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"Don’t be afraid to explore new ideas..."

I had the opportunity to interview Diana Marie Hall who writes horror under the pen name, Anna Matthews. She discussed her upcoming projects, as well as how she returned to her horror writing roots.

1. Tell me about when you first became interested in horror.

I recall the day my mother took me to Encore Books and I saw all the books by R.L. Stine sitting on the shelves. His titles and covers were so appealing and I remember getting one and reading it in one day. I’m not sure what it is about the genre that enticed me to write, especially at a young age. I’ve just always been intrigued by the paranormal.

2. Do you remember the first horror story you wrote?

Although it wasn’t the first horror story I wrote, it’s one that I remember quite well. It was about a middle school student named Casey and her diary falls into the wrong hands. I didn’t finish this particular story because even back then I had a lot of ideas for stories that I wanted to write. I never shared this particular story but maybe one day I’ll finish it.

3. Discuss your favorites/inspirations in horror: movies, books, authors, etc.

As I mentioned, R.L. Stine was my first inspiration in horror as well as the author who inspired me to write. I also enjoyed the works of Christopher Pike, Lois Duncan and Caroline B. Cooney. Now I enjoy reading Darcy Coates, Jonathan Maberry, Anne Rice as well as the independent authors who write in the genre. Although Stephen King is an absolute mastermind, I have yet to finish one of his novels. However, his memoir “On Writing” is one of my favorite books.

4. What brought you back to writing horror?

I believe it was your novel, Mr. Woods, “Welcome to Oblivion,” that reminded me that horror was where I first started my writing journey. Although I loved the other genres I was writing, I missed the thrill of writing horror!

5. Can you talk about “The Third Floor” and the dreams that led to the novel?

To date, I have had five dreams about the third floor. In three of them, there was always someone telling me, “don’t go up to the third floor.” In the last two dreams, one was based on a scene from the novel and the other…. Well, I finally made it up to the third floor. So… what’s on the third floor? I’m sorry to say… I can’t spoil it for you. ;)

6. Tell me about "Beckoned: A Cedar Lake Novella" and how important this story is to you.

“Beckoned” is my horror debut as Anna Matthews and I am excited to see the response. It’s such a strong story with a strong lead character. There are twists and turns at every angle. It was such a thrill to write and I’m excited that this will be the first paperback of my own that I will hold in my hands.

7. Where did the idea for "What Lies Beneath" come from, and what can readers expect?

I can’t give too much away for “What Lies Beneath” but readers can expect a lot of twists and turns in my solo horror debut tentatively scheduled for release next year. The idea came to me one day out of nowhere and I knew this story was something I needed to write. It’s been exhilarating coming up with this idea and the lead character, Fabel Blakemore. Readers can certainly expect a lot from her as a strong female lead.

8. What other current projects are you working on, and what do you have planned for the future?

As far as writing in the horror genre, there are two other books in the Cedar Lake series as well as two novellas. My first novel, “Esme” will be released in February 2022 and deals with some serious issues that need to be addressed in our world today. I consider it more of a dramatic suspense novel. There is also a collection of short horror stories and a vampire story, entitled “Adeline.” As you know, these will all be co-written with you, Mr. Woods. I have ideas in mind for future horror stories of my own but because I write stories other than horror, I have to put some emphasis on publishing stories in other genres as well.

9. That Eric Woods ... What a handsome guy.

It’s clear that Eric Woods did in fact write this interview. What I will say about you, Mr. Woods, is that it is an honor to co-write with you. Your talent goes beyond measure and your hard work and dedication is something I admire greatly. I am looking forward to the release of our first novel together, “Esme” as well as our first novella, “Beckoned.”

10. What advice would you give for someone wanting to write horror?

I encourage aspiring writers to read a lot in the genre and don’t be afraid to explore new ideas. I read an article once that some of the sanest people are horror authors and as authors we write about darkness so we can overcome our fears. Be daring and face your fears.

11. Can you talk about your other non-horror projects (poetry, Christmas stories, novels, photography)?

I have a collection of poetry scheduled for release at the end of the summer as well as a collection of sweet romance Christmas stories at the end of November. It has been a joy to write in various genres and I love being versatile as a writer. I am looking forward to sharing a variety of stories with my readers in the near future. As far as photography, I am starting my own business working as a pet portrait photographer. I am incredibly excited for this endeavor. I love the arts and I want to experience it all.

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