Amy Grech recently sent me a copy of RAGE AND REDEMPTION IN ALPHABET CITY, a book that I at first mistook for a collection of dark crime novellas and short stories. As it turns out, that assumption was a little off the mark, but I’m not going to get into the details just yet. I’ll be reviewing that book later this week. Today, Amy has kindly agreed to talk to me about RAGE AND REDEMPTION, her other work, and who and what have been some of her influences. So, without further babble from me, here’s my conversation with Amy Grech.
Thank you for being here today, Amy. For those who don’t know you, please talk a little about yourself.
Thanks for having me, Shane! I’ve sold over 100 stories to various anthologies and magazines including: Apex Magazine, Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled, Dead Harvest, Detectives of the Fantastic, Volume II, Expiration Date, Fear on Demand, Fright Mare, Funeral Party 2, Inhuman Magazine, Needle Magazine, Reel Dark, Shrieks and Shivers from the Horror Zine, Space & Time, The Horror Within, Under the Bed, and many others. New Pulp Press recently published my book of noir stories, Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City.
Who is/are your biggest influences as an author?
When I turned 13, reading Stephen King’s novels inspired me to become a writer.
Other influences include: Franz Kafka, H. P. Lovecraft, Joyce Carol Oates, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, and Alice Sebold.
When did you know that you wanted to write?
I considered myself a writer from day one, but my friends and family didn’t agree until I sold my first story to 14850 Magazine at the tender age of 19!
What is it about dark crime fiction that appeals to you?
The evil that men do knows no bounds. Men and women will cheat, kill, lie or steal, driven by lust or green; sometimes both. Children are not immune, take the Columbine High School massacre, for instance…
I watch a lot of Discovery ID for inspiration. Evil Lives Here, Fear Thy Neighbor, Homicide Hunter, and Web of Lies all cast a glaring spotlight on humanity’s most unspeakable transgressions…
Any books or stories that are particularly inspirational to you?
Anything by Stephen King! I started writing in junior high, after an Aunt of mine introduced me to Stephen King’s novels. Cujo was the first one I read and I’ve been hooked ever since!
If you had to choose any profession other than writing, what would it be?
In addition to being a writer, I’m also a Freelance Digital Content Strategist! I do everything from write blog posts, edit and write website content, create enewsletters, retouch and watermark photos via Photoshop, create social media campaigns, and manage organic SEO. Check out my portfolio:
Why do you write fiction, and what drew you to writing fiction of a dark nature?
Growing up on Long Island with a twin brother a minute older than me, I remember one Christmas; my mother bought me a doll. She showed it to me and I pushed it aside, not a stereotypical girl, I preferred to play with my googlies instead: an assortment of rubber monsters that included a dragon, a glow-in the dark skeleton and other assorted creatures.
Don’t get me wrong, as a little girl I played hopscotch with the other girls. Jump rope, too, but I also loved digging in the dirt for earthworms and beetles…A bit of a daredevil, I also reveled in the thrill of riding bikes with the boys and flying off a crude plywood jump propped up precariously on two cinder blocks.
Talk a little bit about your writing process. Do you have set routines, times of day, or locations that you prefer to write in?
I write every night. First, I review the previous night’s work while listening to music—it helps me get into The Zone, that magical realm where time ceases to exist and my imagination runs rampant! While I prefer to write in my office, I always carry a little notebook with me—I’ve fleshed out many of my novellas and short stories while riding the subway in NYC.
As a woman, have you come up against any obstacles or difficulties in this field?
I remember when I first started attending conventions back in the 1990s and male Horror Authors unfamiliar with my work asked me whose wife/girlfriend I was. I’d just shrug, mention some of my publishing credits and then tell these guys I’d be reading at the con. Some would attend my reading and even buy my books.
Do you feel that there’s a shortage of women writers in dark fiction and crime fiction?
Absolutely! The Horror genre is definitely male dominated. The odds are stacked against female Authors, but creative, ambitious women will always run with the boys. Besides me, several successful female Horror Authors come to mind: Linda Addison, Fran Friel, Sephera Giron, Charlee Jacob, Nancy Kilpatrick, K.H. Koehler, Jan Kozlowski, Sarah Langan, Joyce Carol Oates, Kelli Owen, Gina Ranalli, Mary Sangiovanni, and Lucy Taylor to name a few…
What inspired you to write RAGE AND REDEMPTION IN ALPHABET CITY? The titular novella in particular?
The book is a tribute to the crime-ridden New York City. NYC is the locale for virtually every story, save for the second novella, “Hoi Polloi Cannoli”, which is set in the near future and has a dystopian feel. It showcases a strategic struggle between the haves and the have-nots. I wrote it a couple of years after the Great Recession that claimed many victims, including me. My cushy corporate job as a Web Content Manager laid me off, but I’d been freelancing on the side the whole time, so I guess the joke was on them! I’ve been a full-time freelancer for six years and counting!
The lead novella, “Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City”, features a gritty Alphabet City of yesteryear, where buildings were covered with garish graffiti, crime dominated the streets and young lives were snuffed out with reckless abandon. A devious Eye Doctor sets his sights on the wrong girl and murderous mayhem ensues when her older sister lures him back to her apartment, where their father his father is waiting to deliver his own harsh redemption.
Most of the action in “.38 Special”, transpires in a garage and involves a snub-nosed revolver, a lively few rounds of Russian roulette, a cuckolded husband, his best friend, and a most unexpected outcome. I wrote this story after I watched The Deer Hunter and was licking my wounds after breaking up with my first serious college boyfriend.
“Cold Comfort” is set in NYC’s posh Upper East Side and Central Park, a soothing pocket of calm in a whirlwind of chaos. It’s a tragic tale about love and betrayal; the end has surprise twist…
“Prevention” is set in Hell’s Kitchen, another section of NYC with a rich history of violence, where murderous, identical twins help their dear mother into and out of trouble. One of my good friends used to live in Hell’s Kitchen, so I became well-acquainted with all of its dark secrets.
Is there any one question you wish interviewers would ask but never do? If so, what is the answer to that question?
The question is: What scares you?
I’d have to say my biggest fear is loss of control. Like most creative types, I’m a tad neurotic, so I worry a lot. Will my clients and my publishers pay me on time? I’m the sole breadwinner, so as a freelancer, I start at $0.00 every month and constantly have to hustle. I’ve had clients stop working with me because they bought a house, or couldn’t pay my invoices on time…You could say the fear of not being able to go out to dinner with friends or pay my bills startles me into ambition. I always have multiple income streams, because there’s no telling when one will suddenly collapse…
Do you have anything new and exciting coming up? New projects or books on the horizon that you’d like to talk about?
I’m working on several crime/horror stories; some of them might evolve into novellas…I’ll leave that up to my muse!
Thank you for being here today, Amy. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about before we close this?
About Amy Grech:
Amy Grech has sold over 100 stories to various anthologies and magazines including: Apex Magazine, Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled, Dead Harvest, Detectives of the Fantastic, Volume II, Expiration Date, Fear on Demand, Fright Mare, Funeral Party 2, Inhuman Magazine, Needle Magazine, Reel Dark, Shrieks and Shivers from the Horror Zine, Space & Time, The Horror Within, Under the Bed, and many others. New Pulp Press recently published her book of noir stories, Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City.
She is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association who lives in Brooklyn.