It’s Scaretober, y’all! Woot! Woot! October is my favorite month, so I’m pulling out all the stops. To celebrate, I’m sharing my favorite scary fun books and movies. All. Month. Long. Let’s get to it!
It’s part of the 2019 New Bizarro Author Series from Eraserhead Press.
The story begins when Dory wakes up in a padded room in a psychiatric hospital. She has been involuntarily committed, and she has a target on her back. Some of the other patients have deep scars. Dory assumes they are cutters, but it isn’t that simple. They’re deliberately cutting down to the bone, seeking bone dust, which is valuable and highly-prized. (I won’t spoil it and say why…) Dory’s uncut, a “freshie,” making her bone dust the most valuable of all. So naturally, they want it. They want her.
Okay. If that book description doesn’t give you some heebie jeebies, I don’t know what will! And, now I will turn it over to the lovely Ms. Renee, who is here to tell us about her life long love of horror and her inspiration for this new entry in women’s horror fiction. Take it away Renee! (Her responses were edited for space. Renee is also the author of many short stories, which you can find here.)
This is how The Bone Cutters story unfolded.
“It was inspired by a nightmare, and it grew from there. I woke from a dream where I was with a close friend at an Artwalk in Portland, Maine. She asked me if I minded making a quick stop with her to see a friend she had promised to visit while we were there. I figured it wouldn’t take long, so I agreed. What we walked into was a big open room, devoid of furniture, with a large circle of people all sitting on the floor. They were in the middle of some sort of discussion. My friend and I stood off to the side, waiting for a lull in the conversation, and waiting for her friend to notice we were there. That’s when I saw the scar. Every person in the circle of people was horrifically scarred. I was trying to figure out what that was all about, so I focused in on what was being said by the guy who was speaking. That is when I hear they all carved themselves open to chisel and scrape their bones in order to harvest the bone dust. Then, I found out what the bone dust was used for. I was mortified. I was even more mortified when I realized that the man who was talking was the friend my friend was there to see. That’s when I woke up. I knew right away that this dark and twisted scene needed to go into one of my stories. I started writing that same day. (But no, I am not the main character who discovers this group of people. I am not Dory.) At first, I thought it was going to be a short story, but it grew into the novella that it is today. I currently have a sequel in the works.”
For Renee, horror is intensely personal.
Renee has experienced more than her fair share of real-life horror. “Horror is in my blood. It’s the dark cloud over my head. It’s the shadow that constantly follows me. My life has been peppered with horrific occurrences and horrific people.”
She has lived through childhood robberies. Twice, she and her family came home to an open front door. Once, a drunk stranger was on the sofa. The second time, someone had wrecked the house and stolen all of the Christmas gifts and stereo equipment. She’s survived aggressive school bullies. One interaction led to Renee coming “out of the house swinging my mother’s mace and threatening to kick all their asses. Yes, my mother owned a mace. Don’t ask why, but now it’s mine.” (Her takeaway: “Don’t fuck with me.” Cheers to that.)
She has also experienced the dark side of mental illness up close, via several sometimes violent interactions with mentally-ill loved ones and strangers. There was the psychiatric patient who attempted to physically and sexually assault her as she transported him to the hospital. While still a teenager, she was abducted and held captive by an abusive boyfriend. “When I was able to escape, I fled to Florida,” she said. In response, “he jumped on the hood of my mother and step-father’s car, while they were driving. He had a shotgun in hand and was demanding to see me.”
Renee was also diagnosed with aggressive MS six months before The Bone Cutters was set to be published and is undergoing intense treatment. “This is my life and it has been heavy. Maybe that’s where my dark humor and sarcasm grew from. Darkness is what I know, and I know it very well.”
She says, “Whether I’m attracted to horror or horror is attracted to me, our relationship is inseparable. The only thing that saves me is a powerful will to survive and a pressing need to write.”
“As for how I became a horror fan. I owe that to my Nana Joe, Josephine Salamone Young. She was an avid horror reader and viewer and mystery fiend. She loved all things Poe and King. She watched excessive amounts of Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock, and I devoured it all with her. Her collection of Edgar Allen Poe fiction and poetry was passed down to me, and I cherish it.”
The Bone Cutters is out now in paperback. No word yet on if an ebook edition is forthcoming. But, Renee said an audiobook may be in the works. Stay tuned to what Renee and The Bone Cutters are up to on Facebook, her author website, Instagram, and Twitter.
Also, check out Ladies of Horror Fiction, a group for more lady-written horror!