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Scott J. Moses Interview

If you know contemporary horror, then you are probably already familiar with the work of Scott J. Moses. He has published over a dozen short stories in the last few years as well as books like Hunger Pangs and Non-Practicing Cultist. In 2021, he edited the much-talked-about What One Wouldn't Do: An Anthology on the Lengths One Might Go To.

Moses makes his novella debut this year with Our Own Unique Affliction from DarkLit Press. It is an atmospheric exploration of the vampire tale, steeped in family, guilt, and grief. It’s gotten some wonderful blurbs so far from Eric LaRocca, Laurel Hightower, J.A.W. McCarthy, Hailey Piper, and Charlene Elsby.

Read the full interview below.

How long did you spend working on Our Own Unique Affliction? Was it always intended as a novella?

You know, it’s a bit of a journey. “Hunger Pangs” (the first chapter of OOUA) was the fifth short story I ever wrote. It was rejected a ton by horror venues as being too literary, and by literary venues as being too horrific. Eventually, I published it myself, and while on Cursed Morsels talking with Eric Raglin, he asked about the “ominous” Bodachi, a character only ever mentioned in the story but never seen, and asked what the story was there? I told him “I don’t actually know,” as I’d considered the story “over.” Then the wheels started turning. So, in its entirety, I guess I’ve been mulling over this story since mid-2019. Sometimes, a story has legs, and someone’s off the cuff comment can spark something more.

You’ve written about grief before. What is it about exploring grief through the lens of horror that you find particularly compelling?

Like many things, through horror, we can look directly at things and themes we might otherwise avoid. Death is as much a part of life, as is grief, and loss, and one of the best ways to empathize with one another in my opinion. The sooner we come to terms with the fact that we, and everyone we know, will die one day, life takes on more meaning. Knowing nothing is permanent will hopefully encourage us to make the most of whatever this all is. And honestly, I can’t really say why I’m drawn to those types of stories or why I tend to write them. It’s just what comes naturally to me.

Tales of loss and trauma resonate with different people in different ways. Sometimes, there’s catharsis for the reader. Was there catharsis for you in writing this story? Or did you have to keep yourself at a distance from some of that?

I won’t lie, this book helped save my life. I was dealing with severely undiagnosed OCD at the time, with an obsession around existential themes and all those “what if’s” we’ll never know. During therapy, it was damn good exposure, and helped me to accept the things in my mind rather than fear or dread their approach. I also lost a good friend of mine a few years ago, and the book is dedicated to her. I was never suicidal while writing this, and while I didn’t necessarily want to die, I sure as hell needed more reasons to live. Writing this story, retraining my brain (three cheers for neuroplasticity) with therapy, books on OCD, Stoicism, and living in the present moment all pulled me through what I’d call the darkest time of my life. So, yeah, it reminded me why I’m here, and how sweet life can be, if you let it. “Those who learn to suffer, suffer less.”

Eric LaRocca wrote that you tell this story with “empathy and care… obliterating my soul with such grace and tenderness." There’s been a lot of talk about empathy as a facet of horror in this day and age. Do you think that it’s always been there or is it a more modern focus?

I sort of answered this one earlier, but yeah, to be scared or unsettled (not that that’s a prerequisite for horror or anything), you have to care about the character you’re reading about. When I think of my favorite horror stories or movies, they were all characters I could deeply relate with.

Vampire stories have fascinated us for centuries. Why do you think we keep returning to the vampire?

I think the idea of eternal life fascinates us. It’s the one thing we’ll never have.

Do you have a favorite vampire book and/or film?

God, well, this is tough. I guess I’d have to say Let the Right One In (book) and My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To (film). Runner ups (if I’m allowed, lol) would be The Lesser Dead (book) and [the film] A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.

Are you draw to specific “monster” lore? Or does the story you want to tell guide any lore you might draw on while writing it?

Hmm, that’s a good question. I definitely drew on some vampire lore for this one, but ultimately chose what served the story overall. And I made up some things, sure. Lol Research is half the fun of writing though, in my opinion.

The cover for Our Own Unique Affliction is haunting. Who did the artwork? How did you feel when you first saw it?

George C. Cotronis (Ravenkult on Instagram) is the wizard behind the cover for OOUA and What One Wouldn’t Do. He always seems to nail my abstract ideas. All I really gave him was old noir/horror movie poster with some other central elements and he brought it all together in a beautiful way.

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

I have a couple short stories I can’t really delve into at the moment, but I’m largely taking this year to knock out my current novella, which is always threatening to become a novel.

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

Phew…hmm…I recently finished Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica and it hit me in a profound way. One of the best last pages I’ve read in a long while. I’d also say All the Pretty Horses (Cormac McCarthy) and J.A.W. McCarthy’s novella Sleep Alone. And if I can be vague, I beta read a novella from Sofia Ajram recently and can’t stop thinking about it. Damn, can Sofia write. So, keep your eyes peeled for that one.

Thank you so much for talking to Frightful!

Our Own Unique Affliction hits shelves on April 26, 2023.

Scott J. Moses is the author of Non-Practicing Cultist (Demain Publishing). An Active member of the Horror Writers Association, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cosmic Horror Monthly, The NoSleep Podcast, Planet Scumm, and elsewhere. His work has been praised by Laird Barron, Brian Evenson, and others. He also edited What One Wouldn’t Do: An Anthology on the Lengths One Might Go To. His debut novella, Our Own Unique Affliction, is slated for release in early 2023 via DarkLit Press. He is Japanese American and lives in Maryland. You can find him on Twitter/YouTube @scottj_moses or at

Preorder links for Our Own Unique Affliction:

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Fascinating interview. I was very impressed with Scott's openness about his personal experience with mental health and OCD. I think many can relate and it's quite valuable for people in the public eye to share for those who might be experiencing yet afraid to confront or talk about mental health.

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