Ele is another one of Wildclaw’s multi-threat company members – she not only acts and writes but is also our in-house foley artist. You may recognize her from the yearly Deathscribe event, where she creates the macabre and unsettling soundscapes for each radio play. Ele wrote “The Bridal Suite”, another piece described as a stand out part of Motel 666 by NewCity.
Do you consider yourself a horror fan? What is your favorite genre of horror?
I totally consider myself a horror fan, particularly at the intersection of horror, sci-fi and comedy. I enjoy the freedom that those three mediums have with cultural criticism, and opportunities to explore familiar but previously undefined concepts. Most of my favorite stories are apocalypse-based, and I’ve always been a sucker for dystopic deadly game shows. It seems like more and more sci-fi has been horror-flavored in the recent past as well, and I can’t help but wonder how much that relates to the U.S.’s flagging standards in STEM education–attempting to justify our fear of what we don’t understand.
What was the first time you encountered horror in entertainment? Was it a book, a movie, a play or something else?
I was a fraidy-cat for most of my formative years, with an overactive imagination. I cried at the end of every single movie I saw probably up until I was four or five, because it was so jarring for the credits to run and to have to “come down” back into the real world. Which is all to say I had a pretty fast and loose definition for horror early-on, and apologies to Mom and Dad for being such a lousy movie-date. But the earliest I can remember something freaking my shit out was when I was four, at the end of Superman III where Vera Webster gets trapped by the supercomputer and turned into a cyborg. Her mechanical gait, the blue cartoon lasers shooting from her fingers, and my non-existent grasp of the Uncanny Valley gave me nightmares for weeks. Thirty-two years later, I’ll say it’s possible I may have overreacted: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuSsSwg9MXs
a) Have you done any horror writing before, or is this your first time? b) What is the main challenge to creating short form horror stories? c) What is your favorite part about writing a horror piece?
a) I wrote “Fidget,” which was featured in WildClaw’s 2014 Valentine’s Day salon, Open Heart Surgery. I have more experience writing monologues or poetry, but I use horror tropes frequently.
b) People think in stories, largely because so much of our formative edutainment is fiction-based. We use stories as a way of bonding, teaching lessons, sharing memories. Western culture also bases our identities on the sum of our experiences (“You are what you do,” “Actions speak louder than words,” etc.), and this affects every aspect of how we interact with the world, whether we’re explaining how we broke the phone we’re trying to return, or picking someone up at a bar (or online). Technology also encourages us to truncate these stories, because they travel, become canonized, and get played out faster than they ever have before–Hollywood greenlights “gritty reboots” of stories we all know because the more familiar the WHAT is, the more unfamiliar the HOW needs to be. So we speak in movie & tv quotes, use only half of figures of speech, or cite only the punchlines of jokes. This can all work to your favor in shorts, particularly in horror, since it’s a genre with very well-versed fans that are going to be eager to find the risk in whatever situation you set up. It’s tricky, though, because there are fine lines between “slow burn,” and, “I get it–be over,” as well as between an earned twist and a quadruple Shyamalan.
c) I think the part I enjoy the most about writing horror is how big the toy box is. I get bummed out by horror stories that are relentlessly dark and humorless the whole way through–trust your audience to know they’re seeing a horror story unfold, and then help them forget. Then eat their face.
How have motels played a role in your life?
(Do inns count? Let’s say inns count.) La Quintas will always make me think of my maternal grandparents, with those swipable little soaps. My family also took a cross-country car trip when I was nine, which involved a lot of interim destinations. One night somewhere in Florida, it was too hot to leave the room and our entertainment for the evening was eating watermelon in the motel bathroom and spitting seeds into the tub. My first-ever solo trip was driving to Chicago to relocate from Texas after college. I felt very grown-up checking myself into a single at the Comfort Inn just outside Branson. And then asking for a different room that was actually non-smoking, not just hideously over-air-freshened. And then checking out entirely and finding a new motel. Had I stayed at the first one, I probably would have been devoured in the night by some sort of Glade-monster.
Any bridal showers you’ve been to that inspired this piece?
I’ve been a bridesmaid a couple of times, and one time a guy friend asked me, as if it were an obvious question, “Who is the bitchy bridesmaid?” I wanted to explore the cyclical nature between what presumptions people make about groups of women, and the resulting limitations we put on their stories.
ONE WEEKEND LEFT! Motel 666 runs through June 28 – get tickets here! Performances will be held at the DCASE Storefront Theatre, 66 E. Randolph Street, with shows Thursday–Saturday at 7:30pm and closing Sunday at 2:00pm.