Don’t be afraid to reach out to people! When researching our latest book, The Science of Serial Killers, we really hoped to talk to a cult expert. We reached out to noted sociologist and cult expert Dr. Janja Lalich and she was happy to speak to us and share her knowledge and experiences! The worst someone can say is “no” and we have been so fortunate to get a “yes” from amazing interviewees for all of our books.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Florence and Meg Hafdahl.
Kelly Florence is a communications instructor at Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minnesota and the creator and co-host of the Horror Rewind podcast as well as the producer and host of the podcast, Be a Better Communicator. She received her B.A. in theatre at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and got her M.A. in communicating arts at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. She has directed, produced, choreographed and stage-managed dozens of productions in Minnesota, including Carrie,The Musical through Rubber Chicken Theatre, and Treasure Island for Wise Fool Theater. Kelly is also the co-author of The Science of Women in Horror and The Science of Stephen King.
Horror and suspense author Meg Hafdahl is the creator of numerous stories and books. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies such as Eve’s Requiem: Tales of Women, Mystery and Horror and Eclectically Criminal. Her work has been produced for audio by The Wicked Library and The Lift, and she is the author of two popular short story collections, including Twisted Reveries: Thirteen Tales of the Macabre. Meg is also the author of two novels, Daughters of Darkness and Her Dark Inheritance. She also co-hosts the podcast Horror Rewind and is co-author of The Science of Women in Horror and The Science of Stephen King. Meg lives in the snowy bluffs of Minnesota.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
We began writing our “Science of…” series four years ago after we started our Horror Rewind podcast. Having been best friends for over twenty years and lifelong horror fans, we were talking about these topics every week on our show. Discovering the truth behind our favorite horror movie monsters became our first book, The Science of Monsters, and we’ve kept writing about the genre ever since!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Writing about the science of horror has led us to meet so many interesting people like those we’ve interviewed for our books, including actors, filmmakers, scientists, doctors, law enforcement professionals, and fellow writers. We’ve even interviewed ghost hunters, an aura photographer, and a hypnotist! We were thrilled to be nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for our second book, The Science of Women in Horror, and were happy to meet so many fellow Stephen King fans through the release of our third book, The Science of Stephen King.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We’ve definitely made mistakes along the way! Sometimes we’ll be brainstorming and follow a thread that ends up being a waste of time or shouldn’t be in the book. Once, we spent hours researching how animals communicate with humans, only to end up with a horrifying story not suitable to print! We realized it’s better to stay focused instead of going off on strange tangents. Other times, we’ve made the mistake of assuming everyone likes horror movies or has background knowledge similar to our own. Once we were in a conversation on the air with someone talking about axe murderer Lizzie Borden and found out, the hard way, he had no clue who we were talking about!
Another time, we were writing separately and ended up researching the same topic for two different chapters in the same book! We learned that we need to communicate in real time, whether in person or via a quick text message, to make sure we’re not doubling up on the same research or topics. That can lead to some pretty ridiculous texts, like “I’m writing about vampires and why they can’t go out in the sun.”
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
We hope that our book series can help teach and change the world! We want readers to see the rich, complicated lore and tales that horror movies are based on as well as learn about the fascinating science and true facts that inspired various scary stories. There are so many fun and captivating topics that we’ve covered and every chapter leads us down a rabbit hole of research with surprising results.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Actress Geena Davis has been a hero of ours first from our love of her film, “Beetlejuice.” That was definitely a gateway into our love of horror comedies! Her iconic film, “Thelma and Louise,” has such an important message about women and friendship. In addition, her work with the Geena Davis Institute has been groundbreaking in showing how people are represented in media.
The Geena Davis Institute, in fact, has been instrumental to a lot of our research for our books. Their mission is to conduct research that examines intersectional onscreen representation of six identities: gender, race, LGBTQ+, disability, age, and body size. This has changed the way we watch TV and movies, as well as influenced our fiction writing.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
First of all, we are passionate about getting young people, especially women, into the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). We write about all of these fields in our books and how they relate to the horror movies we’re focusing on.
Secondly, we also believe in diverse female representation in media so that people can see a variety of people on screen.
And third, the Geena Davis Institute, as mentioned above, has been groundbreaking in showing how people are represented in media, and we hope their example will be a model for many other groups and organizations.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
We really appreciate a leader who leads by example. Instead of doing something for you, a good leader will teach you and guide you to make the best decisions on your own and, in turn, you’ll become a better writer and leader too!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Everything takes longer than you think! We work and write fast but hearing back from others, the editing process, and promoting our books takes time and effort.
- Editing and feedback are important! Listen to others and view your work from various perspectives.
- Watching movies will become more active than passive! We used to watch movies and television shows solely for enjoyment but now since we write about them, we watch them with a much more critical eye and often need to pause to take notes!
- Some things are difficult to research whether it be finding materials or reading about disturbing subject matter. Truth can be scarier than fiction!
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to people! When researching our latest book, The Science of Serial Killers, we really hoped to talk to a cult expert. We reached out to noted sociologist and cult expert Dr. Janja Lalich and she was happy to speak to us and share her knowledge and experiences! The worst someone can say is “no” and we have been so fortunate to get a “yes” from amazing interviewees for all of our books.
Five Things We Wish We Knew When We First Started!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Female-driven, diverse representation in TV and films is our mission in everything we do! We hope to continue to shine light on the disparities that exist in our non-fiction writing and strive to write for and hire diverse people in our fiction projects.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Write drunk, edit sober!” Although we don’t actually follow that advice, we take the general meaning. We write when we’re feeling inspired and do not worry about the first draft until we go back over it carefully, together. Second-guessing what you’re writing in the moment only holds you back!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Author Tananarive Due! We are big fans of her books and her work on Horror Noire and The Twilight Zone. We would love to pick her brain about all things horror!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find us at our website www.horrorrewind.com, as well our individual sites, www.kellyflorence.com and www.meghafdahl.com. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok under our names! And you can listen to our podcast, Horror Rewind, anywhere you get your podcasts!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Social Impact Authors: Why & How Kelly Florence and Meg Hafdahl Are Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.