Women in Horror Month showcases and celebrates women involved in and creating all things horror. As a writer, I am drawn to women authors, in particular, those who write horror. It is believed, within the community, that this is still a male-dominated genre. There is so much talent out there, and much of it comes from women. Lori Safranek is one of those women. She is a talented writer of various aspects of the horror genre, including a fun series called Freaked Out. We got a chance to chit chat. Read on to find out more about Lori Safranek!
PopHorror: Thank you for taking a moment to speak with me, Lori! Let’s start out with: how long have you been writing? What was your first story?
Lori Safranek: You’re welcome! Thank you for having me on your site! I wrote my first horror story seven years ago. My first story was called “In Sickness And In Health,” a wedding day zombie story. It’s never been published. The groom turns zombie just as the wedding begins.
PopHorror: That sounds like a fun story! Maybe it will be published one day for us to read. Which brings up my next question: what was your first story published?
Lori Safranek: My first published story was Bob’s Birthday Gift, which was in an anthology called Fifty Shades of Decay: Zombie Erotica.
PopHorror: Zombies and Erotica! Not something you’d imagine together in the same sentence. The work you are best known for is your series of stories about the various performers of Steiners Freakshow titled Freaked Out. The series features Marie The Fat Lady, Mesmer The Hypnotist, Lily Dean The Snake Charmer, Smudge The Tattooed Man, Blade The Sword Swallower and Omega The Contornist. Can you tell us more about how you developed the idea for the Freaked Out series and about how long it took you to write it?
Lori Safranek: The first story, Marie, was inspired by a circus banner I’d seen on the Internet. Circus banners were hand-painted and just gorgeous — highly sought nowadays. I found a graphic of one called “Sweet Marie,” with a very pretty fat lady sitting at a table with a bowl of bright red cherries. It was a lovely scene. I wanted to create a freak in the freak show that was full of self-confidence. Marie is the fat lady in the show, and she’s sexy, sassy, and very popular with the audiences, but someone becomes jealous of her popularity and that’s when the horror starts.
As for the entire series, it took about two and a half years to write it, but that’s not solid writing every day, of course. A story idea would come to me, and I’d write it. I’d advise anyone thinking about writing a series of short stories like this to plan ahead a bit. In all fairness, I didn’t know Marie would be the first of a series.
PopHorror: The series is so unique, and I love hearing how writers develop ideas. A question I always like to ask is: is there any of you or someone you know in the characters?
Lori Safranek: Oh, sure. Marie has a lot of my spirit in her, but I’m not nearly as self-confident as she is! Who is? Her large tattoo of angel wings on her back came from my nephew’s wife. She has a great tattoo like that, but smaller. Smudge, the tattooed man, is a combination of a few men I grew up with in my life, his rough way of speaking along with his toughness. Blade is a smooth-talker, and I think most women know one of those. Gypsy the psychic is loosely based on a friend of mine with the same name. Just bits and pieces of people I’ve met in my life, for the most part. They were fun characters to create.
PopHorror: I am a fan of the series and all the characters, and I believe you when you say it was fun to write! Would you say you are more of a panster or a plotter? Do you have a routine when you are writing? Music? Snacks?
Lori Safranek: I’m a panster, and oh, boy, is it a lot of work. I’m thinking I might need to go to the plotter side. I don’t like rewriting! I don’t have a specific writing routine. I have an extra room in the house I use as an office, and I just go in there and write. I have research notes and books around me. But I don’t need anything specific. I do like to have a glass of water nearby. And I don’t know how writers listen to music while they write! The music distracts me. So, I usually am in silence or with just the sound of the television playing in the other room… quietly, of course.
PopHorror: I so want to be a plotter. I just can’t seem to outline! I agree, plotting would make the process easier. I am hit or miss with music. Sometimes I do, but just as background quietly. It distracts me as well. Can you tell us who are some of your favorite authors?
Lori Safranek: Edgar Allen Poe, from childhood. The late Billie Sue Mosiman was a wonderful writer. J.A. Konrath’s books are dark and brutal. David Simpson writes a great zombie series that I can’t recommend enough. Mark Tufo, Rhiannon Frater, Joseph Zuko and a whole bunch of zombie authors. Mercedes Yardley is another favorite. Her books are lyrical and savage! I could go on and on.
PopHorror: I read Edgar Allen Poe as well. I was young and probably didn’t know all of what it meant, but I was definitely drawn to him. J.A. Konrath is actually from not too far from where I am in Illinois. My mom got me an autographed copy of one of his books. I will definitely be adding more to my list. What book made you want to be an author?
Lori Safranek: The Little House on the Prairie books. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote those books from the viewpoint of a little girl at about the age I was when I read the books. I was fascinated by the idea of telling stories about my own life.
PopHorror: Yes! I still have all my Little House on the Prairie books! I, too, was always wanting to tell stories about my life. Switching gears… Favorite horror movie villain?
Lori Safranek: Michael Myers… I think. I was about 16 years old when Halloween came out, and it made an impact! I was scared out of my mind. He just wouldn’t die! That thought frightened me the most.
PopHorror: Well, everyone who knows me, knows I am a Michael Myers fanatic! Jason has grown on me lately, though. But I definitely have to go with Michael as well! Can you tell us what you have coming up and in the works?
Lori Safranek: I’m working on a novel based on the freakshow characters. I’ve created a few new performers—a bearded lady and a giant—along with the original characters. It will include supernatural themes as well!
PopHorror: I can’t wait to read more about the freaks of Steiners Freakshow! Thank you for taking the time to chit chat with me!
You may purchase Freaked Out-The Complete Series on Amazon. You may also keep up with Lori on Facebook, Twitter and her website. Be sure to follow her author page on Amazon for news on upcoming works as well.