Lori: You know that’s a very good question. I often consider much of my inspiration as having come from family members. In the larger world, I would say that people like Lorraine Hansberry or Nikki Giovanni were inspirations. I was a voracious reader as a kid, and these were the first female African American writers that I was introduced to.
LaToya: Where are you from? Where do you live now?
Lori: I’m from Los Angeles. I moved to Central California a few years ago, to a medium sized city surrounded by farms and oilfields at its outskirts.
LaToya: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Lori: I did from the time that I was nine years old. I had a lot of nightmares growing up, and my mother encouraged me to write them down in order to get rid of them. It worked like a charm. Soon I was inventing stories just because it was fun.
LaToya: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
Lori: I wrote a lot of stories in my teens and early twenties that will go unpublished. I think of those as practice! For a long while my writing got put on the back burner while I went to school and work. I didn’t really pick up writing again until 2008, and my first full length book was completed in 2010.
LaToya: How did you choose the genre you write in?
Lori: I think it pretty much chose me. I write the kind of stories that I like to watch. I love monsters, ghosts, paranormal, anything concerning the dark or unknown. I love stories that have action and romance, unexpected twists and turns, so that’s what I try to deliver on for my readers. I like characters that have depth and texture. I want them to feel like people that you know or could know in some way.
LaToya: Where do you get your ideas?
Lori: So many places! Sometimes just things that happen on the news. Other times, it can be a movie or show on television. I love asking questions and trying to figure out how any particular person would react given a certain set of circumstances. Even the stories my friends tell me make possible fodder.
LaToya: Name one book that you would categorize as a life changing read.
Lori: A life changing read. I think absolutely everything I have ever read has left some imprint on me in one form or another. I would say Poe’s collected works probably were the most life changing. My sister read the stories to me when I was very small, and I read them on my own later. I believe it helped solidify my love of horror. Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery instilled my love of short stories.
LaToya: Who is your favorite author?
Lori: My favorite author changes depending on my mood. Among the perennials are King and Koontz, Tananarive Due and Octavia Butler.
LaToya: Name one book you wish you’d written.
Lori: I have never thought of it that way. Books are such a personal thing and you leave pieces of yourself all through them, so it’s difficult to say that I would want to have written someone else’s book. If I have to name one, it would probably be Due’s novel My Soul to Keep.
LaToya: Tell us about your latest book.
Lori: My latest novel is The Bell House, about two half-sisters who share a very dysfunctional relationship. Jenna decides to move back to her father’s property, and when strange things start to happen, it seems that her sister Diana may be imagining them. There is real danger to them both, and many long held family secrets come the fore. It’s a good old fashioned Southern Gothic horror story with a modern twist.
Lori: I can be found on Facebook. My hashtag on Twitter is Loribeth215. And my ezine, Flashesinthedark.com features a lot of great short stories from new and established writers.
LaToya: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Lori: I would encourage new writers to work as hard at their craft as possible. Know that everyone needs a good editor, beta readers, and a plan to promote the book after it’s published. If you have a limited budget, work with what you have. Know that while sales are great, they shouldn’t be your primary goal. Read as many books and watch as many movies as you can. Observe life in general. Love your characters, and readers will feel that emotion in your writing.