It finally gives me the greatest of pleasure to welcome you to Confessions of a Reviewer’s first interview with The Sisters of Slaughter, Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason.
I have watched these girls develop over this past couple of years and it has been a pleasure to get to know them and follow their writing careers so far, up to this point, the eve of their very first novel release!
This interview should give you a little insight into the lives these girls lead, their writing, their influences, their general lives and of course, the new novel, Mayan Blue.
Tomorrow night, 25th, on Confessions, I will be sharing my review of Mayan Blue with you all. It is the actual launch date and I will also provide you with all the links you need to support the girls and go buy it.
I know it’s only Tuesday but treat yourself, order something in, grab a couple of cold ones, sit back…….and enjoy!
CoaR - So tell everyone a bit about yourselves in general. Who are The Sisters of Slaughter?
M&M - We are Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, a twin sister writing team from the United States. We have been writing together since we were little girls and were named the Sisters of Slaughter by the editors of Fireside Press. We have been published by Sinister Grin Press, Fireside Press, JEA, and Dark Chapter Press.
CoaR – Now I know that with both of you, family is a huge part of your lives. Have they been instrumental in giving you encouragement and guidance and even keeping your feet on the ground?
M&M - Absolutely, our parents encouraged us from a young age to read and write, to tell stories. Our whole family has known that we love to write and when we started getting published they were all so excited for us. Our spouses have always praised and encouraged us from the beginning as well, lifted us up when we felt defeated and cheered us on in our victories. We also are lucky to have each other to turn to for strength and determination, and our horror family (Nev and Jo included) that have always been there for us as friends before ever reading our stuff, they keep us grounded, just knowing that we’ve been accepted into such a wonderful community of horror lovers is really humbling.
CoaR - Why writing? Why decide on writing as a career?
M&M - We dreamed of becoming writers because we always wanted to entertain people but we are also too shy to be out in the spot light before a crowd, so writing naturally drew us in. We want to share our imaginations with people, give them an escape from reality for a while.
CoaR - Did you always intend to write together or have you ever considered writing on your own?
M&M - It just came naturally, being twins we have shared everything our whole lives, sometimes it’s like we share the same brain. We’ve always written together because it was fun and we don’t really stray from that but there have been a few occasions that we have written separately and might do it again in the future. It feels strange not writing together, it is probably how some people feel weird when they try to collaborate with other writers, it’s just our method of operation and it works great.
CoaR - Take us through your process for a story. How do you start it and follow it through to the final product? With there being two of you, can this cause many disagreements?
M&M - We both keep notebooks of story ideas, some of them plotted out to the end, others are just titles or vague concepts. We choose whatever strikes us and we begin by outlining the story in a notebook. Most of our stuff is hand written to begin with, it creates a starting point, a rough draft that as you type it out, it can be altered to sound better or toss out pieces that give away too much too quickly. We sit down and write together a few hours a day on about four days a week. We plan who will take what pieces and we type them up, flesh them out. We keep in touch through text messages and emails constantly, as we put the story together. Once we have it done we edit it and submit it. Sometimes there are specific calls for stories that we brainstorm ideas that fit within those calls before we write them. We enjoy writing short stories and longer pieces, they’re just different animals that should be approached differently.
CoaR - How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you carry a notebook with you everywhere or write stuff on the back of your hands?
M&M - We both carry notebooks but we have also just emailed ideas to each other or written them on scraps of paper and tucked them in our pockets until we are near our notebooks again. We have a file that our ideas are saved in as well so we can go back and choose stories to write.
CoaR - Following on from that, how do you decide whose ideas are best and who’s to bin?
M&M - We look over them and go for the ideas that really excite us both, anything that doesn’t is put aside. We work as a team so we won’t attack something unless we can both go in whole heartedly.
CoaR – Now I know you are both big metal freaks as well. Ever consider the music side of the entertainment business?
M&M - Only if we could hide behind masks ha-ha. Besides having no musical talent, we are both pretty shy. Stage fright would probably kill our musical careers.
CoaR - Can you tell us if any of the characters in your books are based on people you have come across in your life or maybe even yourselves?
M&M - We wrote a story that is going to be released next year and one of the main characters is fashioned after Melissa’s daughter, Kahlan. She’s a rambunctious toddler like any child but she also has something else about her that we can’t give away, though most people won’t be shocked to find out what it is if they know our interests.
CoaR - Being relatively new to the writing game and giving the fact Mayan Blue is the debut novel, do you prefer the novel writing or the shorter stuff?
M&M - Novels and short stories are approached differently but we enjoy writing both. We have a lot of short stories out now so we are taking this next year to focus on novels and novellas. We will be putting out some short stuff but on top of that we are working on three novellas and two novels. That’s a ton of words but it’s between us both so we can do it. We also want to focus on leaving reviews for books we are reading, a “review frenzy” to show our love for the genre we love so much.
CoaR - Moving on to Mayan Blue, where did the inspiration come from with this one?
M&M - Melissa was watching a television show about how some people believe that the Mayans could have settled in the southern states in the U.S. and we’re both really into ancient civilizations and mythology so we started talking about how cool it would be if someone found proof of these claims and of course since we’re into scary stuff our minds wandered into that territory. We started researching Mayan mythology and discovered their underworld was a very creepy place and so we started a story about it.
CoaR - It’s an interesting concept having the Mayan’s placed somewhere that no one would expect them to be. Why do this?
M&M - Some people believe that small groups of Mayans did migrate up into North America, into what is modern day Georgia and Florida. Whether it’s true or not we can’t say either way, but the thoughts of it intrigued us and we thought it would make a unique horror story.
CoaR - You both seem to have an inclination towards hurting people a lot in your writing. This is certainly true in Mayan Blue. How do you both switch from the lovely quiet moms into someone who seems to be quite sadistic in some ways to come up with the pain scenes?
M&M - In the case of Mayan Blue we thought the scenes of torture would be fitting in Xibalba, the Mayan land of fear. Making people squirm is something we’ve always enjoyed, we want our stories to be easily visualized within the mind and yes, our stories are usually pretty brutal. We are kind, loving, mothers but our imaginations are quite dark.
CoaR - The atmosphere in this one in the other world was fantastic. Did you take inspiration from anywhere for this sort of scenery? It was quite serene but hellish at the same time.
M&M - We wanted to go beyond the usual depictions of hell, and Xibalba is described as having forests and rivers, some run with blood and pus. We wanted it to be dark yet with hints of otherworldly light, we wanted it to be haunting.
CoaR - Horror mixed with Mayans – not a common feature in the horror world. Might we see more of this?
M&M - Who knows what the future holds. We love mythology so there will be more added to our stories. When we are having writer’s block we often look to books of mythology for inspiration and Mayan Blue could have a sequel if the audience would like to see one.
CoaR - Who would be the authors you would give the credit of being your influences and who do you just not “get”?
M&M - We are inspired by writers like Ronald Kelly, James Newman, Kealan Patrick Burke and Adam Cesare for putting out some killer work and making it appear so easy. There are really too many to name.
We aren’t into romance unless it has something supernatural or horrific thrown in but to each their own and we don’t knock anyone for reading it.
CoaR - What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?
M&M - Editing! Hahaha!
CoaR - What would your ultimate wish be with your writing?
M&M - Big wishes would be to earn enough to help our families live a good life. Realistic wishes would be to keep putting out books that people enjoy.
CoaR - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
M&M - Enjoying time with our families, watching horror movies, reading horror, gaming, going to concerts, listening to music, getting out into nature for family vacations.
CoaR - What’s coming in the future from The Sisters of Slaughter?
M&M - A horror novella, a horror novel, two dark sci-fi novellas and a dark sci-fi novel. Some people might read that and wonder about the sci-fi here but believe me, these stories are quite horrific, we like to blur the lines between genres. After that more horror short stories and dark fantasy on the horizon.
THE TEN CONFESSIONS
1 Who would you view as your main competitor in the writing world?
Since we are just starting probably everyone! Hahaha!
2 What book or author have you read that you think should never have been published?
There are definitely some odd books on Amazon but everyone has their own taste in what they want to read, just like some people have terrible taste in music but we will never say it shouldn’t have been made. It will just have a small audience…like three people hahaha.
3 Are any of the things your characters have experienced in your books been based on something that has actually happened to you? What was it?
Yes. In a story we had published in the double barrel horror series a character is a drug addict who breaks into people’s houses to steal prescription medication. Melissa actually had that happen to her, it was a scary ordeal and luckily she was not hurt, the guy ran away.
4 Have you ever blatantly stolen an idea or scene and adapted it for one of your own books? If so, care to share?
We haven’t stolen any scenes but when writing we seek inspiration from mythology or sometimes watching different movies, like watching Aliens when we’re preparing to write sci-fi etc.
5 Have you ever anonymously left a bad review for someone else’s book? If so, care to share?
No. If we don’t like someone or their work, we just don’t comment on it, review it or share it with friends. So far we haven’t encountered too many people that we would consider assholes but who knows what could happen. We’re getting bigger and as people get more successful there will always be haters, it comes with the territory, but we wouldn’t trash their work in a review.
6 What’s the one thing you are least proud of doing in your life and why?
Dropping out of school.
7 What’s the one thing you are MOST proud of doing in your life and why?
8 What’s your biggest fault?
Being indecisive, taking forever to make a decision.
9 What is your biggest fear?
Anything terrible happening to our kids.
10 If you had to go to confession now, what would be the one thing you would need to get off your chest?
We like to kill drifters and leave their bodies in shallow graves in the desert with no one to keep them company but maggots and vultures.
Well unfortunately that is the end of the interview with the Sisters.
Don’t you get a lovely wholesome family feel from them? Then you read Confession number 10! I don’t know whether to believe it or not!
I want to say a big thank you to the girls for taking the time out to answer all my questions and take part in the interview. I know this will not be the last time that you will see them on Confessions. I see a bright future ahead of them.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night when I will be publishing my review of Mayan Blue.
Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!
Melissa Lason and Michelle Garza have been writing together since they were little girls. Dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter by the editors of Fireside Press. They are constantly working together on new stories in the horror and dark fantasy genres. Their work has been included in FRESH MEAT published by Sinister Grin Press, WISHFUL THINKING by Fireside Press, WIDOWMAKERS a benefit anthology of dark fiction. Their novel MAYAN BLUE is being released May 25, 2016 by Sinister Grin Press
And for more about the sisters, you can find them on social media: