[Interview] 'Gorefest' Author Amy Grech on Women In Horror and Upcoming Projects
We had an opportunity to sit down with Amy Grech for an interview about her love of horror, how she got started as a storyteller and women in horror.
Amy Grech is a New York based writer and storyteller with a passion for horror. Grech is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers and has sold over 100 stories to various anthologies and magazines including: A New York State of Fright, Apex Magazine, Dead Harvest, Flashes of Hope, Gorefest, Hell’s Heart, Hell’s Highway, Hell’s Mall, Needle Magazine, Punk Noir Magazine, Scare You To Sleep, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, Tales from The Lake Volume 3, The One That Got Away, Thriller Magazine, and several others. She has several stories forthcoming in anthologies and a poem in Under Her Skin, A Women In Horror Poetry Collection, Volume I coming April 5, 2022.
Her current writing projects include two crime fiction novellas set in New York City. The first takes place in Alphabet City, where rage and redemption are the primary focus. A devious eye doctor sets his sights on the wrong girl; murderous mayhem ensues. The avenues in Alphabet City tell a tragic tale: A is for Alert; C is for Caution; and D is for Death. The second is set in Manhattan and Park Slope, Brooklyn. After being caught in gang crossfire, a young woman exacts her own justice with a hot pink, leopard print Concealed Carry Glock 26 9mm that she affectionately calls Vicious Pink.
Grech also has a dystopian novella under consideration with a publisher in a post-financial collapsed dystopia, where food takes on new meaning. A hailstorm of technicolor RING balls. A Gathering. A four-hour eating orgy. Cyanide. It's like “The Lottery” meets “The Running Man”.
Slay Away: How did you discover your love of horror?
Grech: When my family went to visit an aunt living in Kingston, NY, she gave me two of Stephen King’s novels, Cujo and Pet Sematary. I was 12-years-old at the time. Despite the mature themes, I was hooked on his work. I decided that I wanted to try my hand at writing. The lack of female authors published in the genre was a massive motivator to seeing my name in print.
Slay Away: What experience most shaped your love of horror once you'd discovered the genre?
Grech: I’ve always had an overactive imagination. My love of horror was born from my love of all things macabre. Halloween started me down a dark path. One Halloween, my elementary school hosted a Ragamuffin Parade. My friends and I got to dress up in our Halloween costumes. I remember some of the boys went as members of the band KISS, with black and white make-up and all. Some of the girls went as Barbie or Strawberry Shortcake.
Daring to be different, I went as an octopus. Somehow, my father altered a rather large cardboard box so that it had a round top and a frayed bottom to represent tentacles. We painted it black and added silver paint for contrast around the eye, nose, mouth, and arm holes. It was very hard to walk in that cumbersome cardboard contraption—I almost toppled over several times—but I managed to stand my ground and blaze my own trail.
Slay Away: What's the very first horror film you recall watching?
Grech: The first horror movie I watched was Jaws when I was 10-years-old. I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions—utter terror and sheer exhilaration. It’s obvious my adrenaline rush trumped my fear. I’ve been hooked on horror movies ever since.
Slay Away: What's your favorite film, book and/or character in horror?
Grech: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is my favorite film—the horror is implied, which I find far more terrifying than showing the gore. Franz Kafka’s novella "The Metamorphosis" is quite unsettling—it made my skin crawl. My favorite character has to be Jack Torrance from The Shining. His alcoholism and slow descent into madness are morbidly fascinating—like a train wreck you know you shouldn’t watch, but you can’t look away.
Slay Away: What would you say your role is within the Horror Community?
Grech: I'm a staunch supporter of the Women in Horror movement. My essay, “Dangerous Dames: Women Who Write Horror” on Medium is a veritable who’s who of the genre. Our legions are growig. There are over 700 published female horror authors hellbent on terrifying readers.
Slay Away: Tell us who your favorite LGBTQIA+ or female storyteller, writer or filmmaker is?
Grech: Hailey Piper’s transgressive books push boundaries. I especially love Queen of Teeth. It’s a provocative deep dive into body horror against the scintillating backdrop of corporate greed.
Slay Away: Who are your favorite horror authors and what authors do you believe have most influenced you in your writing?
Grech: Some of my favorite authors are Franz Kafka, Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft, Joyce Carol Oates, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, and Alice Sebold. When I first started writing seriously in high school, I mimicked Stephen King’s style in early, unpublished stories before developing my own distinct voice.
Slay Away: Did you always know you would end up writing horror stories and where do you draw inspiration from?
Grech: Absolutely! My parents sent my brother and me to Catholic school on Long Island. I thought we were being punished—the other kids in the neighborhood where we grew up went to public school. The Bible was downright terrifying. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Samson and Delilah.
I’ve lived in New York City for 26-years. When I first moved from Long Island, it was a much darker place than it is today. Back then, certain neighborhoods, like Alphabet City and Hell’s Kitchen were covered in graffiti and had a reputation for being dangerous sections of the city, where crime ran rampant. These were not places where young, single women had any business being, but one of my good friends lived in Hell’s Kitchen, so I got a taste of that region of the city on a regular basis, saw the crime firsthand, albeit from a safe distance, witnessed junkies desperate for a fix and got a sense that desperation bred contempt. I envisioned Alphabet City to be the same way, but much to my dismay, when I went to explore in the early 2000s, there was no graffiti to be seen, condos dominated virtually every street corner and self-absorbed hipsters replaced junkies. It was a crime-haven no more.
Slay Away: We loved the stories in ‘The One That Got Away: Women of Horror Anthology Volume III.’ Can you tease a bit about your story and why readers rush out and grab not only that anthology, but all of the volumes from Kandisha Press?
Grech: When I was in my 20s, I lived on the Upper East Side briefly. At the time, I was grieving the loss of my college boyfriend Keith, who delighted in being dominated in bed. We dated for almost two years, did the meet the parents thing, so it seemed like a natural progression to marriage, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. Our breakup was the inspiration for my story, “Cold Comfort”, in The One That Got Away, Women of Horror Anthology Volume Three from Kandisha Press, where a chance encounter at an NYC dive bar becomes an unlikely obsession.
Slay Away: Amy, thank you for taking the time to chat with us! We hope to chat with you again as you publish additional stories and other works!
Grech: Thanks for having me—this has been fantastic!