SURVIVE WITH ME: 5 Questions with Bram Stoker Winner, Gwendolyn Kiste

SURVIVE WITH ME features 16 of my favorite writer buds. Each of them gave these stories to me for this charity anthology. ALL the proceeds go to the American Indian College Fund. You can order your eBook or paperback copy HERE

I’m asking each contributing author 5 questions as part of the promotion for the book. Today, we welcome Bram Stoker winning author Gwendolyn Kiste!

Gwendolyn Kiste

  1. What inspired your story in SWM, “The Princes She’s Forgotten”?

GK: I’m a big fan of fairy tales, especially ones that are very much in the vein of horror and dark fantasy (because really, most of the original fairy tales were absolutely horror stories themselves). For “The Princes She’s Forgotten,” I wanted to explore the archetypal fairy tale villainess from her perspective and specifically what it would be like to deal with all those so-called valorous princes who come after her. Playing with narratives, in particular familiar ones like fairy tales, can be such a fun thing to do as a writer, and this story definitely gave me that opportunity.

  1. What causes do you think deserve more attention?

GK: So many! I’m very enthusiastic about nonprofits that focus on animal conservation and also ones that focus on the arts. I try to regularly support the National Aviary in Pittsburgh and the Good Zoo in Wheeling, WV; they’re both doing amazing work for wildlife. As for arts organizations, I adore the Edward Gorey House in Massachusetts, which preserves the legacy of the awesome and macabre artist Edward Gorey. Another wonderful program is the Big Read, which is part of the National Endowment for the Arts and brings communities together through a focus on literature. Truly, though, there are so many incredible organizations out there doing their part to make the world a better place.

  1. Where are your Bram Stoker Awards?

GK: My Stoker awards are sitting on the top of a bookshelf in my living room. It’s a rather petite shelf, but it’s got a nice story behind it: my husband’s grandmother gave it to him many years ago. She was the one who first got him into horror as a kid—they used to watch Godzilla and Hammer movies together every Saturday when he was growing up. Years later, he and I met and bonded over our shared love of horror, so it seems like a nice homage to his grandmother, the woman who in her own way ultimately brought us together thanks to her love of all things spooky.

  1. Where did your love for Bob Seger come from?

GK: Oh, wow, I haven’t thought about this in a long time—it almost feels like I’ve always loved Bob Seger’s music. It probably started with the songs, “Hollywood Nights” and “Night Moves.” My dad had made a mixtape with those Bob Seger songs on it, and I remember listening to them over and over on road trips, which are very fond memories.

I’m also a huge fan of songs that tell complete stories, and Bob Seger has always been quite a master at that. He paints such vivid pictures of the worlds he’s inhabited, and that takes strong storytelling skills to do. His songs definitely remind me of the industrial landscapes of my childhood, so when I went to write my first novel, The Rust Maidens, which is based in Cleveland in 1980, I could imagine no better soundtrack than Bob Seger.

  1. What are three things that make you smile?

GK: It might sound really cliched, but acts of kindness always make me smile. Just seeing people be kind to one another, even seemingly small acts of kindness, can go such a long way to making the world a better place. Nature also tends to make me smile a lot. My husband and I live out in rural Pennsylvania south of Pittsburgh, and getting to watch the change of seasons, especially in the fall, is just so awe-inspiring and exciting. And finally, my cats make me smile every day with their silly antics. They’re both so curious and at times devious, but that just makes life with them that much more interesting!

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