Author of "Darla and the Clown", the eighth story in The Fourth Corona Book of Horror Stories
MM Schreier is a classically trained vocalist who took up writing as therapy for a mid-life crisis.
Whether contemporary or speculative fiction, favourite stories are dark and rich in sensory details. A firm believer that people are not always exclusively right- or left-brained, in addition to creative pursuits, Schreier manages a robotics company and tutors maths and science to at-risk youth.
After years of finding the muse in the mountains, Schreier and a very spoiled Labrador Retriever have inched a bit south to see what the beach might inspire.
What made you decide to write horror?
I’ve always been a big fan of things that go bump in the night—monsters and ghosts and all things weird and creepy. I watch it, I read it, so it is a natural extension to write it as well.
Do you write in any other genre?
I mostly write speculative fiction—Horror, Fantasy, and SciFi. However, I’ve also published Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Noir, Historical Fiction, even the occasional Creative Non-Fiction.
Do you have you a reason for doing so?
I like to say that I’m genre agnostic. For me, it’s important not to limit myself as a writer. I just want to tell the stories that are in my head and not be defined by the boundaries of any single genre. In fact, some of my favorite stories are in those liminal spaces that defy labels.
What genres do you read? Is it all horror or have you eclectic tastes?
I am a voracious reader, in a wide range of genres. Again, I tend to fall back most often on Horror, Fantasy, and SciFi, but you might catch me with a thriller or a history on operas or classic literature, too.
How much do you value reading the work of other authors?
I’ve never taken a formal writing class, so everything I know about storytelling comes from reading other authors. Reading some of the greats has been a lifelong master class in narrative, voice, dialogue, pacing, character development—and all the other things that make an engaging, cohesive story. I’ve also read some stinkers that have been a cautionary tale of what not to do!
Does reading other people’s work affect the way you write?
It’s probably inevitable, as it’s human nature to mimic things we like. I’ve had readers compare some of my stories to Neil Gaiman, Shirley Jackson, and Margaret Atwood along with a variety of other awe-inspiring authors, and while it’s flattering, at the end of the day, my hope is that my own voice shines through.
What are your favourite and/or least favourite tropes?
When talking about Horror, there are some tropes that certainly make me groan—Girl Runs & Falls or Everyone Hides Upstairs with No Escape Route—to mention a couple. Or tired casing tropes consisting of The Jock, The Cheerleader, The Nerd, The Token Black Guy, & The Girl Next Door. When we see that group of characters, we pretty much know who the Last Girl Standing is going to be.
Others, like Something Creepy in the Mirror or Evil Doll can be fun if the author puts a unique spin on it. Tropes are a huge part of genre fiction but using them creatively and unexpectedly, even subverting them, can turn a potential cliché into a delightful shiver.
Which authors inspire you?
Women who write strong genre fiction: Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, N.K Jemisin…I could go on and on. I’ve met a surprising number of trolls on the internet who think Horror and Science Fiction is exclusively for men by men, so I love seeing successful women authors in this space.