Today we’re paying a call on Jessica Wright Buha, author of Deathscribe 2014’s “The Wolf at the Door.” In addition to her current projects adapting Amy Timberlake’s One Came Home for Lifeline Theatre and co-creating a piece for Curious Theatre Branch’s Rhinofest 2015, Jessica won the coveted Bloody Axe award in Deathscribe 2011 with “Alabama Mermaid,” a bluegrass-tinged tale of tragic terror. Jessica will be talking to us about the lingering effects of horror, sibling rivalry, and What Scares Her.
How did you get into horror?
When I was in second grade, I remember riding in a car to go visit Santa with my girl scout troop, and one of the older girls told me my First Ghost Story. It’s the one where a girl keeps getting these creepy phone calls, but she doesn’t worry because every time she gets scared she puts her hand down for her dog to lick, but really it’s this axe murderer licking her hand (!!!) and the story ends with her seeing the dismembered body of her dog hanging outside her window (!!!!!!).
After that, it was all Stephen King novels and jumping from my bedroom doorway straight into my bed to avoid getting sucked into the Great Beyond by the monsters lurking beneath my boxspring.
What excites you most about writing horror, compared to other genres?
What excites me about horror as a genre is that you can really worm your way into people’s brains. Drama doesn’t make you double-check the locks before you go to bed, and a comedy won’t make a typical journey to the basement of your apartment a charged, strange event. But after seeing a proper horror movie, the familiar landscape of our lives becomes changed in a really exciting way.
What was the hook for you in this story? What came first, the story or the sound?
For me, it was the story. I have a fraternal twin sister, and we’ve always been a bit competitive with each other. Through the years, Angela and I have tried to steer clear of each other’s interests and carve out our own niches. But sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we both became very, very, very, desperately interested in the same thing. It’d be a tricky situation.
What sound would you most like to see/hear performed in a Deathscribe piece?
I’d love to hear a good, old–timey ghost ship a-creaking about. Or a dead carcass hitting a windshield. I suppose those sounds’re in two different plays.
Do you have any advice for aspiring Deathscribes?
I did this a couple of years ago, and it worked out okay: write two submissions a few months before the deadline, and compare the two. Take the weaker one and beef it up until it’s the stronger one, then do the same to the other. Repeat until you go insane.
Though having a good, meaty soundscape is great, don’t forget about strong visuals.
Also, don’t just think that a good Deathscribe piece needs to have an insanely high body count (or tons and tons of gore). Horror can take a lot of forms (slow-burning suspense, slasher, supernatural, etc, etc). Go with the sub-genre that excites you the most!
What scares you?
Getting my blood drawn, the creepy axe-murderer that lives in the basement of my apartment building (but always manages to hide JUST IN TIME whenever I open the door), and the thought of coming home to find the asphyxiated body of my dog lying on the floor, having choked to death on some stupid thing that I left on the kitchen table in easy reach.
Incidentally, my dog is terrified of houseflies. So terrified, in fact, that now the little buggers are starting to freak me out, too.
We can’t wait for Jessica to freak us out with “The Wolf at the Door,” directed by Anderson Lawfer, on December 1st at the Mayne Stage Theatre!^_ _^ ~T~