K A Laity, author of Madonna of the Wasps is interviewed by Henry Roi of Scream Hard Reviews
HENRY: Your story, “Madonna of the Wasps”, is a standout in the new giallo horror magazine, “The Blood Red Experiment”. What ever gave you the idea for such a wild tale?
KATE: Well, I stole the title from Robyn Hitchcock’s fab song and then I stole the character names from Argento’s Opera (one of my fave giallo films–I even wrote an academic essay about it). After that I opened up one of my notebooks and wrote the title down and numbered 5 columns and started brainstorming — literally in part because I was thinking about an image of Tideo Melanippus eating the brain of his enemy (http://www.romainteractive.com/…/etruscan-national-museum.h…) which got me onto the Etruscans and thinking about someone trying to resurrect an ancient cult that might involve consuming others which would require antiquities — and then I threw most of it out because it was only five chapters after all. Heh. Oh and jewel wasps: as soon as I chose the title, I knew I had to use jewel wasps (https://www.wired.com/…/absurd-creature-of-the-week-jewel-…/) because they’re beautiful and cool and scary.
HENRY: What does tension in a story mean to you?
KATE: Making sure the reader can’t be certain what will happen next. It’s become a bit too much of a trope to kill off everyone — Hitchcock shocked everyone with Psycho in that way, but between Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, guess who’s going to die this week has become overkill (ha!). Giallo has a lot of genre tropes so it was fun to play with them a little and try to fool the reader about which way things would go while still honouring those expectations. A lot of the tension relies on pacing. In short chapters that have to build memorably, it’s crucial to keep that tension going — end on a cliff hanger and keep them guessing.
K. A. Laity is the award-winning author of How to Be Dull, White Rabbit, Dream Book, A Cut-Throat Business, Lush Situation, Owl Stretching, Unquiet Dreams, Chastity Flame, and Pelzmantel, as well as editor of Respectable Horror, Weird Noir, Noir Carnival and Drag Noir. She also writes historical fiction as Kit Marlowe and crime as Graham Wynd. Her bibliography is chock full of short stories, humor, plays and essays, both scholarly and popular. As a 2011-2012 Fulbright Fellow in Galway, Ireland she worked in digital humanities at NUIG. Dr. Laity teaches medieval literature, film, gender studies, digital humanities and popular culture at the College of Saint Rose, where she is also the director of the Digital Humanities Initiative. She divides her time between Hudson, New York and Dundee, Scotland. Contact her by sending a missive to “katelaity” at gmail.