Behind the Book with H.B. Diaz
For this edition of Behind the Book, I spoke with short-story author, H.B. Diaz!
Liz - First of all, as an American, how are you feeling after the past few weeks?
H.B. - Exhausted, but hopeful. Hopeful that I’ll get to hug my dad again, or that he’ll be able to hold his grandson. Hopeful that the new president will help us all find some sanity again.
Liz - Fingers crossed! Do you think horror has seen a bit of a resurgence after the year that is 2020?
H.B. - Absolutely. This year has been traumatizing to most of us in one way or another. Horror fiction gives us a place to go when the horrors of the real world become too much to bear.
Liz - What draw you to short stories?
H.B. - I started writing short stories for submission calls, just for fun (using them as writing prompts). Eventually, I think I found my voice and started actually submitting them!
Liz - That's how I started out too! I think it's such a great way to gain some confidence and hone those skills. Do you have a ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to the perfect word count for your work?
H.B. - Most of my stories end up at around 1,200-1,500 words.
Liz - What was your first published short story?
H.B. - The Monkey’s Paw Spore was accepted by Sirens Call Publications’ eZine in winter of 2017. I’m still proud of that one. It’s featured in my collection!
Liz - How did it feel when you received the first acceptance for publication?
H.B. - It’s one of those moments you remember forever. I was at a family Christmas party, and I announced it to everyone with a squeal. It was thrilling for sure!
Liz - Do you have any interest in writing novel length stories?.
H.B. - I have been writing novels since I was 9 actually, and have several finished manuscripts that could use a solid round of editing/rewriting. I love each and every project, and am looking forward to being able to devote a little more time to them once my son is a bit older. I am working on a gothic horror novel presently, and am enjoying spending even a few moments with those characters again.
Liz - Has motherhood given you a different perspective on what inspires your stories?
H.B. - I love this question! The answer is most definitely yes. I feel that I’ve come to know myself better, and have found my voice. I used to enjoy writing monster horror, but I’ve settled now on the quiet, classic gothic. Give me mournful ghosts, wilting flowers, and haunted widow’s walks.
Liz - Absolutely! You live in a historic home that may be haunted – can you tell us about it?
H.B. - Thankfully, my home itself isn’t haunted, though the town I live in likely is. It was founded in the 1700’s and many of the original structures still remain, including the cemetery. One lake in particular has been the site of many drownings throughout the years, and there have been rumours of strange sounds and orbs above the water.
Liz - Wow, that's sounds like an amazing place! Have you had any paranormal experiences there?
H.B. - My current home seems to be quiet! I believe I have lived in a haunted house in the past, when I was much younger. We often heard footsteps on the stairs, and sometimes just before dawn, we heard someone come down from the attic and move the pots and pans in the kitchen. Perhaps they were just rising early to make breakfast as they had in life.
Liz - Does your home inspire your love of gothic horror, or did you love of gothic horror inspire your house choice?
H.B. - I definitely chose to live in the house mentioned above because of its age, and the general spooky vibe that I felt in the attic. There was no malevolence there, just an extra presence that I found fascinating.
I have always loved scary stories, even when I was a little girl. When I discovered gothic horror novels like Dracula, Rebecca, and The Haunting of Hill House, I felt strangely as though I’d come home. It was just a moment of yes, I feel like me here.
Liz - Congratulations on the release of your new short story collection, Nocturnal! What was some of the inspiration behind it?
H.B. - Thank you very much! The idea for Nocturne was born during a witching-hour nursing session with my son. I found that I was positively losing my mind without a creative project, but I knew I’d never be able to complete a novel with so little time (and sleep!). Short stories were the ticket! I could work on these while he napped.
Liz - Which is your favourite story in the collection?
H.B. - I am very proud of The Patient in Room 96, which was published in a hardcover anthology alongside Poe and Le Fanu. What a dream moment that was! This story came to me in a kind of fury, and it turned out exactly as I’d intended, which can be pretty rare!
Liz - That's fantastic! What an honour!
H.B - Is there a story that was particularly hard to write or that presented unexpected challenges?
The Parasite, the shortest story in the collection, was actually the most difficult. Condensing all of the elements of a story into around 100 words was extremely challenging. I have a fear of parasites, and I was so disturbed while I wrote this that it took me just about as much time as my other longer stories.
Liz - Which authors inspire you?
H.B. - I’m a classic gothic junkie. Bram Stoker’s Dracula has been the single greatest inspiration for my work and my voice, as well as Shirley Jackson and Daphne Du Maurier.
To keep up-to-date with H.B. Diaz and her releases, you can follow her at https://amazon.com/author/hbdiaz or via Twitter @HollyBDiaz