By Laia Feliu.
We are very happy to welcome Katrina Monroe to The Reading Corner to discuss her horror book “They Drown Our Daughters“, out July 12th!
f you can hear the call of the water,
It’s already far too late.
They say Cape Disappointment is haunted. That’s why tourists used to flock there in droves. They’d visit the rocky shoreline under the old lighthouse’s watchful eye and fish shells from the water as they pretended to spot dark shapes in the surf. Now the tourists are long gone, and when Meredith Strand and her young daughter return to Meredith’s childhood home after an acrimonious split from her wife, the Cape seems more haunted by regret than any malevolent force.
But her mother, suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s, is convinced the ghost stories are real. Not only is there something in the water, but it’s watching them. Waiting for them. Reaching out to Meredith’s daughter the way it has to every woman in their line for generations―and if Meredith isn’t careful, all three women, bound by blood and heartbreak, will be lost one by one to the ocean’s mournful call.
Hi Katrina! Firstly, thank you so much for your time. “They Drown Our Daughters” pulled me in immediately and had me on the edge of my seat for hours. This was my first horror/thriller book and now I can’t get enough of it!
“They Drown Our Daughters” portrays many generations of women who are suffering because of a curse put on their family. What drew you to write about the lives of the women living in Cape Disappointment?
The most compelling thing about this idea was the setting. Cape Disappointment is an actual town off the coast of Washington, the Graveyard of the Pacific moniker also real. I wanted to write something with a gothic feel, and to me quintessential gothic explores the lives of isolated and tormented women, dismissed as insane or ill. I wanted to bring that idea of the gothic into the modern day, while leaving the patriarchal story standard behind.
The story mainly revolves around how Meredith and her mother and daughter are dealing with the curse, but many generations before them had tried to break it. What was the reason behind the multigenerational story?
I have always been fascinated by the way our past shapes our present. With a story like Meredith’s, I felt like it couldn’t be told properly without weaving in the past. It was important to present the curse through the eyes of the women bound by it, to show their mistakes and lay out for readers an image of what haunts Meredith’s family from different perspectives. Some people may wonder about the cyclic nature of these generational scenes, but that is part of the point. The curse is a cycle and while Judith feels like it might not ever be broken, Meredith knows that it has to be.
I feel like Cape Disappointment was a pretty eerie environment even without the story about the curse going on, where did you draw inspiration from to create this very creepy town?
Cape Disappointment is a real town with a real lighthouse! I visited my brother in Seattle several years ago with the intention of seeing it, but unfortunately we didn’t make it that far (the drive was horrendous). But, we did make a stop at a beach near the Quinault Reservation where I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time. It was dank and gray, and the beach was all but deserted. Along the sand were dozens of dead crabs being picked at by seagulls. I knew right away that the idea taking hold in my head had to be set in a place like that.
Did you consider bringing Constance back in some way to help Meredith break the curse once and for all?
That is an excellent question! I honestly hadn’t considered it, but that is mainly because it was important for Meredith to break the curse on her own, in a way that only she could. At the heart of it, the story is about motherhood. Meredith is a woman who isn’t confident in her ability to be a mother, the antithesis to Regina, who believes so fiercely in her role as a mother that she is willing to do anything to put herself back on that pedestal. By the end of it, when (spoilers!) the ghost of Regina’s daughter, Marina, returns, she doesn’t recognize Regina as her mother. Her evil deeds had distorted her spirit so much that Marina clings to her the way she clung to the rest of the mothers in their line, only to come away unsatisfied. It isn’t until Meredith, who comes to Marina willingly, heart open and caring, that Marina is finally laid to rest.
Judith’s brother, David, wrote a horror story that caught my attention immediately, have you thought about turning his draft into a new story?
This was one of the last things to make it into the final draft of the book and is easily one of my favorite scenes. Nothing is set in stone, but I do have the image of the girl with flowers growing from her mouth in the back of my mind. I’m sure it will find its way into my work one day.
The ocean can be a frightening place for many people. What made you choose this figure? What do you find unsettling about it?
I grew up in Florida, so I’ve always had a healthy reservation about the ocean. I love it—the mystery and the soothing nature of the waves—but the ocean, like outer space, is an immense unknown for humanity. What’s more terrifying than the unknown?
You’re a horror and supernatural writer. Is there any area of the genre you’d like to explore more in your writing?
There is a special place in my heart for comedic horror, like the film Shaun of the Dead. Grady Hendrix does a really great job of incorporating humor into his horror. So does Rachel Harrison. If you haven’t yet read The Return, I highly recommend. With comedy, if done well, comes heart which can bridge the gap between horror and humor. One of these days I would like to try my hand at it.
During the writing process, did you ever get scared or had to take a break because of the intensity of the scene?
I didn’t do any stepping away, but the scene featuring Judith’s mother as she creeps along the edge of the viewing room of the lighthouse, pulled by the voice, gave me nightmares for a short time. I couldn’t close my eyes without feeling the vertigo of being up high and untethered. I often woke up feeling like I was falling.
Are there any books within the genre or with similar messages to “They Drown Our Daughters” you could recommend?
For some great gothic-vibes, I highly recommend The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell, The Rathbones by Janice Clark (bonus points for the oceanic setting), The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon (which also has a desperate-for-motherhood undercurrent), and The Hidden by Melanie Golding.
And last but not least, where can everyone get their hands on this incredibly moving story?
They Drown Our Daughters is available for pre-order at these major outlets, or you can request it from your local indie bookstore!
Katrina Monroe is a private investigator by day, horror author by night. She has published several titles under small presses that are no longer in print, but are still very close to her heart. When she isn’t writing, you can find her curled up under a blanket, mug of tea in hand, rewatching episodes of The Great British Bake-Off, or in the kitchen attempting (and mostly failing) to recreate the incredible bakes.
Katrina’s Instagram: @katrinamonroeauthor
Katrina’s Website: https://katrinamonroe.com/
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