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Angela Sylvaine Interview

Alien worms. A doomsday cult. Prairie dogs with a memory-loss inducing bite. Angela Sylvaine’s new novel, Frost Bite, has it all! Set in 1997, this sci-fi horror delight follows two North Dakota teens who must alien worms from infecting all the animals and wiping human memories before it is too late.

Read the full interview below.

The synopsis for Frost Bite is so much fun! And it brings together so many different iconic elements from classic horror. How did the concept for the novel first come about?

I’ve always loved B horror movies and grew up watching things like Gremlins and Critters, so I wanted to do my own version of that set in North Dakota.

You grew up in North Dakota. What did it feel like setting the story there–especially during the 1990s? Was there a lot of nostalgia?

So much nostalgia! Many of the settings in the book are inspired by places around where I grew up, and the main character’s trailer park is based on my childhood home. It was really fun to explore those memories, and I tried especially hard to capture the feeling of a North Dakota winter.

What made you decide to set the book in 1997 specifically, instead of earlier or later in the 1990s?

That’s around the time I was the same age as the main character, so it was the most obvious choice since I had specific memories of that time. It was also just really fun to set it then, because it allowed me to reconnect with a lot of the pop culture I experienced and loved.

There’s something so intriguing about snow horror. The isolation. The brutality of the landscape. Do you have a favorite book or film that takes place in a snow-covered setting?

I agree completely. A wintery, isolated setting is one of my favorite tropes! The Shining (the book and the movie) are definitely long-time favorites, the snowy mountain setting is so scary. Another more recent one I liked was The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse, which takes place in a former sanatorium turned hotel in the Swiss Alps.

Adjacent question. Your book features a comet and alien worms. Do you have a favorite alien book or movie?

Now that is a really hard one. On the side of quality movies, I would say Aliens and The Thing for sure, both those movies are incredible. On the more horror-comedy side of things, I’d say The Faculty is a stand-out. I could keep going, but I already chose three instead of one…

Writer Lindy Ryan calls Frost Bite a “gleeful romp through blood-drenched snow” and that’s such a wonderful description. But in addition to being a “gleeful romp”, the story also covers serious ground–rooting the main characters in their own deeply human struggles. Was it difficult to balance the outlandish with the more grounded components?

It’s definitely a bit of a balancing act, but one that I find challenging in a good way. I’ve been writing more horror comedy, and one of my goals going into it was to make readers really care about the characters. I wanted to give a B movie creature-feature vibe, but with real heart. One of the most important things I learned was when to really lean into the silliness and when to shift to being serious and giving heartfelt moments the weight they deserve. I hope readers laugh a lot and maybe cry a little, too.

As writers, we look up some weird stuff online. What was the most unexpected thing you had to research for this book?

Well, I definitely know A LOT about prairie dogs now, lol. But I think the weirdest and most unexpected rabbit hole I went down was taxidermy. One of the supporting characters, Calvin, is a taxidermist, and I now know far more than I ever wanted to about that!

The cover is such a wonderful throwback to classic horror movie posters. (I LOVE the class of ‘97 hat!) Who did the artwork and what were your thoughts when you first saw it?

Eric Hibbeler did the art, and the idea was to make it look like an Amblin Entertainment movie poster. He was incredible to work with, and I loved the cover from the moment I saw the rough version. He totally nailed it!

Do you have any other work coming out this year you’d like to tell people about?

I have a poem, “Kept”, coming out in Under Her Eye, and my story “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary” will be included in It Was All a Dream 2. And I know you said this year, but I’ll take this opportunity to brag that my debut collection, The Dead Spot, will be coming out next May.

What’s your favorite recent read? Any genre or category. It doesn’t have to be horror.

I just finished the audiobook of You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron. It’s about a summer camp terror game experience that turns into a real slasher, and it was so much fun! Highly recommend.

Thank you so much for talking to Frightful!

Frost Bite hits shelves on October 10, 2023.

Angela Sylvaine is a self-proclaimed cheerful goth who writes horror fiction and poetry. Her debut novel, Frost Bite, and her debut collection, The Dead Spot: Stories of Lost Girls, are available or forthcoming from Dark Matter INK. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in/on over forty anthologies, magazines, and podcasts, including Southwest Review, Apex Magazine, and The NoSleep Podcast. She lives in the shadow if the Rocky Mountains with her sweetheart and three creepy cats. You can find her online

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