Interview with Stephanie M. Wytovich (author of Hysteria)

Joining us today is author, editor, poet, and Bram Stoker nominee, Stephanie M. Wytovich. If you missed Donald's review of her collection Hysteria last month, then be sure to check out his Offbeat Reads & Recommendations - after, of course, the interview.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to join us, Stephanie. To kick things off, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

When I’m not writing, I like to paint and tickle the ivory keys. I’m also into urban exploring and paranormal investigations, and I actually did a ton of onsite research at the West Virginia State Penitentiary and the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum for my collection, Hysteria. And let me tell you, you’re not writing horror poetry until you’re writing it while locked up inside an asylum…by choice! It’s fun for me to go back through the book because I can remember writing certain pieces in jail cells, in infirmaries, and one even in a hydrotherapy tub.

Q. What books inspired you?  

For Hysteria, I was greatly influenced by Poppy Z. Brite and her novel Exquisite Corpse along with Jack Ketchum and his novels The Girl Next Door, and Weed Species. I also read a lot of abnormal psychology and philosophy textbooks with a particular focus on the background of hysteria and how it relates to Freudian theory. Plus, my editor John Edward Lawson wrote a fabulous poetry collection titled, The Troublesome Amputee that was a huge inspiration for me as well.

For Mourning Jewelry, it was mostly poetry and music that inspired me. I read a lot of Sylvia Plath, particularly her collection The Colossus as well studying the style and language of Pablo Neruda, E. E. Cummings and Rumi. Mourning Jewelry is definitely a lot softer than Hysteria, but there’s still a bit of my old muse lingering between those pages.

Q: If you were to make a soundtrack for your poetry collection. 

My theme song for Hysteria is Adrenalize Me by In the Moment. The song fits my nurse of madness perfectly and the music video is scary similar to what was rolling around in my head while I writing the book. Check it out here:

I actually have a soundtrack that I made up for Mourning Jewelry, and I still add to it on occasion when I think Iive found a song that fits. You can follow me on Spotify (Stephanie Wytovich) and check out the playlist here: Mourning Jewelry.

Q: How about some words of wisdom for other writers out there.

Writing is about discovery, so go out and explore, ask questions, make mistakes, live learn, and experience the world around you. Fall in love, get your heart broken, take a sip of absinthe and smoke a cigar. You’ll be better for it, trust me, and so will your writing.

Q: Can you share a bit of your poetry with us?

Here’s a snippet from Mourning Jewelry:

It Happened in the City

Her whisper smelled like bourbon,
and when he kissed her, he got drunk off her lips.
It happened fast—too fast, maybe—and before either
of them knew what was happening, they were lost
in each other’s arms with no worries, no responsibilities,
and no obligations. For a brief moment in time, there
was nothing but them, just city lights, empty drinks
and the  hope that when it was over, that when it was all said and done,
that they would find their way back,
back to the city, back to the moment
somehow, someway, for one more night.

Q: Before we let you go, are there any upcoming events you can share?


About the Author

Stephanie M. Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, a book reviewer for Nameless Magazine, and a well-known coffee addict. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker nominated poetry collection, HYSTERIA, can be found alongside Mourning Jewelry at Follow Wytovich at and on twitter @JustAfterSunset.

"Monster Me" debuts in the Inaugural HWA Horror Poetry Showcase
Fangoria reviews Hysteria
Interview with the HWA about Hysteria: 


About the Book

Blurbs for Stephanie's latest collection, Mourning Jewelry:

“From rimming the martini glass with a dead lover’s ashes, to bedsheets as straitjackets, Stephanie Wytovich masterminds the lustful grotesque. But there is a sweetness in the violence, comfort in the pretty terror. Feathers as amputated limbs, spirit carriages, and valleys that hold the tears of little girls. This collection caresses beneath the skin—like a fine lace shawl delicately woven with her own blood.”
-Jill Tracy, singer/songwriter

“In Mourning Jewelry, Wytovich takes all she did so well in her first book, Hysteria, and ratchets it up a notch. A bountiful, bold book, generously serving up more than 100 poems, each distinctive in its careful-yet-brutal musing about death and desire, written with a voice that is now firmly established as one of our top new horror poets. It’s a voice that seduces as it sickens. What strikes me most is Wyto’s talent for crafting morbid narrators and creepy characters that both fascinate and repulse us, in poem after poem, in a way that will have you turning the pages to see what lower depth she will take us to next. Even the Grim Reaper himself would drop his jaw reading some of these beautifully decadent poems. It’s a remarkable achievement.”
-Michael Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award-winning poet and author of Grave Markings