Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Could you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up in Romania and moved to US only fourteen years ago. It is a strange thing to leave your home with no intention of ever going back, and I am still processing it. The fact that I work with words (I have a degree in journalism and communication) hasn’t made matters easier. But Romania has a long and illustrious tradition of writers who have created their work in more widely spoken languages (usually French) so I felt I was ready to follow into their footsteps. It has been hard. They must have leaped instead of walking.
Who are some writers that inspire you?
I find inspiration in many women writers, and in particular those from a past when women were not even allowed access to literacy. If I were to list a few names dear to my heart, I’d say Charlotte Bronte, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson, and Amelie Nothomb,
What have you written?
I have self-published a women’s fiction novel, Spell of Blindness, and I am currently in the last stages of editing my second book, which has more of a dark fiction bend. I have been writing dark short stories for a couple of years, but it feels like this is a space where I have truly found my voice, and all my themes of interest (mysticism, spirituality, supernatural, mythology, magical beliefs and practices) are perfect vehicles within the genre.
Give us some insight into your story for the DeadSteam anthology. What makes your story unique? Perhaps you could share a brief excerpt from your story?
In all my writing I often explore a familiar space close to home (Romania, where I grew up and where I have left all my family). “A Visitor at Sultana’s Castle,” the story that will appear in the DeadSteam anthology, combines two real historical figures: Countess Elizabeth Báthory, who was accused and convicted of murdering hundreds of young women to bathe in their blood, and Marie of Edinburgh – Queen of Romania, who created her dream home in Balcic, where the locals started to call her, The Sultana.
“Who’s knocking at the door?” the Sultana asks again. This time there is a distinct noise coming from the front door. The maid goes to check the entrance and though the scream that reaches us is not loud, the whimper that accompanies it terrifies and leaves us paralyzed for several moments.
The coffin that the water pushed straight into the castle’s door looks unlike others I’ve seen. The moment I lay eyes on it I know there is something unusual: it looks very old and rather small, and it seems to be made of solid metal, as if trying to keep its contents secured for eternity. It doesn’t have a dent in it and it is still, after its long journey, safely and inexorably shut.”
What are you working on at the moment? What’s it about?
I am working on a book about the mysterious disappearance of a young woman in a dilapidated city tunnel and the connection with a matriarchal community that evolved in the old site of a prehistoric Neolithic settlement of goddess worshipers. It is a book about feminine powers and values, and how society has evolved to systematically discount, discredit, and in the worst of times, punish those who held them.
What genre are your books, mainly? Are you new to the dreadpunk or steampunk genre, or have you written in the genre before?
I like to think I write women’s fiction, only because I prefer to focus on an essentially feminine universe, but it is dark women’s fiction. And although I am new to Dreadpunk as a writer, the genre has always been very close to my heart. I’ve always had a lot of love for the Gothic world with all its morbid themes and dark, atmospheric aesthetic.
What compelled you to write or submit a story to this particular anthology?
I submitted to DeadSteam anthology because I connected with the concept. I was something I knew I wanted to read. So I had wrote for it.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors? Do you enjoy reading the classics or do you tend to read more contemporary writers?
I have read a lot of classical literature growing up. Almost exclusively, because I grew up during the Communist regime in Romania and the options in bookstores were not too varied. The censors were more inclined to allow the publishing of the classics than any current writing. Most of those classic writers were male. Now, when I can read anything I want, I have chosen to support women writers. I have been reading only books written by women for about three years now. I just think that the male worldview has been written about to death, and I now want something different.
Where do your ideas come from?
I get most of my ideas from talking with people. People are so interesting.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I never outline. I wish I could, but every single time I’ve tried the story went somewhere else anyway, so I’ve given up. More often than not I start a story with a location and a character in mind, and little else besides that. It makes for a somewhat difficult process and a lot of stumbling along the way until the story finds its conclusion, but I haven’t been able to make it work differently.
If your story is part of a series, could you tell us a little about the series?
I wish it were, actually. I quite like the world that starts to take shape in “A Visitor at Sultana’s Castle” and I think it probably could evolve beyond the confines of this story, but I don’t have any plans to help it along yet.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I am a convert. My e-book reader is one of my most valuable and cherished possessions. I like that I can carry an entire library with me anywhere I go, that I can read in the dark, that I can hold my device with two fingers, that it allows me to check words in the dictionary, underline paragraphs and bookmark pages as I go. Plus, the electronic bookshelves don’t require dusting.
What book/s are you reading at present?
Right now I am reading Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, by Julia Kristeva and Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/loritironpandit