Women in Horror: LindaAnn LoSchiavo

WiHM11-Scalples-wvToday’s guest is LindaAnn LoSchiavo, who hails from New York, where she writes poetry and does dramatic presentations as well.

When did you discover poetry and who influenced you?

As a toddler, I discovered rhymed verse in books and on Hallmark cards.

My first poems were written at 3 ½ years old. My parents, who were living in the basement of a building owned by my maternal grandparents, quarreled often. Invariably I retreated  to the peaceful second floor to be with my native Italian grandparents and my two unmarried aunts. My Aunt Fay was, like her father (i.e., my Grandpa Umberto), artistic and always sketching. My first poems were written to coordinate with her drawings: ballerinas, clowns, balloons, flowers, the Statue of Liberty, Coney Island’s Ferris wheel, dogs, cats, swans, birds, or squirrels.

My first stage play was written at 9 years old; it was seen onstage for 11 months in Brooklyn, NY.

Why do you write poetry?

I write poetry (as well as fiction, stage plays, drama criticism) because I have many things to say and a unique viewpoint.

However, I write ghost poems because of many encounters with wraiths.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?
The ever-changing, increasingly fragmented marketplace. And the disappearance of good journals where many poets felt welcomed.

Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?

My poems constellate into images orbiting certain themes: Italian culture, Catholicism, erotica, romance, disappointed or abused women, mythology and other speculative themes.

My upcoming event (March 21, 2020) is called “Verses Sacred & Profane: A Spicy Literary Lushness for Lent” https://www.eventbrite.com/e/verses-sacred-profane-a-spicy-literary-lushness-tickets-89928964955  I’ll be reading Catholic poems with a Lenten theme as well as erotic poems from my two new books.

Concupiscent Consumption, Red Ferret Press, 2020, is a collection of erotic poetry. This 24-page chapbook starts with kissing and explores seduction, temptation, the genitalia, bondage, whipping, adultery, etc.

A Route Obscure and Lonely, Wapshott Press, 2020, focuses on spec-po. This 54-page collection explores a variety of fantasy, sci-fi, mythology, and dark horror themes. Since you are spotlighting “Women in Horror,” let me mention some of my ghastly poems in this book: “Unquiet House,” in which two vampires pose as home-buyers in order to sacrifice a real estate agent; “The Tale of the Vintner’s Daughter,” which takes the Jane Austen marriage plot approach to an eligible bachelor named Count Dracula; “Footprints in the Snow,” about an abused wife who returns to haunt the home she was murdered in; “Embodiment,” about a woman slain by her boyfriend, who returns at bedtime to sleep in her younger sister’s room;”A Ghost Revisits a Tattoo Parlor,” a victim of domestic violence watches his new bride, who is getting her husband’s name tattooed; “Endless Night,” the frightening one you’ll never wake up from.

I hope someone who reads this interview would like to review my book.

The Tale of the Vintner’s Daughter

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a foreign bachelor,
in possession of a drafty castle, must be in want of a wife.”

She overheard her parents mentioning
A vast estate, long vacant, just changed hands.
Inheritance. Fortunate foreigner,
Related distantly. A gentleman —
Aristocrat — whose bloodline staked his claim,
Will take possession soon of Mount Ardeal.

Townsfolk with daughters gave approval, sight
Unseen. A bachelor! Well circumstanced!
Considering an heiress gets respect
At any age, she was insulted when
Her father dared to call her “an old maid.”
Inspecting manicured and chaste white hands,
Aware there’s merit in matched wedding bands,
Realities of warring unmet needs
Upbraid the tight lips of virginity.

Receptions will be held, bite-size buffets.
This heir, unknown, is suddenly “a catch.”
The vintner’s daughter can sense life’s about
To change once she’s in a relationship.
Enchanting friendships could lead to courtship.

Her early childhood memories were filled
With bone-dry men admitting they had come
To slake their thirst, which is unquenchable,
She learned, while watching mother pour and pour.

Vacationing at vineyards tutored her.
She watched the women kneeling to tie off
Vines —  how their expertise was in the knots
Not grapes —  enduring, bending, bowing low,
And salving calloused hands at quitting time.

Admiring the fruitfulness of their
Harvest on horseback, they see an ornate
Black carriage pass, its curtains tightly drawn.
It must be him, the heir they’ve heard about.

Born in Romania, this bachelor
Inherited five castles, acreage.
Unlike the grapes, their ripening athirst
For sun, he shuns daylight, potato like,
Basks in his soft cocoon of native soil.

Their fête won’t start till red horizon’s drained
And autumn air’s electric with decay.

Assuming his disguise, Count Dracula
Arrives, polite, attired properly,
Seductive, well turned out considering
He can’t see his reflection. Mirrors won’t
Hold him. Avoiding long engagements, he’ll
Tell ladies he prefers to sleep alone.

Echolocation guides his strong black wings
To candle-lit bed chambers. Milky white
Breasts, pleasure’s playthings, don’t stir his manhood.
Sharp fangs seek virginal smooth necks. Always
His type, blood’s sustenance is what he craves,
Imagining the process from the grave.

He’s parched when entering the ballroom.
Delaying satisfaction sweetens it.
Unmarried females study him, inspect
His gold ancestral jewelry engraved
Impiously. Flirtatious words affect
The vintner’s daughter, nodding glassy-eyed,
Intoxicated. His gaze penetrates
Until she’s under his hypnotic sway.

The heiress has arranged to meet the Count
In private. At eleven they will mount
Their horses, undetected, take a ride.

Discreet, she’ll hide in the orangerie,
Alerting him to the romantic grove
By a rose petalled trail, a daring ruse.

Excited to imagine his caress,
The dark dissolving inhibitions, she’s
Startled by flapping wings overhead.

Peculiarly, her petals were consumed.

Spotting a white handkerchief on a chair,
She rests her rosebuds there — a silent prayer.

## from A Route Obscure and Lonely

What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?

Presented via stage plays and motion pictures, dark horror attracts viewers who enjoy being scared–but from a safe distance.  There was a time when you could not access these spooky, goose-bumpy plays or films at home; you had to be in a theatre.

But you could always take a harrowing thriller or dark poetry to bed, beckoning the boogeyman (page by page) into your own private space, challenging yourself to picture the blood, the monstrosity, the ever-present evil–and somehow cope with it.

Personally, I like to re-read dark poetry to learn something about what type of demon unnerves me the most.

This scientific explanation fascinated me.  According to Dr. Steven Schlozman, a Harvard University professor and the author of The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse, that’s because those are two very different experiences at the neurological level.  He said, “I expect a much stronger kind of physiological arousal from a horror film.

“The studies of what your brain looks like when it’s experiencing a story told visually vs. a story told through written narrative — so reading as opposed to having it read to you — are pretty clear,” Schlozman added. “Although reading horror lights up the parts of the brain that deal with space and time, ‘When you watch a movie, those areas don’t get as engaged, in part because it’s already been done for you on the screen. So if you’re into your own kind of worldbuilding, like imagining something without it being shown to you, then you read the story. If you want to have the challenge of pattern recognition not making sense, then you watch the film.'”

Source:  “Why Do You Love Horror Even Though it Freaks You Out? Here’s What the Experts Say” by K.W. Colyard, posted in Bustle  on Oct 30, 2019

What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?

Launching two books at once, a.k.a., wearing the winged Author Hat, involves organizing events, seeking reviews, and creative marketing. However, I am eager to return to these long-form projects on my desk:

(a.)  “Elfriche” [narrative poem in blank verse]–after a fairy watches a naked male washing his genitals in a stream, her curiosity spirals into infatuation, then lust.  Her yearning makes her seek out a troll who sells love potions. Unintended consequences result. Genre: Fantasy and horror.

(b.) “The Pryderi Solution” [short story]–after her healthy husband becomes bed-ridden due to low-lung volume, Annie’s life spirals downward.  Her best friend, who has mysteriously recovered from her “incurable” auto-immune disorder, tells Annie about an expensive untraditional healer, Tamiesin, who can sell her a permanent cure, the Pryderi Solution. In order to pay for this solution, Annie decides to do some reprehensible things. Unintended consequences result. Genre: Fantasy and horror.

(c.)  “The Pianist and the Djinni” [novella]–the Reeding family has inherited a 19th century haunted house where Ewan Reeding (the paterfamilias) has grown up. Since his business travels often take Ewan Reeding abroad, his lonely wife Desiree takes a lover and becomes pregnant. Terrified that the birth of this love child will tear the family apart, teenage daughter Carnella tries to stop this illegitimate son from being born, unaware that there are opposing dark forces who have their own feelings about this illegitimate heir, and that she will be forced to bargain with violent spirits who intend to keep the house’s monstrous history buried. Deeper complications arise as Carnella begins to fall under the spell of the ghost of her great-uncle Ainsley Reeding, the dark lord of the house.

This fast-paced novella, set during Desiree’s final trimester, is based on my own stage play with the same title. Genre: Fantasy and horror.

(d.)  “Nightfall at Shadow House”  [screenplay]–Since female portraitists never seem to advance in the NYC art world, Jennice Mortimer accepts an invitation from an uncle she’s never met (who spent his career in India), who claims his British art world connections will help her. A bachelor, Harrison Mortimer resides in rural England on a dilapidated estate that Jennice will inherit.

Right before she flies to Britain, Jennice’s fiance dumps her but she decides to visit Uncle Harrison Mortimer all alone.  It will take Jennice awhile to realize that this affable, generous gentleman is not her uncle but an impostor. Also unknown to her, the Hindi-speaking residents of Shadow House have been under investigation for stolen antiquities, looting, and tax fraud.

A detective, hired to track this art thief, assumes Jennice is his accomplice and follows her to England.   Still in the dark about this charming impostor, Jennice rebuffs the detective, at first.

However, by accident, she resurrects the former resident of her bedroom at Shadow House, a peerless pastelist who meddles in this affair by using Jennice’s art supplies to paint clues. Complications will ensue before Jennice realizes her ghost-cousin is protecting her, the detective is falling for her, and the impostor has her real Uncle Harrison chained up and starving in a shed.

Is there anything else you would like to say about horror or poetry or writing?

I’m not alone in wishing there were more zines that offered payment to poets. And when I see the same SFF bylines dominating the good magazines, I can’t help but wish these editors were more welcoming to new names. I’ve written two plays about Mae West and maintained this daily blog for over 15 years.

LindaAnn LoSchiavo is a dramatist, writer, and poet. Her poetry chapbooks Conflicted LindaAnn_with_cat_TExcitement, Red Wolf Editions, 2018, Concupiscent Consumption, Red Ferret Press, 2020, and A Route Obscure and Lonely, Wapshott Press, 2020, along with her collaborative book on prejudice [Macmillan in the USA, Aracne Editions in Italy] are her latest titles. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and SFPA. Her speculative fiction has won two Honorable Mentions from Writers of the Future.  Her ghost poem “Footprints in the Snow” won an award from Dually Noted (March 2019).
* * Interview: https://www.thepoetmagazine.org/interview-with-lindaann-loschiavo Her new website LindaAnnLoSchiavo.com is forthcoming.

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/110279531-lindaann-loschiavo Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B084WSGD5K

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Filed under entertainment, fantasy, horror, myth, poetry, Writing

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