An Interview with Nikki Guerlain, author of “Terror in the House of Broken Belles” (GIALLO FANTASTIQUE)

Giallo Fantastique edited by Ross E. Lockhart ships this month, and I asked if we could do some spotlights on some of the authors and their stories. The authors, and editor Ross E. Lockhart kindly complied. If you’ve missed any of the interviews, you can see all of them HERE.

Today, please welcome Nikki Guerlain to the blog!

Will you tell us a bit about your story in Giallo Fantastique and what inspired you to write it?
My story “Terror in the House of Broken Belles” is a psychosexual, technicolored romp about a man who basically gets what’s coming to him. Aesthetically, I was heavily influenced by the giallo film Suspiria–the way color seemed to have sound, the weird stilted dialogue and transitions; it’s a film you experience more than you watch. I tried to pour all of the elements I liked about Suspiria into the guilt-ridden fantasy framework of the French film Belle de Jour to create a sort of orgy of sexual violence driven by the main character’s cowardice and predation.

In giallo, the murder victim is often a helpless female and I wanted to turn this element on its head by making the “victim” male and very much deserving of every bit of violence he gets at the hands of these female creatures. They are a mirror of what is inside of him. The story is indulgent, excessive, gratuitous, and drips sexuality, terror, and schadenfreude. As for the fantastique element, I very much liked the idea that this could really be happening to this man–that he’s literally being consumed by these she-beasts in an act of cosmic retribution, or that he’s simply going mad from guilt, shame, delusion. Both interpretations feel true. I love work that plays with your brain like that. Like a morbid piece of candy to suck on.

Have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I have always wanted to write but I always wanted to do a ton of other things too. I wrote my first story when I was very young, like six or so, and it was a romp about two kittens named “Marshmallow Feet and Broken Tail.” My first degree is in painting & photography. My second degree is in law because I basically got drunk one night and decided law school sounded like fun. While there, I shared a study room with a Hollywood screenwriter and decided I wanted to do that too. So I pretty much write anything and everything, but I would say that a common element in all of my writing is that it is all highly cinematic and has a dark edge.

What do you like to see in a good story, and what authors or novels have influenced you the most in your work, and your life?
I like a story to feel like a movie. I like when a writer paints emotions through pictures. Depending on genre, having things be too on-the-nose is not only okay but welcome such as in giallo, parodies, pulp etc but what I never like is being spoon-fed every little bit. There’s no room for the story to play in your head! There’s no room for it to grow! There is no participation. I don’t like this. It bores me. There are some very good writers who completely bore me. As for writers I’m influenced by, I’ve learned a tremendous amount by reading a ton of screenplays–good and bad, by all sorts of writers. Most of my fiction is influenced heavily by the lyrical nature of Hunter S. Thompson’s early work. My favorites of his are Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Proud Highway. William Burroughs is also very influential–his work is so bold and based on the moment. My favorites of his are Naked Lunch and Cities of the Red Night. Most influential modern writer? James Lee Burke, hands down. The guy is a magician. I like his Dave Robicheaux novels the best, and a couple of my favorites of his are In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead and A Stained White Radiance.

What do you enjoy most about reading, and writing, dark fiction?
I enjoy reading and writing dark fiction because it’s really intense emotionally yet cozy since it’s safe to feel all of these things in the context of a reading or writing experience. In real life, it’s not so safe. Feeling and acting so strongly, giving into your desires makes you vulnerable in real life. Reading and writing dark fiction makes my life more emotionally rich without all of the danger.

What’s next for you?
My debut novel Machine Gun Vacation comes out later this year through Thunderdome Press. It’s a hybrid of horror, comedy, and adventure. I’m currently working on a science fiction horror novel as well as a Hollywood comedy. I’ve got my toes dipped into a lot of different pools but the darkness is always there, and I suppose it always will be.

Thank you for asking!

Keep up with Nikki: Website | Twitter

About Giallo Fantastique:
An anthology of original strange stories at the intersection of crime, terror, and supernatural fiction. Inspired by and drawing from the highly stylized cinematic thrillers of Argento, Bava, and Fulci; American noir and crime fiction; and the grim fantasies of Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, and Jean Ray, Giallo Fantastique seeks to unnerve readers through virtuoso storytelling and startlingly colorful imagery.
What’s your favorite shade of Yellow?

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