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Cat Voleur Interview

A controversial comic creator is catapulted into a world of crime and obsession in Cat Voleur’s new novella, Revenge Arc. The synopsis for this one grabbed our attention at Frightful immediately and the book is scheduled to be released by Archive of the Odd later this summer!

Read the full interview below.

What inspired you to write Revenge Arc? Did you always plan on it being a novella?

Revenge Arc was inspired by my own late night research into the rabbit hole that is dark web creepypastas. I wanted to write something that evoked that feeling of being uneasy at 3:00 a.m. but continuing to scroll through troubling Reddit threads.

One of the most difficult parts of the process was deciding what format it could be. I played with the idea of making it an r/nosleep serialization, a comic, and a podcast all at different points. I feel most comfortable with books as a writer, but I was so worried about the meta element feeling convoluted in traditional prose. I fought the instinct to make this a book for a long time, but it was such a relief when I realized I could do a book that was not traditionally formatted.

There’s a significant true crime component for this story. Are you interested in true crime yourself or was it something you explored specifically for this story?

I have a love/hate relationship with true crime. I find the real world cases to be endlessly fascinating, but I experience a lot of guilt as a result of the sensationalism that surrounds the genre. It’s a theme I touch on in the book, where the line is between informative and distasteful.

It came up very naturally in the story, but I’m not sure it wouldn’t have if I didn’t have a history with true crime. I used to work for a site called TheDeadWalk.Online, and I ran a column there called "American Horror History" where I broke down the real world events that inspired different subplots of the American Horror Story TV series. Working in that sort of journalism definitely shaped my views on true crime, and how it was approached in my book.

You are a co-host for the podcasts Slasher Radio and This Horror Life. How did having that experience inform your exploration of media and internet culture in Revenge Arc?

In both a very profound way, and also not at all.

Even though I didn’t start writing Revenge Arc until last year, I already had a strong concept of what the story was before I started hosting on either show. Internet culture is so ingrained into the book, but I drew most of my inspiration for those elements from my days curating horror blogs and writing for other websites. My main character, Riley, is a sort of movie critic, which was also one of my first jobs, and it was something that was set in stone for her way back when I first had this idea.

On the other hand, Slasher Radio and This Horror Life have become my new outlets for expressing my love of horror cinema. Now that I work in fiction primarily, it’s the podcasts that keep me out at the theater and using my Shudder subscription on a regular basis. Keeping that spark alive helped keep me focused on that aspect while I was writing, and gave me a lot of motivation to do so. The community that I have found podcasting has been instrumental in that sense, even if it didn’t directly influence the style of book, past the one inside joke I snuck in.

I also have to shout out one of my co-hosts, Ghost, from This Horror Life. This project felt so daunting before I started and she was the one who encouraged me to do it anyway. She was also my first beta reader, back when the book was still very messy.

The novella is told in what you’ve called a “Found File” format, with epistolary material like web sources telling the story. How did you decide to structure the book in this way?

It took a long time to decide that. I have always adored epistolary horror, since I first read Dracula in middle school. The first novel I ever wrote was written as a literal found file that is uncovered during the zombie apocalypse. Keeping all this in mind, I’m baffled it took me so long to think of structuring the book this way.

I wanted the story to have an interactive element, but I was so afraid to bring in collaborators. The story just felt so personal and so specific that I was afraid to open it up or ask for help until I had something concrete. For me that meant sticking to the written word, but there was still that fear that I couldn’t bring this idea to life with traditional prose.

At first I was just going to try to overcome that by including things like Riley’s movie reviews and excerpts of her interviews. I started there, and then realized I could tell the entire story that way. That was what ended up feeling the most right.

This book still ended up being a massive collaboration. It wouldn’t be what it is if I didn’t have a team working with me, capturing the look and feel of a variety of different sites and sources. Everyone at Archive has put as much work into Revenge Arc as I have, and I have been so fortunate to have their expertise on this type of formatting.

What was the most challenging part of writing a Found File book and, on the flip side, what was your favorite thing about it?

I talked about the fear I had before I started a Found File book, but I think the most challenging part was the formatting. In the final, printed version, Archive of the Odd obviously handled all of that and it looks phenomenal. Before I could have the story accepted though, I had to have a version to query.

Getting the book from my handwritten pages of notes into a document that approximated Shunn formatting while also getting across things like the cascading comment style of a Reddit thread remains one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

My favorite thing about it was the writing process itself. For as terrified as I was to start, I finished the rough draft of Revenge Arc in a single weekend. It was about 20,000 words longer than it is now and much messier, but the story just came along so easily once I got into it. Out of all the manuscripts I’ve ever written, this one felt the most natural.

Do you have a favorite epistolary work?

I do!

It’s actually a funny story. I had decided that I wanted to write Revenge Arc in this very unique formatting, and I was trying to psych myself up for it when Eric LaRocca released Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke. I almost gave up on writing my book before I even started at that point, because I was so convinced that the perfect epistolary horror novella had already been written.

I eventually worked through that fear, and Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke remains one of my favorite books of all time. I was honored and only mildly terrified to use it as a comp title while I was pitching my own work.

Is there anything else you want readers to know about Revenge Arc that they might not be aware of going into the book?

I would love to remind people that this story is as much about the things you can’t see as what it is the things that are written on the page.

Obviously there are characters communicating in it who have their own opinions, but Revenge Arc is an invitation for the audience to think about the underlying questions for themselves and piece together what they believe happens off-page.

That cover is fantastic. Who designed it and how did you feel when you first saw it?

The cover was done by Christy Aldridge, aka Grim Poppy Designs. It was actually a premade cover that she was offering to sell and I felt so strongly about it that I bought it on sight without even having started the book yet. I don’t think I’ve ever made an impulse purchase so quickly or with so much confidence.

One of my biggest fears in querying was that if I sent it to a publisher with an in-house artist, that I wouldn’t be allowed to bring the cover with me. That scared me more than the idea of rejection, I think. This absolutely was the perfect cover for this story. I could not have commissioned a more appropriate cover if I had tried.

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

I do! I have been accepted into That Old House: The Bathroom, which is an anthology put together by Voices From The Mausoleum. It features exclusively bathroom horror and will be coming out later this year.

I am also officially allowed to announce that I have been accepted into the upcoming Halloween horror anthology from Kangas Kahn Publishing. It will be releasing this fall and I’m truly honored to be a part of it.

I’m also working on a top secret collaboration that, with any luck, will be out this year. I should be able to announce it late summer/early fall but keeping quiet about it is killing me. Something big is coming though.

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

My favorite recent read has been The Breaking of Mona Hill, which is actually by my cover artist, Christy Aldridge. To say that it’s not for the faint of heart would probably be an understatement. It is so rare for me to find a poignant, well-written book that genuinely disturbs me. It was absolutely devastating in the best way and I just can’t get over it.

Thank you so much for talking to Frightful!

Revenge Arc hits shelves on August 1, 2023.

Cat Voleur is a published author of dark fiction and a full-time horror journalist. She is a proud mother to a small army of rescued felines. When she’s not creating or consuming spooky content, you can most likely find her pursuing her passion for fictional languages.

[Image Credit: author photo by Coffeenoir Photography]

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