Thursday, October 31, 2013

Where We Write - A (Not So) Scary Room with Guest Cecilia Dockins

Boo! It's Halloween, and horror writer Cecilia Dockins is here to carry us into my Place & Time theme for November with a (shhh - careful) peek into her writing space. What's that, you ask? A dark room in the basement? Here's the door.  (You sure you want to go in there?)  ~ Sheila

A Not So Scary Room

by Cecilia Dockins

When people ask what I do I usually hesitate before responding. Over the years, I’ve had varied reactions to my answer, from stunned silence, woman’s lips mouthing like a catfish out of water, to polite smiles and pats on the shoulder. I even had someone tell me: “But honey, you look so normal… like a soccer mom.” pat pat pat.

I write horror.

I write about monsters real and imagined. I get to play with one of humanity’s most primal emotions: fear. A nasty, fantastically addicting habit, I know. It started as a child when I stumbled onto Shirley Jackson and R.L. Stine. My adolescence was filled with late-night B movies, pulp novels, and Stephen King. In college, I had a professor tell me Edgar A. Poe was a hack and I needed to learn a hefty respect for more “literary” writers, but I just couldn’t get enough. Every time I sat down to write the most devious and macabre scenarios sprouted from my imagination and festered on the paper. My purse always contained a John Saul, Dean Koontz, or Peter Straub paperback. Still does, though the names continually change.

Humor. A horror writer has humor in spades.

When someone new visits my home for the first time I see him or her do a body check. Their eyes are always wide and bright as if I were leading them to a dungeon and not a room filled with books and a laptop. Their sweaty palms rub the fronts of their pants and they always lick their lips. I often wonder if a romance writer has to reassure her visitors they will absolutely not be seduced or is the association of the genre and the writer just a horror thing.

The table was found at a junk store.
As the door to my office swings open, the visitor always slumps in relief. At first glance, my office looks perfectly normal. It’s a very long and narrow space, so the room had to be planned carefully.

The chandelier is a converted
Amish bucket.

Many of the items were discovered at yard sales. Yard sales are a great place to develop characterization and generate ideas. One can glean a lot from the stuff people sell. You get to see their homes as well as negotiation tactics speak volumes about personality.   

Reading Nook

Michael Bielaczyc print

And then, there is a subtle stiffening of the visitor’s body, and I smile as the small details are revealed…      


I have a massive
collection of horror
comics and Weird
Tales Pulps.

Happy Halloween!! And remember:

Never stop to help a stranger on the side of the road on a late October afternoon. It may be your last stop.

Cecilia Dockins was born in Waynesboro, Tennessee, where she grew up fishing in the creeks and rivers deep in the backwoods of her hometown. She earned her B.A. in English from Middle Tennessee State University in 2010. Her influences include Elizabeth Massie and H.P. Lovecraft. Cecilia is never at a loss for material, living on a farm where unexplainable incidents are the new normal: timid knocks at the door by seemingly no one, killer chickens, and odd shadows slipping through the trees at night.

Website coming soon. In the meantime, you can find Cecilia on Facebook


Want more Halloween? See Cait Johnson's
complete with a great Autumn soup from her book
Witch in the Kitchen!

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate your humor. People who come to our house usually find a few things that don't seem 'normal' to the either but are perfectly at home at a farm or ranch house. And for someone who used to be an EMR and likes forensics as a hobby there is weirdness, but it is cool. I would love to visit your home! Another intriguing guest Sheila.