I’m interviewing Kelli and Erin Beck today for the tour for their horror short story anthology, “Talking Walls and Cigarettes”.
1) How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for nearly twenty years. I started as a kid around the age of twelve. Kelli and I have been friends for that long, and we used to write weird, goofy, and inappropriate-for-our-age stories together.
2) Is Talking Walls and Cigarettes (And Other Dark Tales) your first book? If not, please tell us a little about your first book.
Yes, Talking Wall and Cigarettes is our first book. Hopefully the first of many.
3) Why did you choose horror as a genre for your collection?
Erin: We’ve been horror fans for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid I use to read Christopher Pike books, but it wasn’t long before I graduated to Stephen King. He is one of many authors who influence and inspire me to write. Maybe I’m just a dark person, but dark and twisted ideas just come naturally.
Kelli: I’m a huge fan of anything dark and scary. I was all about Tales From the Crypt as a kid and watched Tales From the Darkside (The Movie) about a hundred times. I started reading the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stein and graduated up to Stephen King not too long after that. I have books on serial killers and all that creepy stuff that gives me nightmares. I’m not sure why fear is so fascinating to me but it is. It’s fun to explore the possibilities of “What would I do if…” when writing fiction. Put a character in a terrible situation and see what happens…
4) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Erin: My advice for other authors is to stick with it. I know that I am my toughest critic and it’s easy to get discouraged. Also, accept criticism from others, but be willing and able to defend your work if need be.
Kelli: Erin’s absolutely right about accepting criticism. I just heard about a girl that switched her major from Journalism because she didn’t like her work being criticized while she was working on the school newspaper/magazine. If you can’t take criticism this is not the right job for you. Criticism is essential if you want to get better. There’s a lot of fault in our writing that we just can’t see until someone points it out to us. I got edits back for a novel I wrote and I have to take it apart and rewrite it but I’m happy to do it because it’s going to be a much better work, one I can be proud of.
Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?
Grabappleberry Punch has been a work in progress for a couple years. It’s one of those massive projects that as writers we hold near and dear to our hearts, but had to take a break from. We feel we have something truly wonderful with it and we want to do it justice. The GP (that’s what we call it) is the story of a boy who grows up on the only grabappleberry orchard in existence. It has adventure, elements of fantasy, love, and loss. This full-length novel is definitely a leap from the horror of Talking Walls and Cigarettes.
Talking Walls and Cigarettes
Author: Erin Beck and Kelli Beck
Genre: Horror, Short Story Anthology
Talking Walls and Cigarettes is a collection of seven dark short stories that deals with both real life monsters and those that dwell within us. A bartender still grieving the tragic death of her brother, shunning from her family, and the whispers in the street is visited by a man who appears out of thin air to offer her a way out of her own personal hell in The Salesman. A poor family is cursed by a mysterious old man in the woods and the children are at risk for falling victim to their parent’s unspeakable acts in Porcelain. The title story follows a man as he is tormented by demons in his own mind. In Homecoming, can a young woman find what she’s looking for years after her father’s abduction by other-worldly beings?
Erin Beck was born and raised on the mean streets of Chatsworth Illinois. Every day was a struggle to survive, to overcome, to persevere. At the age of twelve, she took up writing. This passion for the written word saved her from such fates as teen pregnancy and tooth decay, that which have befallen many other great Chastworthians. Erin is also the author of The Pursuit of Hair and co-author of Grabappleberry Punch: The Adventures of Mister Tennison Volumes One and Two. Her influences include Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, and Christopher Moore. Erin spends her leisure time tossing a ball around with her dogs and parasailing, and has on more than one occasion been caught napping in a box full of packing peanuts. She is a drop-out of Hogwarts where she majored in English and minored in the contortion arts. She has scaled the dark tower; she has trekked through middle earth; and she thinks cannibalism is a real hoot. Erin now lives in the woods with her boyfriend and survives off of insects and pine needles. She wrote portions of this short fiction collection on homemade paper and her own blood.
When she is not gold mining or globetrotting with her husband, Kelli spends her time writing, reading, and playing with her two dogs. Often described as “worldly” and “well-traveled,” Kelli is envied amongst co-workers and friends alike. She has a knack for reading minds and can often predict the future. Many people worldwide come to her for financial advice and money as she is the sole proprietor of the only money tree in existence. Her heroes include her father, Stephen King, and Albus Dumbledore. She has read the Harry Potter series many times over and is proud to share her birthday with The Chosen One. She has been described as a fearless leader, charismatic, even bulletproof.