K.Z. Morano is a writer, a beach bum, and a chocolate addict. She writes anything from romance and erotica to horror and SF, F, and WTF. Her stories have appeared in various anthologies, magazines and online venues over the past few months.
"100 Nightmares" is her first horror story collection.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Hello! Thanks for having me. I’m K.Z.—an eclectic eccentric… I’m a shopaholic, a beach bum and a chocolate addict. I get bored easily. I crave for a constant change of environment. I’m allergic to a lot of things—especially bullshit. I prefer keeping only a handful of real friends… and I love them fiercely. I read and write anything from romance and erotica to horror and SF, F and WTF.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Lying on the beach, deliciously doing nothing... I like to cook, shop, read, drink tea, daydream and discover new places. I love going the spa with my grandma.
What’s your favourite food?
Hmmm I’m afraid 5 minutes is not enough time to talk about that. haha :) I love food and cooking. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I like beef a lot… flame-grilled burgers, steak, crispy ribs with potatoes. For this question, I wanted to come up with something fancy or exotic but at the end of the day, I’m really just a home-cooked burger kinda gal. ;)
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Well, they used to make us sing in school. One by one, in front of the whole class…
I was the little girl who sang “Creep” by Radiohead while all the other little girls sang Hakuna Matata from The Lion King and other Disney songs.
Of course, the teacher told me to shut up and sit down. (I had a cool uncle who introduced me to Radiohead, Aerosmith, etc.) I was a weirdo… still am.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror. If you can say it all in a single word, then why not? I like to think of Weird Fiction and Dark Fiction as two completely different subgenres. I don’t care much about names and categories anyway.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I like authors who are able to make the dangerous and disgusting seem desirable. I worship H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. They’re the authors that made me fall in love with horror in the first place.
Clive Barker’s earlier works taught me that there is no limit to this genre. I also like Poppy Z. Brite. These writers know how to pair the grotesque with the gorgeous, the revolting with the arousing.
Michael Arnzen, for me, is the god of very short horror fiction. I am also a fan of Jeremy Shipp. There is just so much beauty in Shipp’s and Arnzen’s weirdness.
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
I saw Bram Stoker’s Dracula when I was a kid. I saw some of the trailer when I was too young to watch it. I had no idea who Gary Oldman was and his face and his name (Oldman) terrified me.
When I was finally old enough to watch the film, I just fell in love with it (and with Gary Oldman). I had no idea that horror could be so beautiful.
It’s kind of like how I felt when I first read from the pages of Lovecraft’s works and Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart.
The horror film that screwed me up though was The Blair Witch Project. I was staying at my uncle’s in his suburb home near San Francisco and my older cousins made me watch it. In my bedroom, I looked out the window… there were trees and stuff! That was when I started sleeping with the lights on…
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
…and the girl with really huge breasts and a pea-sized brain opens the door in the middle of the night and the masked stranger runs after her and she hides someplace that’s totally predictable and the killer finds her and she screams and screams and screams and her screams are really annoying as he plunges the knife into her breast over and over and…
Which fictional character would be your perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
Perfect neighbour: Eric Northman. Anytime, babe, anytime.
Worst neighbour: Ned Flanders. On a very bad day, something delicate might snap inside my head. I might end up killing the guy. (and his family too)
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
Constantly evolving as it should. Fantasy horror, bizarro, YA, sci-fi, noir horror, dystopian... and all the lovely things in between... Writers are continuously coming up with more creative ways for readers to fear even the most unsuspecting things.
Horror is here to stay… It’ll never die as fear never dies… it just keeps reinventing itself.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
I am currently reading Lovecraft’s Monsters edited by Ellen Datlow and I’m loving it! Even while I was reading the TOC, my heart was beating its way out of my chest.
As for the other question, I usually don’t stick with a book long enough for it to disappoint me. If I lose interest in a certain book at the beginning… or in the middle… I put it down and decide that it’s simply not for me.
How would you describe your writing style?
A lot like me… eclectic, eccentric and at times, erotic. Ambitious, definitely. I like both narration AND description. If you can do them both then why the hell not… I like putting some effort into imagery even though my writing is concise, quick-paced. For me, every word matters. Every single word. So I usually don’t stop until I find the perfect one. Also, I hate anything that’s predictable…
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Since I post fiction on my blog, I get a lot of comments from readers. If someone voices out their opinion in a respectful manner, it’s fine. I know when I need to listen to them and when I need to ignore them. Comments like: “I don’t normally like horror but I just can’t stay away.” really make me smile because it’s no longer about the story or the genre. It’s about my writing.
I understand though how some harsh comments can be constructive and how some praise can be destructive. In the end, I just write what pleases me. I’m not afraid of losing readers or followers. I’m afraid only of losing my voice.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
The part where you attempt to express what you really feel through written words. :) My biggest obstacle would be the fact that English is not my first language… It’s not even my second language. Think of how hard it is to write a story—then multiply that by three. That’s how it is for me. Also, I have the attention span of a butterfly. That’s why short fiction works very well for me. And then there’s the marketing… oh god the marketing ><
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I don’t know anymore. Before, I told myself that I would never write about really blasphemous stuff… because I don’t want to embarrass my family when they somehow stumble upon my books online. They’re very old-fashioned and religious. But I did it anyway… so… I don’t know, maybe I’ll get written out of the will or maybe they’ll drag me to church and I’ll get flogged to death or something.
If you could kill off any character from any other book who would you chose and how would they die?
I can only think of one and he eventually died anyway… Joffrey Baratheon. I mean, I LOVE villains. I sympathize with them. But he’s just the kind of villain that I could never learn to love. The little bastard was a burden. So I’m happy that he died in A Storm of Swords. I would’ve wanted him to suffer more though… I wanted him to find something in this world that he truly loves and then I want him to die in a more painful and humiliating manner.
What do you think makes a good story?
Plenty of things… like proper pacing, the right descriptions, and characters that are interesting, believable, and consistent… Unnecessary words and needless dialogue annoy the hell out of me. A good story flows seamlessly, takes you inside the author’s mind. And above all, a good story entertains. It catches the reader’s attention and refuses to let go. If I’m able to make it to the last page, then I believe it’s a good story. The best ones are those that stay with you even after you put the book down.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
No special meanings… I usually just go with the first ones that pop into my head. Sometimes I feel like I don’t really choose the name. I mean I tried the whole put your enemy’s name in a story then make that character suffer thing… but if the name doesn’t sound right… For example, I name my character Anne. But Timmy does something to piss me off. So I change the name to Timmy and make her fall into a giant meat grinder. However, Timmy doesn’t seem like the kind of girl who would accidentally fall into a giant meat grinder… For me, Timmy sounds like the kind of girl who would willingly fall into the grinder. If that’s the case then I’ll stick to the original, Anne.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’d like to think that my writing has significantly improved over the past few months. I pay more attention to the small things now. I’ve become bolder, more determined… exploring new territories, experimenting with words.
Also, I used to be arrogant. A real amateur. I used to think my work is the sh*t just because a couple of people told me. But since I started reading and respecting other people’s works and listening to their voices, it was very humbling. I think I became a better writer because of that… And I’m still growing.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A tough pair of balls.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
“Develop your own voice, that’s my best advice. People will inevitably admit if you’re original…”
That’s from author Gary Murphy. I don’t talk to many people in FB. I’m pretty shy, believe it or not. So people have to approach me. Murph did, along with a few others. He gave me this pretty useful advice.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I suck at marketing. So I don’t know yet… Right now I do it by shamelessly posting ads here and there through Facebook. :) My blog has a great following. I’m very thankful for that. So no matter how busy I am I make sure that it’s updated. Also, I have no problems with writing for free. If that’s the fastest way to get more readers to sample my stuff, then why not…
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
Well, it’s not a character but a creature… The Shirime, also known as butt-eye. I’ve always been fascinated by yokai/ bizarre creatures of Japanese folklore… and a faceless man with an eye where his anus should have been is just so… interesting.
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I really can’t think of anyone. I love every single character in my stories… no matter how brief that character’s existence was.
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Respect. And fortune… and fame. I want it all. In any order. ;)
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
100 Nightmares is a labour of love. Right now I am most proud of it. Ideas are cheap, sure. But I’m never going to pretend that collecting 100 stories and coming up with the concepts for over 50 illustrations had been an easy task. I’ve eliminated several stories and illustrations along the way because I didn’t want readers to feel like they’ve been ripped off… and because I created this book for myself. And god knows how much I love myself.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
Hmmm I try not to send very poorly written stuff out there. I mean come on, that’s embarrassing. There are a few ones which I am not so proud of but if there’s one story that I’d like to forget about, then it must’ve been completely obliterated from my memory. We were all newbies, once upon a time. So I try to forgive myself for writing some “terrible stuff”. :)
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
100 Nightmares consists of everything that I love… Dark Fairy Tales, Yokai/ Monsters in Japanese Folklore and a few other things that I’m ashamed to admit that I like.
I love story collections. If I want to know the range of an author I read one of their collections. I hope that through 100 Nightmares, people will get an idea of what my writing style is like.
But don’t judge my writing based on this book alone. I have longer pieces out there too… in recently published and upcoming anthologies.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
I have a recently released book called 100 Nightmares. 100 Nightmares is a collection of 100 horror stories, each written in exactly 100 words, and accompanied by over 50 illustrations. Inside, you’ll find monsters—both imagined and real. There are vengeful spectres, characters with impaired psyches, dark fairy tales and stories and illustrations inspired by bizarre creatures of Japanese folklore. It’s available at Amazon.com, Lulu.com, and Smashwords.
Before I started writing horror, I was working on an erotic fantasy novel. It had quite an audience and then I just stopped posting the chapters on my blog. Because I realized my writing wasn’t good enough... yet. I didn’t want to be unfair to the readers and to myself. I learned a thing or two over the past few months so perhaps I’ll revisit the project.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
K.Z., can I help you turn 100 Nightmares into a printed book?
I thought you’d never ask. ;)
100 Nightmares by K.Z. Morano is a collection of 100 horror stories, each written in exactly 100 words, and accompanied by over 50 illustrations. Inside, you’ll find monsters—both imagined and real. There are vengeful specters, characters with impaired psyches, dark fairy tales and stories and illustrations inspired by bizarre creatures of Japanese folklore.
Praise for K.Z. Morano
"100 Nightmares took me for a thrill ride from the very first page. This book is filled with some of the creepiest and horrifying illustrations and flash fiction I've ever come across. K.Z. Morano knows how to take the fairy tale and twist it into a horrifying piece of flash prose, or subject an innocent person to the most brutal torture, or death. Seriously, some very disturbing moments were encountered as I read each story. Wow, keep an eye out for this writer, my friends, she's going to be delivering horror the way it's meant to be." ~Charles Day, Bram Stoker Award®-nominated Author of THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF, and author of DEEP WITHIN and HUNT FOR THE GHOULISH BARTENDER
It takes a brief encounter with death to cause enduring nightmares.
A single well-placed blow could maim you for life…
One well-placed word could haunt you forever.
Micro-fiction is a blade—sharp, swift…
Sometimes it goes for the jugular, killing you in seconds.
Its silver tongue touches your throat and warm blood hisses before you can scream.
Sometimes, the knife makes micro-cuts in the sensitive sheath of your sanity, creating wounds that will fester throughout eternity.
Take my 100 words daily like a slow-acting poison or read them all and die of overdose.
It’s your suicide after all.
Find out more about K Z from the links below