I first stumbled upon Kaaron Warren via her story "Bone Dog", which she had submitted to my partner Cat Sparks for possible inclusion in the second Agog! anthology, Agog! Terrific Tales (Agog! Press, 2003). It was a perverse, nasty tale that begins with these words:
In the porn industry, models don't usually get to choose the venue for photo shoots. I guess 'Fat Slits' has to be a bit more flexible than other magazines; some of us can't get too far from home.
The story was as outlandish as this opening suggests: beautifully written, intelligent and mind-numbing -- and clearly the work of some sort of crack-addled goth chick. Cat accepted it at once. When I finally met Kaaron, probably at the launch of the book, I wasn't prepared for the suburban mom she turned out to be. Of course in time this image was revealed to be a façade, hiding a bent imagination made all the more effectively grotesque by her tight grasp on the ordinary details -- and perversities -- of life. These days she's had many stories published, has won awards and has produced an excellent collection, The Glass Woman (Prime Books, 2008). She's still a great mum, too, as well as a smart, generous and open-hearted friend and a lovely person all round.
I was excited -- and a little jealous -- when I heard that she'd sold not one, but three novels to the new, high-profile UK imprint Angry Robot. Horror fiction is about to receive a massive shot in the arm.
Undead Backbrain: Thanks for talking to us, Kaaron. Your first novel, Slights, is about to be published by Angry Robot Press -- and from the cover and the accompanying blurbs, it looks to be a horror novel that will do the genre proud. Without giving too much away, what's it about?
Kaaron Warren: Thanks for talking to me! Slights is about a woman who, at 18, accidentally kills her mother in a car accident. Stephanie (Steve) experiences near death as a result of her injuries, but she sees no shining light, hears no loving voices. Instead, she finds herself in a cold dark room, surrounded by people she barely knows. The only thing she recognises in them is anger; she sees that they are anxious for her to die so they can devour her. She visits this room a number of times throughout the novel as she attempts suicide periodically. She is unpopular, disliked, unable to fit in to society. She gradually recognises the people in the room; each and every one is a person she slighted in some way. Steve becomes obsessed with death. Her brother, a successful politician, has no time for her, and her police officer father died years earlier, a hero. She is obsessed with her own death because in the afterlife, at least, she is the centre of attention. And she becomes obsessed with the deaths of others. She digs up her backyard with the intention of planting night-blooming jasmine, a comfort flower. Instead, she finds odd things; a cracked glass cufflink, an old belt, a dented lunchbox, a shoe heel, many more odd, small items. These lead her to understand more about her past, and about why she is driven to do the things she does.