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"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Friday, February 24, 2017

Women in Horror Month #11: Lesley Conner, Managing Editor of Apex and Author of THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS

I first encountered today's guest in the middle of a stupid Twitter conversation where a filmmaker was accusing her of stealing the title of her latest release.  Of course, you can't copyright a title, which is why Mick Jagger can't sue Holly Lisle for naming her book SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL...amongst billions of other examples.  In any case, I admired the way she handled that stupidity and got to go to a signing and have lunch with her in person a few months later.  Oh, and we're also Sinister Grin stablemates.  So I'm very pleased to have her with us today, so let's meet the guest and jump right into the interview.

About Lesley Conner:

Lesley Conner is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in MOUNTAIN DEAD, DARK TALES OF TERROR, A HACKED-UP HOLIDAY MASSACRE, as well as other places. Her first novel THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. BEST OF APEX MAGAZINE: VOLUME 1 marks her debut experience in anthology editing. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter.


SK:  What are your horror credentials?

LC:  I’ve had short stories published in anthologies such as MOUNTAIN DEAD, A HACKED-UP HOLIDAY MASSACRE, and DARK TALES OF TERROR. Lately I’ve been focusing on writing novels, and had my alternate history horror novel THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS published by Sinister Grin Press back in 2015.

SK:  Who or what terrifies you?
LC:  There isn’t a whole lot that terrifies me, but the one thing that gets me is the thought of something happening to my children. I have a 14 year old and a nine year old daughter, and the older I get, the more I worry about somebody hurting them or there being an accident. The way it’s going, I’m going to be one of those horrible helicopter moms before they graduate from high school. 

SK:  Are there unique challenges to being a woman in horror or do you feel like gender is irrelevant?

LC:  There aren’t unique challenges in terms of women being able to create/enjoy horror. We’re just a capable as men. But there are in the way people perceive women in horror. Many times I’ve been told I don’t “look like a horror writer.”  What is a horror writer supposed to look like?

I’ve also had people who know me in my real life be incredibly surprised by my novel. They know I wrote a horror novel, but they also know I’m a mom and a Girl Scout leader. They see me as this sweet lady who children love and who drinks way too much coffee and fits the image of a frazzled, over-achieving mom rather than someone who could write a vicious book about serial killers and demons. They assume I must have written some sort of cutesy scary book, and then they read THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS and are completely shocked. How did that book come out of my imagination!?! Well, I’ll tell you how – being a mom/Girl Scout leader in no way impairs my ability to write some scary, messed up shit.

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

LC:  I know this probably isn’t original or anything like that, but I have to say Shirley Jackson. Most people seem to know her best for her story “The Lottery” and her novel THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, but my favorite work of hers is WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE. It isn’t a horror novel in terms of there being a supernatural element or a serial killer or a monster. It’s a story about people and how horrible we can be to each other. She takes this surreal setup and transforms the everyday people into the monsters. It is terrifying in the way that it is so believable and realistic. I recommend everyone read it. Great, great book!

SK:  What are you working on/promoting currently? Why should folks check it out?

LC:  I’m working on a second novel about speakeasies and jazz and mysterious deaths, but it is coming very slow. It could be a while before it’s out where people can read it. Writing has been really difficult for me lately. I actually wrote an essay about it for CLICKERS FOREVER: A J.F. GONZALEZ TRIBUTE which will be coming out as a limited edition hardcover through Thunderstorm Books and in paperback and digital through Deadite Press. It’s going to be a terrific anthology and I’m incredibly honored to be a part of it.

And if you like the sound of horror set in medieval times and the ultimate power struggle between a serial killer and demon, then definitely check out THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS.


Gilles de Rais has control over every aspect of his life: the servants he employs, the village he lords over, the carefully crafted visage he shows to the world. He dictates where his subjects live, what they eat, if they live or die. He has ultimate power and wields it with a flourish to conceal the dark desires that lurk behind his smile and the despair within his castle in Machecoul.

When a wizard tasked with raising a demon loses control of the beast, Gilles's tight grasp on his world begins to slip. His cook plans to flee, taking her son away from the dangers of the castle. His guard wants to claim Gilles’s lifestyle as his own. His wizard frantically searches for a way to survive both his lord and the demon he has called into the world. And the villagers – like Jeanetta and her family –move through life in Machecoul too consumed with the task of surviving day to day, and oblivious to the turmoil building within the castle that is threatening to break out and consume them all.

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