Monday 25 March 2013

Q&A with Anne Michaud, author of "Girls & Monsters"

Excerpt from "Death Song": 

Something catches in the back of my throat. I hide my face in my hands to quiet the sobs. But then, something ain’t right. Air moves around me and I stop. I look between my fingers, but the blur of my tears thickens everything: the bathtub, the towels, and someone on the floor. A woman’s in here with me, door still closed and locked. An exhale, like after a deep swim, and a smell, like the swamp close to my empty home. A chill runs down my back, I wipe my eyes, rub and scratch them to see more clearly. And I do.

Recently, I was given the privilege of reading an advanced copy of “Girls & Monsters”, a collection of YA horror stories by author Anne Michaud. After diving into her twisted world of lake monsters, giant spiders and blood thirsty dogs, I emerged with a plethora of questions not only about this newest collection, but also about her fascination with the macabre, and the craft of writing. 

J: Hi Anne, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions about your newest collection, “Girls & Monsters”. As I made my way through, I couldn’t help but notice some similarities between your style and that of Stephen King. Was he an influence on your writing?

AM: Actually, I’ve only read Salem's Lot from King, and although everybody says he's a great writer, I've never been tempted to read his other novels. I know, I can hear people groan, too.

J: Who else would you cite as an influence?

AM: I really love Neil Gaiman, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Suzanne Collins, Jean-christophe Rufin and Edgar Allan Poe. I love different genres with darkness as a common thread.

J: Why did you choose to write a YA novel? Do you write specifically YA, or have you written novels for adult readers as well?

AM: The thing is, writing young characters automatically puts your book into the YA category, even if you don't deal with teen angst and sweet emotions. I've never imagined myself writing for YA. When I was young, I read books for adults, but now that I am one, I prefer stories aimed at a younger audience. I might need therapy.

J: Is writing therapy for you?

AM: I strongly believe it is. I do like to base my antagonists on people I hate in real life—and then let all hell break loose. I highly recommend it, by the way. It feels great after you kill them off, but you don't go to jail. One stone, two birds.

J: There is a continuous theme of small towns in these stories. What inspired you to use small towns as a theme?

AM: I come from a small town and live in one at the moment, living close to my own family and my beloved niece, which reflects in my own stories. Although I've had addresses in Montreal and London, I’ve never truly felt that I belong in a big city.

J: These stories seem to be centered around American characters or locales. Why the decision to make these stories American-centric instead of Canadian?

AM: Good question. Let me think. I have not a clue. I mean, I've travelled in the US many times. I love NYC, LA, Maine and Vermont, so that might be it. I write what I love, which means living in a small town in the USA, it seems.

J: Have you considered writing any stories which take place in Canada? Do you have any Canadian themed projects planned for the future?

AM: I do! The third installment of my French books will take place where I live at the moment, on the south shore of Montreal.

J: Short fiction writing can be difficult when it comes to character building. Did you find the restricted word count a hindrance when constructing believable characters?

AM: No, I think it’s the exact opposite. Since you have so little lines to bring someone from your mind to life, you have to be precise without lingering on useless thoughts and actions. Although I restricted these novellas to a 12k word count, there was still space for the characters to shine through. Well, I hope so.

J: Was it a challenge to squeeze in backstory for your primary characters?

AM: No, because I've never been a fan of long flashbacks, so my approach was to keep them short, sweet, and effective. You never need much, anyway. 

J: What attracts you to the horror genre?

AM: The no boundaries approach to it. Even if my collection is dark horror and not gory-gross-super-scary horror, I let myself be guided by what creeps me and other people out: going insane, suburbia, things at the bottom of a lake, one big spider and leaving everything you love behind. Horror has so many levels, you can just pick one and go with it. Plus, the authors are cooler.

J: Are there any horror genres that you feel have reached a saturation point? And are there any genres that you’d like to see better represented?

AM: I am fed up with nice vampires and white trash werewolves. They are supposed to be beasts, so how come everyone wants to tame them into humans? I just want my monsters to remain monsters. I do hope vamps and wolves become hungry and angry again, and soon.

J: How long have you been writing?

AM: This, intensely, for about eight years. It started with screenwriting and now is exclusively novellas and novels. Almost. I have this idea brewing for a script that’s begging to come out, so I'll attack it this summer.

J: Which comes easier for you: writing scripts or novels?

AM: A script is faster to write, but a novel gets deeper. On the screen, characters mostly develop through dialogue and action. In a novel, characters think and describe feelings through inner monologue. These days, I think in novel-length for every story, so my answer is: novels.

J: How much does music influence your writing process? Do you play music while writing, and if so, which artists?

AM: I cannot write if there's no music playing. Although The Cure is my favorite band of all time, I cannot listen to them while I'm working. Instead, Nine Inch Nails, Vast, O.Children, James, Mumford & Sons, The Box, John Denver and many others accompany me while I write. I block if silence surrounds me, but I also can’t write surrounded by people. I'm just special. 

J: Are you currently working on any new projects?

AM: Oh hell yeah! I'm almost done with the sequel, “Girls & Aliens”. After that, I’ll be starting its last installment: “Girls & Ghosts”. Then, I have to edit this French novella about Hiroshima, a script about a musician and his muse, and it's back to Rebel for the 365th draft.

J: Thanks, Anne, this has been a pleasure.

Anne Michaud’s “Girls & Monsters” will be available for purchase on April 30th through You can find her online at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @annemichaud.

Enter here for a free softcover copy of "Girls & Monsters" plus The Monster Collection Skellies: 5 pieces handcrafted by the author. The winner will be announced during Anne's exclusive live chat at 9PM EST on April 30th.