Ginger Nuts of Horror
By getting Working Stiffs published at 28, Lucy Leitner accomplished her rather dubious goal of being on the same career timeline as Hunter Thompson. She loves movies about phone booth time travel and bands with an unnecessary amount of X’s in their names. Known by many aliases, she has parlayed the dollars she won betting on hockey games into an impressive collection of groceries.
Raised in Arlington, VA, she adopted Pittsburgh as her hometown when she arrived in 2001 to attend the University of Pittsburgh. She earned a masters degree in journalism from Point Park University in 2010. She has been published as a reporter for two local newspapers, a film critic for an underground punk blog, an SEO blogger, and a creative essayist in a worldwide anthology. She has also sold two as-of-yet-unproduced horror screenplays and runs Hollyburgh blog in which she covers the burgeoning Pittsburgh film scene. She also paints and designs things.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m the author of zombie-comedy novel Working Stiffs, which was published by Necro Publications in the spring of 2012. I’m a writer, blogger, designer, and PR person in Pittsburgh, PA. I have too many ideas at once to possibly accomplish them all. A couple years ago I decided that I wanted to learn web design, Russian, and Krav Maga simultaneously. Needless to say, that did not work out. I sometimes remind myself of Michael Keaton’s character in the underrated 1980 hookers at the morgue comedy Night Shift.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror. Even though my book is filled with rotting corpses and corporate ennui, it’s somehow not dark. And that’s what I generally gravitate towards. Particularly humor horror — I’m also into alliteration, so that helps.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Christopher Moore, Charlie Huston, Hunter Thompson, Christopher Buckley, Chuck Klosterman
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
British comedian Mark Steele’s hilarious revolutionary-sympathizing Vive La Revolution was the perfect book for me. A funny history of my favorite historical era, the French Revolution — I blew through this book in a not-particularly-festive weekend. It exceeded even my high expectations. No book has ever disappointed me like House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. I’ve been a huge fan of his sister Poe since I was in middle school and the overly experimental novel — that I was so excited to read because it came so highly recommended — just did not hold up compared to her musical interpretation of it. I sold the book for about a dollar. It made me mad.
How would you describe your writing style?
Like Bill S. Preston, Ted “Theodore” Logan, or Jeff Spicoli majored in English.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
The ones that stick with me are from the reviewers that really got it. Two reviewers at Igor’s Lab wrote incredibly incisive reviews that understood the themes of the book. They got that the book wasn’t actually about zombies, per se. The flesh hungry corpses were allegories to a story that was identifiable to those disenfranchised drones who feel trapped in a bland life that they did not want. These reviewers even brought up works that I’d never seen or read. It’s when someone truly understands what you’re trying to say that it sticks with you.
What’s your favourite food?
Apples with chunky peanut butter are a staple. But I love nachos, chicken strips, and anything cake batter flavored that is not in actual cake form.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Guns N’ Roses, Warner Drive, Amanda Palmer, W.A.S.P., Warren Zevon, Queensryche, Lillian Axe, Faith No More. There are countess others, but those seem the most significant.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
I’ve learned to write in a manner that suits me. I’ve tried to write straight horror before (Stiffs actually began as a serious novel about the plight of the modern office worker), but it was derivative and boring. I’m not suited to a gothic style. My voice is naturally what comes through in Working Stiffs. I like one-liners. I like a bit of levity in the carnage.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
I have trouble with the outlining stages. I’m not particularly organized and prone to riffing on certain things. I’ll often start writing because I have a phrase that I find funny and will base a conversation or a blog post about it. This is not advisable to any writer. You’re supposed to have structure. Sometimes I write like it’s a guitar solo. It deviates from the actual structure of the narrative because I want to show how adept I am at putting words together. Yes, I often have the same penchant for showmanship and disregard for restraint as Manowar.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’ve become my own voice. While I was in college, I idolized Hunter Thompson, so I tried to emulate his style and his commentary. But, when I got a bit older, I realized that I cared about different things. And that I was something very different than my idol.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
My father’s had a couple books published, including his dissertation. He’s told me many times that you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
I love Rick O’Brien. I think fast-talking sleazy characters are just inherently funny. He’s a visiting pharmaceutical buyer from Baltimore. He loves strippers and get-rich-quick schemes. The employees at the corporate office have been told to impress this guy — before they knew he was a skirt-chasing egomaniac. While I was writing him, I kept picturing him as Dean Winters, and the character wrote himself.
How about your least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I hate Lillian Glabicki, the head of human relations. That is the most evil name I could think of for a pear-shaped grim reaper of office jobs. She’s based on other overpaid, under-skilled HR people who treat employees like they’re disposable. “Human resources” is an appropriate department name when the humans are thought of nothing but resources that keep the machine moving.
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Probably respect. It should be able to earn the others.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Aside from Working Stiffs, I’m really proud of a story that I wrote for my blog Hollyburgh about why Pittsburgers should embrace Rob Zombie’s Broad Street Bullies movie. As Pittsburghers, we’re inclined to disapprove of everything that gives any recognition to Philadelphia. However, I argued that this film would not glorify Philadelphia, but would capture it in a manner that we could get behind. I got hate mail from Flyers fans. I think I made my point.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Working Stiffs is a humorous, satirical tale of what happens when zombies invade the corporate headquarters of a pharmaceutical company. These aren’t supernatural zombies, but factory drones — homeless vagrants that the criminal CEO abducted off the streets and injected with a virus that turns them into slaves that he can use to staff his plant for free.
I’m working on a dystopian novel set in the near future in which certain current aspects of our society have gotten out of control. It has the same sense of humor as Stiffs, but the plotting is much tighter. It’s a hard-boiled mystery set in a world that is an exaggeration of our own.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?
I never get asked about sports. I’m generally asked about my favorite books, movies, TV shows, and bands, but never sports franchises. I love watching the Pittsburgh Penguins. I love playing baseball.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON LUCY PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINKS BELOW
Amazon Author Page:
Please consider sharing these horror author interviews on Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks. By helping to spread these reviews you are increasing the potential readership of these authors, which might just help to sell some of their books.
FILE UNDER HORROR AUTHOR INTERVIEW