HAGL2: An Interview with Horror Addict R.L. Merrill!

We’re back today with an interview with one of the authors in Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2! I had the pleasure to interview R.L. Merrill, so let’s get to it and see what she has to say about horror, writing, and her work!

What’s your favorite part of the horror genre (or favorite subgenre)? What about it draws you in and makes you crave more?

My favorite horror stories focus on the underdog, the misunderstood. Frankenstein was a favorite book, but I love the movie even more. I love stories that give power to the ones that were considered weaker. Stranger Things has been fantastic with that and I’ve also loved Mike Flanagan’s series on Netflix.  Cabal by Clive Barker, and the film version, Nightbreed. I love stories set in haunted spaces, especially true stories like A Haunted Love Story by Mark Spencer and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To Heaven by Corey Taylor. Last but certainly not least, I’m a sucker for vampires…I love them all.

On the flip side, what, if anything, about horror leaves you cold?

Torture porn. Can’t do it. I also can’t do tight spaces. The Descent was one of the scariest films because of the whole terrifying premise of crawling in somewhere and never getting out. I struggle with zombies too. The idea of being torn apart slowly? Watching? Feeling it all happen. Nope! Funny zombies are okay. The Dead Don’t Die was one of my faves as well as Shawn of the Dead.

What’s your current favorite horror book or movie?

I haven’t read much horror lately, but I’ve watched a lot. I’ve been on a monster romance kick with my reading, though. In dark times, I need the hope of romance, and that’s been a nice combination. I’ve watched a ton of movies though. Some of my recent favorites have been: The Boys From County Hell, Antlers was good, The Deeper You Dig from the Adams Family was creepy, and I’m a huge fan of Shudder. The Mortuary Collection was surprisingly good and Host was freaking brilliant!

If you had to be trapped in one horror franchise as the villain/slasher/misunderstood paranormal entity, which would you choose and why?

Easy. I’d be a Mayfair Witch. Or a vampire in the Sookie Stackhouse series.

If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would it look like and how would it act? Would they have any specific habits or catch phrases?

My muse would be a tiny 13-year-old boy sitting on my shoulder making everything into  innuendo, tempting me to add dick jokes to all of my WIPs, and constantly asking for snacks.

Do you have any horror/scary movies that freaked you out as a kid that still haunt you?

The Trilogy of Terror with Karen Black. The warrior doll. OMG I still have nightmares.

If you had to be one thing for every Halloween for the rest of your life, what would you be?

I’d be a witch, naturally, because it ain’t too far from the truth. But I’d be the fun witch who makes all of the neighborhood kids happy like Santa does for Christmas. Wait, I do that already. I’m all set!

What is the book or story you have to write still?

Oh, I’ve got a queer western horror story that is poking me constantly to be told.

Is there a horror book/story (or any book/story) that you use as a goalpost for your work? Was it an inspiration or something you want to stay away from?

I’d LOVE to write a world like The Mayfair Witches. The family backstory. The intricacy. That feeling of discovering your purpose and place just when you seemed to be doomed to spend your life unfulfilled and alone. Anne Rice inspired me from the moment I picked up Interview With the Vampire back in 1988, but it was The Witching Hour that sucked me in and made me want to do more, to be more. As a kid I loved the movie The Legacy with Katherine Ross and Sam Elliot. I always dreamed about someone picking me out as being something special and leaving me some supernatural legacy. Cool, right?

What horror creature is the best and why?

I love Frankenstein’s monster, but vampires are so damned sexy. All that power, and yet the constant yearning…the thirst. So many places you can go with vampires. I love stories of redemption and vampires are well suited to that trope. I’ve written funny vampires, but my first serious attempt at adding something meaningful to the vampire lore comes out in September and I’m terrified and titillated!

Do ideas for stories come to you in your daily life? What’s the weirdest place where you suddenly had a gruesome or ‘terrible’ idea for a horror story?

Most recently I had an idea while on a swamp tour in Louisiana. Our guide was wonderful and had a special gift for communing for the Bayou animals…including the alligators. Like, he was feeding them marshmallows on sticks. Then, he lay on the bow of the boat and pulled one up…AND KISSED IT. Then he brought one up on the boat, and I thought, “we have no cell service, he’s taken us to ‘spots the other guides don’t go,’ so if one of these gators decide they’re tired of being toyed with…how would we get back? No one was around for miles. It was a bit terrifying. And exciting to think of the possibilities if it were dusk, and a storm was coming in… This happens a lot. One night I was stuck in traffic on a busy canyon road bringing my daughter home from horse riding lessons and I thought, “huh…what if zombies came crawling out of the creek and the bushes and attacked us while we’re just sitting here?” You never know what creepy shit I’m going to come up with!

What’s the book/story of yours that’s closest to your heart? What about it makes it a piece of your heart over others?

I did a collaboration with two of my best writing pals called The Banes of Lake’s Crossing. It’s a story about four brothers from Utah Territory who went below ground in 1860 to dig for silver and came across something powerful and disturbing beneath the surface that changed them forever. It’s sort of an alternate history of the formation of Reno, Nevada, and it allowed me to play with dark urges and how they impact a pure soul. I’m a history major and I love the post-Civil War time period in America. Born and raised in California, I was fascinated by the people who came here with nothing to search of wealth and a new way of life. My friends and I created the world together and we each wrote a story set in the world. I’ve loved that world so much, and I haven’t stopped dreaming up new possibilities for the storyline. I wrote a follow-up novella featuring one of the four brothers the following year, and then I wrote a novella but I’d been sitting on it for a while as the project was delayed. No more…I’m releasing my third book set in the world July 1. It’s called The Absolution of Jonah Bane and I hope readers of the original story will love it as much as I do.

What do you want readers to know about you?

I’m truly a Horror Addict at heart. Friday the 13ths are my favorite days. I’ve loved scary stories since childhood. My sister and I used to make them up to tell over the campfire each summer. I stayed up way too many nights watching horror flicks with my dad. I’m a huge music fan and my favorites tend to cross over to the dark side. Halloween should be a national holiday. Evil Dead II, Fright Night, and Rocky Horror are all required watching in my house. Even when I’m writing contemporary romance, my characters are often horror fans and I love to drop horror pop culture references into my stories.

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

You can find me on my website at www.rlmerrillauthor.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rlmerrillauthor as well as my reader group Ro’s Roadies of Romance, where you can join me for Freaky Fridays where I talk about creepy stuff as well as using the most sophisticated form of divination known to 80s kids: The Magic 8 Ball. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram @rlmerrillauthor. Wherever you lurk, come find me! I love connecting with fellow Horror Addicts! Stay Tuned for more…


Huge thanks to R.L. Merrill for the interview! Be sure to check out her work, and definitely check out Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2!

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