From a young age, I grew up on a steady diet of The Twilight Zone, The Addams Family, and the Universal horror universe. I was a teenager when the Scream franchise started, and I was hooked on gory movies. Shortly after, Troma films became a huge influence in my life, and I knew I could make horror films too.
The first short I made was Attack of the Killer Asparagus (2000), a campy monster B-movie, with my original production company Vegetable Thing Productions (2000-2009). In 2005, I graduated from Texas Christian University with a B.S. in Radio/TV/Film.
Now located on the Gulf Coast, I established A Girl and her Goldfish Productions (2016-present) and have produced award winning short films, screen dance, and commercials. From 2018-2020, I lead a team for the 48 Hour Film Project in New Orleans and won an award each year.
My hobbies include gardening, DIY dollhouses, and playing niche indie video games on Steam. I have two daughters, one husband, and two black cats. My favorite horror movies are Hellraiser, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Evil Dead series, and the Child’s Play series. My favorite anime is Ergo Proxy, Serial Experiments Lain, Mushi shi, Hellsing, and Vampire Hunter D. I also enjoy graphic novels (Love and Rockets, Hellboy), and manga (Akira, Pet Shop of Horrors).
I’m a member of the Horror Writer’s Association since 2021.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
RS: In my early teens back in 1999, I became obsessed with horror movies, and Scream was the one that got me hooked. They released the screenplay as a book and I obsessed over it, coincidentally learning screenwriting format in the process. My best friend and I were always writing little scenes and passing them back and forth, but never did anything with them. At age 16, I had an idea for my first film, and wrote Attack of the Killer Asparagus. My group of friends obligingly agreed to be in it, and we filmed the entire thing. I’ve been writing and producing films ever since.
2. How long does it take to write your book(s) and/or write screenplays?
RS: I can write a short film in a couple of weeks, but the feature screenplays take me 1-3 years. My current project The Black Gate, that I started in August, will take another year at least.
3. What is your work schedule like when writing a book and/or filming?
RS: Every Friday, my best friend Amelia and I write all day while our kids are at school, via Zoom. During the week I try to write 1-2 hours a day whenever I can squeeze it in. It’s never enough!
4. Where do you get your ideas or information for your book and/or screenplays?
RS: For my screenplay The Millhaven Chronicles, it was based on my admiration of Lovecraft, but also disdain for his racist and sexist ideologies. I also write things I want to see in a film or book- diverse characters, body horror, space monsters, and existential doom.
I do lots of research as well, so that whatever I’m writing is authentic. For The Black Gate I had to research German submarines, ship layout, crew hierarchies, etc. and then apply them to a futuristic spaceship. This helps spur my imagination and generate new ideas.
5. When did you write your first book and/or first screenplay?
RS: I wrote my first screenplay Attack of the Killer Asparagus when I was 16, back in 1999. The Black Gate is my first book and attempt at prose, which I started in 2021.
6. What do you do when you’re not writing?
RS: I watch a lot of movies and tv shows, mostly horror movies (the weirder the better) and RiffTrax/MST3K. I also enjoy gardening, DIY miniature dollhouses, and doing crafts with my two daughters.
7. What does your family think of your writing?
RS: My husband is very supportive and was actually the one who convinced me to pivot to prose. He’s been in a couple of my movies and watches the kids while I’m filming or writing. My kids think it’s the coolest thing ever, and they watch me edit my films, and even starred in one this summer!
8. What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your books and/or filming?
RS: How much variety there is in prose. You can write anything and aren’t limited like with screenplays where you have to worry about scheduling, budgeting, casting etc. There is total freedom of expression since the images are in the reader’s brain instead of on a screen, where everything has to be created from scratch.
9. How many books and/or screenplays have you written? Which is your favorite?
RS: I’ve written about a dozen short films, and 2 feature screenplays, and starting 1 novella. The Millhaven Chronicles is my favorite so far since it’s a pure distillation of all my favorite things. But The Black Gate is shaping up to be pretty epic, and an idea I’ve had since I started reading Lovecraft at 14.
10. Any tips/suggestions on getting started?
RS: Put in the work, even if it’s just once a week. If you can sit down and concentrate for at least an hour, the rest will flow. When I wrote my first screenplay, it was a massive undertaking, and I set 30-minute timers, then give myself a 5-minute break. Then I’d set another timer for 30 minutes and continue like that all day. Soon you find that you’ve been writing all day and it feels great. Now I don’t need the timer and my mind is conditioned to sit down and write when needed.
11. What do you think makes a good story?
RS: Solid characters with interesting developments, either with the story or character arcs. It doesn’t need a happy or solid ending, just to be entertaining. I like stories that stretch my imagination and plunge me into a world so outside our own that it breaks my brain.
12. As a child, What did you want to do when you grew up?
RS: I wanted to be a psychologist, paleontologist, or an astronaut.
Leave a Reply