Next up in our Author Spotlight series, in which we are currently focusing on contributors to A Dark Phantastique, we present the one and only “Weird Lois” H. Gresh.
“Old Enough to Drink” begins:
“A branch tripped me just as the bells jingled for the first time. I fell, cold mud sopping my jeans, and peered through snarls of undergrowth as tangled as my hair. I saw nothing but the charcoal smudge of forest. Bells jingled again, and
then a man wheezed and I heard what sounded like reins striking a horse. An animal whinnied, and there beyond the
ancient oak, a neon-blue wheel crunched across dead leaves.
I scrabbled to my feet and headed toward the wheel. I’d never seen a horse and buggy in these woods, but then, it was only August and I’d never known the woods to sink into death this time of year either. Mind you, none of this particularly frightened me. At twelve, I was a tomboy, and I was accustomed to being on my own and taking care of both myself and my older brother.”
So, where do those weird ideas come from?
“I never know where my story ideas come from, so it’s tough to describe the genesis of ‘Old Enough to Drink.’ My basic ‘process’ is always the same. I screw around, swim, let my mind float, and at some point, an idea pops into my head. If the idea rocks me, I write the story; if the idea doesn’t shape quickly into something of substance, I ditch it and return to my vegetative mode.
In the case of “Old Enough to Drink,” I specifically chose a young girl as my protagonist because I read very few weird
tales in which girls are featured in prominent roles. I often use male protagonists, of course, but I do like to mix it up
because, as a female, I have a different take on things than the guys.
The girl in the story has an older brother. So do I. Her brother is her mother’s favorite. Ditto. Her brother has weak
eyes. Ditto. However, beyond these meager factors, there are no parallels between the story and my own life.
Oh, I did have a rag doll, and I did suck all the dye from her hair and face. And—should I admit it?—I also spit the sucked-dry balls of Raggedy Ann at the walls at night. (Yes, indeed.)
But other than this, there are no parallels.
So where did the rest come from?
If I knew, I would tell you. But I don’t have a clue. You see, it just comes . . “
Lois H. Gresh is a six-time New York Times best-selling author, Publishers Weekly best-selling paperback author, Publishers Weekly best-selling paperback children’s author, and USA Today best-selling author of twenty-seven books and fifty-five short stories. She has more than one million books in print in twenty-two languages, including literary analyses of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, popular science nonfiction works, and science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels. Current books are an anthology she edited for PS Publishing called Dark Fusions: Where Monsters Lurk!, the dark story collection Eldritch Evolutions, and the speculative neuroscience pop guide The Divergent Companion. Look for stories in Black Wings III, The Madness of Cthulhu, Searchers After Horror, and many others. Lois has received Bram Stoker Award, Nebula Award, Theodore Sturgeon Award, and International Horror Guild Award nominations for her work.