Exclusive Interview: “They Hide” Author Francesca Maria


There’s no reason to be afraid of the dark.

There’s no reason to be afraid of the dark.

There’s no reason to be afraid of the dark.

And if I keep telling myself that, maybe one day I’ll believe it.

Of course, it doesn’t help that writer Francesca Maria has just released a collection of horror stories called They Hide: Short Stories To Tell In The Dark (Kindle). Or that I asked her all about it in the following email interview. No, that won’t help at all.

Francesca Maria They Hide Short Stories To Tell In The Dark

They Hide: Short Stories To Tell In The Dark is a collection of your horror stories. But is it all of them, or just some of them?

Oh no, it’s definitely not all of my stories. I mean, yes of course, I wrote all 13 tales, but I have another, probably 30 or so, short stories that have been either in other publications or are currently looking for homes.

So how did you decide which of your stories to include in They Hide and which to exclude? Like, are all the stories new to this collection, under or over a certain length, do they all take place in the dark…what?

All of the stories in my new collection fit into the theme of monsters. It’s my love letter to classic horror tropes. So each story revolves around either a witch, werewolf, mummy, vampire, demon, etc. I have written a ton of other fiction outside of these parameters that I did not include and will save for another collection.

And aside from being horror stories, what other genres or subgenres are included in They Hide?

So many. Dark fantasy, paranormal, erotica, crime, suspense, thriller, cryptids, and I even managed to sneak in a weird Western in there.

Are there any stories in They Hide that you think were influenced by someone or something specific? For instance, is one of the stories heavily influenced by Clive Barker, while another was inspired by playing the new version of Dead Space?

Yes, there are several real-life inspirations in They Hide, as well as literary influences. In “My Brother Andy,” I write about a family living in a haunted house. The first part of that story is autobiographical as I grew up in a haunted house. “Zombies Are Real” is a true story based on my own grandmother. And as for literary influences, looking back, I can see Clive Barker’s Books Of Blood in “The Gathering,” Neil Gaiman’s Stardust in “Jean-Pierre De Rochet,” Stephen King’s The Boogeyman in “My Brother Andy,” and Jim Henson’s show The StoryTeller in “The Legend Of The Chupacabra.”

So just how scary do the stories in They Hide get?

I tend to let my stories write themselves. They dictate their own level and depth of horror. I don’t preplan or plot out my stories ahead of time, I just let them take me where they want to go. Having said that, in They Hide, some of the stories are quite terrifying. I remember writing the description for one of the monsters and having nightmares afterwards.

Now, along with They Hide, you’ve also written issues of a comic book called The Black Cat Chronicles. Did you ever consider writing any of the stories in They Hide as comic books instead of as prose?

Yes, one of the stories in They Hide was originally going to go into another comic book series which we haven’t started just yet. This new comic book series, unlike Chronicles, would be fiction. That’s the main distinction and reason why They Hide stories don’t appear in Black Cat Chronicles. The latter are true horror stories that dive into real-life creepy history whereas every work in They Hide is pure fiction (with a few minor exceptions already mentioned.)

And are any of the stories in They Hide connected to The Black Cat Chronicles? Because I could see it being hard to write a scary story involving a black cat.

Ha! I have a lot of scary black cat stories in my files. Those are always fun to write. As mentioned earlier, the two projects are completely separate because the Black Cat Chronicles are based on a historical event and They Hide is fiction.

You’ve also had stories published in the anthologies Shallow Waters: A Flash Fiction Anthology: Special Christmas Edition and Shallow Waters: A Flash Fiction Anthology: Special Halloween Edition. Are any of those stories in They Hide?

Well my “Mrs. Claus” story in the Shallow Waters Christmas edition does take place in the same universe as one of the stories in They Hide. But other than that, these are completely separate stories. The 13 tales in They Hide have never been previously published. They’re all brand new.

Hollywood loves turning short stories into movies. Are there any stories in They Hide that you think would work particularly well as movies?

Oh, I love this question. Hollywood, if you’re listening…YES! I think all of the stories in They Hide would make incredible — maybe not movies — but a series of shorts like Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet Of Curiosities on Netflix. Given my comic book background, I write visually, as if I’m seeing the scene play out and try, as best as I can, to capture that into words. I’d particularly like to see the first story, “The Wysterfield Murders,” and the last story, “The Gathering,” turned into a visual production. Both stories have worlds that are so clear to me. The settings are rich and the characters are visually interesting and varied. Those stories are also the two longest ones in the collection, so there is more meat on those bones for a director, actor, set designer, etc. to chew on.

Francesca Maria They Hide Short Stories To Tell In The Dark

Finally, if someone enjoys They Hide, what author-specific collection of horror stories would you recommend they read next? Oh, and to keep things interesting, let’s assume they’ve already read ones by Poe and Stephen King and the other obvious titans of the genre.

Yes! One of my favorite recent collections is Classic Monsters Unleashed edited by James Aquilone. This beautiful book has some of the best names in horror with stories from Linda D. Addison, J.G. Faherty, Lisa Morton, Joe R. Lansdale, Jonathan Maberry, Rena Mason and so many more. They are stories based on Universal Monsters characters: Wolfman, the Headless Horseman, Frankenstein’s Monster, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Moreau, and more. This is in my top 10 anthologies for sure.



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