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Maureen Kilmer: On Balancing Horror and Comedy

Maureen Kilmer discusses the process of writing her debut novel, Suburban Hell.

Maureen Kilmer graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and three children. She does not have a She Shed, and thankfully has not had to battle the forces of darkness (unless going to Costco on a Saturday counts). Suburban Hell is her horror debut. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Maureen Kilmer: On Balancing Horror and Comedy

Maureen Kilmer

In this post, Maureen discusses the process of writing her debut novel, Suburban Hell, the insight into suburbia she hopes her readers gain, and more!

Name: Maureen Kilmer
Literary agent: Holly Root, Root Literary
Book title: Suburban Hell
Publisher: Putnam
Release date: August 30, 2022
Genre/category: Horror Comedy
Elevator pitch for the book: Four suburban moms have to battle their newest neighbor: a demon. The suburbs are hell ... literally.

Maureen Kilmer: On Balancing Horror and Comedy

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What prompted you to write this book?

What prompted me to write this book was my love of horror, especially horror that is combined with comedy. Living in the suburbs, there's so much material to mine for scares, even without any supernatural forces lurking around. All I had to do was look around my neighborhood for inspiration.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

I started writing this book while I had a different book on submission (spoiler alert: it didn't sell!) last summer. I wanted to write something fun, even if it was just for myself. I finished the proposal in about four months, and my agent and I went back and forth on a few edits before it went out that spring.

It sold after about a month. So total time from idea to publication was about 18 months. The idea didn't change much from my original brainstorming.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

The most surprising thing about the publication process for this book was how quickly the process moved once the book was sold. I've learned that publishing is very hurry up and wait. A lot of downtime—until there isn't!

Maureen Kilmer: On Balancing Horror and Comedy

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

The biggest challenge for me in writing this book was finding a balance between the horror and comedy aspects. It's a tricky balance to creep readers out while also making them laugh.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

Often times, the suburbs are somewhat dismissed or labeled as stereotypical. While those things exist, I wanted to write a book about the good aspects of living in a suburban community. Of moms who support each other and lean on each other in tough times. So, I hope that readers will see some of the positive things about living in such a community!

And also, I wanted to portray a group of friends who truly care for each other, even through demonic times.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

To never give up. There will be many ups and downs in a writer's career, and to weather those as best as possible. The only way a writer wouldn't succeed is if they quit. So don't quit!

Horror Virtual Conference 2022

On October 1, 2022, our WDU Horror Writing Virtual Conference will provide expert insights from four award-winning and bestselling horror authors on the finer points of how to write horror. Spend the day learning techniques for honing your craft from four different published horror authors, then (if you choose) you can have your query letter critiqued by one of our participating literary agents.

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