An Interview with
Artist and Writer: Emerian Mordrige
Interview by Midouri for Dark Lives magazine
I arrived at Mordrige Manor on a hot, muggy Saturday evening to conduct my interview with the elusive Emerian. Her personal assistant answered the bell and led me down a long corridor lined with rare antique rugs and sculptures from different periods. The high arched ceilings grew more and more dim as the sun floated to itís daily grave in the western horizon.
At the end of the corridor there stood a large wooden arched door. It emitted a low creak when the assistant opened it. As I walked through the door, my eyes adjusted to the low candlelight and I found that I was in a small study. Thankfully, the temperature immediately dropped twenty degrees and there was a pleasant cool draft coming from somewhere, I never did figure out where.
I sat in one of the only two high back armchairs in the room. They were facing each other in anticipation of the interview. The assistant left for a moment and returned with a tray containing a pitcher of a dark, cool, sweet concoction and two tall glasses filled with ice. I thanked her and she nodded. As I watched her exit and close the door to my left, I felt a gust of cool air and mist to my right. I turned to the chair across from me and found that Emerian had floated in from somewhere while I wasnít looking. Sheís sneaky like that.
Emerian Mordrige, the creator and editor of Dark Lives, is a grand mentor to me in all things dark. She has an exquisite creativity that fans the flames of inspiration in even the dullest specimen. It provides me the deepest pleasure to present to you the interview that followed my arrival to her private study:
DL: I knew you back when Dark Lives was printed on paper and bound with black ribbon. What are your thoughts about the advancements that have been made to the sophistication of the Dark Lives publication today?
EM: (laughs) Yeah, those were the days! In one respect I miss not being able to send out Dark Lives to the fans in the way we did before with plastic skeletons and spider webs inside the envelope. However, the printing expenses just got to be too much. Now that Dark Lives is online (www.darklives.com), there are so many good things about it. Fans can get their fix instantly and contributors can see their work published in two to four weeks instead of months. With the Internet being a worldwide phenomenon, we also enjoy the work of talented dark individuals around the world instead of just in the San Francisco Bay Area. Itís been excellent to meet others from other countries who love darkness as much as we do. One innovation our fans are privy to online that the paper publication did not have is the ability to listen to song clips from contributing musical artists.
DL: Has Dark Lives grown into exactly what you thought it would?
EM: To be honest, I never thought Dark Lives would be anything more than an outlet for me and my talented associates to express ourselves. So what it has become way exceeds my expectations. Now that Iíve seen what we can do, I want to push the envelope even further.
DL: Dark Lives has its shadowy smoke like fingers outstretched and you are looking at its palm. What do you see in Dark Livesí future?
EM: More talented artists and writers getting the chance to share their gifts with people around the world. More contests and even more diversity in what we offer the dark-minded community to enjoy. I am really interested in exploring non-fiction avenues.
DL: That sounds so exciting. Since weíre on the topic of our submissions...how do you decide whether a submission is right for Dark Lives?
EM: As for artwork I know as soon as I see it, if itís something our fans will enjoy. As for writing, I have a mental checklist I check off as Iím considering a work. Of course the main component is if it is written well. If I am too distracted by errors, thereís no way I can enjoy it. There also needs to be an element of horror or dark beauty to the work.
DL: Okay, now be honest. What is your favorite piece ever submitted to Dark Lives for publication, whether by you or another contributor?
EM: Oh, you really want to get me in trouble, huh? (laughs) I like all the works published or else they wouldnít be accepted. If I had to choose one work that especially excited me, it would be the artwork of Venjamin Jimenez. When I first saw it, it took me a few minutes to pull my eyes away. He has a lot of talent and as an artist myself I am humbled by it.
DL: I agree, itís twistedly beautiful. So, if youíre brave enough - would you care to comment about the worst submission?
EM: From horribly written work to stories that have absolutely nothing to do with horror, there have been so many they all become a blur. The first thing that popped into my head when you asked was the story about the possessed fish. Not that Iím opposed to demonic trout, but a storyline would be nice. Watch us get hundreds of demonic fish stories now. (laughs)
DL: Wow! That is bad. So, there are bad submissions but what about bad reviews? Has Dark Lives ever had anything in itís content to get people riled up enough to send us "hate mail"?
EM: We have gotten a few complaints about language and cruelty to alley cats (ala Vampire Dreams, Kurtis Warrington) but nothing too impressive. Iíd love to post a really mean complaint letter. I think the fans and staff would get a kick out of that.
DL: What was the most exciting moment in Dark Lives history?
EM: I think the arrival of Dark Lives 3: A Thin Veil from the printers. I was really happy with the way that one turned out. It almost made me sad to not publish on paper anymore. We put a lot of work into it and it was beautiful.
I was impressed with my self for how well the interview was going. Emerian offered to show me the rest of the manor and I eagerly agreed. It was a mysterious and beautiful place, serious yet whimsical, dark yet shining. After a leisurely stroll through the dimly lit halls, we ended up outside in the garden. The full moon hung very low in the sky and without a telescope, we could easily see the detail of each crater. Emerian looked very much feline in the light and shadows of the garden. Her expression was that of a kitten who had just grown into a cat, innocent and playful but also very stoic and wise. We continued the interview from the cool marble bench there in the garden, but I wanted to know more about Emerian the artist and mother - not Emerian the editor.
DL: What types of things inspire your creativity?
EM: Lots of things. Music, art, architecture and certain monuments like cemeteries or museums. Sometimes when I look at those beautiful old paintings by John William Waterhouse and Jacques Louis David I feel like Iím viewing a real scene, I feel like I can step into the portrait. That is what inspires great writing. Some people go to nature to get inspired, but to me a deserted city street can give you just as much peace as a forest can. Being in the middle of those concrete giants that were created first out of someoneís imagination and then out of stone and glass, makes me feel the enormity of life.
DL: Think back to when you were six years old. Who was your favorite person?
EM: My grandfather. He was the type of man that others looked up to and I believed he knew absolutely everything. He allowed me to play and let my imagination soar.
DL: Still six? Great! What did you want to be when you grew up?
EM: (laughs) My mom would tell you the listÖ a firewoman, gymnast, airline attendant, but truly I always wanted to be a singer.† But singing isnít something that comes easily to me.† I have overwhelming stage fright when it comes to performing music.† Writing was just always something I did to get away; I didnít know that it could be more to me than a hobby.† It wasnít until I was out of college that I realized I had been writing all my life and decided to concentrate on it.†
DL: If you could meet one person (living or dead) who would it be?
EM: I would have to say my biological father, but not for the reason youíd think. Iím not looking for a father figure. I had that in my grandfather and no one could replace him. Iím grown and have my own family now, so Iím not even interested in connecting for that reason. I would just like to know what the other half of my DNA pool is like. George Eliot wrote a book called Daniel Deronda and I identify with Daniel a lot. Not that Iím a Victorian English gentleman, but that he is searching for the other half of his heritage and until he knows it, he doesnít really know his true purpose. Like Daniel, I didnít know I was searching, I just knew something was missing.
DL: Well, Iím glad youíre not a Victorian English gentleman. That would give me the creeps. What gives you the heebie jeebies?
EM: Real life horror like monsters who kill their wives and rape children. I also hate monkeys. They freak me out.
DL: Monkeys? Ew... letís change the subject. What is the best thing thatís ever happened to you?
EM: Meeting my husband.
DL: Tell me about the worst moment of your life?
EM: Talk about perspective change. My normal answer to this question doesnít fit anymore. My new answer is my almost death from childbirth complications. Iíve never been so scared in my life. I truly thought it was the end.
DL: Iíll bet that was terrifying. Has having a child changed the way you feel about your love for things that go bump in the night?
EM: I was a little more scaredy-cat when I was pregnant but now that Iíve had my son, I just canít wait to share my love of dark beauty with him.† I just went Halloween clothes shopping for him.† It was so cool!† I love buying him little monster shirts and spider web pants.
DL: What irritates you more than anything?
EM: Being amongst close-minded people who donít allow for otherís beliefs or opinions to be expressed.
DL: I refuse to think about something like that. Donít ever say that again... itís just wrong! ... Just kidding! (laughs)
Emerian started laughing too, but as my head was thrown back and my eyes were squeezed shut, I came to notice that her laughter was now coming from above me and was fading from distance. I stopped laughing and opened my eyes to see Emerian floating away towards a window on the third floor, the nursery no doubt. From my position I could see a single arm of the mobile that was made of spiders, bats, and black cats hanging from silvery web. Emerian continued to giggle as she reached the window and faded through the wall right before my eyes. The interview was over. As I let myself out through the side gate, I could hear the sound of a softly whispered song eerily echoing through the court yard behind me... ďthe itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout... down came the rain and washed the spider out... out came the sun and dried up all the rain... so the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again...Ē