Women in Horror Month continues for its final week. With so many different people to focus on, we took the time to talk with a highly prolific author of note. She’s been in numerous anthologies and has given us many tales that would be perfect to read around the campfire on a spooky summer night or in front of the fireplace while snowed in without anywhere to go. Let’s meet the wonderful Elizabeth Black.
Philip of Dark Discussions News Network (DDNN): Thanks for your interest in being interviewed. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Elizabeth Black (Elizabeth): I’m a writer. I write horror stories as E. A. Black, but on social media you can find me as Elizabeth Black. I also write erotica and romance stories as Elizabeth Black, too. I have conducted written author interviews with my real name, Trish Wilson. I live in Lovecraft country on the northeast coast of Massachusetts. If Innsmouth were a real town, it would be a ten minute drive from my house. I also have movie, TV, stage, and concert experience as a union stagehand.
DDNN: So you live not too far from myself actually. I’m a bit closer to the mountains where the Mi-Go live while you seem a bit closer to where the Deep Ones reside.
Anyways, I know a lot of folks aren’t able to do their passion as a full time job. Many have to work a day job to pay the bills. So to put this into two questions, how long have you been around writing? And are you able to do it full time?
Elizabeth: I’ve been writing professionally since 2007, when my first short story was published by Scarlet Magazine in the U. K. It was an erotic story based on Cinderella. Suffice to say Cinderella’s happy ending wasn’t. However, I published my first horror story in 2012. That one was entitled “The Oily” and is about a haunted house. Fortunately I am able to write full time. And doing so, I’ve written non-fiction, horror, romance, erotica, and fantasy. I’ve also conducted interviews and co-hosted podcasts. I’ve recently begun writing for a game company. I’m very psyched about that writing gig.
DDNN: That’s fantastic that you have been able to diversify in what you produce. RPG’s are pretty fun and to get to do them now, too, must be fun. So let me ask, what made you get into horror writing specifically? Were you always into horror movies and thrillers? Or just into monsters in general?
Elizabeth: When I was about eight years old, I borrowed Alfred Hitchcock books from my paternal grandmother – books like “Stories That Scared Even Me”. I loved them. They were scary and fun. My mother wasn’t much of a fan that my father’s mom gave me those books. (LOL)
I also used to watch “Dark Shadows” with my maternal grandmother during that same time in my life. That show gave me nightmares, but I couldn’t get enough of it. We also watched “The Outer Limits” and “The Twilight Zone” together. I loved both shows. You can bet my mother wasn’t all too happy that her mom let me watch scary shows on TV. But I was very lucky. I’m glad my grandmothers were so subversive. LOL
Later, I discovered Hammer Films in my teens, and I’ve been hooked on horror movies ever since. Horror movies, TV shows, and books have long interested me. My favorite TV show of all time is “The X Files”. When I was a teen, I wanted to be a reporter because of my interest in “Kolchak: The Night Stalker”. I did later become a political op-ed writer.
DDNN: You did mention you like to write in various genres. Do you dabble in science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, mystery, or grand guignol?
Elizabeth: Oh yes. As mentioned, I write romance and erotica. And I’ve tried my hand at fantasy. I’ve actually seen a few of my fantasy stories published. I’ve also tried my hand at mystery and crime, but I haven’t published those stories yet.
DDNN: Have you worked with any major companies or semi-famous “artists” in any type of media?
Elizabeth: Yes! I worked as a union gaffer (lighting), scenic artist, and makeup artist including FX for movies, TV, concerts, and stage. I did lighting for the movies “12 Monkeys” and “Die Hard With A Vengeance”. I’m so proud I worked on Terry Gilliam’s “12 Monkeys” since I’m a Monty Python fan. Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet Bruce Willis, but I did meet Jeremy Irons, who played the villain in “Die Hard With A Vengeance”.
For televisions, I was a makeup artist, including FX, for the critically acclaimed TV series “Homicide: Life on the Street”. I worked with the first season cast, including Richard Belzer, Melissa Leo, Japhet Kotto, Daniel Baldwin, and Ned Beatty. It was wonderful. I’m especially proud of the gunshot wound to the head I created for a morgue scene in “Homicide”. I still have the Polaroids. I have to be mindful when I pull out those pictures since they look like I’ve recorded a murder. They’re very realistic!
DDNN: Wow, that’s amazing! I hope you got some great stories about the industry from Ned Beatty, Melissa Leo, and the others. That must have been an exciting time.
So I have a question for you that I seem to ask everyone. Was there any specific thing as a child or teenager (things like a movie, a horror author, a horror monster) that affected you and turned you into focusing on a specific subject?
Elizabeth: I saw the original “The Haunting” when I was ten years old. It was Thanksgiving, the movie was playing in the living room, and I didn’t know what it was. I caught it about halfway through. It scared the piss out of me. Then I saw it again years later in its entirety on late night TV, and I was hooked on horror films ever since. As I mentioned I am a big fan of Hammer films. And I was so lucky I was able to see Hammer’s “Dracula Has Risen From The Grave” on the big screen when I was 12. Of course it scared the piss out of me. So the bad was I couldn’t watch another horror film for several years after. Coincidentally the next horror film I did see ended up being Hammer Films on late night TV. I adored Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in my teens, especially Cushing. I’d stay up until “stupid” o’clock in the morning watching these movies in the basement in the dark. Then, once the station shut down for the night, I’d race from the basement all the way to the second floor where my bedroom was to hide under the blankets until dawn. I was terrified! Never got enough of it, though. I loved those movies.
DDNN: So you like Hammer a whole lot. How about some of your other favorite horror movies and why?
Elizabeth: Sure, I have a bunch. The first is Dead/Alive (aka Braindead). When I first met my husband, I made him sit down and watch this movie. I told him if he couldn’t get through it, we weren’t meant to be together. He loved it! We watch it every year on our anniversary.
The Haunting (original) – see above regarding my Thanksgiving story. “The Haunting” is one of my favorite horror movies to this day.
Horror of Dracula – Peter Cushing is my favorite actor and this movie is one big reason why. The man was also a pleasure to know, from what I understood about him. He wasn’t called the Gentleman of Horror for nothing.
Dracula Has Risen From The Grave – Sorry, I have to talk about this one again. LOL. I saw it playing on the big screen when it was showing at my elementary school. I was 12. My best friend and I sat in the front row with another girlfriend from school who had already seen it three times. She told us when the scary parts were happening so we could avert our eyes. I couldn’t do that. I had to peek. LOL I’d never seen anything like that before. It scared me and had a profound effect on me.
Other faves are An American Werewolf in London, Psycho, The Legend of Hell House, Vertigo, The Mummy (Hammer Films), The Devil’s Backbone, The Baby’s Room, The Orphanage, Les Diaboliques, Les Yeux Sans Visage, Alien, and Aliens.
DDNN: And what about books? Do you have a favorite horror book/author?
Elizabeth: Shirley Jackson is my favorite female writer in general, especially when it comes to horror. My favorite horror novel is “The Haunting of Hill House”. I wish I could write an opening paragraph like the one in this book! I also love Edgar Allan Poe in part because I grew up in Baltimore, where he lived and then mysteriously died. I visited his grave at Westminster Church and the Poe House in Baltimore. Sadly, I never was at his grave to see the Poe Toaster, although I read about him every year when he’d appear and leave roses and a bottle of cognac on Poe’s grave. That story was such a romantic secret.
DDNN: Funny, I heard that someone does the same here in New England at Jack Kerouac’s grave site yearly too. Anyways, even though you are a distinct storyteller with your own techniques and your own visions, were there any specific individuals in the genre that influenced your work and the path you took to be the writer you are today?
Elizabeth: My English teacher in high school greatly influenced my taste in literature. He also encouraged my writing. Also, a parish priest I knew from church also inspired me. The New Yorker had published some of his poems, so he helped me submit a poem. I was about 10 years old at the time. Unfortunately the poem was rejected, which didn’t surprise me, but the priest helped me go through the submission process. I wasn’t upset over the rejection at all. I thought of it as a learning experience. I’ve always viewed rejections that way; as a learning experience. I was also fortunate enough to be in a gifted and talented program in high school. I chose creative writing classes at Johns Hopkins University when I was in junior high school. It was great to be with other writers for the first time in a group setting.
DDNN: How about telling us a little about some of your other past projects that would be of interest to speculative fiction and horror fans?
Elizabeth: Sure. I worked on an indie horror film in the early 1990s. I won’t name it. It was atrocious, LOL. I did makeup and FX for it. The goal of the movie was to showcase local bands playing in Chapel Hill, NC, where I was filming. Only one band made the big time – Squirrel Nut Zippers. That band was part of the swing craze of the 1990s. So the movie was a vampire flick that was released on VHS and never ended up on DVD. This was my first time working on a movie. I was a union stagehand in the D. C. metro area and I worked on a lot of concerts including The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Phil Collins, Barbra Streisand, Eric Clapton, and more. I got to see the concerts for free from the wings. Best seats in the house!
DDNN: There are all sorts of writers with various types of style. Are you very much a chameleon in what you do or do you prefer to focus on a specific subject or specific talent you have.
Elizabeth: I like different things when it comes to writing, so I’ll delve into horror on one hand and romance on the other. I also play music, although it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down at a keyboard. Mostly, I write. That’s how I prefer to express myself. The podcasts and interviews keep me in the loop while I’m working on stories. I’m glad I worked as a union stagehand. The incredible experience greatly affected my life, and it inspired my writing. I’ve written a paranormal erotic romance entitled “Full Moon Fever”, which I based on my life as a union gaffer (lighting). I also wrote a short erotic story based on my stagehand days.
DDNN: Do you ever do conventions where folks can meet you in person. If so, any specific examples of how it was to meet fellow genre fans.
Elizabeth: I met my husband at Balticon about 20 years ago. I was sitting on a Women In Trek panel and he sat in the front row holding up a copy of Harry Harrison’s “The Stainless Steel Rat”. I pointed out to him that that was a good book. That was the first time we made contact. I also made some good friends at conventions. In addition, I met some fine well-known writers such as Ramsey Campbell, Jack Ketchum, Daniel Knauf, Josh Malerman, and Paul Tremblay. I interviewed them for both podcasts and written interviews. I try to get as much out of conventions as I possibly can. Now due to COVID, there aren’t any conventions at the moment that aren’t conducted on Zoom, but when they come back live, I’ll go again. I’d like to return to the New England Writer’s Coffeehouses. I’d also like to attend Arisia, Boskone, and Readercon in Massachusetts, but I don’t see that happening until the virus is under control.
DDNN: What is your favorite horror villain or monster?
Elizabeth: I don’t have an absolute favorite. There are too many to choose from! But some of my favorites include Peter Cushing as Doctor Frankenstein (heck, Peter Cushing in anything!), Patty McCormack as Rhoda in “The Bad Seed” (the play is also awesome), Sharon Stone as Catherine Tramell in “Basic Instinct”, and Ingrid Pitt as Marcilla/Mircalla/Carmilla Karnstein in “The Vampire Lovers”.
And for villains, they also don’t need to look human. I also like the parasite in the movie “Splinter”, which takes place in a gas station. Other similar faves include the pods and pod people in “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and the viruses in “The Hot Zone”, “The Andromeda Strain”, and the French TV series “Cordon”.
DDNN: So where can folks find you such as online, at conventions, social media? Let’s have it.
Elizabeth: Sure, I’m all over the place.
E. A. Black – GoodReads (I didn’t create this page. I’d like to thank whoever did, if I knew that person’s identity.)
DDNN: Lastly, let us know anything else you want to promote about yourself, your work, or just you.
Elizbeth: I’ve just started a new writing gig with a game company. It’s so new I don’t have much to report yet, but I will say I’m having a blast. I’m now a game developer! I’m also finishing off my first horror novel. And finally, here are some of my latest appearances in anthologies:
Fark in the Time of Covid: The 2020 Fark Fiction Anthology- my story is A Skirmish Outside Beaufort. it takes place during the U. S. Civil War.
Jester of Hearts – my story is Trailer Trash Zombies. That one is a horror comedy.
Wicked Women: An Anthology of the New England Horror Writers – my story is The Fetch. It’s about a bullied girl.
The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories – my story is The Storm. A revenge story.
Horror For Hire: Second Shift – my story is A Job To Die For. This one is a dark fantasy that many middle managers will be able to relate to.
DDNN: Thanks so much for your time and letting us know all the great things you have done. Keep us posted on anything new and we’ll have you come back. Stay safe.