How did you choose the genre of Broken Hearts & Other Horrors?  

Growing up, I always thought I would write sci-fi since I’m a big Star Wars nerd. However, while I was a fan of those sorts of movies and TV shows, I was reading Stephen King and appreciating the psychological edge of Joyce Carol Oates and Shirley Jackson. Plus, the novel Jaws left as much of an impression on me as the movie. 

And so, when it came time to begin writing, it was more like the genre chose me based on the literature I’d fed my creative subconscious. 

What was your editing process like? 

I believe the best writing is the result of collaboration, and I would be nothing without my editor, Kayla Randolph. She’s a poet, and her being Gen Z helps me keep a fresh perspective so that my writing appeals to a broad age range of readers from mid-20s to late 40s. (And all while helping me make my words sing!) 

Any advice for others starting the process of independent publishing? 

Seek out people who will give you honest, critical feedback and won’t be afraid to tell you what they don’t like about your stories as much as they tell you what you’re doing right. You can’t fix what you need to if your beta readers are protecting your feelings. I wouldn’t have ever achieved anything in writing if it weren’t for the honest critiques of my first beta reader, Derek Betz.  

How has critical and/or reader response influenced the way you think about your work? 

I struggle with imposter syndrome. When I was attending Emerson College and I was surrounded by all these very talented peers and accomplished professors, I felt like I didn’t belong and wondered how I got accepted into such a great program. 

After graduating, I began writing for a creepypasta podcast called Fear From the Heartland on the Chilling Tales for Dark Nights YouTube channel. Once again, I felt like I didn’t belong in the company of the great writers on the channel—until I began engaging with the fans in the comments. While balanced, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive, and knowing that I’ve entertained complete strangers or elicited a strong emotional response from them makes me feel like I’ve succeeded at being a writer. 

Then—and particularly when Broken Hearts & Other Horrors got the “GET IT” accolade from Kirkus—the little voice telling me I was an imposter became a whisper. 

What are you working on now?   

I have plans to adapt two stories from this anthology into full-length novels. The first will be expanding the short story “Pea Ridge,” which is about a UFO crash in rural Missouri that unleashes an infestation on an unsuspecting small town. The second is “The Last Bride,” and that one will be a more in-depth reimagining of the Dracula mythos as seen through the perspective of a woman who chose to become the last of his brides (who were seen but not heard from in Stoker’s novel). 

Portions of this Q&A were edited for clarity.