August 1, 2013

Fear, Heartache, and Isolation: an interview with Sandy DeLuca, author of "Messages from the Dead"

I had the chance to read and review Messages from the Dead, the latest novella release from DarkFuse, penned by Sandy DeLuca. As a followup, I managed to asked a few questions to Sandy and get her thoughts on the book and the ideas behind it. Enjoy.

Gef: You describe your fiction as being comprised mainly of fear, heartache, and isolation. I dare say Messages from the Dead has all three. Do you find there's something particular about those emotions and mindsets that appeal to you when writing?

Sandy: Yes, for several reasons. First of all, I am fascinated with the German Expressionists—in paintings, film and literature—and much of their work dealt with isolation, heartache and fear. I am a fan of Hitchcock, and his films echoed the movement through his settings, lights and moody atmosphere. I love the expression and imagery of this type of work and am heavily influenced by it.

Like everyone else, I have experienced fear, heartache and isolation.   Rather than leave those experiences deep inside me I chose to release them, reimagine them and give them new life through my fiction.

Gef: I wouldn't figure a community college to serve as a compelling backdrop for any kind of horror story, but I suppose it's Castell's history that provides the chills in that regard. Was there something in particular that prompted you to set the story there?

Sandy: I attended art school at a local community college (Community College of Rhode Island). It was actually a bright and happy time in my life. It was a great place to study and much of my visual work is influenced by a male mentor that I studied with there. However, the building—built in the Brutalist style-- is somewhat dark, with endless corridors, and it resembles a prison-like atmosphere when viewing it from the outside. People say it’s built on a horse burial ground, because at one time the land belonged to local farmers. It’s a great setting for a ghost story.

Coincidently, Greg F. Gifune had suggested to me for years that I should write a book about a haunted art school. I had to spice things up a bit, so I did some research on the supposedly haunted Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Hospital, and the Spiritualist movement of the 1840’s--and Messages From the Dead evolved from the haunted art school idea, meshed with my research.

Gef: Delirium Books, and subsequently DarkFuse, have apparently provided a comfortable platform through which to publish your work. How have you found the working relationship and finished products over the years?

Sandy: DarkFuse (formally Delirium Books) is a wonderful publisher to work with. Shane Ryan Staley, Greg F. Gifune and Dave Thomas are outstanding, and truly some of the best people in the publishing industry. They are down to earth, helpful, respectful and a delight to work with. The finished product is always nothing but brilliant and beautiful. At present Zach McCain is creating some extraordinary cover art as well.

Gef: For writers out there, how might other artforms, specifically painting and sculpture, aide in improving one's craft in storytelling?

Sandy: I believe that other art forms allow you to “see” differently. For example, detail and color in painting can aid with descriptions. I took a semester of life drawing, and the models were far from perfect—some were elderly and others were overweight, but those imperfections and the attempt to recreate them help me express—with words—the imperfections of my characters. A sense of color aids in describing everything from skin tone to the color of the sky when the sun is setting. Ultimately it’s not just a matter of merely seeing something, but it’s looking deep inside that person or thing.

Gef: Between writing and painting, is it a bit of a Sophie's Choice if forced to pick between the two?

Sandy: I spent many years tormented as to whether or not I should pick just one, but I’ve learned to embrace both. My studio is always prepared, with canvas and paints spread out, and I go there when I need a break from my writing, or when I’m having a block, or just trying to figure out my next chapter, and I’ve managed to balance the two so that they sort of flow together. 

I spent some time exhibiting, and putting hour a lot of hours into gallery events. That took away from my writing. Now I spend more time at home, selling work from here, rather than exhibiting it, and it’s more peaceful, as far as I’m concerned. There’s no pressure to meet a gallery’s deadline and I have more time for both art forms.

Gef: Messages from the Dead isn't the only book you have set for publication this year through DarkFuse. What can you divulge about your next book?

Sandy: Hell’s Door will be released in October. It’s based on a short story I wrote years ago. It was published in an all-female anthology called DIVAS OF DARKNESS, from Thievin’ Kitty Publishing. It’s basically a dark, horrific crime piece. Someone is murdering hookers in Providence, Rhode Island and a team of detectives is working the case. They're undercover in a bar called Hell’s Door, and focusing their investigation on the bar’s owner. It’s very visceral and might be one of my most violent books.

Thanks for interviewing me. It’s been a pleasure.

If you want to know more about me please visit my website (
and check with DarkFuse regarding release dates of my work (

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