Share this
Like us on facebook
For the latest news and reviews.



See also:  Tanya Huff's Vicki Nelson Paranormal Investigator series page reading order and synopsis; 160x480

For the latest additions to the Usual Questions project, and other posts about writing see the Facebook page:


Gemma Files

answers the Usual Questions

photograph, Gemma Files, courtesy of the author; 220x246

Gemma Files

Author Gemma Files is also a film critic, teacher, screenwriter, Writer's Guild of Canada member, wife and mother.

Of her writing, she says, " tastes run very significantly to the dark end of the spectrum."

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

Interactions with fans are my metaphorical crack. My stuff is very "in," in a lot of ways...I think of horror as a ghetto inside a ghetto inside a ghetto.

It's the absolute least mainstream genre of genre fiction, and while I know a lot of horror writers/readers who also read SF and fantasy, I don't know a whole lot of SF and fantasy writers/readers who do the same. So whenever somebody comes up and is enthusiastic about not only my genre but my own stuff specifically, I'm very, very touched and excited. And yes, sometimes I've sent whatever I'm working on in certain directions because I see and hear what my fans are interested in, and think: "Oh yeah, that would actually be a good way to go, especially since it fits really well with what I already had in mind."

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

When I went on Tumblr for the first time I ran across fan art of some of my characters from the Hexslinger series, and that was a real thrill. Later on, meanwhile, I got to meet some of those artists in person, and they gave me original copies of that art, which I still intend to have framed. But the best response has usually come from Quiltbag fans, many of whom tell me they're just really happy to see themselves represented in my work. That makes me very happy, because yeah, that really was part of the point of the exercise - that, and telling the story the way I wanted to tell it, which happened to involve some of the characters (including the protagonist) being queer. One place I think I've fallen down - among many, no, doubt, because I don't want to be too self-congratulatory - is in the area of creating intentionally asexual characters, so I'm going to try to do that in future. It's hard, though, because no matter what might or might not be going on with me in real life, sexual attraction has always been very much a driving force in the obsessions which fuel my work.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

Many. I used to be a film critic, which means that not only are a lot of my primary inspirations are cinematic, but I also find it really difficult to boil a list like that down below 20 films, at the very least. At the moment, although I tend to look at individual films rather than overall filmographies, I'd have to say my biggest influence in terms of work ethic and philosophy is Guillermo del Toro, while my biggest current influences in terms of theme and execution are probably David Cronenberg, Clive Barker and Kiyoshi Kurosawa. In terms of writers, meanwhile, my closest influences are probably Michael McDowell, Kathe Koja, John Connolly, Adam Nevill and Caitlin R. Kiernan.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

Someone who could fix the lift and/or fly the spaceship. They wouldn't necessarily have to be entertaining while they did it, but some basic empathy would be nice.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

Proselytizers generally, but I'm slanting heavily towards proselytizing atheists these days, many of whom seem to take positive pleasure in being utterly reductionist, anti-fantastic (Richard Dawkins' recent assertion that fairy tales deform childrens' ability to think rationally springs to mind) and grossly materialistic. "You're gonna die and rot and that's the whole story, the end, and if you don't admit that up front then you're a stupid god-botherer!" You know what, life is hard enough to enjoy while you're in it without constantly meditating on the end, thank you very much; I wasn't raised with any sort of religion at all, but even I know that telling people they're idiots to their face for desperately wanting to think there's something more is an asshole posture of the absolute highest grade.

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

Oh dude, I'd never go up into outer space. I'm agoraphobic enough here on earth, without removing constants like gravity and a breathable atmosphere from the equation.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

What I'd like people to take away from my work would be the idea that that darkness can be beautiful, hopefully; that blood and thunder are simply another form of opera. That you can write about what moves and literally arouses you without self-censorship, and so long as you're honest about your own motives and fully committed to your own story's logic, ready and willing to be as ruthless as it takes to get where you need to go, you will eventually find people who want to buy what you're selling. What I get from my work, OTOH, is pretty much the work itself. It's never perfect, but the act of planning to write/writing/having written is a cornerstone of my existence, and absolutely key to living my best possible sort of life.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

Being able to write about exactly what I want to write about, and still somehow manage to consistently be both published and read. It's only taken 25 years of hard to get here, in terms of finally having made myself a vaguely known quantity/recognized brand, but I'm very much enjoying the experience.

submitted by Gemma Files

1 August 2014

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: April 4, 1968, in London, England.
Resides: Toronto, Canada.
Three novels (the Hexslinger series-A Book of Tongues, A Rope of Thorns, A Tree of Bones, all from ChiZine Publications); two story collections (Kissing Carrion and The Worm in Every Heart, both from Wildside Press); two chapbooks of poetry. Latest book is We Will All Go Down Together: Stories of the Five-Family Coven, from CZP. Won the 1999 International Horror Guild Best Short Fiction Award for her story "The Emperor's Old Bones," later reprinted in both Year's Best Horror and Fantasy and Best New Horror; nominated for two Shirley Jackson awards; won DarkScribe Magazine's 2011 Black Quill Best Small Chill Award in both Readers' and Editors' Choice categories for A Book of Tongues, which was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in the Best First Novel category.

Web site:
ChiZine Publications
Twitter: @gemmafiles

For posts about Melbourne events, places, news, reviews, giveaways, see our Facebook Page: