Michele Lee, one of our own book reviewers and the mind behind our teen-focused blog Reading Bites, is the author of such books as Wolf Heart (2012 Violet Ivy Press), the heartbreaking zombie novella Rot (2013 Skullvines Press), the self-published ebooks The List (2013) and On Halloween (a choose-your-own-path book co-written with Mini Lee). Her latest work, Last Brother, Last Sister (2014 Skullvines Press), was published earlier this month. Michele’s short stories can be found in anthologies including Dark Futures: Tales of Dystopian SF (2011 Dark Quest) and Horror Library, Volume 4 (2012 Cutting Block Press). Michele also writes erotic fiction under the name M. Lush.
1. Can you give our readers a brief introduction?
My name is Michele Lee. I’m a multi-genre writer (Horror, SF/F and erotic romance), a reviewer and a vet tech by day.
2. Why do you write horror? What draws you to the genre?
Way back when I was a teenager, horror was the only place you could find stories of the paranormal. Now we have urban fantasy and paranormal romance, both of which I also like, but sometimes you just want that spooky story. Also, I think a lot of the setups in horror, especially the monsters, are a powerful thematic way to deal with the darker stuff in our real lives. Violence, rape, fear of the true nature of human evil; the nameless thing that might be waiting to devour us in the dark is a perfect allegory for facing cancer, abuse, fiscal devastation and more. We can, as either writers or readers, work through and face our feelings on some Really Big Issues ™ without freezing up when the boogie man has the face of our abuser or looks like that shadow on the radiogram. And maybe, for a little bit, we can fantasize that beating cancer or a recession is as easy as staking that vampire or stopping that serial killer.
3. Can you describe your writing style or the tone you prefer to set for your stories?
The tone of my stories, I hope, is different because I really like to let characterization come through in how things are set up and described and how the characters react to things. I seem to be drawn to people working through things, maybe outside discoveries, but often things about themselves that are exposed because of things happening around them.
In my novella Rot, for example I wanted to take a typical rough/bad ass male character (stoic, former military man, zero illusions about life) and make him incredibly emotional without making him any less of a strong male lead. I also wanted to take on the “flamboyant gay” stereotype and the “damsel in distress” that you see in horror a lot and do something meaningful with them.
4. Who are some of your influences? Are there any women authors who have particularly inspired you to write?
Anna Sewell, actually. My mom was really restrictive with me when it came to…everything, but she encouraged me to read Black Beauty. Maybe because it was about horses, or was a classic. But honestly it’s very brutal. You see horses die in war combat, serious cruelty to dogs, cats and horses and real world events like illnesses and alcoholism which leads to disaster for Beauty. It was the darkest book I had ever read.
An Anne Rice phase led me to the far more amazing authors Poppy Z. Brite and Nancy A. Collins, the latter of which not just writes fairly hardcore horror, but also wedged her way into comics. What geek girl doesn’t admire that?
On the male side of the spectrum, Roald Dahl, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman are all glorious masters among us plebs.
5. What authors do you like to read? Any recommendations?
I read a lot, over many genres. If you’re comfortable being seen in the urban fantasy section, Ann Aguirre is doing great things with demons and zombies (her zombie books are YA). Stacia Kane is a favorite for sure. Ilona Andrews is an auto-buy.
As for Authors You’re Probably Missing; Sara M. Harvey and Jennifer Pelland write dark speculative fiction, K.H. Koehler, Lucy Snyder and Chesya Burke are all amazing horror authors.
6. Where can readers find your work?
I’m mostly in ebooks these days, so all the usually places, Amazon, B&N, Kobo, OmniLit and iBooks. I have a werewolf book out (Wolf Heart), two zombie novellas (Rot and The List) and a zombie novel that just came out (Last Brother, Last Sister). I have short stories here and there, and my erotic romance stuff is published under the pen name M. Lush.