Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi is an award-winning professional with over 20 years experience in the PR, Marketing, Advertising, Media, Writing, Journalism, Editing, and Communications fields, working in publicizing and marketing authors, people, healthcare services, tourism and travel, awareness issues, non-profit organizations, books, clothing, entertainment, events, festivals, and more over this time. She’s written and edited numerous articles on a wide variety of subjects, for business clients, magazines, websites, as well as novels. She’s also written content for marketing materials, advertising: ads, billboards, radio and TV ads, websites, social media, and blogs.
Publicist, Editor, Writer, Journalist, PR and Marketing Professional. This could be a three cup interview!
The kettle has boiled…
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
This would involve me sending you a 300-page manuscript! Professionally, you can read my bio, but in short, I’m an author, editor, journalist, mother of three, and I like to spend time doing outdoor activities and at the lake. I also have a healthy obsession with watching basketball and shopping for used books. I write just about everything, but really love to write poetry and short stories.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
Spend time with my kids. As a family we love to watch NBA Cleveland Cavaliers and NCAA basketball on TV and go to the stadium to cheer on the Ashland University Lady Eagles Division II basketball games near us. We also like going to the library, or many libraries, bookstores, and art and history museums!
I also like reading, watch movies/TV, art projects, and photography. When the weather is nice I like hiking, parks, and picnics by rivers and going to Lake Erie as much as possible. I love used (or new) book and antique hunting and road trips.
Photo by Erin Al-Mehairi, Lake Erie Sunset, 2017
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, but before that even was any book by Beatrix Potter.
KR: What are you reading now?
Alma Katsu’s The Hunger, The Devil and the Deep – anthology by Ellen Datlow, and I just read The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda. Also, submissions and books I’m editing. Lol!
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Sue Harrison, early V.C. Andrews, Edgar Allan Poe, Shirley Jackson
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
Pantser, totally, for now, my muse leads me. On my short stories, often the ending comes out of nowhere and is a surprise to me as well.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
For poetry and short stories, the research is minimal except when I look into more details on a legend or mythological creature from various countries or maybe places to create setting. For my suspense/revenge novel, which features Emily Dickinson’s ghost, I have researched Amherst, Massachusetts for the setting and Dickinson extensively for her character development. For all, I research during the process not just before and I spend as long as it takes till I get enough inspiration, details, or information.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
Nothing is usual in my days and no two days are the same. Working in publishing as an editor, in publicity, journalism, etc., and with three kids, I don’t get as much writing time in as I’d like. For now, I steal those moments in bits and pieces.
KR: Which is your favourite of the books/stories you have written?
I think my story “Dandelion Yellow,” even if it was sad and my story series “Valhalla Lane.” Both of those are in my collection, BREATHE. BREATHE.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
Yes, I want to learn from them or feel validated by them. If they are good, I want to share.
KR: What scares you?
SPIDERS!!!!! GHOSTS! DEEP WATER! The cupboard empty of peanut butter!
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
To read? All, but preference toward paperback and hardback. I prefer to hold, smell, and hug my books! Plus, after working so much on a screen my eyes need a break.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
My latest release is my collection Breathe. Breathe., a dark poetry and short story collection that came out from Unnerving in 2017. It took all the trauma in my life and brought it to the surface. Writing it helped heal me and has opened up my muse to lengths I didn’t know it could go. It has personal and emotional poems, deep poems based on folklore, poems inspired by Agatha Christie, stories that run the horror gamut from horror of humanity to sci-fi to psychological to revenge and more.
Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It’s a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.
In Act One, readers are presented with a serial killer in Victorian London, a lighthouse keeper with an eerie legacy, a murderous spouse that seems to have walked right out of a mystery novel, and a treacherous Japanese lady who wants to stay immortal. The heightened fears in the twilight of your minds will seep into the blackest of your nights, where you have to breathe in rhythm to stay alive.
In Act Two, the poetry turns more internal and pierces through the wall of denial and pain, bringing visceral emotions to the surface unleashing traumas such as domestic abuse, violence, and illness.
In the short stories, you’ll meet residents of Valhalla Lane whose lives are on a violent parallel track to collision, a man who is driven mad by the sound of a woodpecker, a teenage girl who wakes up on the beach and can’t find another soul in sight, a woman caught in a time shift pitting her against the Egyptian goddess Anuket, and a little girl whose whole world changes when her favorite dandelion yellow crayon is discontinued.
Amid these pages the haunting themes of oppression, isolation, revenge, and madness unfold through folklore, nightmares, and often times, raw, impulsive passion crafted to sear from the inside out.
With a touching foreword by the Bram Stoker nominated author Brian Kirk, Breathe. Breathe. will at times unsettle you, and at times embrace you. Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, a veteran writer and editor of the written word, offers up a mixed set of pieces, identifying her as a strong, new voice in dark fiction that will tear the heart from your chest, all the while reminding you to breathe.
KR: What are you working on now?
I’m working on a solely poetry collection with water as the theme. Water has always been a huge source of inspiration for me, and several poems and stories in Breathe. Breathe., but because water supplies me with energy, both physically and mentally, I wanted to expand on it. I feel at peace by the water, but also the anger and danger in its depths. I feel life and death both. I believe water has special power for me. I’m going to explore both people’s pain on the water in different forms as well as sea monsters, ship wrecks, and coastal village intrigue. I’m a huge fan of the last three. I’m looking for a publisher for it.
I’m also working on a short story collection based on the works of Van Gogh as well as stand-alone short stories and poetry for submission.
In larger works, I’m working on a novel still that I’ve been picking away at for years. It’s a revenge novel, as far as I’m concerned at this point, featuring an abused woman and the ghost of Emily Dickinson. It takes place in Emily’s hometown. I’m excited for this one.
And since writing my Vahalla Lane series in Breathe. Breathe., I’ve had some response to it and so I’m writing on a novella when I have the chance featuring the story of one of the women, both in prequel and in sequel to what happens.
And then I am super excited this year as I am the guest editor for Unnerving on a Gothic anthology of poetry and short stories called Haunted are these Houses. Submissions close April 28 and we are busy reading them. It will publish Fall 2018.
KR: Fast forward ten years! Where do you see yourself?
My life is going to change drastically in 10 years because I’ll go from 43 to 53 years of age and all my kids will have left the home – well, the last one will be half-way through university. I see so much more time in my life and hopefully for writing and travel. I’m looking forward to coming back to England for a bit. I’m sure I’ll be living somewhere closer to the ocean, not just near the Great Lakes as I do now. I want to finally be able to get my master’s degree and teach writing, which is something I haven’t had time or money for while raising my kids.
KR: Thank you very much Erin.
You can follow Erin on Twitter @ErinAlMehairi
To find out more about Erin please visit her official website www.hookofabook.wordpress.com
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You can visit the Official Unnerving Magazine site via www.unnervingmagazine.com