VOC logo AMBER LOVE 20-SEP-2019 My work is supported by the generous backers at who appreciate my reviews and my stories; and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.

Download this episode of Vodka O’Clock on iTunes, Stitcher, or listen here. Older shows have been archived and are available only on

a darker shade cover

Laura K. Curtis:

We open the show discussing dogs and cats and how they enrich the lives of authors. Laura lives with Irish Terriers, a beautiful breed. You can follow them on Instagram. 

Writing process:

Laura says that she writes by long hand first then types things up from there. Without a specific routine and a changing daily schedule, there are pros and cons in balancing that with writing time. 

We chatted thoroughly about working with a big publisher, specifically Penguin before the Random House merger. Writing on deadline is something Laura feels she needs. 

Character & Setting:

Laura spoke about how it was to work with a sensitivity reader for the Romani heritage of her main character, Molly. This was a particular background that Laura didn’t have any personal connection with other than the immigration of half of her family which mirrors Molly’s.

She also researches house plans for any story. A Darker Shade has a house, Rook’s Rest, which is more than a backdrop. The remote setting is something both of us could talk about easily because we’ve lived in rural areas. 

“I think the fact is, people have — even unpleasant people — are unpleasant for a reason. They have fears; they have insecurities; they have whatever.”

The Industry:

We talked about the use of pen names and how that can be important when the genre and marketing plan are so different that they wouldn’t apply to the same audience. Laura shared her experiences with the submission process through an agent. If the publisher knows the author for a specific genre, they may have preconceived notions of what to expect in reading the manuscript.

Gothic versus slasher — Gothic is has to do about life without a safety net as opposed to what’s going to jump out at you. Small towns and even tinier remote villages have different concerns than cities. You can easily be trapped by snow or floods. Cell service might not be reliable. An ambulance or fire department might not be able to reach you. All of those elements can add to the tension of the characters who know they need help but can’t get it.

Snowplow hits cop car

Industry Books:

  • Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley
  • Your Book, Your Brand by Dana Kaye
  • Your A Game by Damon Suede and Heidi Cullinan

Laura will be at the Poe Museum in Richmond, VA to give a talk on the history of the Gothic novel.

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