Please welcome Somer (pronounced just like the season; I asked) Canon, an exciting new voice in horror and fellow refugee Samhain Publishing author.
SRW: What’s up, Somer? Thanks for darkening my doorstep.
SC: Thanks so much for having me, Stuart! I wiped my feet on the mat, I promise!
SRW: SO…Vicki Beautiful. Your first published novella. When I read it, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. Once I saw where it was going, I dang near fell outta my chair. Tell everyone what they’re in for.
SC: When I wrote this, I printed out multiple copies and I wordlessly handed it to a couple of friends and my mom. They all had this really spectacular reaction and they said that it starts off looking like something you’d see in a Woman’s Day magazine but then things go horribly, horribly wrong. I love that, and it is very accurate.
The story is about lifelong friends who are just getting into their 40s, so they’ve got quite a bit of history and affection between them. As life can tend to go, things go wrong and one of the friends ends up dead and she leaves behind a set of last wishes that are so bizarre and awful that the remaining friends have to decide if they want to fulfill those last wishes. They have to decide if they can even stomach the act.
SRW: Somer, I know you. You’re a very nice person. But where in the world did this warped idea come from? Fever dream? Food poisoning?
SC: I’m a nice person?!? Stuart, you’re going to kill my career with a slanderous declaration like that! But really, thank you!
This book came from a dream. It was a dream where I went to a fancy dinner party and I was there to see a dear friend, a lovely woman with a distinctive beauty mark on her cheek. I was sitting at this beautifully adorned dinner table wondering about my friend when a waiter in a white jacket placed a plate before me and on the plate was this pale, gelatinous piece of meat with a very recognizable beauty mark. That dream stayed with me for days and I eventually sat down and wrote out a letter to fictional friends stating last wishes that might explain how a crazy dinner party like in my dream might have come about.
SRW: I love how the book is played straight. Temptation would’ve led me to write it as a dark comedy. But I think the fact you wrote it seriously is why it’s more effective. Extremely confrontational horror. Nicely done. Constantly, I found myself wondering what I’d do in such a surreal experience. Um, Somer, have you been to some strange dinner parties?
SC: I’ve hosted some strange dinner parties, Stuart! Are you angling for an invitation?
SRW: Depends on what’s on the dinner menu. Somer, you’ve expressed to me your trepidation about Vicki Beautiful not being considered horror. Um, what else would it be? And if you didn’t intend it as horror…WHAT were you thinking?
SC: There is almost no blood and gore to this book. The horror in this book is very cerebral and understated, I think. I’m working from a place where hindsight is telling me how wrong I was originally, but because of the sort of light touch this book takes, I was convinced that it wasn’t good enough for the horror genre. I originally tried selling it as a thriller until an editor was nice enough to tell me that I was very wrong.
SRW: In today’s culture where advertising beauty is the standard that we’re being brainwashed by, Vicki stands out as a rather ghastly banner for artificiality. Honestly, in her quest for money-bought and surgeon-enhanced beauty, she’s quite an ugly character. What are your thoughts on our superficial culture? Is the book a statement against enhancements?
SC: Not at all. I’ve known a Vicki or two in my life, and they were people who, despite that preoccupation, managed to still be wonderful people. Yes, it made an ugly side to them in terms of being judgmental towards others, but they were still PEOPLE. I think that if we’re talking about the faults of our superficial culture, I tend to think it puts an awful lot of pressure on those of us who, at best, are just average people. There’s a sort of nudge to look smooth and poreless and polished that throws any sort of natural features out of the equation. But I also think it’s important for us lowly average people to remember that the people who buy into that look are still people with personalities and inner-selves. Books and covers, you know.
SRW: I loved the ending. A scene of Hitchcockian worthy suspense. We’ve discussed this before, but do you see the ending as satisfying?
SC: I know there are going to be people who yell at me about the ending. It’s not the original ending that I had written, but I thought that ending it with a question, with a truckload of anxiety attached to it, was so much better than throwing an all-questions-answered ending in your face. You decide if they do or if they don’t. I think that’s better and much more satisfying leaving you groaning and yelling at your e-reader than just telling you what happens.
SRW: Okay, now I’m curious. What was the original ending?
SC: He did it. Sloppily and tearfully, juices going everywhere. He did it.
SRW: Alright, curiosity and appetite satiated. What’s coming out of Somer’s keyboard and mind now?
SC: I’m working on a book about a woman with questionable morals. She’s rumored to be a witch and her new neighbor finds that title too cute by half and asks her about it. The woman admits to being a witch and to doing something horrible in her past to earn her hateful name. Yes, she did something horrible but maybe, just maybe, it was justified.
SRW: There you have it folks! Go buy Somer’s book, Vicki Beautiful now! Thank me or curse me out later. Just don’t eat while reading it.