01. Introduce yourself!
Hello, everyone! My name is Crescenda, and I am the co-founder, co-editor, one of the staff writers, and the resident web goblin of Dusk & Shiver (if you interact with any of our social media pages, it’s me you’re talking to!) I studied English Literature and Medieval History in college, and even though I’m currently working in Japan as a preschool teacher, I still love stories more than anything. I’ve never given up hope that one day I might be able to tell them for a living.
02. Tell us a little about your work.
I’ve written short stories, book reviews, and travel articles for various freelance jobs in the past, but it’s the pile of unfinished novels in the corner that really has my heart. In addition to the Gothic-feminist retelling of The Phantom of the Opera I’ve been working on, I also have two fantasy/steampunk novels in the works, a collection of interconnected short stories based around Arthurian legend, and a novel set in Tokyo during the 1940’s. Just about everything I write has an historical bent to it, but fantasy is really my wheelhouse.
03. D&S is a dark fantasy and horror magazine. Tell us about some of the other media you enjoy in and around those genres!
I’m a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s work (but then, who isn’t, really??) I also love Clive Barker and Jesse Bullington. There are probably at least a dozen others that I’m forgetting. And even though I came late to the party, I have a pretty long daily commute now, so I listen to quite a few podcasts. I’m especially fond of Welcome to Night Vale, Alice Isn’t Dead, and Lore. As far as visual media goes, Hannibal and Pushing Daisies are two of my favorite TV shows. I was also really impressed with The Shape of Water last year.
04. Have any of the above inspired your own work in any way?
Absolutely! I think we take something away from every piece of media we consume. Sometimes, it’s what not to do. But in the case of the above list, I know I’ve internalized all the things that draw me to their work, and have tried to emulate that somehow in mine. Who wouldn’t want to write the sort of story they love the read? In my case, aesthetic and overall mood is really important to me. I feel like I’ll have been successful as an author whenever I can finally reproduce the aesthetics of Pushing Daisies and The Shape of Water in my fiction.
05. What is it about these genres that attracts you most?
I like stories that search for the beautiful and unusual inside of the mundane. Dark fantasy and Horror are certainly not the only genres that do this, but there’s an intensity to them that I really like. It’s easy to find beautiful elements inside of peaceful things. But being confronted with the things that scare us, and still managing to find wonder in that — those stories are special, I think. Especially when the ‘monsters’ or the horrors come from within. And again, aesthetics. When done right, the aesthetics in these genres can be so breathtakingly intense.
06. Tell us about something that frightens or disturbs you. Are you attracted to media that includes this? Why or why not?
I could go off on a tangent about spiders and clowns, here; but the more interesting answer is that I’m deeply disturbed by the idea that humans are not, at heart, ‘pack’ creatures — that when law and order break down, and consequences disappear, everyone will care more about their own survival than about helping others. I’m a preschool teacher. I want to believe in a much kinder world, where people take care of one another. But there are days where it’s hard to believe in that kind of world. And even though it disturbs me, I am definitely drawn to dystopian media where it’s dog-eat-dog, and every man is in it for himself. I’m not sure why. Maybe the attraction comes from the fact that I can feel better about real-world society in comparison. Although … that is getting harder and harder these days, too.
07. Tell us about one of your favorite fantasy or mythological creatures.
Kitsune! I love kitsune. I think it’s a characteristically ‘American’ thing, to love the rebel! Trickster characters are always so much fun. Did you know — when Japanese people answer the phone, they say moshi moshi. The reason for this is that kitsune can’t say ‘moshi moshi’, supposedly; so the only way to know you’re talking to a person, and not a shape-shifting kitsune, is to hear the person on the other end of the line say it back!
08. If you could spend next Halloween anywhere in the world, where would you want to go? Why?
I was raised in Pennsylvania (north-east United States), where we have proper Falls: corn mazes and hay rides and pumpkins and apple cider, and all of the gorgeous, colorful leaves you could ever ask for. Japan is a terrible place to be for Halloween! I would love to be back in PA for it again, preferably at Gettysburg National Park. Kristina and I did a ghost hunt tour there on Halloween a few years ago, and it was ridiculous and fun. And the park is unbearably beautiful at that time of year.
09. What does the word ‘magic’ mean to you?
I think magic is more of a feeling to me than a force or a power. It’s that feeling of sudden hope that you get when things are as terrible as they could possibly be, and then somehow, out of the corner of your eye, you see the light at the end of the tunnel. And you don’t have to be in a bad emotional place to feel it, either; books can make you feel it. Anything sublime and beautiful can. When you hear a song that makes you cry, but you can’t figure out why? That’s the feeling. That’s magic.
10. What do you hope readers will get out of Dusk & Shiver?
That feeling. That magical feeling. The world is full of so much darkness and misery these days. But the amazing thing about literature is that it doesn’t have to be “uplifting” in order to lift you out of all that. Even though we’re a dark fantasy and horror magazine, I hope people find things here that make them cry for no discernible reason, and that they feel better and lighter for it.