Interview with Eisner Nominated Writer Rachel DeeringMay 19, 2015
Recently, we had the chance to talk to writer Rachel Deering on the good and bad times getting the graphic novel Anathema off the ground, her interest in the horror genre and her simple advice for those interested in a career in the industry.
It certainly sounds like this was no easy task to get this graphic novel finished. Was it a true labor of love and was there ever a moment that you thought this might not happen?
Oh yeah, this is the one comic that has all the elements I want in a horror book. I had to make it happen. There were several times that I thought about quitting, but I knew I could never forgive myself if I did. Between financial issues and artists leaving the book for one reason or another, the whole thing seemed doomed at times. The scariest part of the book was all the nightmares that took place behind the scenes.
Was writing something you always wanted to do and how has the path been leading up this point?
When I was younger I was more interested in art. I was always drawing or painting something. Even in high school, I knew I was good at writing, I had some natural talent, and I wowed the teachers with creative writing assignments, but it wasn’t until I was out of school for 5 or 6 years that I started to consider writing as a career. Once I decided to give it a shot, it was pretty smooth sailing. I started producing material consistently and it was well-received.
Have you always enjoyed writing within the horror genre? Why?
I’ve always enjoyed horror in every form. It was only natural that I write within the genre once I decided to try it as a career. I enjoy horror for the same reason people enjoy chocolate. Or boobs. Because it’s awesome.
Anathema had a very old school feel to it, almost like the Hammer films of the 50’s and 60’s in comic form. Were you aware of the style you wanted before you started to write it or was it a constant work in progress?
There was never any doubt in my mind how I would write the story. That’s just the style I enjoy most. Classic literature from Algernon Blackwood, Poe, Robert E. Howard, etc. and horror films from Hammer and Amicus. That’s just my thing. Always has been.
Mercy’s path of revenge is quite a twisted one indeed. Did you always see her going down the darker path of revenge rather than being an ‘avenging angel’ so to speak?
For sure. I don’t think the story would be very horrific if Mercy was some sort of wholesome character with an easy path. The real horror in the book doesn’t come from the monsters, it comes from the terrifying situations Mercy knowingly enters into.
The relationship between Mercy and Sarah was complicated and stressful to say the least. Was that always going to be part of the story or did it come more into focus as your writing progressed?
It was always the plan. The unstable relationship was the whole catalyst for the story’s adventure. If the relationship was easy and accepted, there wouldn’t be a story to tell. Not in the horror genre, anyway.
There is also a great feel and mood to the story, which is complemented quite well by the art. How hard was it to find the right balance between the two?
It wasn’t too tough, really. I knew what kind of artist I wanted and I went searching for them. I got lucky when I found Mooneyham. He is also a big fan of Hammer horror, so he knew right away the style I had in mind, and he executed beautifully.
Who was your biggest influence starting out and currently as well?
Robert E. Howard, Algernon Blackwood, Poe, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Count Stenbock, Mary Shelley, William Blake…I could go on.
What kind of advice would you have for someone who wants to write in the comic book industry?
Write a comic. Find an artist. Put it out there. Write another one. Put it out there, too. Keep doing that until people notice. That’s all you can do. Lots of work and a little luck.
Do you have any projects coming up or some ideas you look forward to putting down on paper?
I’m currently writing a horror novella to be release in the winter of 2015. I’m also pitching a few new horror comics, but nothing has been picked up yet. I’m writing a lot of witchy stories lately, so expect a lot of that kind of thing.