Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Interview with Southern Gothic Horror Author Bonnie Stewart

Me and Bonnie at
Piqua's Taste of the Arts Festival

Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Bonnie. Please, tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I was raised in a quaint small town on the outskirts of a captivating county lake. As charming as the neighborhood may seem, it demented my mind, fostered my insanity, and scarred my soul for eternity. (giggle)

As I adequately impersonate a rational person, I write southern gothic horrors. My writing is whatever I want it to be--I have no inhibitions. It's whatever I want to be or what my characters want to be, or experience at that time, with no regard to possible hypocritical frowns and judgments. (evil grin) The series is an easy-to-read, gritty compilation of horror, comedy and murder, psychosis and society-considered normal human nature, all for the glory of entertainment.

You mentioned a series in your no-holds-barred writing style. Can you tell us a little about the books that are in it?

Currently, I have two novels within the series. The Slate Hill Covenant and the sequel, Ellabeth the Oldest.

The Covenant is a dark humor horror novel based on the most frightening and interesting facets of all—the human psyche, greed, lust and insanity.

The Covenant follows a promiscuous mother with six children, who are each plagued with varying disorders, such as: physical mutation, psychological disorders, religious fanaticism, or basic insentience. The tale follows this bizarre family’s move into a semi-abandoned mansion, the gruesome death of their mother while giving birth to a mutated infant, and how the children fare alone in the isolated house. And because of their instilled fear of separation, they make a peculiar and precarious covenant to keep the family together—indefinitely.

Ellabeth The Oldest follows the eldest daughter of the family of defectives, lunatics and murderers. Having been plagued with unimaginable degrees of guilt and insanity, she is soon unable to co-exist with others, which forces her to new and demented adventures, all the while, keeping the peculiar and precarious covenant that her and her siblings made to keep the family together—indefinitely.

I am planning on publishing the third addition, a prequel, called Becoming June, this fall. The novel will delve into the mother's childhood.

The series sounds intriguing and not exactly like anything else out there. Are there any authors and/or experiences that have influenced your writing?

You know, that's the problem. I read a lot--from Anne Rule to Stephen King, but, I get bored easily. I'm hyper, quickly distracted, and easily disinterested. Hence, my 'to be read' or 'never read' stacks are nearly as high as my 'read', however, movies were highly influential. Such as: Burnt Offerings, The Nanny, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, The Shining. The older, darker, gray films that included a little bit (or a lot) of psychosis. And, for sure, my father's ghost stories were as influential as terrifying. He could make me scream out loud just listening and using my imagination.

And, definitely, my unique upbringing helped me conjure up the descriptions and some of the shocking storylines.

So, I write novels, which I believe to be easy reads, character driven, with constant action and suspense. I want to care about the characters and their plight. But, I also want to fear them and their insanity. I want to wonder about them throughout the day, while I am doing other, needful things. (yeah... Needful Things was cool, too)

It sounds as if your stories are constantly moving around in your thoughts as they develop and take form. Can you describe the process you go through from the initial idea or premise to reaching the final draft of your novels?

Wow! Chaos... to everyone, but me. I jot down an idea on a piece of paper (seems innocent) but, soon after, I have a clipboard (broken and taped) I carry with me that contains outlines for different chapters, which, I constantly move around, scribble on (my form of editing), add chapters (never remove, you just never know), and keep personal notes about each character.

(Ancient Native American-Scottish secret - works for me, probably only me ;)

Thus far in your writing career what has proven to be the most difficult hurdle to overcome and, to counterbalance that, what is the best/most interesting/most memorable comment you’ve received from a reader of your novels?

I guess the most difficult hurdle to me was fitting in. I'm a complex creature. A writer. An inside-my-head person. Ha! And, I was as unsure about fitting in the horror realm as much as I was the cheerleader-mom realm! But, in order to find my readers, because my novels are so different, I had to search for an appropriate audience, and bring my books to them. And, in the process, I've met some really great people and made friends I will have for the rest of my life.

Oh! I have some great comments, but I will quote the one from Kathy Smith, because I know she will let me. "Such a sweet, innocent face with such a sick, twisted mind."

I met her at my very first convention, Scarefest in Lexington, nearly three years ago. She bought my first book and we became quick friends. She actually helped me at the Scarefest last year.

Do you read outside the horror genre and if so, what three books would you recommend and why?

Well, yes, I'm a fan of Jane Eyre, odd book, eh? The only book I've read more than two times. Recently read True Grit, charming. I used to read a lot of Ann Rule, loved her true crimes. But, mostly, Koontz, Saul, King, Rice and Follett. I guess I like weird, twisted story lines. (The "oh no they didn't" stories.)

I can't really recommend any particular book. I would feel disloyal to the others. :)

Bonnie, we’re coming to the end of the interview. Is there anything you would like to say or add?

No, sir. Well, you are asking a self-proclaimed anti-social hermit to add something... what did you expect? ;)

Well, I do want to say, it was a pleasure and an honor working with you and I enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you so much!


You can find out more about Bonnie and her works (including how to obtain her novels) through DarkDays Publishing.


  1. Even the descriptions of the novels makes me shiver. =) I can tell you are an interesting person and an interesting writer. Thanks for sharing!

  2. She is, Angie, and Bonnie's horror--readers really get into it.