The author’s new book mixes fear, history, and the occult.
As I understand it, you study art from this period professionally is that right? Can you tell me a bit about your work outside of being an author.
Yes, I am an art historian specializing in Symbolist art, especially the mythological and decadent visions of the time. By day I manage the digital slide library at the University of Iowa and curate exhibitions for the campus art museum, most recently Exploring the Demimonde: Sin and Temptation at the fin-de-siècle.
Do you have any other works currently in print?
My doctoral dissertation, The Invisible Labor: Nineteenth-Century Art, the Unconscious, and the Origins of Surrealism, contains the research that inspired my novel and is available to download at academia.edu.
Horror is interesting because you never know how close to the real world it is. Some horror has monsters while others could 100% happen in the real world. Should we expect something more supernatural in this, more grounded, or would you rather that be a surprise for the reader?
There are paranormal and gothic horror elements in the novel, particularly related to nineteenth-century interest in mesmerism and the spirit world.
Who would you say has influenced your writing and this book in particular book? Any particular books, movies, paintings, etc. that were heavily influential to you.
The Eighth Day Brotherhood was inspired by my Ph.D. research on Symbolist painters such as Gustave Moreau, the history of mesmerism and spiritualism, and the crossovers between art, science, and medical history during the nineteenth century. The idea came to me while I was living Paris for a semester, exploring the city and attempting to discover its secrets. My favorite book is Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo.
Here at Geek Taco we specialize in geek culture, would you consider yourself a geek? A horror geek maybe? What kind of things do you like to geek out about?
Horror is such an individualized genre that I think there is something for everyone. I’m fond of supernatural and gothic horror myself. I also like to geek out about art history, oddities, costumes, and video games.
Do you have any advice for someone who would like to be an author?
Keep writing and finish your projects, but don’t force it or burn yourself out. Find a good editor, or multiple editors. My novel went through at least five drafts before I submitted the final manuscript.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
My favorite parts of writing are creating characters, playing with words, being a storyteller, and feeling a sense of accomplishment in the finished product.
What book/movie/etc. is it comparable to?
My novel has been compared to The Da Vinci Code, except with more of a focus on art than religion, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, and the macabre elements of Dexter.
If you could live in a fictional world, which world would you choose and why?
I wouldn’t mind being a Tolkien elf, and living in one of those cathedral-like structures in a forest. I’m also fascinated by Irish mythology and the legends of Tír na nÓg.
What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I have too many hobbies, honestly. I like to unwind with a good book, watching Game of Thrones, or playing some American McGee’s Alice, Bioshock, or Skyrim. I’m also a visual artist, Irish fiddle musician and step-dancer, roller derby official and former rollergirl, member of a Renaissance faire stage combat troupe, and facsimile artist of rare historical books for the University of Iowa’s medical library.
What is next for you? Another book? Short story?
I’m currently drafting ideas for two books: a sequel to The Eighth Day Brotherhood and a book of surreal short stories related to art history and my work in the slide library.
Where can people find you online?
My website is www.mephistophelia.com/books.htm, where readers can find more information and a preview of the novel. I can also be found at www.facebook.com/arthistorianalice, www.goodreads.com/mephistophelia, and mephistophelia.tumblr.com.
Thanks Alice! It was great talking to you and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Eighth Day Brotherhood.