[Interview] – Mother Horror

By Patrick R. McDonough

Dead Head Reviews (DHR): Thank you so much for letting us interview you! Dead Head Reviews loves what you’re doing for the indie horror community. What do you think about the current state of the community and where do you see its future?

Mother Horror (MH): Absolutely. My pleasure. Thank you to Dead Head Reviews for interviewing me and for the kind words. The current state of the horror community is one of generosity, unity and buzz. I think we’re experiencing a re-branding of the horror genre. Readers are discovering that horror is rich with multiple sub-genres and a wealth of talent. Literally something for everyone. There have been a lot of successful movies made from horror books like THE RITUAL and BIRD BOX on Netflix that reached a new audience for horror. Of course Stephen King and Joe Hill have a steady stream of adaptations under their belts and then of course we are seeing publishers scramble to bolster their roster of horror authors. So it’s been a great year. The way I see it.  

DHR: Is there a backstory to the name “Mother Horror”? 

MH: Yes, there is a little backstory. My Night Worms business partner, Ashley Saywers nicknamed me Mother Horror a few years ago. We started out as friends on Instagram and I influenced her to read so much horror in one year she ultimately started referring to me as “Mother Horror”–indoctrinating her into the world of dark, wicked reads. *evil laugh*

DHR: Ha-ha, very cool. For those that aren’t familiar, would you mind telling us a little bit about Night Worms?

MH: Sure! I’d love to. I co-own a business called Night Worms which is curated, hand picked horror books packaged together with some goodies to enhance the reading experience and delivered to one’s door every month for 37.99 + shipping. We have a theme and we make sure to include at least three books, sometimes three and it’s always a mix of indie and traditional horror from a variety of sub genres. Novels, novellas, collections, anthologies and poetry. It’s a great service.

DHR: It certainly sounds like a great service. When did you become a reviewer? Do you remember the first book you reviewed?

MH: I have had a Goodreads account FOREVER. I would leave reviews strictly for my mom because we were following each other. I’d be like, “Mom, this one’s for you!” or “Mom, don’t believe the reviews, this book is SHIT!” I started noticing that a few random users would like my reviews and so I started being more intentional about sharing my thoughts and feelings. Joining a community like #bookstagram on Instagram changed everything. I was invited by both SCREAM Mag and Cemetery Dance to write reviews for them based on the fact they were following my social media accounts. The first book I reviewed for Cemetery Dance was THE ATROCITIES by Jeremy Shipp. There were several for SCREAM.

DHR: Are there any other places you write for? How do you manage to keep pushing out so many reviews for several sources?

MH: I was recently asked to write occasionally for Black Static magazine. So I’m very excited about that opportunity. I also keep my Goodreads and Amazon reviews as up to date as I can. I’m writing reviews and working on Night Worms full time. It’s not just a hobby or a side-gig anymore. It’s my full-time job.

DHR: That fantastic! Have you always had such an ardent love for horror? Do you recall what first sparked your interest for horror?

MH: My mom is an avid reader and horror is her first love. Horror books were readily accessible and I raided her collection. My first big time horror book was Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and it will be a forever favorite. But even as a small child, I had a penchant for the macabre, mysteries and dark things. I would shut myself up in my room and read for hours after school, sometimes skipping dinners and going to bed way too late.

DHR: Is there another genre, perhaps one that may come off as a surprise, that you also enjoy reading? 

MH: Not surprisingly, Fantasy is my other love. I obsessed over the SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series by George R. R. Martin. Dark or Epic Fantasy often has elements of horror. Like the DARK TOWER Series, THE TALISMAN, or THE STAND by Stephen King can really go either way on the shelf–Fantasy or Horror. I just haven’t read any Fantasy books in a long time. I’m pretty happy and preoccupied with Horror.

DHR: While reading and reviewing, is music necessary to have as background noise? Do you prefer silence while reading or reviewing?

MH: Yes, silence for both reading and reviewing. I can read while the TV is on but I don’t like to. I prefer quiet. 

DHR: What authors are you currently reading that you may want to spread the word about? 

MH: Currently loving the works of: Sarah Read, Sara Tantlinger, Matt Hayward, Aaron Dries, Bob Ford, John Boden, Paul Tremblay and just a slew of others. I think it’s best to follow my Twitter or Instagram to get a daily update on what I’m reading and reviewing. Not to mention I post bookmail coming in so folks can stay up to date on current or upcoming new releases.

DHR: I know this is a pretty tough one to answer, but, do you have a favorite author(s)?

MH: I do have some pet favorites–authors who can typically do no wrong: Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Nick Cutter, Ania Ahlborn, Chad Lutzke, Stephen King, Joe Hill, Brian Keene, Jonathan Janz, Stephanie Wytovitch, Nicholas Day, Kristi DeMeester, Stephen Graham Jones and Damien Angelica Walters.

DHR: I recall a discussion you had some time ago about sub-genres in horror that you wish to see more of. One was stories that focused on mothers (to-be-expecting ones specifically). As an expectant father (first timer here) this idea is absolutely fascinating to me. Are there any other sub-genres in horror that you wish were written about more often?

MH: Well, we get a lot of male-centric coming of age horror which is my favorite sub-genre so I’m always banging on about seeing some female-centric coming of age horror. That would be awesome! Chad Lutzke has one coming out at the end of the month called THE PALE WHITE

 DHR: I recently read your interview with Chad Lutzke where you two discuss that book (very entertaining stuff, by the way!). Have you, or will you, ever interview by means of Skype or podcast? I recently wrote a review about Ink Heist. Just my personal opinion here, but seeing you and the Ink Heist boys on an episode would be so amazing!

MH: Funny you should mention that! I’m going to join the Ink Heist boys in a guest spot to interview Nicholas Day soon. But plans for a Night Worms podcast or video channel are just a gleam in my eye and nothing terribly serious happening at the moment.

DHR: I’m looking forward to that episode! Reviewers in the horror community seem to be growing. Do you have any advice for anyone that wishes to pursue this, whether for hobby or on a professional level?

MH: I actually just told my Night Worms team of reviewers to stay humble and hungry. Be passionate. Don’t beg, borrow or steal to reach your goals–just do what you do and let your drive and your passion shine through. I was invited by industry people to write reviews or blurbs or provide interviews–I didn’t pester anyone or solicit myself to get where I am and that feels really validating and authentic to me that what I have, I worked for. It was noticed. I love that.

 DHR: That has to be the greatest feeling. Do you go to conventions? If so, what ones?

MH: I have not gone to any yet but I plan on going to some in 2020. I will be at Scares That Care Weekend, hopefully and perhaps something in May that I’m not talking about quite yet. 

DHR: Is there an area in this community that you feel is under-appreciated?

MH: Under appreciated?? Hmm….I can’t think of anything!

DHR: Dead Head Reviews looks up to you as one of the crucial members in the community. Would you like to give a shout out to any other reviewers?

MH: Thank you! And hell yes! The Night Worms crew, The Ink Heist guys, Shane–my horror bro. Tracy and the SciFi & Scary Team, my girls Mindi, Ashley, Emily, Audra, and Alex–the OG Night Worms. Jim and his team at GingerNuts of Horror, George and Steve. Ed Lorn and Michael Hicks–Mike runs High Fever and he writes amazing reviews. The Ladies of Horror Fiction Team of reviewers, Where The Reader Grows-Chandra Curtis at Cedar Hollow and Kendall.

DHR:  Thank you for setting a professional standard for all of us. And again, thank you for giving us your time to do this interview!

MH: My pleasure!!

Follow Mother Horror on social media:

Instagram: /mother.horror
Twitter: @SadieHartmann

Goodreads: /user/show/28225370-sadie-hartmann-mother-horror

And don’t forget to catch her and the rest of the Night Worms crew at nightworms.com

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