Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of your horror novella! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
William Presley: I was inspired by the grittiness of a good Slavic fairytale. They just seem to tug at our morbid sensibilities, begging us to read on, to walk the plot. Aniela knows this, too. She uses it. A shape-shifting demon, Aniela will borrow heavily from the annals of Eastern European lore to weave a story of her own – one specially designed to entrap her prey. Soon, however, that prey will find her chapters becoming progressively more sinister. They may even look for a way out… but there isn’t one.
BD: The novel deftly combines horror with fantastical elements. What can you share with us about your creative process in weaving these narratives together, and what have been some of your creative influences?
WP: Honestly, the movie, Office Space, scared me in a way that Halloween never could. There are a lot of very basic, every-day realities that make life feel like a more depression version of Hell, and I took inspiration from those realities when crafting the atmosphere for Aniela. I wanted a contrast between the mundane and the fantastic to be very visible throughout the plot, since that in itself can be a terrifying reminder of what we have to deal with when we put the book down and get back to our inboxes. Moreover, that contrast is meant to nudge the reader into suspending disbelief. My goal is to make people want to escape the real world – to want to believe that the spirit plane the narrator describes actually exists. That way, they can stare in horror at the things waiting there.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Aniela’s story will connect with and impact readers?
WP: Aniela’s very first reviewer called Sam, my main character, “our mascot” and labelled him “the reader in all of us.” That’s exactly the kind of connection I’m looking for. I think the fantastical situations in any story become all the more terrifying – and entertaining – when you can actually relate to the characters. Entertainment is, after all, the only thing I’m going for here. I’m not trying to sell you anything – socially or politically – with this plot. I just want you to have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.
BD: What makes Little Demon Books the perfect home for this project?
WP: I love to write, but it’s not my day job; I’m actually a scientist. This meant that, upon finishing Aniela, I had no fanbase or writing credentials to fall back on as I tried to sell a novella-sized prelude to an unwritten series in one of the least popular genres. It was going to be an uphill battle, but Little Demon Books saw the potential. They took a chance on a nobody with an unusual product just because they liked the story, and that’s what made them the perfect home for Aniela. I’m so excited to be contributing to such a solid catalogue of work.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
WP: Well, in addition to continuing with the Apprentice’s Notebook Series, my short stories will be cropping up over the next year or so in anthologies by everyone from Scare Street to Timber Ghost Press. You can also hear me talk about a real-life haunt on the upcoming season of Homespun Haints!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Aniela?
WP: Aniela is now available on Amazon as an eBook or paperback. You can also follow Little Demon Books on Twitter, or me, directly, on Goodreads.