Author Interview with Livia Llewellyn | More2Read
 

Interview with Livia Llewellyn


 

 


 

About Livia Llewellyn

Livia Llewellyn is a writer of dark fantasy, horror, and erotica, whose fiction has appeared in over 80 anthologies and magazines, including The Best Horror of the Year, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica. Her short fiction collections Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors (Lethe Press) and Furnace (Word Horde Press) were both nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, and her short story “One of These Nights” won the 2020 Edgar Award for Best Short Story. You can find her online at liviallewellyn.com and on Twitter and Instagram. 

 



 

The Interview with Livia Llewellyn

 


 

Lou Pendergrast:

Welcome and thanks for this time to chat on writing.
Congratulations on “One of These Nights” winning the Edgar Award for Best Short Story.
What was the inspiration behind this story and what had you hoped to communicate?

 

 

Livia Llewellyn:

Thank you!
I didn’t intend to communicate anything specific, I just wanted to write about a particular summer ritual, that of going to a public swimming pool, but from the point of view of a young woman who’d been adversely shaped by her past experiences at that place. I don’t want to say more about it – it’s a mystery and should remain that way for the readers.

 


 

Lou Pendergrast:

Your story “Cinereous” is being re-released in new anthology out October 19th Body Shocks edited by Ellen Datlow. There are also two other stories that have appeared in anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow. “Allochthon” in The Best of the Best Horror of the Year and “The Mysteries” in the Edited By anthology. Tell me more about the Inspiration and seed behind these great short stories?

 

 

Livia Llewellyn:

I have a real problem with telling people what my stories are about and/or what inspired them, because once I do that, it means that readers who know those inspirations won’t be able to read the stories without my presence taking precedent over their own imagination about what the story might be about. I’ve talked about my stories in the past, and in doing so I’ve robbed them of what little autonomy they have apart from me. I’ve learned the hard way to keep my mouth shut about what influenced and inspired my fiction, and just let it be.

 


 


 

LP:

That novel of yours, soon be coming?
The road to becoming a novelist, how was it and where you are at now with it?

 

Livia Llewellyn:

I’m not working on a novel right now, and have no plans to be doing so anytime in the near future – I haven’t had much success with novels, so I’m concentrating on short fiction and novellas for the next couple of years.

 


 

LP:

What is the story behind the multi-award nominated collection of stories Furnace?
What connects these tales together?

 

Livia Llewellyn:

There isn’t really any story – I wanted to put out a second collection, so I picked what I thought were the best stories I had available at the time. None of the stories are connected, each one takes place in an entirely separate time and place.

 


 


 

LP:

One unique story “The Low, Dark Edge of Life,” published in Nightmare magazine (DEC. 2016 ISSUE 51). It is told through the voice of a Lilianett van Hamal in the form of a fragments of a diary in 1878. What is the story behind this story?

 

Livia Llewellyn:

It’s the continuation of an entry I wrote for the anthology The Starry Wisdom Library (edited by Nate Pedersen for PS Publishing) – my entry was a very short description of a book written about a religious cult and goddess that Joseph S. Pulver created for his novel Nightmare’s Disciple. He gave me permission to use his ideas for my entry and then for the subsequent story, which expands on the Lovecraftian cult and their profane rituals.

 


 

Read For Free @ Nightmare Magazine 

 


 

 

LP:

What is horror for you? What do you hope horror does, and what do you hope to communicate in your writing, in horror and more generally?

 

Livia Llewellyn:

 

I’m going to crib from an interview I did almost ten years ago, because the answer still holds true today. For me, horror (experiencing it as both reader and writer) is the chance to open an emotional gate inside each of us that usually remains closed, unchallenged, and unused in our day-to-day lives. I don’t approach horror and horrific events as an end, but as doorways into a greater understanding of myself, and in imagining what kind of person I and my characters would become in the worst times and under the worst experiences. Horror is a crucible that brings about transformation not just in the physical world, but also in those who experience it.

 


 

LP:

What literary voices influenced you and why?

 

Livia Llewellyn:

The literary voices that influence me have changed over the years. I used to be heavily influenced by the Beats and French Decadents, and then by a lot of the new wave of horror writers from the early 2000s and 2010s, but now I’m not sure who I’m influenced by. Maybe that’s a question best answered by someone with a degree in English or Comparative literature – it’s not one that I can answer anymore.

 


 

 

LP:

When, where, and with what do you do your writing?

 

Livia Llewellyn:

I write at home on a laptop – I have a small office that I use for my day job from 9-5, and then in the evening I use it for writing. I also write during the weekends and occasionally in the early morning before work begins. I don’t have a set schedule, and I don’t try to write every day. Once I start a story, I’ll work on it as many days in a row as I can until I’m finished, and then I give myself some time off before I start something new.

 


 

LP:

I noticed recently another author passed: Norton Juster. I have not heard of this author.
Who he was and what did his work meant to you?

 

Livia Llewellyn:

Norton Juster was the author of the children’s classic novel The Phantom Tollbooth, which was one of my favorite books growing up, and is still a book I read today. It’s a story about cultivating a love of learning as well as giving yourself permission to be curious, to seek out adventure, and to daydream as much as you need to survive. I think that’s good advice for anyone, but especially for writers.

 


 

 

Obituary: Norton Juster by Shannon Maughan @ https://www.publishersweekly.com

 


 

LP:

What writing advice would you share with aspiring novelists and short story writers?

 

Livia Llewellyn:

I honestly don’t have any writing advice. I think advice can be overrated and often damaging – it certainly has been for me at times. If you’re a writer (i.e., an artist), then I think it’s up to you to figure out what does and doesn’t work for you, and to not take any advice you come across as gospel. Different things work for different people.

 


 

LP:

The books you would pick up again to read and have picked up many times before, what are they and what aspects of the novel you love?

 

Livia Llewellyn:

I’m not sure what you mean by what aspects of the novel I love – if you mean the novel as a form of art, I can’t really answer that question. If you mean what aspects of my favorite novels do I love, then I have to say that to answer that question would take hundreds, if not thousands, of words. The problem is that I can’t tell you what those aspects are because each time I return to a favorite novel, I’ve changed as a person, and so my reading of that particular novel becomes a different experience from all the times before.
I’ve read Émile Zola‘s L’Assommoir at least six times, and each time I come away with a different understanding of what the novel means to me and why it’s so important that I reread it. And it may be that someday I will pick up the novel again and realize that I no longer want to or need to read it, that my life and the novel have diverged. So I really never know if I’m going to return to a novel until the moment I pick it up and start reading it again – until that moment, it’s all very uncertain and unknowable.    

 



 

LP:

Which books, old or new, would be your recommended reading?

 

Livia Llewellyn:

The only thing I’d recommend is that people take this opportunity in history to read books they’ve never considered or had time to read before. I’ve been reading Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems, because his poetry reminds me of New York City and my years working in Midtown, which I miss very much despite all its faults (or perhaps because of them), and Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandra Quartet, which I’ve been meaning to read for decades but never got around to until now. I should be getting the vaccine in a few months, but on the off-chance that I get COVID-19 before then, I want to know that the last books I read were ones that meant something to me.

 


 


 

LP:

Thank you for your precious time shared on writing.

 

Livia Llewellyn:

Thank You!

 


 

 

 


 

Few Works More with Livia Llewellyn | More2Read 

 


Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 26 March 2021