Farah Rose Smith, Author of ‘Anonyma’ talks to Kendall Reviews.

Farah Rose Smith is a writer, dancer, musician, puppeteer, and photographer whose work often focuses on the Gothic, Decadent, and Surreal. She authored THE ALMANAC OF DUST, EVISCERATOR, numerous short stories in horror and speculative anthologies, and is the founder and editor of MANTID, an anthology series promoting women and diverse writers in Weird Fiction. Her experimental film work has festival received accolades, including Best Short Screenplay (Rapture, 2016) at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival and Best Experimental Film (The Atrocity Shoppe, 2015) at the Shawna Shea Film Festival. She lives in Queens, NY with her partner.

KR: Coffee?

KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

I am an artistic nomad, gravitating between and within mediums for years, and currently find myself in New York City, attending school for Theatre and Dance.

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

I began serious training in Egyptian and Persian styles of bellydance a few years ago, so practice takes up most of my spare time. I’m also an amateur puppet maker, so I often take workshops and mess around with materials. I’ve been a guitarist for about twenty years now, mostly in blues music.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs. I remember reading the copy I took out from the tiny library down the street and falling absolutely in love with the quirky magic of it.

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

Diamond Dogs by David Bowie. That album changed my world, my perspective on music and writing, everything. Music plays a huge role in my writing, though rarely anything with lyrics. I listen to a lot of classical music, film scores, ambient, experimental soundscapes while writing to try to get myself in the proper emotional state for a particular piece.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?

I’d have to say David Cronenberg, but he hasn’t influenced my work to any degree, save for a story called OF ONE PURE WILL. I find that the directors I respect the most are ones that utilize horror as an element or tool in stories that are not traditionally horror-based. I don’t really come from a place of worshipping traditional horror. I come from it from an unconventional angle, more from tragedy, Decadence, and Surrealism. My favorite directors overall are people like Kenneth Anger and The Quay Brothers, who are more peculiar in their tastes than horror directors. I prefer Vincent Price-era horror film to the modern releases.

KR: What are you reading now?

I’m currently reading the Guru Granth Sahib to prepare for my exam in Sikhism.

KR: What was the last great book you read, and which was the biggest disappointment?

The last great book I read was UNLANGUAGE by Michael Cisco. He is a furiously underrated writer, and I hope to see a surge in his notoriety as time goes on. The biggest disappointments, though they will remain unnamed, usually fall into the category of traditional horror that is noted commercially, but not really challenging anything in terms of form, theme, or culture. I appreciate the small press writers who are challenging conventions in the genre and embracing difference and innovation.  

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

Paperback! I have a headache disorder that makes it very hard to read on a screen, and a damaged hand that makes it hard to hold hardcovers.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

E.T.A. Hoffmann, Bruno Schulz, Gabriel García Márquez, Denton Welch, Alfred Kubin, Clarice Lispector, Walter Tevis, Philip K. Dick, Vladimir Nabokov, Anna Kavan, Anya Seton, Walter Moers, Trumbull Stickney, Théophile Gautier. I’ll stop there for sanity’s sake.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

It depends on the story. I like to have a rough outline, but sometimes I steer clear of it in the long run because it gives me a degree of anxiety. Though what I finish usually falls well within my self-appointed guidelines, because a story wants to be what it wants to be and I would rather be a vessel than a God.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I don’t research heavily before writing because the particular style I write in is more of an end result of years reading and exposing myself to experimental or unusual styles. The invention of an experimental writing process was what really made it all flourish for me, because writing before that discovery was agony.

KR: How would you describe your writing style?

Decadent, but more leaning towards their Symbolist predecessors. Tragic surrealism with an emphasis on disabled characters and recluses.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

A very long time (up to 4 hours) hesitating and imagining while listening to music, then a sudden burst resulting in anywhere from a sentence to an entire story.

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

The River. I wrote it as a response to a horrifically painful message I received from a now estranged relative. It was also adapted into a short film script, which I am attempting to shop around.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

Only when I’m feeling particularly masochistic.

KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?

I don’t think anything I’m saying in my work has changed much in the past ten years. The only ways I’ve developed were through the discovery of Surrealist methods, reading obscure writers (mostly from Latin America and Middle Europe), and trying to grow through disappointing friendships with other writers.

KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?

Don’t bow to the pressures of the commercial market.

KR: What scares you?

The prevalence and ease through which cruel and dishonest people succeed.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

ANONYMA is the story of a dancer who becomes involved in a cult and crosses over into another world through dark magic. It is decadent, surreal, tragic, but ultimately a display of women’s strength through abuse, and how fragility has a strength of its own.

KR: What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a graphic novel and seeking an artist who favors the decadent tradition to collaborate with.

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?

You can choose…

a) One fictional character from your writing.

Solomon Ward, the protagonist from THE RIVER (he is partly based on Denton Welch).

b) One fictional character from any other book.

Hildegunst von Mythenmetz from The City of Dreaming Books (my current favorite book by Walter Moers)

c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.

Danny Elfman (to appease my childhood silliness)

KR: Thank you very much.

Thank you for interviewing me!

Farah Rose Smith

You can find out more about Farah Rose by visiting her official website http://farahrose92.wixsite.com/grimoirepictures

Follow Farah Rose on Twitter @farahrosesmith

The history of art is littered with Great Men and the Muses they use as stepping stones to brilliance. In this shockingly lyrical, endlessly rich and luxurious nightmare of a novel, the Muse turns. Yet, it is not so much a tale of vengeance or comeuppance as it is a heroine’s journey, as Anonyma survives doomscapes almost beyond imagination and the transgressions of mere men, mere artists, survives the horrors imposed upon the feminine to rediscover her own magic and power. Anonyma, novel and narrator, holds up a dark mirror to our paradigm of art as a kind of device for reducing women to Platonic ideals while staging theophanies for men. But she also holds the mirror to herself, her sisters, even, daring to hope, a daughter. ANONYMA is a novel full of blood and love and despair and courage.

You can buy Anonyma from Lulu

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