I am very excited to share my interview with Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi.  It was a real treat to talk to her and I learned so much about Erin, the world of editing, writing, and how Oh, for the Hook of a Book was born.  I’ve been working with Erin for almost a year now doing reviews for her publicity tours.  It’s been a pleasure and I’m glad to call her a good friend.  She is so supportive and does a fantastic job with the writers she promotes on Oh, for the Hook of a Book.  Earlier this month she shared some of her dark poetry with me, if you missed it you can find her name under the Spotlighting Women in Horror section.  Thank you so much Erin for this great and insightful interview!  I look forward to another great year reading and reviewing for your publicity tours.  You always make it a blast to read and share reviews with my fellow bloggers.

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The Scary Reviews:  Tell me about writing and editing. How did you start?

Erin:  First of all, thank you so much, David, for having me here and for showcasing me as the January “Woman in Horror.” It’s been really neat to follow your project and learn more about other women in horror I hadn’t heard of before.

To answer your question, my first love is reading, writing, and editing. Period.

The Writing:

I’ve been writing my whole life, winning my local newspaper’s essay contest when I was in junior high, and I’ve had the bug ever since. I’ve been pretty much writing full-time in some way since I started at university back in 1992. I’m a strange bird, in the way that I have so many varied interests. In fact, though I loved writing, my ambition was to go into marine biology. I declared this as my pursuit when I sought out universities, but eventually, with my math skills not being as high as my talent for writing, I chose Journalism and English. Why? I felt with magazine journalism I could explore the world and write about everything I was interested in, including marine life. It wasn’t long after I began my college career that I knew I’d never do anything else again that didn’t include writing.

Due to circumstances in my life, besides a year or so of working as a reference librarian, I went into public relations, marketing, and media relations as my career, while attempting freelance journalism on the side. There’s a lot of in between years in which I mostly wrote articles, press releases, ad copy, and non-fiction work. After hours, when I couldn’t sleep, I wrote poetry when the mood struck me. For some personal reasons, I was completely torn from my creative writing, in fact having much of my poetry and essays disappear to the trash at my home by someone who didn’t want to see me succeed. I also was a workaholic and volunteered in my community, so besides the fact that I wrote thousands of words a day at work and in the community, I also began raising children, off and on as a single mom of a baby and a toddler, and was much too tired to have any energy to give to myself for creative writing.

When I DID write poetry in the midst of all that, I wrote of nature, love, and grief and fantasy or magical themes. My essays were usually of people or places or feelings or inspirational words for others.

About six years ago, I decided to leave my job and branch out on my own full-time by opening my own public relations and marketing business, Addison’s Compass Public Relations, so I could seek out my own work in the field, as well as be there more for my three small children.

Since I had a bit more time for reading and writing of my own, I also started a book site soon after (Oh, for the Hook of a Book!). It allowed me to write about something fun I enjoyed (books!!), and initially, it was to be a journal of my own creative writing processes. I began writing a fantasy middle reader series at that time featuring characters modeled after my daughters and talked about that process. I reviewed books and interviewed authors of all genres. The book site grew exponentially and this month it celebrates its five-year anniversary! I still feature various genres, but you’re likely to find mostly historical or children’s books, peppered with horror and new adult. This led to my business in books, which we’ll get to later I’m sure.

The Editing:

As for the editing side, I’ve been editing since I was in high school, being an editor of our high school paper and then in college, taking classes in editing for both majors in Journalism (AP style) and English (Chicago Manual of Style), and serving as Senior News Editor of our university newspaper and as an editor for the university’s Poetry Press. I’ve edited almost everything over the years: articles, marketing pieces, magazine type tabloids and newsletters, resumes, ad copy, and books and poetry collections.

I’ve edited and content read all types of books such as new adult, sci-fi, thrillers, historical, and horror. I primarily do horror, currently. I like to read for pacing and character development, as well as style. I have so much fun copy editing, surprisingly! I really like working with new writers and helping them grow. I’m an encourager, not an arguer. I will stick to my points, but I’m good at compromise, as I never want to hinder an author’s voice or overall plan. I love to watch someone’s writing and sentences improve over time after I’ve carefully copy edited and formed sentences in a new way to make them think and challenge them. Much as with reading a book, with editing a book, I have to be drawn in as well. I have to feel. I absorb myself in a story I’m editing, working hard to put polish on a good idea. If I love an author’s work, and feel good about our work together, I’ll totally be their champion.

As for education, I have Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Journalism, and History. I was blessed by being able to attend a private fine arts school with great English professors and I also had the best Journalism professor who really honed our skills as well as made us think critically. They taught and challenged us in all forms of writing and study of literature, as well as editing and so much more.

TSR:  Can you tell us about your creative writing?

Erin:  I’ve always written a good amount of poetry and essays. During this time of starting the site, and working on the middle readers I mentioned, I also started to more actively write a historical novel set in the 1600s, a dystopian fantasy in which flowers come to life, a paranormal suspense (featuring Emily Dickinson), and a slew of short stories, one set based on the paintings of Van Gogh. In addition to these, I’ve gone back to my interest in “water” by writing several gothic stories with a lake theme. I’m writing, but I can’t keep up with the stories in my head.

Currently, I’m in a productive mood, especially with the horror writing. I’m working on my dark poetry to compile enough for a collection and I’m writing a few gothic short stories before I go back to the paranormal suspense novel and the Van Gogh collection. My poem that was featured on your site, “Night Stalked,” had a number of great reviews and several comments about the possibility of it being turned into a story, so I might try my hand at that. A back story was already appearing in my head, even after I had finished the poem.

Anyone interested in hearing more about the novel featuring Emily Dickinson can read an article I published a few years ago about her and how I’m utilizing her in my novel. The book is about a young woman who is being abused, and wants revenge, and she gains an unlikely and surprising partner.

https://hookofabook.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/celebrating-women-series-erin-al-mehairi-on-the-life-of-emily-dickinson/

TSR:  Is the horror genre your first love?

Erin:  I like it quite a bit, especially gothic horror. I found a place I’m gelling in within it. I like being in the horror community as much as the historical community. I also love fantasy and science fiction. However, I’m really enjoying writing gothic and dark fiction. Lately, I’ve just been playing around mixing the historical and gothic together and loving it. I like my settings near the water, but set in historical time periods and in international locations. I love researching legends like the Loch Ness Monster. I love curses with mummies and anything archaeology related that might have a supernatural twist. I especially like sea monsters and ominous atmospheric work. I’m having so much fun with it.

In studying literature at university, I read many classics. Though I tease several of my male author friends for being fans of Ernest Hemingway, I prefer F. Scott Fitzgerald. I like, and have studied, the work of Leo Tolstoy, Edith Wharton, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Rebecca Du Maurier, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Harper Lee, Joyce Carol Oates, Oscar Wilde, Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, and I could go on, but these are what come to the top of my head.

If you examine these above, many of the works by these authors have gothic connections. If you want to write horror, especially with gothic undertones, this is a great list to work on reading. So in this regard, I guess in a way, it is one of my top loves! Many, or most, of these authors inspire my own writing. Who knew? As anyone with a muse knows, it’s not within our control where the stories take us! Maybe it’s some channeling of an author from my ancestral line: Nathaniel Hawthorne!

I suppose my writing just began tending toward dark fiction if I write truly from my heart. I’ve done some soul searching in the last few years. I’m full of emotions and passions and they propel me to write and purge me and heal me as the words spill across the page. I’ve dealt with so much death and heartache in my life, always trying to maintain an outward positive attitude. So writing is a way for me to funnel my pain. Many times that equates into dark fiction. It’s a way to address fears for me and to funnel stress and past or current scars and hurts. Dark doesn’t necessarily mean bad to me. It’s a way to overcome fears and remind us how we can see light within the dark, at times. Many people don’t care for poetry, but for me it’s a very expressive element.

TSR:  What is it like working with the many horror writers you are involved with?

Erin:  It’s funny, because I never thought I’d be this involved in horror, just primarily history or mystery. I had met some of the Samhain authors and helped promote them, voluntarily, right as the Samhain Horror line opened in 2011, about five years ago. Brian Moreland was my first friend and he and I are still really good friends. Brian was published by traditional publishers, Penguin/Berkley, way before he was published by Samhain, and so he had a large following and was respected by many authors. I told Brian I would review his first book released by Samhain, but only if I could read it in the daytime! I did most of my reading at the time at night, but didn’t want nightmares. He chuckled at me. He still chuckles at me about that. I spent hours in the car, waiting in my children’s school pick-up line, reading “Dead of Winter.” I LOVED this book, in fact it’s still one of the best books I’ve ever read, and since then, I’ve been delving further into horror. I thought to myself, “if a guy this nice can write horror this absorbing and gut wrenching that makes me FEEL again, maybe I shouldn’t avoid it after all.”  I told him his book emotionally spent me, but he took it as a compliment, which it was…

Just the other day, after my first post appeared on this site, Brian said to me “Did you ever think years ago that you’d be featured as a woman in horror?” (cue Brian’s infectious laugh here) And to this I’d absolutely say no, but I’m certainly pleased and honored to be included.

Long story short, my site gradually landed into a second business, as Hook of a Book Media and Publicity, where I’ve just transposed what I’ve always been doing in regards to marketing, publicity, PR, editing, consulting, and more, but towards books and author clients as well. I don’t only work in horror with my blog or my business, but it is a huge component of it.

Reading and editing horror has helped me to open up and get to know myself too. It’s been more therapeutic to me than any of these authors realize. It’s made me grasp deep feelings and situations and meanings, pondering so much about life, that I can’t imagine not reading it now. In fact, I delved into it and have spent a lot of time learning and observing and reading horror. So for this reason, it’s been wonderful.

Horror authors as a whole are some of the nicest people I’ve met in my life. They would give you their shirt off their back if you needed it. Working with them has inspired me to find part of my own voice that was missing in writing. Also, it makes it easy to want to work with them too, because it’s fun and meaningful.

I’ve worked with many great authors in horror over the last five years, in both editing and promotion and I LOVE it. I have many good friends in horror and we’ve shared the ups and downs together.

TSR:  I’m interested if the horror world treats you any differently because you are a woman?

Erin:  As I mentioned, I’ve been writing, editing, doing PR/Marketing/Publicity for about 20 years. I’ve worked with all types of people in business, both men and women.  I’ve seen it all and dealt with all the best I can. I don’t cower to anyone, but I’m not in the pursuit of power or competition. I’m pursuing passion. I think, in regards to men, many appreciate that I “tell it like I see it.” However, I do always feel it is an uphill battle to prove your worth or experience or talent, but I’m not sure if that’s a gender thing. However, I do feel that the ride for women is a little rougher (overall, not just in horror).

I’m proud to have worked with many of my male writer friends, as well as new clients, and I’d say most seem to respect my expertise and the work I do. I not only become their publicist and/or serve as a beta reader or editor, but I’m their advocate. I work tirelessly to see their dreams come true. I care about their hard work, their goals, and their happiness. I can only hope they care about mine.

Possibly, some of the other women feel gender bias, but I don’t really see it myself online, within award nominations and wins, in leadership positions such as in the Horror Writer’s Association, in traditional publishing deals, etc. There are women editors working in acquisitions and publishing. Everyone seems to always embrace February as “Women in Horror” month and promote women as well. Maybe once or twice something has popped up, but I’ve always seen groups of men rally around the women at that point.

TSR:  What type or style of horror do you like personally?

Erin:  I think based on what has been answered so far, we can gather that I like gothic horror and classic writers very much. Besides all the classic authors I named earlier, I read V.C. Andrews early on as a teenager, which was my first foray into gothic and the demented desires of human nature. I admire women such as Victoria Holt and Shirley Jackson.

I know it’s probably cliché to like Stephen King, as so many do, but when I was a teen, I read “The Eye of the Dragon,” “Dead Zone,” “The Gunslinger” (and most of the series) and I felt swept away by him. I love those books.  A little later I read many more by him, but my favorites are “Dolores Claiborne,” “Rose Madder,” and “Duma Key.” I went through some of the situations as the women in the first two novels I mentioned and so they spoke to me, deeply, and in them both I enjoyed the prospect of art being a portal to another place. I really love art and it’s an escape for me so feeling it could literally BE an escape was an amazing prospect.

So I’d say I’m probably a gothic, supernatural, fantastical, psychological type of horror reader. I really always loved witches too, especially enjoying those that are historically-based. I love any horror novels intertwining legends or fairy tales.

I also like the cross-blending of mysteries and crime with horror. I love the Victorian era gothic mysteries of David Morrell (his Opium-Eater series)  and I love Sherlock Holmes and all that resurgence. I also love serial killer novels, such as Thomas Harris and his Hannibal series, and new novels such as the one I just read by a good friend of mine, Jonathan Moore. It’s called “The Poison Artist” and comes out January 26 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (seriously one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I’m not the only one to think so, Stephen King blurbed it!!). It’s a really dark mystery surrounding a unique serial killer quest. I liked Jason Parent’s newest novel, “Seeing Evil,” which I promoted, but as well really enjoyed reading. His suspense novel features a teenager who can view people’s dark futures, and this time, it draws him into the middle of tracking a killer. I’ve noticed suspense and crime novels getting darker and darker in nature.

Another blending I highly like is historical fiction or elements blended with horror, especially if Native American elements are involved, or legends of say, Vikings, or maybe something in the Victorian era. I like the work of Kate Mosse and Elizabeth Kostova.

As a teen I was PETRIFIED of vampires, but since then I’ve become entranced by really good vampire tales. I don’t like zombie at all and it takes a lot for me to make an exception. Otherwise I don’t touch it. I do have a love for the werewolves and I like to read about other monsters as well.

I REALLY like aliens, science fiction, fantasy (anything magical especially).

I’m a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, Deborah Harkness, Shirley Jackson, Robert McCammon, Frazer Lee, Ramsey Campbell, Dan Simmons, Graham Masterson, Ted Dekker to name a few who I didn’t already.

My horizons are still broadening, however, to all the new things there are to discover. I’m a risk taker, even in my reading. The only thing is that there is too much good stuff for me to read. I read as much as I can, but it’s very difficult and there is never time for me to get around to reading everyone.

Something fun to note might be that I really like collecting old paperbacks and treasure hunting for classic horror and gothic literature. It’s one of my few hobbies.

TSR:  Who do you feel is really bringing something different to the genre?

Erin:  There are so many more categories in horror than anyone realizes. That’s why horror CAN have mainstream appeal, but some of those readers may not like all of the other styles. There is a lot of the same stuff out there and repeats of repeats.

Much of what people are looking for in horror is the visceral or the work that pushes boundaries for readers. How far is safe? There is something in the wind of the world right now about inching over limits. It’s a rebellious streak.

There is really good original work out there, but in regards to something different, I’d say many of the authors utilizing small presses, where they have the ability to spread their wings further, are the ones forging new territory. Some great smaller presses are DarkFuse, Grey Matter Press, Sinister Grin Press, Crystal Lake Publishing, Shock Totem, and Lazy Fascist Press to name only a few of many are publishing authors who are unique and original. I can’t make a list of names or pick just a few, because so many people are killing it. I particularly like the many anthologies out there with obscure themes and topics and seeing what stories authors create for them. Many times they turn out really fabulous.

Someone that comes to mind that is completely different from other horror writers is Jeff Strand. He does some hilarious horror for youngsters. He’s had some really funny YA books come out in the last few years.

I’ve enjoyed some of Cameron Pierce and his mixing of nature, water, fishing, and river monsters into horror. He does a lot of bizarro-type writing within a literary shell, which may be why most of it is likely unclassified or explainable. I think that’s taking a risk, but it certainly seems to pay off for him.

I like how Hunter Shea is finding new creatures and cryptids to surround his books on, most recently the Dover Demon, killer chimera fish, and the Jersey Devil. What started for him as a deal with Kensington/Pinnacle for “The Montauk Monster” has blown into a slew of opportunities. Many people still write on werewolves and vampires, but original monster tales like Shea is going after, that’s forging new territory and carving a niche.

TSR:  Is there anyone you feel is on the path to becoming the next big name writer, maybe someone you feel is not well known yet, or is there someone really making their mark on the genre?

Erin:  I’ve always said that I feel like Ronald Malfi is the next best writer behind Stephen King or Peter Straub. If those first two were gone, I’d yell at Malfi until he upped his output! I wholeheartedly believe he is a cut above the rest. He’s extremely talented at writing without even having to try and he’s been that way since he was young. He nails a literary style of horror that most others cannot attempt. However, he deserves more notoriety than what he so far has gotten even though he’s been a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. He is one of my best friends, someone I can always count on to tell it straight and help with focus (plus he’s so intelligent), and you can imagine how surreal it is to me, because honestly, there are no words for how it feels to be able to stand under the friend umbrella with one of the best literary writers out there.

I also feel that Brian Moreland needs more due. He’s extremely diligent in his writing, one of the reasons he produces less books a year, but fully worth the wait. I love how he mixes historical with supernatural elements, but I’ve also fully enjoyed his newer novellas where he flirts with the style of Clive Barker and Lovecraft, yet still makes them fully his own.

I also feel within the realm of this type of mainstream literary horror there are some very talented and original horror writers that currently are creating things that really get under a reader’s skin. Some of those authors are Ania Ahalborn, Paul Tremblay, Josh Malerman (even with just one release so far, “Bird Box,” because it is so good and so well-loved that everyone is anxiously awaiting his next one), Damien Walters, and as mentioned, Jonathan Moore (he’s one to watch). I think that Kealan Patrick Burke is another great name and someone who is consistently writing stellar content.

As for someone making a mark, and maybe this goes back to also bringing something new to the genre, I think that Aaron Dries is an amazing visual and visceral writer and a soul-touching illustrator who deserves more recognition.

I don’t mean to alienate anyone either. There are so many good writers in the genre, including those published in short story collections or anthologies and without novels under their belt yet. However, in my opinion, horror short stories and novellas are the best to read. I hope those keep coming.

TSR:  Tell me where you see the genre going, are there any trends (for instance, to or away from blood and guts)?

Erin:  There seems to be a trend, publisher pushed, TO write as much action-filled, gore-loaded scenes as possible. As with everything in America nowadays, more seems to equate to better in most minds, and people always are pushing boundaries to their next fix. Blood and gore is no different. Splatterpunk, bizarro, and revenge horror is pretty big to a large group of readers.

Then there is the realm of paranormal and ghosts and there are thousands of those books. The best of these push to the top and become best sellers. I don’t think this will go away anytime soon. This is a very popular mainstream seller. There are always new stories of ghosts to creep people out. Witches have been hot for a little bit, which I love, as I really like reading about witches myself, especially if it’s historically related.

I think that the cross-genre work of horror mixing with thriller and crime is really big from both standpoints as they each cross over with each other and bring out the nastiness that goes on, or could go on, in our world today. I think more realistic horror is popular. Another type I feel is making its resurgence, and which I like to write and read, is of course, the gothic as it spills over into other genre storylines. For instance, people seem infatuated with historical stories like that of Lizzie Borden.

TSR:  What is the current and popular theme used to scare readers?

Erin:  I think it all depends on the reader’s fears, David. Different things can scare different people. For instance, aliens really creep you out I know. I love anything featuring aliens! I think it isn’t as much a current or popular theme as it is just a matter of creating better elements of surprise and the proper atmosphere. Creepy, well-developed characters can scare anyone. Oh, or the feeling that it might be something that could very well happen to you or your children.

TSR:  What do you find the most effective ways to market/promote authors?

Erin:  Again, I think it’s going to matter what genre you are in and in horror, what sub-genre. I think it’s very difficult to promote horror books, but I think it’s getting much better to do than it was for a bit. Horror paperbacks were huge in the 80s, but declined mid-90s. With the world the way it is today, horror seems to give people a dose of what they need again. Life if horrible, but if a book is even more horrible, it either wakes you from your numbness, making you FEEL (like a drug or adrenaline), or it lets you know that there could be way more awful things happening in the world!!

It’s very hard to get a book to sell, in my opinion, if you (or your publisher) don’t have it set at the right price point that is affordable for its target audience. If it’s priced lower and can get on retail shelves, even better. Mass market paperbacks still fly, but only a few get that kind of distribution. A book needs to be able to be ordered by bookstores and libraries. Otherwise, it’s all about building a fan base by communicating frequently with your audience, nurturing those relationships and being transparent (which means also being a bit personal), having great writing that produces amazing word of mouth, and creating a buzz for yourself consistently (even better if this fan group does it) via social media, sales, and other exposure.

So let’s just talk about horror since we are focusing on horror here. I do publicity tours for authors, which are virtual online tours on blogs, websites, or radio/podcasts, and sometimes include physical bookstore signings, which is why I prefer to call them publicity tours and not blog tours. These seem to work well in creating exposure and the author comes away with reviews, daily social media sharing and buzz around their book, interviews for their sites or to promote, and guest articles which get their name out there and even some SEO. It’s a very low-cost way to get a lot of exposure. I also work as a publicist beyond the tours, not only during tours, to get exposure and publicity for the authors and their books in every form possible.

I’ve seen lowering the e-book price to .99 cents or $1.99 work and putting it on a promotion such as BookBub to increase sales. Of course, there is cost in utilizing this, and you have to be approved, but it does work well for many. Anytime you can lower a price and do a promotion, it will attract new readers either from them finally noticing your book, of if they were on the fence, getting them to buy. Hopefully, those sales will turn into reviews which will in turn entice more buyers who come across the reviews while shopping too.

In terms of a bigger impact, a good publicity and social media strategy is best (one that is thought through and stuck to) instead of just throwing something out there (though sometimes that’s fun and you can be surprised). I spend a lot of time observing what works for buyers so I can pass along this information. Most authors just don’t have the money or connections to put into the marketing that traditional publishers might and really boost sales above so many other authors doing the exact same things. The market is flooded with books. However, I don’t feel any authors should see OTHER authors as competition. They should look at their books as a business, and create their own brand, but not supporting other authors is never going to get you extra sales. It should in turn, increase your sales.

There are a lot of things to critically look at and budget constraints for many I know, but I’m always willing to help an author look at their brand (themselves) and their business (yes, their book is a business) and see what I can do to help. Each case is different, so there isn’t one golden answer. I believe 80% of it also relies on the author’s personality.

TSR:  How did you choose the horror genre as the one to focus on for Hook of a  Book?

Erin:  If we are speaking of the site, Oh, for the Hook of a Book!, as I stated I do all genres there, and 7 times out of 10 it’s historical. The rest of the time, it seems to fall to fantasy, children’s books, and sometimes gothic horror. I like many books in many genres. I’d like to do more horror, but I’m not sure my entire readership could handle some of the books. I have written and reviewed and promoted quite a bit of horror there, however, over the years. I’ve been rolling around in my mind making a separate blog for horror, called “HOOK OF HORROR,” which would keep my branding but allow me another outlet.

It was only natural that I take my lifetime experience in writing, marketing, publicity, and editing, and utilize that also in an area I already love. Books and authors. When I created this second business, I ended up focusing on horror, because I had friends in the genre that needed my help. I felt I filled voids for them that were missing in the horror genre, namely publicity work, and I wanted to give horror a better name out there. I wanted people to understand it. I love showing a new side of horror to readers who might not otherwise try it, and on the flip side, I really love consulting with authors about their business (their name and their book), their brand, their PR image, and so much more.

I chose to work with new or newer writers of horror in their editing, because I just love to watch them grow as writers. I enjoy teaching writing and proper sentence construction. I love to take people’s great storytelling and help them make it shine. I like to deep think and analyze and look at things from all sides. I try to keep abreast of the business, the publishers, the trends, as well as originality and uniqueness. Though I’d edit other things, horror is so fun to edit as there is so much more room for creativity.

That said, I really don’t ONLY do horror, as I think I’ve clarified in some of the previous questions, but I’m trying to keep this focused toward horror. I’d be happy to help promote or publicize books not in the horror genre too, and love doing suspense, thrillers, fantasy, mysteries, and historical. However, the horror authors are happy and give me some good word of mouth advertising. For that, I’m eternally grateful. I hope in some small way, I’ve helped the genre and will continue to be able to do so.

TSR:  How important do you find the cover art when you are working with an author and when considering a book to read, not related to work?

Erin:  I find the cover more important than almost anything at all. Some people agree totally with me, and others not as much, but I think that you can’t sell a book without a great cover. One of an author’s biggest investments, besides editing, should be their cover. It’s the mini-billboard to their product. It’s their first advertisement and a reader’s first impression of what’s inside. I understand the mantra of “don’t judge a book by its cover” but people do. I do. With the millions of books out there to choose from and scroll through, I won’t often waste my time on a book with a cover that doesn’t attract me unless I have a personal referral to a novel. If someone doesn’t have good taste or put effort into their cover, I generally find that the book isn’t enjoyable for me as well. I think most people believe this too. There are research studies in advertising about colors and fonts and design elements that are used every day. A cover shouldn’t be any different. It’s why there are hashtags like #coverporn. Covers on print books sometimes can be like pieces of art. People aren’t just paying for an author’s story, but in fact, they are paying for an EXPERIENCE, which for many equates to a beautiful book in all aspects, just like a fine piece of art. That’s where my opinion lies as well. I LOVE cover art! It speaks to me! And if anyone is looking into a cover, I have a few good names for you.

TSR:  Guilty pleasure not involving writing or books?

Erin:  Museums, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, baking, art, photography, film, hiking, and lake life (weather appropriate). TV is a huge one for me and I like sci-fi, period dramas or historical shows, or BBC shows. I like mysteries. I REALLY like “Vikings” and “Sleepy Hollow” and I have a very strange obsession with Gordon Ramsey.

TSR:  What’s on tap for you for 2016?

Erin:  I always have many irons in the fire, but the Hook of Book business is busy, both with editing and promotion, as well as the general inquiries and work for Addison’s Compass PR too. I’m active with reviews and interviews on my site Oh, for the Hook of a Book too. That means I have lots to read! I have a few other projects up my sleeve as well.

I’m putting on my journalist hat and I’m doing interviews (and reviews when I have time) for the website Beneath the Underground, which is an entertainment site for film and books. So far, I’ve interviewed some cool people. And I’m still constantly seeking out other sites for which to write content.

I’d like to make sure I carve out time for my own writing more, since it’s flowing at this point, and as any writer knows, when it comes you’ve got to take advantage of it! I have specific goals I want to achieve this year.

I’m still involved in my community and active on our local mental health and domestic violence safe haven board. I’d like to find the time to do even more in regards to domestic violence awareness.

Last, but my priority, is my family. My kids are the ages that they are very busy with school and activities so I have to make sure I have all the time I need to care for them too. However, my children are very supportive of my writing and my work, in fact, they are my biggest cheerleaders. I’m very blessed.

Thank you David for featuring me as a “Woman in Horror” and for doing this year-long project to feature women of the genre. I’d love to do more interviews with others, but if I’ve scared them with my word count, I promise I’ll work on not making each one a memoir! If you’ve made it to the bottom of this interview, congratulations! :D

Connect with Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi at the following links

Erin’s Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/almehairierin

Hook of a Book FB link: https://www.facebook.com/HookofaBook/?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ErinAlMehairi

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/erinalmehairi/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/erinalmehairi/

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