Today, it’s an honor to welcome Misty Harvey. She’s here to talk to us about her newest novel, Soul Reaper. Sit back, grab a bowl of popcorn, and prepare to read about what lies inside the mind of a horror author. And, if you dare, read the bone-chilling excerpt at the bottom of the interview.
Tricia: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Misty: Sure, I’m your typical mother by day. You know the type, I wear the hat of many things from maid to chef. After all my duties are done, and I clock out from my babysitting job, then I can focus on my writing. I love spinning tales of every variety, but lately my favorite lies in the horror genre.
Tricia: When did you begin writing?
Misty: I started writing when I very young. I used to simply write for the sheer joy of scaring my younger sister and nephew. It would be a joint project with myself and my other nephew. We’d always conduct these horror readings in the basement of our house. Just when we’re hit the climax of the story we’d flip out all the lights to race up the stairs, leaving our siblings in the dark screaming. That is when I realized how much I love instilling fear in others. Of course, as I grew older I dabbled in other genres, but my ultimate favorite will always remain the same.
Tricia: Can you tell us about Soul Reaper?
Misty: Eva is your typical teenage girl. At least she believes she is until her mother is killed in an accident, and her father moves her to a new town. She is quickly thrown into dangerous situations that threaten not only her entire world, but her sanity, and her soul. The few people she meets try to help her understand the situation she’s just walked into, but Eva is stubborn and believes she is just going crazy. She is left questioning who is on her side, if there is anyone who actual is, and who the real enemy is. Constantly thrown into her nightmarish reality, Eva has to tap into something inside of her – something so dark it makes her question rather she can control it, or if it will control her. It is the only way for her to defeat the Soul Reaper.
My Hubby asked me one time if there was a hidden meaning held within the book. Of course there is. I wrote it with such an intention. Eva is faced with her greatest fears, and she has the options to empower herself to conquer it or let it win. Each of us make that very same choice every day. The real question is do you choose to let the fear win, or do you fight?
Tricia: How did you get the idea for the book?
Misty: This is a bit trickier of a question to answer. Honestly, it all started with something I thought up when I was showering. I ended up getting shampoo in my eyes. I reached out of the shower to clear my eyes with the towel. My brain being the nasty thing it is thought, what if when you reach for the towel there is something grotesque and dead right there staring at you when you can see again.
After I scared the poop out of myself with that, including images playing in my head the story began to develop on many levels. Snippets of the book coming to me when I least expected it, and quickly it formed the Soul Reaper you read today.
Tricia: Why did you choose horror as a genre?
Misty: Ah, the wicked things that whirl around in my head. Horror gives me a chance to quiet the demonic voices that tell me stories. It would be really neat if it worked that way, huh? Actually, I’ve always had the fascination with horror. My mother wrote horror as well, nobody could spin a creepier tale than she could.
Well I started writing horror with my nephew, Josh. We thrived on being able to scare the dickens out of everyone. I guess it just became something I could never let go. Not only does it exist as a favorite past time, but I carried it well into my adulthood. I write horror simply because it is the genre I feel most comfortable in. I dabble in romance, and thriller as a break from the darkness, yet I find those whispers from the dark pull me back more often than not.
Tricia: What comes first: the characters or the plot?
Misty: Both. I’ve written books both ways. Sometimes a character appeals to me so much I can’t help but write the story. Other times the plot plagues me until I place characters with it, and get it down.
I don’t think there is one solid way I write. Currently I’m working on a short story where the plot came to me long before the characters ever did. Soul Reaper wasn’t necessarily plot nor characters that came first. It was images of torment my brain put me through that I transformed into a plot, and eventually characters.
Tricia: Do you ever frighten yourself?
Misty: Ah the stories I could tell on this one. I aim to scare myself. If I do not terrify myself then I throw the book idea out. I run on the whole theory if I can scare myself then I stand a good chance on creating fear in my readers.
Many nights I stay up all night writing when I’m in the horror zone just to avoid going to sleep in the dark. Sounds stupid, but when I write it isn’t words on paper. It plays in my head like movies, and thus creating fear of what goes bump in the night.
I strive continuously to bring those images to my readers in hopes they will see it like a movie also.
Tricia: What is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Misty: Going to sleep once I close down the computer. Okay, probably not.
I find often times the most challenging aspect of writing is definitely keeping the flow of the book going. If you break the smooth flow then often times you risk jolting your reader out of the world.
Over the years I’ve constantly learned new things that improve my writing. I have to remind myself to shut down the editor while I write the first draft or I spend a lot of time correcting the flow from paragraph to paragraph.
Then you add in all the word usage, what improves a sentence, what damages one. It can be hard to keep track of everything, so I tend to push all of that to the back burner until editing.
I guess there isn’t one aspect I find more challenging then the next, but rather a large amount of them I’m still learning to improve at my craft.
Tricia: What has been your proudest moment as an author?
Misty: The first time I held a paperback copy of Creatures of the Damned with my name on the cover had to be one of the proudest moments. I had achieved my goal. I’d finished a novel, and had it in my hot little hands as a real novel.
I thought nothing would ever match that, but then Soul Reaper came in paperback and there was that same feeling. I doubt it will ever go away. It’ll be there every time I reach a new goal.
Tricia: What projects are you currently working on?
Misty: I am currently in a short story horror competition for a publishing agency. It’ll gain me a spot in their anthology, and some bragging rights. It is a three step competition with each step lasting a month. Let me tell you, waiting to hear if I’ve made it to the second step has been pure torture.
Still, I’ve found comfort from another friend of mine, Dominique Goodall. She is currently in the competition with me. A little friendly competition never hurt, right? We support each other, and it’s been great having that someone to lean on.
Not only am I also plotting out my next NaNoWriMo project, but I have another book bouncing around in my head. I owe NaNo a lot. Soul Reaper just happened to be last year’s NaNo project, so I’m eager to see what I can bring to the table this year. Something that is bigger and better than Soul Reaper.
It’s a personal challenge I set for myself.
Tricia: What advice would you offer to a new or aspiring authors?
Misty: Shut the part of your brain off that fills you with the ‘I can’t, this is too hard, I don’t have time’. Just sit down and write every day. It doesn’t have to be anything more than a couple hundred words a day. Just do it. Before you know it you’ll be typing The End, and the pride at such an accomplishment will make it all worth it.
She leaned over one of the porcelain sinks, trying to gather up her courage. Eva’s fear of needles, mixed with the events that led her to the hospital had her on edge. The mirror image showed a terrified teenage girl.
Her face was splotched red from all the crying she’d done. She turned the water on cool, and splashed her face trying to clear some of it up. If she ran into anyone from school, she didn’t want them to see her like that. Besides the fact, her own fear made her father angrier.
Eva leaned in closer to the mirror, using her damp fingertips to clear off some of the streaked eyeliner. The last thing she needed right now was to make her father more furious with her. A slight rustling noise came from behind her.
Every muscle in her body instantly tightening. She turned around, afraid of what she’d find. A click echoed in the room, and one of the stall doors swung open.
Eva sucked in air. Her hands gripping the bathroom sink behind her. Even the squeak of the abused hinges on the door reminded her of a horror movie. She tensed farther, until the door opened far enough a little old woman could shimmy out of the space with her large carpenter bag.
“Some of those doors are tricky. Mind yourself, Sweetheart, that you don’t get stuck in one,” the old woman’s voice cracked. She made quick work of washing and drying her hands before leaving.
“Stop being so jumpy, Eva,” she chided herself. Eva turned back to the mirror. The shattered glass distorting the view of herself. She stared at her reflection for a moment, the image of the room behind her grabbed her attention.
Black mold clung to the deteriorated walls. The paint lost under it all. Pieces of exposed cinderblocks showed. The bathroom stalls clung to the walls on one hinge. Metal doors lay on the floor or, skewed on the frame.
Eva stared at the ruin of the bathroom in the fractured mirror. Her eyes scanning over the details. An ashen face looked under one of the doors. The eyes were completely white. Long tresses of wet black hair covered parts of the face. The lips pulled back over yellow jagged teeth. Dirt clung to the skin, almost hiding the broken fingernails.
“Eva.” The voice slurped like it came from a drowned victim. Each breath sounded like water rattling in a chest.
It took Eva a moment to recognize herself in the girl peering under the door. The long arm reached for Eva’s ankle. Each finger was chilled, and she felt it all through her jeans. Bones squeezed her leg, no meat really left to the girl. She whirled around to fight the girl, and get out of there, but came face to face with the original bathroom.
Eva stared at the bathroom stall that had contained the girl. The auto flush on the toilet going off, making her jump farther. She darted out of the room hitting a hard male body.