but based on several such abandoned towns that exist to this day and are tourist attractions. Nikishi was fun to write and I was thrilled when editor Ellen Datlow chose it for ”Best Horror Of The Year #5”.
C.N.: What future plans do you have? What have you in store for the readers?
L.T.: Look for my story Moth Frenzy in the anthology ”Peeling Back The Skin” (Grey Matter Press), Dead Messengers in ”Fright Mares”, Extremophiles in ”Axes Of Evil 2”, and Knockouts in ”Extreme Horror”, a German anthology edited by Frank Festa.
In the meantime, I’m working on several projects, including a novel in progress and some short stories. For the progress, check out my website.