“I have always been fascinated by (serial killers), because I am SO not like them at all. I am very empathetic, I care too much and then you have these “lone wolves” going through society, picking off the masses.”
“Damaged people, ultraviolence, murder and explicit sex—what’s not to love about her work?”
Chris Alexander, Fangoria Magazine
I first met Barbie Wilde last year at Toronto’s HorrorRama, after an extended period of online correspondence and social media chit-chat during my time at Rue Morgue Magazine. The only reason this merits any mention at all is that Barbie is a funny and genuine sweetheart. A sweetheart with a talent for the dark and disturbing. Make no mistake, there’s more than a little bit of darkness swirling beneath that pleasant facade. Fortunately for us, she’s put it all down on paper for our sick amusement.
After gaining rave reviews for her 2013 debut novel, the violently satiric THE VENUS COMPLEX, Wilde now gears up for the release of her latest work: VISIONS OF THE DAMNED, a collection of short stories previously released in various publications, all gathered together for the first time courtesy of Short, Scary Tales.
While best known for her work in front of audiences and the camera, writing has been in WIlde’s blood for a very long time, dating back to age 11 when she wrote and performed in a play about the ride of Paul Revere. “I’ve always been writing and trying to get stuff off the ground for many years. I cannot say how long it took to get THE VENUS COMPLEX to get out. That was very difficult and I went through a lot of problems. It started out as a novel about a plucky female forensic psychologist tracking down a serial killer. And I got really bored. I thought “this is like every other book I’ve ever read”. The things that have always interested me are the “whys”, the psychology of the characters. And so, I thought ‘what if it was all told through his head?’ It was very difficult to get a publisher to take it on, and I actually gave up on it for years.”
Soon, though, Wilde was approached to contribute to a horror anthology being overseen by Paul Kane and Marie Regan, one with very near and dear ties to her heart. “I was still struggling to get the book published (they) said “listen, do you want to write a story for this anthology, Hellbound Hearts? All the stories had to be based on the novella,The Hellbound Heart, that Clive wrote, which of course I knew well. So I thought “oh, gosh, guys. I’m really sorry but I don’t really write horror. I am interested in crime.” And they went “oh, go on. And that was the first horror story I ever wrote.”
Her entry in the Hellraiser-themed anthology, Sister Cilice, formed the first in a trilogy which featured a loosely-based and reimagined version of the iconic “Female Cenobite”. ” The Lead Cenobite in the book IS female, so it while it wasn’t “The” Female Cenobite”, it was “a” female Cenobite. From there, a lot of people asked me to write horror stories. It’s not to say I was reluctant, but I was wondering ‘why is that?’. I guess people assumed because I was in this horror movie, that I was just going to do that.”
There were other forces at work, outside motivations to get the novel done. “The expression is “when acting left me behind”. That’s the sweet way of putting it. I think you’re very lucky to get any acting work whatsoever after 35. After that, I went into casting, which was really soul-destroying – if you still have any hopes of acting – when you see how casting directors work. And you wonder, oh, is it really that brutal? Do they really sit there, open an envelope, look at the picture and then throw it into the wastebasket without even looking at the C.V? That was a real hope-sucker. In the end, I decided ‘okay, this is good’ because it would force me into doing what I always wanted to do, which was my serial killer novel. Paul Kane, bless him, suggested Comet Press and they loved it.”
With the publication of THE VENUS COMPLEX, Wilde found herself with new fans, including those who were interested in helping her work reach a wider audience. Chris Alexander, FANGORIA MAGAZINE’s Editor-In-Chief, published “three” of DAMNED’s stories (Zulu Zombies, “The Cilicium Pandoric” and Writer’s Block) in Fango’s sister mag, GOREZONE and also contributes the collection’s foreword. She’s also gained the support of Vancouver filmmakers, Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary, See No Evil 2), who bookend the anthology with the afterword. ” I met them in Texas and I was so excited, because I thought Mary was brilliant. I had looked over and they were running towards us through this throng and we immediately had a Cenobite-Soska “selfie” session. We have been firm friends ever since. I had a long chat with Jen in Chicago, and that was when we realized we were both Canadian so were able to talk about growing up in British Columbia, which has its own special pleasures.”
When it comes to writing horror, Wilde always roots the most supernatural of premises in reality. ” When I was given the letter U for Uranophobia (the basis for DAMNED’s story, GAIA), I thought whoa, there aren’t that many phobias to start with. What I really wanted to do was write a story about home invasion, because I think that’s scary. So I had to twist one of my phobias into this rather fantastical one, this Fear Of The God Of The Sky.”
With VISIONS OF THE DAMNED slated for release on October 31st (but of course) , the advance critical review has been very positive. “I’ve just been just been thrilled with the response so far. I didn’t know how people were going to take them.” So, what’s next for Wilde? More writing, obviously, including a potential sequel to THE VENUS COMPLEX. She’ll also be on the convention circuit again, promoting the release of VISIONS OF THE DAMNED. They say there’s no rest for the wicked, and Barbie Wilde is living proof.