By Angelique Fawns
Interview with Willow Croft “Bringer of Nightmares & Storms”
Willow Croft can spin a delightfully devilish short story, and is a self-professed animal nut. We connected when I was looking for writers to feature for Women in Horror Month, and though we missed the actual month of February, we still had a wonderful chat. I am amazed by how much we have in common (she has actually met one of my number one musical idols!- more on this in the actual interview.)
Willow had some profound insights into the power of writing as a life raft, and how she finds inspiration in the act of creation. Even if she is creating words that echo in the realms of horror….
“I was really pretty rock bottom at an already rock bottom life and in jobs and things, and writing and getting accepted made me feel like I had a purpose. Like I had a voice and a place in the world. I would say it was a light in the darkness, except I like the darkness; so, maybe more like a port in the storm.”
AF: Why do you call yourself the “Bringer of Nightmares & Storms?”
WC: I grew up in Florida, and we have lots of storms and inclement weather. One of my earliest memories from my childhood (I think I was maybe a toddler) and I was outside and the sky became overcast and I felt part of the deep greening and the wind and the storm all at once. It was a strange but wonderful experience. Ever since then, I love being out in storms. Flooding in the streets, winds so high you can barely keep your footing, things like that. I probably should have been a storm chaser. And Twister is one of my all-time favourite movies. Except, of course, I feel so bad for the cows. Even if they are digital. I just tacked on the nightmares, because I seem to always end up writing horror-ish stories.
AF: Twister is also one of my favourites! The true star of that movie was the wind itself. What sort of writing do you like to focus on?
WC: Well, for fiction, I suppose it’s horror. But I love stories and literature that gives plants and animals agency. One of my favourites (which I need to find again, after I lost the book in a basement flood, I think) is titled The Roots of Evil: Weird Stories of Supernatural Plants by Michel Parry.
AF: My last few stories starred an iguana, a chicken, and a macaw, so I hear you sister! Tell me about your multiverse.
WC: My multiverse aka alternate/parallel dimensions are so, so essential to my writing and my creativity. They’ve appeared through waking dreams, through sleeping dreams, deja vu moments, and even chance meetings with people I categorize as muses. Like, it’s a profound meeting, but you’ve made that connection in some other “multiverse” and then you meet them in real life. Or vice versa. You meet the person, and then they become an inhabitant of my multiverse. A magical, fascinating entity that nurtures your creativity. It’s largely in the realm of the imagination, and I prefer it that way. If it was a world made “real” it wouldn’t be as magical and immersive. And, yet, it somehow does feel real. And, once, the multiverse paralleled with a chance meeting in real life. I’m not very new-agey, but the feeling, or energy, or whatever when I met this person was just…mind-blowing. This person was the same person I met in my dreams, the same more-than energy I felt when listening to their songs. It had all become real, and verified, not only by me, but by the crowd around me that had been shoving up against me, and then stopped. They were all in a half circle around me, and the expression on the crowd’s faces reflected the energy that filled the stadium. Everything went soft and fog-like and the sound even dimmed. It was like we were all in another world. I mean, what do you do with that…revelation? When something that was simply and indulgently poetic, romantic, dreamlike imagining had become real? That’s one concert I will never forget, and individual(s) I met. (The concert was The Cure’s Wild Mood Swings.)
AF: You met Robert Smith? He was my number one crush when I was in grade 10! Thats a phenomenal story! Someday you will have to tell me more about it. For now, lets talk about your day job?
WC: Well, I have one. I just signed on with a book publishing company as their Vice Publisher/Executive Editor. It’s still early stages, so, in my downtime, I still write. And look for freelance writing leads. submission opportunities, and gigs.
AF: Good luck with the new job! What has been your most successful avenue for your writing?
WC: Well, it’s going to be a bit of a heavy answer. The most successful avenues is–all of them! All the short story anthologies and journals and newspapers and magazines that have been so amazing to include me in their publications. I was really pretty rock bottom at an already rock bottom life and in jobs and things, and writing and getting accepted made me feel like I had a purpose. Like I had a voice and a place in the world. I would say it was a light in the darkness, except I like the darkness; so, maybe more like a port in the storm.
AF: I lost myself in books growing up, if you don’t like the current world, escape to another. Can you tell me about your marketing strategies for all your writing avenues?
WC: Well, I’ve read huge amounts of industry articles and I have file folders filled with the ones I printed out, and I also read Writer’s Magazine and Writer’s Digest regularly. Still, after all that research, my strategy is pretty organic, especially after reading Peter Derk’s essay titled “Writers Don’t Need Social Media,” which just gave me permission to narrow my focus on social media. I love my blog, and the blogs I read and follow–many of which we’ve followed each other for years, now. I followed up that essay (Writers Don’t Need Social Media | LitReactor) with Peter Derk’s reading recommendation, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now https://www.amazon.com/Arguments-Deleting-Social-Media-Accounts/dp/125019668X. I read blogs, I comment on them, I try to read other authors’ books when budget allows, and I love Goodreads. I could spend hours on there. I wish I had enough time and money to join in the book reads for the groups I’m a silent part of.
Also, I comment on books I’ve read in my blogs. I sometimes guest blog at a cat blog called Katzenworld (https://katzenworld.co.uk/) , I’ve written the occasional review on Madness Heart Press in the past. I did write one post at Little Old Lady Comedy but, jeez, I think the humor writers over there are much better than my own attempt at being funny, so I mainly just enjoy their posts. I’ve also written a post over at the awesome Horrortree that used a tarot card reading to provide inspiration for writers. Time will tell to see if that continues.
I’ve recently added doing brief, get-to-know-you mini author interviews on my blog. That’s been a heck of a lot of fun!
AF: I remember you article on Tarot Cards. I loved it. https://horrortree.com/wihm-using-tarot-cards-for-writing-inspiration/ Also, thank you for featuring me on your blog. It was fun. It was through that interview we found out we are both animal fanatics. How does your love of animals influence your writing?
WC: I’m always rescuing animals, and I’ve worked in both animal shelters and in a wildlife rehabilitation center in the past. I’m good with cats and socialising them, and my current cats were both former ferals that I socialised. I also seem to be a wildlife BFF–skunks and chipmunks in particular. I don’t have much fear of wildlife, and I love insects, bugs, and arachnids, etc. I sometimes even get inspiration from the Entomology Today blog, especially from blogs titled “Funeral or Feast: How Termites Manage Their Dead” (https://entomologytoday.org/2021/02/17/funeral-feast-how-termites-manage-dead/) and Dom’s Wild Things back when I had cable.
AF: I have a few rescues myself, and love spiders. What does the future hold for Willow Croft?
WC: Well, I’m in the early stages of outlining a horror manuscript. But what I hope to have in my future (other then relocating into my “multiverse” full time with past and present pets in tow) is a place of my own. It’s not the house so much (home ownership fills me with horror and dread) but a place where I can have lots of rescued cats and rescued nature that I would return to its wilding state.
My blog: https://willowcroft.blog
Let’s talk books! https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16978140.Willow_Croft