Women in Horror Q&A with Lindsay-King Miller

Posted by Quirk Books Staff
The Z Word by Lindsay King-Miller goes on sale May 7, 2024.
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Quirk Books: What do you love most about writing horror?

Lindsay King-Miller: Horror is fun and freeing! I have an anxiety disorder; my brain is a powerful worst-case-scenario generator. While I usually work to quell that impulse so I can function in daily life, writing horror allows it to roam free. It’s cathartic and also validating to go as deep as possible into the darkest parts of my mind. I love getting a little weird, leaning into the gore or the surrealism, following a bizarre idea wherever it leads. Horror is a genre of extreme emotions, not just fear or disgust—which are a blast to write—but also devastating sorrow, wild joy, overwhelming horniness. All the genre conventions, like monsters and haunted houses and grotesque bodily transformations, offer a sort of heightened vocabulary to describe all kinds of heightened emotions and experiences. Horror is wildly metaphorical and rich with established tropes that a writer can twist, subvert, and improvise around. At the same time, it’s an expansive genre with very few limits. All of that makes it an incredibly fun and rewarding playground for me as a writer.



Quirk Books: What sparked your interest in horror writing?

Lindsay King-Miller: I’ve been drawn to horror for as long as I can remember. My earliest works of fiction were Goosebumps knockoffs when I was in second grade, and I kept it up through elementary and into middle school. After that I wandered into a lot of different genres–I’ve been a slam poet, a freelance journalist, an advice columnist, and more–but I never lost my fascination with horror. I started writing short horror stories again when my first child was a baby. Looking back, I think I needed to process some of the fears of early parenthood, and at the same time, connect with a part of myself that was just mine–an aspect of me that hadn’t been subsumed by my new identity as a mother. Then, in 2020, a bunch of stuff happened that you may be familiar with, and I threw myself into writing fiction with survival-drive intensity. I started The Z Word in November of 2020 and finished the rough draft in about six months. At some point in there, I began to think of myself as a horror writer first, above all other genres. That hasn’t changed yet.


Quirk Books: Do you have a preference for writing in any particular horror subgenre? (Survival horror, supernatural horror, etc…)

Lindsay King-Miller: I love zombies, ghosts, eco-horror, romantic and erotic horror–a little bit of everything, as long as I can find a way to make it queer. Is parenting horror a genre? I write a lot about mothers. I’m working on a possession book right now, and I have an idea for a historical horror novel after that. There’s almost always an element of the supernatural or fantastic in my work; I doubt I’ll ever write a straight-up serial killer or psychological thriller, although who knows?


Quirk Books: What are the last three pieces of horror media you’ve consumed and loved?

Lindsay King-Miller: I recently watched Sissy (2022), which checked so many of my boxes–a morally compromised protagonist, a toxic friendship, dark humor, massive amounts of gore. There’s this one sound effect that I’m never going to get out of my head, it was so gross! Just a really fun time, for a very specific definition of “fun.”

On the far other end of the emotional spectrum, the best book I’ve read so far this year has to be The Reformatory by Tananarive Due. It’s a deeply researched historical horror novel based on a real reform school where one of Due’s family members, along with many other children, were murdered. Though there are supernatural elements, the most horrific aspects of the novel are those depicting real-life racism, violence, and exploitation. I had to take a break every few chapters because the heartbreak was so overwhelming. Due has been one of my favorite horror writers for years, but this book outshines anything else I’ve read by her.

And I’m currently in the middle of reading The Nightmare Box by Cynthia Gómez, which comes out in July from Cursed Morsels Press. It’s a phenomenal collection of dark fairy tales, full of vengeful magic and marginalized characters who flip the script on their oppressors. I’m enjoying it so much, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world.


Quirk Books: What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Lindsay King-Miller: I try not to get too attached to the message of anything I write, because you can never control what a reader will find in a story. My primary goal is that the reader will have a good time–that they’ll be scared, turned on, grossed out, moved to laughter or tears. But if they come away motivated to build queer community around real, mutual relationships instead of brand loyalties, that would be a huge bonus! Or if the book inspires them to go kiss that person they think is cute, because we could all be eaten by zombies tomorrow. Or all of the above.

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