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Erica Schaef is a fan of all things horror and loves to write her own stories in that genre. She is an Affiliate Writer member of the Horror Writers Association. Her work has been featured in a variety of journals, magazines, audio productions, and anthologies. She lives in rural Tennessee with her husband and two wild children.
So this morning on Discovered Wordsmiths, I have Erica. Erica, how are you doing today? Hi, how are you doing? I’m doing on, yeah, it’s great to see you. Your hair matches your background. Yeah. Yeah. Good . Erica before we start talking about your book and things like that, let’s find out a little bit about you tell us where you live and some of the things you like to do besides.
Erica: so I live in Tennessee in a rural area that’s about 40 miles from Chattanooga. So I have two young children, one’s seven and one’s five. So we like to we have a national park right near us. We like to go on hikes. We, I started a garden back in 2020, but during Covid. I started a little pumpkin garden, so I got into gardening a couple years ago.
Not that great at it, but we had a few things grow last year. We had one huge pumpkin, so that was fun. And what else do I like to bake, but I’m also not that great at it.
Stephen: Would you say, huge pumpkin? How huge
Erica: it was. I forget the, what the name of the pumpkin was, but it was something giant pumpkin, and it was like a norm, like my son could sit.
He said, said on that, and he was really
Stephen: proud of it. I’m sure they be. Love that. Yeah. , that’s a, that’s such a fun age for that type of stuff. it. Yeah, it really
Erica: was. And they liked to help. He had he would help me water. He would bring a squirt gun out while he had the hose and he would like squirt plants with a squirt gun.
Stephen: The water. Nice. Good. So with a family and things, why did you wanna start writing?
Erica: I started writing. I think since I’ve been a kid, probably since I was like 10, I’ve really enjoyed writing and I’ve always done it as a hobby. And it wasn’t until probably, I think, 2020 or 2019 or 2020 around Covid when I had some extra time.
And so my kids were at an age then where they would play on their own, but I would be in the same room as them, like keeping an eye on them. And so that was I had the opportunity then. to write while they’re like either outside or playing in a room. And I was like I would get ideas for something and then I would actually finish them through.
Because what I would do before is start an idea and then get bored of it and quit. So once I started finishing through with my ideas, I was like well, maybe I’ll try to send these out, see if they can get published. But that would be cool. And then so things started to get picked up.
I started writing short stories. . And so a few of those got picked up and then I started trying to do more longer form fiction and things like that. So probably the last couple years I’ve really been taking it seriously as more than just like a hobby that if it works. And if it
Stephen: doesn’t, it doesn’t.
Nice. Okay. And so you said you’ve written a lot of short stories. Are some of them out there that people could check out? Yeah.
Erica: Most of them are in anthologies or journals. There’s one that was in the anthology, Lovecraft and A Time of Madness, which is an anthology of short cosmic horror stories.
Nice. Based on what h HP Lovecraft might, sorry, my cat is known.
Stephen: That’s okay. had plenty of cats and kids and .
Erica: Oh, he just likes to touch him. Sorry. So yeah, so that, my short story in that was called Esca and they made that into a the publisher, Sentinel Creatives made that into a audio production, so they had to pass audio production.
And so that’s available as a standalone story on Amazon and
Stephen: Audible. Oh, nice. Awesome. Sorry. Yeah I’ve had my cat on lots of cats have been on the podcast.
Erica: Wanna be on his attention.
Stephen: Tell us a little bit about your book what it’s about and like the genre and things like that.
Erica: this Cold Night, it is a, it’s horror but it has some elements of psychological horror. It. Some less, to a lesser extent. It has body horror and a little bit of a jump scare factor. Not too much of that, but it’s set in modern times and it’s set in a country mansion. And it the core of this story, there’s flashbacks within this story, but the chords of the story takes place over one single night, and the main character is visiting a.
House, which is the country mansion after the death of a loved one. So it starts right after a funeral and then takes pla. The entire story takes place in this mansion over one night.
Stephen: Okay, so why did you decide choose to write horror?
Erica: That’s been my favorite genre since I can remember. My, my grandma used to read us stories from the, what was it for kids?
Oh. Those anthology stories for kids. can’t remember now. They were Oh, scary stories to tell in the dark. Oh, yeah. Okay. And things like that. So she would read that to us, and I always thought they were the most entertaining. I was always the most intrigued. And with that genre, I was always hooked.
I always wanna know what happened next or what was going on in this story. What was the, what was making that sound? What was doing? and we, so we would watch scary movies and it’s just, I’ve always found it to be the most intriguing, I think, genre for me. So I was always drawn to it. And then when I started writing, I, it’s fun for me to try to come up with ways to, to be, to frighten people.
So I try to think of what’s the scariest thing I could put in here? What’s the, what have I read that’s really scared me, that I could use that feeling in my own to try to scare somebody. So it’s really fun for me.
Stephen: Nice. Okay. Yeah. And besides scary stories in the dark, what are some of your other favorites?
Erica: Getting older ice Cream Lovecraft, obviously. I like Stephen King. The first time I read The Shining though, there was a part, there’s a part where the little boy Danny is in a, is in the hallway at the hotel and he is like looking at a garden hose. and that’s all he is doing. But the way it’s described is so frightening that I, it was a long time between then and when I finished the book because I was like this is two
So The Shining was a favorite.
Stephen: I’m trying to, that’s one of my favorites. One of my top,
Erica: yeah. And I’ve read a couple other Steven, which obviously were all good, but that one was like, that really scared me. I’m trying to think. The yellow wallpaper, that short story Charlotte Perkins goman.
It’s a short story. It’s a psychological. . Yeah. You should check it out. It is it’s, like I said, it’s psychological but it is really creepy.
Stephen: Yeah. It’s more classic. There’s a lot of good old horror
Erica: out there too. It is. And that’s a lot of times what I end up listening to. A lot of times I read it, but a lot of times it’s easier for me to listen cuz what I’m doing, whatever I’m doing throughout the day.
A lot of times that’s what I’ll end up listening to them. And I like the old, the older.
Stephen: Okay. And so is this book independently published or traditionally do you have a publisher?
Erica: Oh, so it’s a small publisher, bridges Gate
Stephen: Press. Ah, okay. Yep. I’ve had several authors from them. And where, so where all can they find your book?
And you have a website?
Erica: So I do have a website, which is just WordPress, Erica Schaff, which is e r i c a s c h A E. , and that’s on my social media. So I have a Facebook and a Twitter, which is the same Erica Sha. And then, so this book is on right now, it’s on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. And then through the publisher, Bridget Scape Press.
Stephen: Okay, good. And people that have read the story already or read your short stories, what’s the feedback you’re getting and hearing from them? Luckily mostly positive people are saying that it was which is what I was trying to do. People say it was unexpected and somebody said it was like a new twist on a haunted house, which is what I was hoping people would think.
Erica: Nice. Cause you have so many obviously haunted house stories. But I did wanna do something. It was a little bit different while still being in that category of. Of haunted house. So I’ve been really lucky to get really nice positive feedback for the most part.
Stephen: Okay, good. And if you had a choice for this book, would you rather see it as a movie or a TV show?
Erica: Probably. If I had to pick for this one, probably a movie. Ok. This feels like I said, it’s over one night with some flashbacks. I think it would probably work better as a movie if I had. .
Stephen: Okay. And do you have any favorite scary movies? Let’s see. I’ve watched a lot of, they aren’t movies, but the Netflix shows what is it?
Erica: Mike? Mike Flanagan, I think does with like Midnight Mass. That’s a good
Stephen: one. Haing on Hillhouse. The first one was good. The second one was okay.
Erica: Yeah, I think that one was based on the turn of a screw. Yes. Yes. I think if you, yeah, I was gonna, I think if you, it wasn’t as like surpri. I, it wasn’t, I wasn’t as drawn into that one, but yes.
As far as movies go, oh, let me think. Oh there was one that came out on Netflix not that long ago, that was behind her eyes. It was based on a novel by Sarah Pin, bro, I think I haven’t seen that one yet. Oh, you have to watch it. It’s really good. It’s one of the, it’s one of those, you don’t see the, I would say read it first, but then also watch it.
They did the movie, did a really good.
Stephen: Cool. And do you have plans for a next book? Is this the first of a series or is it a standalone?
Erica: This one’s a standalone and right now I don’t have any major plans for anything coming up next. I’m taking a little bit of a break where this winter season and maybe in the spring trying to start up something new.
But I have a few ideas, but nothing really started.
Stephen: Yeah I think horrors difficult to have a series that keeps the feeling going. It, they really lend themselves to standalones,
Erica: right? Sometimes you can have a character maybe that, I don’t know, that kinda like mysteries, how sometimes you have one detective who just goes through different maybe you could do something like that.
But yeah, it would be hard. .
Stephen: Yeah. Okay we’ve already talked about this a little bit some of your favorite books and authors in that. But do you have a bookstore you like to go to over where you live? I don’t, I, we have a Books a Million, which I do it’s, that’s an and then our, I really like our local library.
Erica: It’s really small and like the children’s section is really great. My kids really like it cuz it, it just, , the way that it has it set up is really great for kids. It’s at their level. Lots of colors, lots of things going on, and they have comfortable seats and it’s just a really friendly atmosphere in there.
Stephen: Yeah. I love libraries. I love promoting, pushing libraries. I’ve got an author event coming up in a little over a week at our local library. So yeah, always trying to encourage people. Use your library, go to the library. . Yeah, it
Erica: really is. It’s great cuz like even. Even if you want to try out a new author, a new genre or something, and you’re like, I’m not really sure I wanna commit to it, you can always just go browse, re take out a book and if you don’t like it, bring it back.
Stephen: so have you read scary Stories to Telling The Dark to your Kids?
Erica: No, I haven’t read it to my kids yet. I, we listened to a couple of this stories. My daughter’s five, so we listened to a couple of the stories on, and she. So I’m like, okay, maybe we’ll wait a little while. you go end up with kids in your bed all night.
Stephen: You don’t
Erica: do it too fast. But yeah, she she was a bit scared, so Yeah, I don’t, they like like I, I get some like Halloween themed books that are more spooky and they really I recently ran into the Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. Which I had never read before last year.
Stephen: And it was interesting. It was not what I expected at all. It, it takes a little bit to get into his style flow of writing. But the whole history of Halloween and all that in the book I thought was pretty, pretty interesting. Yeah.
Erica: A lot of them, a lot of the, like the Halloween theme books has something like that, like some kind of interesting information.
It’s not just. Not just scared not just to be spooky. A lot of ’em might a really cute lesson or something
Stephen: like that too. All right. Before we move on and talk about some author type stuff if someone came up to you on the street and said, Hey, I heard you wrote a book.
Why should I get your book and read it? What would you tell them?
Erica: I would say if you like horror and you like the haunted house kind of genre, trope, whatever you wanna call, you give it a try because I think I, I tried to make it unexpected. I tried to make it a little bit different of the backstory of why this house is founded.
So give it a try. See if you like. Great.
Stephen: Nice. Thank you. Appreciate you sharing all that.