Author bio: Carmilla Voiez is a proudly bisexual and mildly autistic introvert who finds writing much easier than verbal communication. A life long Goth, she is passionate about horror, the alt scene, intersectional feminism, art, nature and animals. When not writing, she gets paid to hang out in a stately home and entertain tourists.
Carmilla grew up on a varied diet of horror. Her earliest influences as a teenage reader were Graham Masterton, Brian Lumley and Clive Barker mixed with the romance of Hammer Horror and the visceral violence of the first wave of video nasties. Fascinated by the Goth aesthetic and enchanted by threnodies of eighties Goth and post-punk music she evolved into the creature of darkness we find today.
Her books are both extraordinarily personal and universally challenging. As Jef Withonef of Houston Press once said – “You do not read her books, you survive them.”
Carmilla’s bibliography includes Starblood (Vamptasy Publishing, Dec 2018), Psychonaut, book two of the Starblood series (Vamptasy Publishing, March 2019), Black Sun, book three (Vamptasy Publishing, June 2019), Starblood the graphic novel, Psychonaut the graphic novel, The Ballerina and the Revolutionary, Broken Mirror and Other Morbid Tales. Her short stories have been included in Zombie Punks Fuck Off (Clash Books), Slice Girls (Stitched Smile), Another Beautiful Nightmare (Vamptasy) and Sirens Call Magazine.
Book title: Black Sun, book three, the Starblood series.
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Synopsis: Murder, magic and obsession tear the heroes from the bliss they deserve. Star and Satori are being hunted; something is playing with their lives. Star found her power in another world, but will that be enough to save them? In a game of revenge, lovers and friends are moved around a cosmic chess board; death and madness are the final penalties for defeat. Who can judge whether the self-destructive human psyche or obsessed demon-child is the more dangerous force?
Publish date: June 12, 2019
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Extract up to 1000 words (optional):
Satori’s eyes shine in excitement. In the half-light, one seems to glow red. Star shudders. She has seen this manic look before: the look that says anything is possible. Star swallows hard. She cannot argue the point. A few hours ago she was dead. Now she lies here in his arms. Her heart beats and her lungs draw oxygen from the air. Anything is possible.That is his law, not hers, and yet her reality confirms its validity in the same way the law of gravity is confirmed by her inability to float above this itchy and uncomfortable bed. For one second she hates him for being right.
Star sits up, her back rigidly straight and stares at the metal door. ‘Run? I feel that’s all I have ever done. Maybe it’s time I stopped?’
‘We’ll figure it out.’ He places his body between her and the door, smiling gently.
She strokes his beautifully pointed face and gazes into his eyes. One sparkles with deep grey brilliance. The other is damaged. She wonders when that happened then remembers his aborted rescue attempt in the mountains. A battle with Lilith for her soul, if she remembers correctly, lifetimes ago. She kisses his lips and snuggles into his chest. His steady heartbeat calms her.
A fluorescent strip light flickers above them like a strobe on a dance floor. Energy crackles around the room, making their hair stand on end. Star clings to Satori as freezing air whips around the cell, like a hurricane. Satori sits up and touches her shoulder, instructing her to stay down. Star feels cold and unnaturally exposed in her nakedness. The light flickers again then fails and the cell falls into darkness. The air feels thick, almost solid. It punches Star’s ears and throat and chills her skin.
‘Satori!’ she screams.
‘It’s okay.’ Satori grips her shoulders and pulls her up towards him. They sit on the narrow bed together, shaking.
Air crushes her and she struggles to catch her breath. A vortex of wind drags Star from Satori’s arms to the centre of the room. She cannot feel or see him. She stands up, alone. Air surrounds her, separating her from him. Her heart hammers and her legs shake. Wind swirls around her. She spins with it, not knowing which direction she faces when suddenly the spinning stops and she is pushed to the floor by a heavy blow. Crying out, she tries to push herself back up against the weight of air. The room stinks of blood and decay.
‘I don’t know,’ Satori answers.
He sounds far away. Resting on her knees and one hand, she reaches into the space in front of her, searching for him. She cannot find him. Her fingers flail through the bitter wind.
‘Where are you?’ she yells.
‘I’m here, Star. It’s going to be okay.’
‘How can you be sure?’
‘Because we survived, I found you and we survived. We’re not about to die here.’
She shakes her head.
‘Talk to me,’ he says. ‘Keep talking and I’ll move towards your voice.’
‘Fuck! When will this punishment end? I don’t deserve this. We don’t deserve this. I never meant to hurt anyone. I don’t know why things happened the way they did. It was like being in a dream.’
Satori’s fingers brush against her knee. ‘Here you are.’ He moves to her side and puts his arms around her, squeezing her towards his body. ‘It’s going to be okay, I promise.’
As their eyes adjust to the dark, shapes take form in the air around them. Three terrifying faces, with hollow eyes and gaping mouths, drip blackness onto the floor. They move like reflections in agitated water. Arms appear, reach towards Star and Satori then vanish again. The faces remain: soulless, angry and tormented.
‘I think I know what this is,’ Satori says. ‘They opened the vessel.’
Welcome Carmilla, what a wonderful excerpt of your work. You and your books sound fascinating. Let’s get comfy and get started, shall we?
Do you have a pen name and why?
Carmilla Voiez is a pen name, but one I’ve been using since I owned a Gothic clothing company – Drac-in-a-Box. I simply wanted a more exotic name to go with the brand I created.
Very exotic and unique! What makes your writing unique compared to others in the genre?
My stories are female orientated with central characters usually bisexual women, however my characters reflect my belief that men and women are in their essence very similar creatures. Themes include the struggles towards self-acceptance and freedom.
Your characters sound very real and I imagine that makes them very relatable. What made you choose this genre?
I’ve always loved horror and I believe the political themes in my books are best shown through horror and fantasy. Magic is an obsession of mine, as is this disparity between different people’s perception of reality. Fantasy is a brilliant way to explore these ideas.
I do love it when things of everyday nature are twisted into fantasy for us to see them from another view. What’s the story behind your book title?
Each book in the Starblood series is named after the title of a piece of music I love. Starblood by Cranes, Psychonaut by Fields of the Nephilim, Black Sun by Dead Can Dance, Ribbons by The Sisters of Mercy, and Pariah by Danielle Dax. I suppose it’s a respectful nod to a genre of music I love while at the same time I find it amusing.
How creative! What’s the basic plot of your book or series?
A group of Goths splinters when Star leaves her lover Satori. Due to arrogance and false confidence Satori tries to win her back with magic, but instead brings Lilith (mother of demons) to Earth. What Lilith does and how her presence affects the lives of the whole group is the crux of the story. Star falls in love with Lilith, while Satori tries to save his ex from herself.
How do you develop your characters?
I have a good understanding of who each character is before I start writing. In many ways the characters dictate the story by acting in ways that, while sometimes shocking, are true to who they are. I want to know their history and how it affects the decisions they make in the present day. All of my characters are very flawed. As Star says “There are no heroes in this fairy tale.”
Having flawed characters makes them very relatable! Which one of your characters would you like to be (a picture would be great if you have one)?
It’s not as though I want to be Star, more that she suffers from many of the self-doubts and much of the self-hatred I battle with myself. Her story revolves around her identity. She’s confused about who she is and afraid of how evil she may be if she achieves self-actualisation. She feels torn between the roles she’s expected to play – daughter, lover, friend, mother and woman.
Putting in those personal experiences with your characters, give them a more real feeling to the readers. Nicely done! Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing?
Many of my stories are based in Bristol, the city in the South West of England where I grew up. The Starblood series and The Ballerina and the Revolutionary are both set there. Bristol is a cosmopolitan urban area with a huge disparity between wealthy and poor and a very dark history connected to the slave trade.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to write a book?
Do it, but do it well. As you’re writing the first draft of the story you can forget about quality and let your imagination lead you to unexpected places. However, you owe it to yourself and your readers to never release an unpolished book. Rewriting and editing are at least as important as the story. Ensure that your message is clear, your characters believable, the story engaging, and the sentence structure easily understandable.
Fabulous advice! What are you working on now?
I have a few projects on the go. I’ve sent book four of the series to my editor and I am currently working with an artist to create a graphic novel based on book three. I am also jotting down initial ideas for book five, and writing a short horror story based on the element water for submission to an anthology.
Sounds like you stay busy! What do you do when you have writers’ block?
I go for a walk or take a shower. I find both are great ways to kick start my imagination so I can return to the book. If that doesn’t work and I’m not on a strict deadline I will start a different project and return to the first book when I start thinking about it again.
What do you write about in your blog?
I mainly blog reviews of books I’ve read and about the process of writing. When I stray from this it is usually to share something personal about my life. We all have chequered histories and I frequently blog about experiences I’ve had, what I think about news stories, and my mental health.
Are there any writing styles or genres you dislike?
I am not a fan of sweet romance. I can suspend my disbelief for magic and demons, but not hearts and flowers. I guess I’m a cynic.
Favourite thing to cook: Stir fry with tofu.
Silliest saying: I told you so.
Best holiday spot: Brugge
Most played song: Moon Over Marin – Dead Kennedys
With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) Pantser? Pantser, I let my characters worry about plot.
Do you prefer to read SciFi or fantasy: Fantasy. I thought I didn’t like SciFi until I read Octavia Butler, Ursula LeGuin and Margaret Atwood.
Best superpower: Invisibility (at least my books are close to invisible)
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Finish my creative writing degree.
Links For Readers to Find You!
Thank you Carmilla for joining me today! You are an absolute pleasure and I do believe I’ve added some new books to my ‘to be read’ list!