I had recently read and reviewed Emma J. Gibbon’s debut novel, Dark Blood Comes From the Feet, and absolutely loved it! Today, I’m so pumped to be hosting an interview with Emma to learn more about her and her writing process.
Let’s dive into the interview!
Interview with Emma J. Gibbon, author of Dark Blood Comes from the Feet
Who is Emma J. Gibbon?
Emma J. Gibbon is originally from Yorkshire in the U.K. and now lives in Midcoast Maine. She is an award-winning horror writer, Rhysling-nominated speculative poet, and librarian. Her debut fiction collection, Dark Blood Comes from the Feet, from Trepidatio Publishing, was one of NPR’s best books of 2020 and won the Maine Literary Book Award for Speculative Fiction. Her stories have appeared in The Dark Tome and Toasted Cake podcasts, and the anthologies, The Muse & The Flame, Wicked Haunted and Wicked Weird. Her poetry has been published in Strange Horizons, Liminality, Pedestal Magazine, Kaleidotrope and Eye to the Telescope. Emma lives with her husband, Steve, and three exceptional animals: Odin, Mothra, and M. Bison (also known as Grim) in a spooky little house in the woods. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association, the New England Horror Writers, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association and the Tuesday Mayhem Society. Her website is emmajgibbon.com.
What is your first memory of writing for fun?
I have a very vague memory of writing character descriptions for a TV show I was planning to write. I must have been about seven.
How many poems, short stories, or books have you written or been published in so far?
I have one book published, a collection of short stories called Dark Blood Comes from the Feet, two stories published on podcasts, four stories in anthologies and journals and eight poems in magazines. I’ve got two stories and two poems upcoming in anthologies either this year or next year. I’ve been writing for a very long time, but I only started getting published in 2017.
As far as written, I have no idea at this stage. There have been countless pieces lost in old notebooks and on dead hard drives, and some stories that started out as two separate stories, or other stories that divided into more than one.
What are some of your other interests outside of writing?
Honestly, I don’t have a lot of time outside of my day job and writing, but I do enjoy reading, hanging out with my animals, and playing video games.
Are you also a reader?
I am. I’ve been a reader ever since I learned how to read. I’ve pretty much devoted my life to stories and books in one way or another. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, was an English major, and was a high school English teacher before I became a librarian and author.
What genres do you reach for the most?
Horror is my go-to, but I read pretty widely. I’m a fan of short stories in all genres, literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction and poetry. I’ll also pick up nonfiction if it’s a person or subject I’m interested in.
Do you have an all time favorite book or author?
That’s a tough one! Some of my favorites are We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake.
Book Related Questions
The cover of your short story collection, Dark Blood Comes From the Feet, is stunning! Did you have a specific vision for the cover of this collection that you shared with Don Noble before he got started?
It really is perfect for the book. The surprising thing is that it started as a pre-made. My editor at Trepidatio, Scarlett R. Algee, showed me the original that Don had made, because she thought it was a good fit. It was a different color scheme—reds and browns. I had a strong feeling that the cover should be green, I can’t explain why. So I asked my husband, who also has some graphic design experience, to help me mock up a version with a green tint. We asked Don if it would be possible to make the change, and he came up with the final version. It was always beautiful. Don’s work is fantastic. But making it green made it feel more like “mine.”
This Is Not the Glutton Club is just one of the tales in Dark Blood Comes From The Feet that really stuck out to me. Perhaps because we’re still in the midst of the pandemic. Can you talk us through the inspiration you had for bringing that story to light?
“This Is Not the Glutton Club” was the last story to be put into the collection. There was originally going to be another story in the book, but because of rights issues it couldn’t go in at the time, so I wrote “Not the Glutton Club” specifically for the book at the end of 2019. There were a couple of strands that I was interested in that I ended up pulling together in this story. The first was that I wanted to set it in Yorkshire on the edge of the moors, where I had just been visiting family right before I wrote the story. I’ve always enjoyed “nesting” stories, those stories within a story, so I wanted to try that, and there is another element, a classic horror trope that I wanted to add in, but I can’t say as it’s a spoiler! The Glutton Club was an actual thing. It was a group of Cambridge students (including Charles Darwin) who challenged each other to eat as many varieties of exotic animals as possible. I wanted to create a rival club that took more risks. I’m a big fan of medical museums and I’ve always been fascinated with the social and cultural aspects of diseases such as tuberculosis, so I’d been kicking around the idea of a group of people who got ill on purpose for some time. This time though, real life mirrored fiction (or vice versa) even before Covid became a thing. In true Gothic style, I managed to contract double pneumonia while I was the UK, so by the time I got back home (and my story was due), I was really quite ill. I couldn’t sit at my desk to write at my computer, so I handwrote “This Is Not the Glutton Club,” while being bedridden and feverish. I definitely think it added to the tone of the story, but believe me when I say I was quite done with pulmonary diseases both, fictional and in real life, way before the pandemic started.
You are originally from Yorkshire in the U.K. and now live in the Midcoast Maine area. I grew up on an island off the coast of the midcoast area called Islesboro, so I gotta ask; are you planning to (or do you already) pull from any Maine settings, history, or lore for your stories?
I do pull from Maine settings in my stories probably more than any other place. Quite often, if I’m writing about the woods, it’s Maine I’m thinking of, like “Janine” or “Porch” for example. The house in “Cellar Door,” in fact, is based on my house. It can be a little perturbing when you wrote a story haunting your own house when it’s dark out and the wind’s howling. I do have a story that I hope will be coming out soon that I think is the most Maine story I have ever written. It’s set in an area where my husband grew up. I’m excited to get that one out into the world.
Just one last question; Where can readers find you?
Thanks for reading!
And thank you again to Emma for diving into this interview!
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