[This issue, we sit down for a quick interview with horror and weird fiction poet, Ashley Dioses. Here, she discusses her upcoming collection, The Withering; her attraction to the morbid and macabre; and her future projects.]
ev0ke: Your poetry collection, The Withering, will be released soon by Jackanapes Press. First, congratulations! Second, you wrote many of these poems originally when you were in your teens. What was it like to go back and read some of your own early work? And how did you go about revising it for your new collection?
Ashley Dioses: Thank you! At first, it was a bit cringe-worthy. When I wrote these poems, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no sense of meter at the time. All I cared about was that they somehow flowed when you read them and that they rhymed. I revised them based on their structure and meter. I fixed their technical parts while keeping the heart and emotions true to how I originally wrote them. Also, a lot of the poems didn’t make sense to anyone who wasn’t me, so I made things a bit clearer as well.
ev0ke: Why call the collection The Withering?
AD: When I was in summer school, I started writing random titles while trying to think of a name for my first poetry collection, which I intended to write and hopefully publish. The first title I came up with that I liked was Darkest Days and Haunted Ways. I played with that title for a bit, but eventually I decided it was too long and, as I wrote more poems, felt that it didn’t fit. I then began to write words that I thought captured the themes of these poems and one of them stuck out; wither. By the end of summer school, I came up with The Withering.
ev0ke: Your work has been described as morbid and macabre. What draws you to that style and subject of poetry?
AD: I’ve been reading horror since I was in elementary school. I started out with fantasy, but my dad didn’t take long before he started giving me horror books to read. My dad was a huge Stephen King and Dean Koontz fan, along with other notable horror writers, and had no qualms about giving me the Books of Blood by Clive Barker when I was around eight. Of course, I didn’t really understand what I was reading so I became bored, but that didn’t stop me from seeking out Goosebumps or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark which were a bit more age-appropriate. Poe was one who made me realize that you could write horror poetry, which never clicked with me before. I was about eleven when I read “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven” for the first time, and I grew up with my dad writing and reading us poetry. It then clicked that I could combine the two and it took off from there.
ev0ke: The Withering includes illustrations by Mutartis Boswell. What was it like collaborating with an artist? How did the two of you go about deciding which pieces to illustrate?
AD: I’ve always been a big fan of Boswell’s art. He had created art for a poem of mine that was published in a now defunct magazine, and it captured my poem perfectly. I wanted art for The Withering, as I did with Diary of a Sorceress, and I knew that Boswell would be the perfect artist for it.
As for choosing which poems I wanted art for, I had a list and basically told him, do whatever you want with these poems. I think there were only one or two poems I had a specific image in my head for, but otherwise, I told him if there was any poem that stood out and gave him ideas for, to go with it. I knew he would do an amazing job and he delivered beautifully.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
AD: Currently, I’m working on the next ‘diary’ in the series titled, Diary of a Vampyress. It’s a poetry collection that will focus heavily on Gothic tropes and themes. The vampyress is Countess Nadia who was introduced in Diary of a Sorceress with four sonnets. The rest of the sonnet cycle is included along with the first four in the cycle. It has around sixty poems so far and I intend to finish at around eighty. It has ten sections: The Countess (which encompasses her sonnet cycle), Vampires and Devils, Witches and Werewolves, Daemons and Death, Ghosts and Skeletons, Zombies and Ghouls, Halloween, Femme Fatales, Apocalypse, and Translations.
I also have a few poems translated into Hungarian and French, respectively.