My Interview with HorrorTree.com is Live!

Here’s a little taste of my most recent interview. Read the full interview on HorrorTree.com
Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?

Phoebe – For me, writing a story is a string of small epiphanies. Details can suddenly fall into place. Characters will change their minds on you. A little historical detail throws a door wide open or slams it shut. One word changes the mood of a whole scene. I love the feeling of solving all of these puzzles.

Stacey – Where do you get your inspiration?

Phoebe – I mentioned my fascination with the 19th century, and I think that comes in large part from watching period mysteries with my parents. I enjoyed history and seeing how these people were alike but different from me. I got older, I found myself drawn to elements of culture more than the cold facts and dates, and took anthropology courses. I know that being exposed to so many cultures, as well as simply the possibility that there are so many different ways to be humans, made science fiction and fantasy and obvious segue.

Stacey – Has anyone influenced your writing along the way?

Phoebe – In a very direct way, my mother was my first editor. She would read my essays and help me with my arguments (not to mention my punctuation). The authors who have influenced me the most would probably be Kurt Vonnegut on the sci-fi side, and Neil Gaiman on the fantasy side. Plus, Joss Whedon has definitely influenced the way I try to integrate humor into even the direst situations.

Read the full interview

No Rest for the Wicked – Teaser #30

I don’t usually introduce my teasers, but I wanted to tell a little story about this one. I wrote No Rest for the Wicked during NaNoWriMo2016. I wasn’t sure how I was going to introduce the character of Prudence, Vi’s aunt. I opened a message I’d received in my NaNo inbox, which I rarely did, and there was a writing prompt from a 6th grader inside. Just two words, and this entire chapter came together. Her suggestion was “awkward supper.” So here’s a little taste of what that prompt helped create.

Even though it had been almost a decade since Vi had last seen the room, nothing had changed. The same family portraits kept watch from the bloody red walls, the same servant still served the food, though his age had slowed his movements to a glacial pace. She moved the elegant meal around her plate with her fork as she thought about little George, enjoying what would probably be plain but delicious fair in the cozy surroundings of the kitchen alongside the old cook. She’d never wanted to trade places with a child so much in her life.

Bonnie started to speak, but Vi quieted her with a shake of her head and nervous glance to the woman at the far end of the long table. Her friend looked from the matriarch’s stern and quiet visage and back, mouthing, “Why not?”

Vi returned a frustrated but silent, “Just don’t.”

She rolled her eyes. “Miss Prudence—”

A vehement, short shush interrupted her from the corner. When she looked at the source she found the ancient butler bringing a quivering finger to his lips.

The little brunette’s face screwed up in defiance and she continued. “Thank you ever so much for welcoming us into your home.” Prudence didn’t even lift her eyes from her plate, her knife squeaking as she cut off another tiny piece of pork chop and brought it to her lips. Bonnie raised her voice and tried again. “You have a lovely home, Miss Prudence.”

The room held its breath as the older woman picked up a linen napkin and dabbed at the corner of her mouth. Prudence gently set down her fork and leveled her razor sharp, green eyes at her niece. “Viola,” she said with a soft voice.

Vi swallowed hard. “Yes, ma’am.”

“You know how I feel about talking during mealtimes.”

I didn’t say anything!”

“I’m sorry,” Bonnie cried, blood rushing to her cheeks. “I didn’t know!”

Prudence waved away her concern but continued to glare at Vi. “No. Of course you didn’t. Because my wayward niece never thought to inform you.”

She began to protest, then slumped back in a sulk. “No, ma’am.”

“And why do we do that?”

Vi mumbled, “Because silence is golden.”

No Rest for the Wicked – Teaser #29

“I am on a case right this moment, I’ll have you know. And, no. What Pru studies and what I have gotten wrapped up in is nothing alike. She is not so…tender-hearted as yours truly,” Vi replied, reaching for the bottle. “And don’t forget. Pru seeks all of this out! If I could, I would wake up tomorrow and pretend this is all a bad dream.”

Peter leaned away, but he appeared more puzzled than hurt as he examined her face. She regretted saying the words as soon as she finished saying them, but they were also true. No point apologizing. She poured another drink.

“What happened to you? You are even more surly than usual.” The ghost rested his insubstantial elbows on the table and propped his chin against his fists. “Same side, remember?”

As she peered at him over the top of her glass, the gap in her resolve widened further. Even though death stripped his features of their color, it was still a face she could trust.

With one more gulp to fortify her, Vi confessed, “I seem to have developed a new…talent.”

Read the first excerpt
Read the previous excerpt

No Rest for the Wicked – Teaser #28

Vi caught a glimpse of her reflection in the next shop window. The pale figure before her had lived longer than the shadow-self she’d watched a few days prior, the sun and inner turmoil both doing their parts to etch lines on her face when she wasn’t looking. She hadn’t experienced any more flashes of memory since that night with the book. But she wheeled away from her reflection, suddenly felt self-conscious about how she’d changed, and how she still seemed to be changing.

No Rest for the Wicked – Teaser #27

Vi’s body relaxed and she rolled to face the wall to better welcome sleep. She breathed into the gentle dark for a few moments, then an alarm bell suddenly went off in her head. Without thinking, she quested outward with her extra sense to find the danger. A ghostly energy approached, and for a moment she thought it was just Peter remembering his promise to a little boy, but a wave of malice rippled through the air in greedy tendrils. Her senses touched it and recoiled, scurrying back to the safety of her skull like a whipped pup.

Pins and needles spread down her spine, an acid burn that singed deeper as the spirit approached. The angry blur came to their car and paused for a moment, as if scenting the air. The ghost moved again and came to a stop just on the other side of the wall. An old, childhood instinct squeezed her eyes shut. But her whether her extra senses or her imagination were to blame, she was sure the ghost raised its hand and rested it on the wall beside her head.

I’ll Be Speaking All Weekend Long at TeslaCon 8 Nov. 2-5!

I had a grand old time as an attendee at TeslaCon 7. This year, I’m there as a guest!

The 30 Years of Steampunk exhibit will make its first appearance outside of the Eastern timezone, and it gets bigger and better every time I install it. In addition to the “Make it Supernatural” and “30 Years” lectures, I’ll also be giving two BRAND NEW talks! Download the schedule to find out about all of the awesome programming all weekend long.

Unlike other cons, this event offers as much of an immersive experience as possible. The theme this year is Romania, and I visited Bucharest in 2015 on my way out of Bulgaria. I’ll be taking con-goers on “A Stroll through Bucharest” using my travel photos and stories to help set the mood for the backdrop story.

My other new talk will be about the rise of the adventure story and serialized fiction that hit their heyday in the Steam era.

I can’t wait! And I hope I’ll see you there. Tickets are going fast…