I recently had the eerie privilege of interviewing a very like and very dark soul who also happens to be quite the brilliant writer of things horror. Her name is Nina D’Arcangela. Get used to it — you’ll be hearing a lot about it soon.
My Name… Nina is not my ‘given’ first name; it’s what my mother has called me since I was very young. She would sing to me in Italian to put me to sleep and somehow I came up with the phrase I wanted to go ‘Ninanas with my PQ’ – which was code for ‘gimme my pillow so I can sleep woman!’ – thus I became Nina. D’Arcangela used to be D’Arc Angelo which translates to “The Arc Angel” in Italian before a gramps who couldn’t spell started writing it phonetically as DarkAngela (little bit of an Italian accent on that if you would please), which changed it to “Dark Angel”. I spell it D’Arcangela, which is how it’s actually spelled (thank you immigration agent of years gone by), but call myself The Dark Angel due to good old gramps. I love the dichotomy of The Arc Angel vs. The Dark Angel – either way, all hell is gonna break loose as Arc Angels aren’t known for their gentler side!
2) Your favorite frights (movie, book, location. person…let your imagination go CRAZY).
I LOVE anything that scares the shit out of me! I would read Lovecraft as a small girl under my covers at night with a flashlight and let every twist of reality come to full life in my overly indulgent imagination – then fall asleep watching shadows dancing on my bedroom walls and have wicked nightmares! Movies… from about the age of 7 on, my Dad used to wake me at oh, maybe 3am to come downstairs and watch Phantasm or Night of the Living Dead with him, but ‘shhh…. Don’t tell your Mom, she’ll get pissed!’ – I was destined to be a horror buff like it or not – and that spinning silver ball still creeps me the fuck out. Location, location, location… creepy, scary, dark, dank, dreary, foul, abandoned, dangerous, forgotten places that still pulse with energy draw me. I haven’t met a foreboding building that I’ve shied away from yet; though there is an abandoned Seminary not far from here that sends a shiver down my spine. It’s in a really bad (I’m talking Detroit quality bad) neighborhood, and it’s the only building for blocks with no graffiti, or teenagers hanging out around it. It is an evil place that has ill intent.
As far as people go – the people who recognize and embrace their own inner freak don’t scare me in the least; it’s those who think their normal that should be avoided at all costs! Haunted Houses are a big thing for me… no, not the theme park “boo! I just scared you” variety; but the kind of house that as you are rounding a bend and catch sight of it with its broken out windows, curtains still fluttering in a non-existent breeze, that even on a sunny day is completely engulfed in shadows – that is the kind of place that kicks me into high gear. But being a run TO not FROM girl can get me into trouble, and not just with the spookier unseens hanging around; but with the local authorities too!
3) If you were on a psychiatrists couch and that person asked you “What brought you to this dark place?” How would you answer?
I’d probably inform them that if they’d just turn the lights on, it wouldn’t be so dark in here… chuckling to myself. OK, if someone asked me that question (and clearly they just did), I’d have to say ‘all of me’. Everything that has happened in my life, both good and bad, has made me who I am. I was very much encouraged as a child to explore new things and places with open guile, while at the same time to repress ill feelings and never cause harm. I was a naive and somewhat unprepared teen when let loose upon a world full of small-girl sized potholes to get gobbled up in. I’ll admit to falling into quite a few, perhaps even jumping in by choice on the rare occasion; but I was not without the level of intelligence to realize that no one but myself put me in harm’s way. That was both a benefit and a curse because while it taught me to pick myself up, dust myself off, and move on; it also taught me to internalize all the guilt, hurt or pain each new experience brought with it. Fundamentally I agree with never causing harm where it can be avoided, but I think my deeply tucked little locked up boxes of anguish are what brought me to the darker ‘who’ that I am today.
I’d serve in Hell while ruling Heaven; lapping at the foot of the beast whose choke collar I held tightly in my firm, unyielding grasp! Aww, heck… I’m a Hell girl – I’m sure Heaven is a lovely place, with a great health plan and a lovely view with manicured lawns and bubbling fountains. The Homeowners Association probably has so many perks that any hand tooled Bentley driving Gent would happily give up their country club membership for a chance at some prime real estate there, but I’m just not the “tea for two” type. I’m a Bugatti girl; give it to me loud and throaty, and you best keep your toes away from the curb – I’m using the entire road when I scream past doing 180mph! I’d be bored in the thump of a heartbeat in Heaven; turning it into an eternity of boring thumps, which would in fact be Hell – so I may as well pack for the warmer climate. I think I’d fit in with the misanthropes far better than the fuzzy bunnies passing judgment from on high. Hell is my kind of place; dark, steamy, with nooks and crannies you’re not supposed to glance into (and you know I would – glance that is). My only real concern would be once I’d scribbled on all the walls with my own blood, would I be able to find paper to continue my mad ramblings? Because in my hell there would be neither paper nor pen – blood, I can always find more of that…
5) To some, horror is sexy. Do you agree with that and why?
Is Horror Sexy? Absolutely! Let’s define sexy? Hot, wet, sticky, sweaty, dirty, seething, breathing, ravishing, dark, deep, hard, and all consuming. What is Horror? Hot, wet, sticky, sweaty, dirty, seething, breathing, ravishing, dark, deep, hard, and all consuming. They are of the same ilk my friends, and anyone who doesn’t find horror sexy is either a fuzzy bunny reigning on high from the previous question; or lying to themselves about what a well woven work of horror can make them feel if only they’d let it. If you can’t open yourself to the dark muse and the perverse thrill of a decent horror, then I would ask; Do you really know what sexy is?
6) Rumor has it, horror literature is set to make a come back. What needs to happen for this to be truth?
First of all – thank you for saying that – I’m so tired of “Authors” who say Horror is only a splash in the pan genre and holds no credence with ‘real literary works of art’. In order for the horror genre to be taken more seriously, I think those of us who genuinely enjoy spinning a tale of fright need to elevate ourselves above the common. Not that I’m calling horror authors common, not by a long shot. But there is a tendency to rely on splash factor to carry a piece, or flesh it out with shock value. Words are one of the more beautiful things in this world; and when wielded properly can take the reader anyplace the crafter of this art would like them to go. Horror authors, it seems, need to work a little harder at this than others and not allow themselves to be drawn into the easy out scenarios to gain girth in their work. We, those of us who love these darkly eloquent words, need to re-educate those who are open minded enough to read them that when our words are used effectively, they can be all consuming; leaving the reader thirsting as though they’d just run ten miles with out a drop of water. I recently read a short work of horror and commented to the author that reading his work was like being wrapped in a warm comforting blanket. Yes it was Horror; and yes the tale was horrific; but in the most beautiful of ways imaginable. Plus – and forgive me for saying this folks – we need to shake loose the sparkly vampire and puppy dog werewolf image – it’s my personal opinion; and I don’t begrudge you yours; but I’ll ask you this – would the Nosferatu of old find the two footed cattle he fed upon overly endearing? No, he would not – he would drink its blood and leave its broken corpse behind to go on to yet another walking meal no matter how longingly it stared up at him with its weepy sad eyes!
7) Your writing seems to come from a very personal and dark space. Are you willing to share a bit of what and where that is? What breeds such dark delights in you?
My Dark Space – it reads like a title in and of itself. I write in many different personas and can tumble around in just about any genre; I do not claim to be an expert in any genre, please don’t misunderstand. But my writing – when I am genuinely expressing myself through prose comes from a very dark place with in me indeed. It comes from deep seated emotion that I keep locked away in those little boxes we talked about earlier. Every now and again, I get a new box and tuck it away for future use; but more often, something inside me is breaking free from its emotional prison and screaming to be let loose. This is the point at which I no longer choose to write, but at which point the writing chooses me. I’ve only recently been willing to publish my more personal style for fear of recrimination; I don’t mind saying that as I believe most who read what I write from the soul will be able to differentiate between my exposed self and my ‘be a good girl’ self. But when I do let go of the leash and truly let myself experience the feelings that wish to overwhelm and consume me, I am able to revel in my most treasured pains; my most hidden secrets; and my deepest imaginings. Are they dark; yes. Do I wish them on others; no. But do I wish others to experience that cloying madness through my eyes; yes I do. My writing does tend toward the voraciously consuming side – my angst being the main course; but that’s what I love to read – it moves me; so why would I not wish to use my demons to move others in a sway of pain and pleasure that is so much the same. Like all writers I want to be read, but more importantly I wish to be felt through my writing.
8) The ideal horror novel — what is it? What does it make you feel?
I can’t say I know what the ideal horror novel is per se, I can only express what it should make me feel. It should make me feel torn to pieces; used in a way that will leave me a wasted vessel whimpering in the corner. It ends with me craving more and stunned that the final page is blank and there is nothing else, yet completely whole for having experienced the pain, torture, and anguish of the writer. What is it exactly that makes that an ideal work of horror for me? I don’t honestly know, but if my reaction is visceral, and my pain in equal measure to that of the piece, then I am sated for having been granted a peek into another writer’s mind and imagination.
Okay, here’s where I write my first full length novel. I will attempt to keep it short, but can make no promises as I could easily talk on this subject for hours upon hours! Nearly everything inspires me as a photographer. Most people see a small girl in a field with a camera and assume I’m taking pictures of the pretty flowers or the beautiful landscape; and I do appreciate those things, I just don’t photograph them. More than likely I’m shooting the rotted remains of a fresh kill, or bare bones of an animal long dead. I mean no harm to animals, I cause no harm, but I record the harm that either nature or beast has already wrought. I’m not sick or twisted (…well, just a little twisted), what I’m doing is recording the bits of nature that most of us would rather have homogenized out of our pretty little worlds so that everything fits in it’s perfect place. But our world is not perfect other than in the sense that everything that comes from it will eventually return to it, and I find a majesty all it’s own in that process. I adore rust. Now I fully realize that this is an odd statement to make – but hear me out. Rust is nature’s way of saying “you took this from me, now give it back”. Rust is glorious; rust is ever evolving; rust is a transformation from perfect form to perfect beauty. All that being said, what inspires me the most is photographing two very different yet connected things: The abandoned and the lost.
The Abandoned – places of disuse, places with buildings that have been allowed to crumble or decay; places no one has tread in many, many years; places that too many once trod upon, leaving behind an indelible mark on that patch of Mother’s marble. I choose to seek out these places and photograph them so that others will not forget they exist. Beyond that desire, and laying a much deeper seed within me, is the want to get up close and feel the decay; smell the loss; see which vine has chosen to take which part of a structure to pieces while other areas are unaffected by time. There are moments that the eye looking through my camera will garner a wholly different perspective than the one my naked eye sees. It’s magic – plain and simple, sometimes dark disturbing magic, but magic none the less. Again, I can see that as an odd choice of words, but they are true words and can not be changed for that reason alone.
The Lost – ahhh, here is where my screwy little passion begins. Living on the North East Coast of the US for the majority of my life, I’ve always had the opportunity to travel to a vast number of cemeteries. Where do I live now? Across the street from a very long legged grave yard… a pre-requisite for buying my home, I kid you not. I find them so preternaturally peaceful and welcoming that I could not imagine living elsewhere. It is near impossible for me to explain my fascination with them and the beauty I see in what others have chosen to leave behind as a final mark on this world. In my eyes, they have left this mark for me to see, and I have no choice but to seek it out – it is my duty. I not only find beauty in the perfectly preserved stones of the old markers or the vast crypts and family vaults that litter this area of the North East; but in smaller forgotten cemeteries that you might have to climb a hill or hop a brook to get to… there is beauty there as well. I have much more to spew on this subject, but I shall release your now bleeding ears from my ramble. I haven’t yet picked an image to accompany this post; but which ever one it turns out to be; I truly hope you enjoy viewing it. (You can peek now – it’s not an eviscerated deer, I’m saving that for my blog!)
10) What is the fastest way to connect to your darkness? Books? Movies? Music? Photography? Or are you permanently connected to a dark place that most wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot bible?
I’d like to believe I’m always connected to my darkness – and ye best keep thine bible far distant from me inner gremlins – for they are ravenous with the hunger! LOL All these things inspire me, in different order depending on my mood and the day. My mind is always on – I don’t shut down easily and when left unchecked, it will always wander to the demon infested underbelly that dwells within. It’s a warm cozy place that gives me comfort. When it comes to music; I’m a Metal chick. I don’t have the patience to listen to anything that doesn’t either slam through me or leave me screaming on the inside to a mournfully deep rhythm connected to words of sorrow, pain or the final act of creation. I will occasionally stray to something that moves me by chance, but it doesn’t happen often.
11) What is the darkest thought you’ve had lately?
Hmmm… well, there was this other woman at the diner tonight who wouldn’t shut up… thought about strangling her. Oh wait, that’s not what you meant, was it? Chuckling to myself, again. I’m actually writing two Horror anthology submissions at the moment, so my dark thoughts are turned in that direction. One will be about feasting on unwary souls; the other about the ramblings of a damaged mind… Both fairly dark; keeping me on my proverbial horror toes! To spin a quick thread on horrific thought, I’ll leave you with this:
“To lie awake among the foul stench of his putrid liquid offerings leaves me but half the creature I may have been before his hand touched upon mine. In my own hazed world, I see only through the blood he has spread upon me, marking me as his own – this beast that will not be tamed, this beast that does not rest; this beast that shall never release me from my eternal damnation of bondage. He has taken what he will and that much more; caring nothing of the husk he leaves behind until the next moment in which he wishes to taste his satisfaction. His fangs, they tear at me; his claws, they rend me from creamy flesh to a shuddering mass of broken bone and torn exposed sinew. How, you may wonder, does a creature like me, one so full of grace and charm find herself ensnared in the wolfs clutch? He asked of me and I gave… now I shall forever give under his watchful gaze as my body, the body granted that of a goddess, heals time and again only to serve as a meal for his rabid snout and its unrelenting desires.”
Nina D’Arcangela was the type of girl who, when given a doll as a child, would immediately pop its head off to see what was inside, then spend countless hours contemplating how so many fantastic and fantastical things could be in her own head when the doll’s was so very vacant. As a relative new comer to the writing scene, Nina is just beginning to let the world have a glimpse of not only her imagination, but darker ruminations as well.
Enamored by the classically woven tales of Edgar Allen Poe, Lovecraft, or H.G. Wells, and with landscapes dancing in her head prompted by the likes of Edgar Rice Burrows and Arthur C. Clark, magical worlds took form from their inspiration that would keep her awake night after night reading by flashlight under the covers, or nesting in a closet with the door shut so as not to awaken others by her insatiable need to experience more wondrous tales. While willing to read just about anything that is well crafted, she has a soft spot for the darker side of writing in the Horror, Sci-Fi and Other World genres.
Nina is one of three writers who formed Sirens Call Publications to help foster support for Indie Authors in the hopes that the little guy can sometimes prevail over the giant conglomerate monster. SCP will be releasing their first E-Zine, and two Horror Anthologies in the very near future: Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed; and Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity. SCP is currently accepting short story submissions for both anthologies, please feel free to visit them and inquire or make a submission of your own.
Nina can be reached through Sirens Call Publications at Nina@SirensCallPublications.com; or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find her lurking on twitter as @Sotet_Angyal, or visit her on her blog “Sotet Angyal: The Dark Angel” at http://sotetangyal.wordpress.com/ for more ramblings and dark food for thought!