Veterans in Horror: Interview with Sirrah Medeiros
Sirrah Medeiros is a dark fantasy, horror, and thriller writer. Over the past decade, several anthologies published her horror short stories and poems. She also published a poetry collection in 2014. Most recently, Sirrah has published two books in her dark urban fantasy series, The Emerald Curse and Secrets of Mother.
Having grown up in Ohio, Sirrah is the youngest of seven children and the only daughter. After living in a house full of brothers, joining the Marine Corps didn’t sound so difficult, and it offered an opportunity to explore the globe. Since then, she raised a family, completed a degree in Environmental Management, and has spent much of life traveling to various parts of the world.
Sirrah retired from employment in the defense industry with over 35 years supporting the Marine Corps, first on active duty, and later as a contractor, Marine Corps spouse, and volunteer. Now with more time to dedicate to her interests, Sirrah has circled back to one of her first passions, creative writing. She also finds time to draw, do graphic design, edit occasionally, and hike the Virginia trails.
Sirrah lives in Northern Virginia with her family and rescue dogs.
Tell us a bit about your military service. Years? Branch? Specialty?
I served in the Marine Corps for a little over four years, ending my enlistment as a Corporal. My primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was as an 1171, which is a Water Support Technician, or Marine Water Dog. The MOS provides water purification/clean drinking water and other services such as laundry and shower during times of deployment. My secondary MOS was as an administrative clerk, 0151.
What role, if any, did reading and writing play during your military service?
Reading is a large aspect of military service. Especially as a young Marine, the need to complete training is constant and much of that training is offered through self-paced training modules. Once each subject is complete, the training adds points to your cutting score for promotion opportunities. My administrative duties included drafting documents for senior leadership within the battalion (s) I served. Although vastly different from writing fiction, those duties refined my writing abilities.
What inspired you to start writing?
I had six older brothers and was the only girl in the family, so I spent quite a bit of time on my own. I read a lot and wrote poetry and short stories in middle school and some in high school, but didn’t return to creative writing as an adult until many years later. I’d spent years working various other jobs before gathering with other writers online, where I dipped my pen back into creative works. If you’d told me when I joined the Marine Corps at age 18 that it would encompass decades of my life, I would have thought you crazy, but it did, and I missed the creativity of writing and drawing I practiced years earlier. Writing groups inspired a much-needed creative outlet and I’ve written in several genres since that time.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I have enjoyed horror books and movies all my life. From Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, Anne Rice, and many others, I have loved being immersed in the strange darkness of horror and fantasy. It seemed a logical path to write in genres I had interest in reading for so many years.
What role, if any, does your military experience play in your writing?
At the age of 18, my first duty after training was in Okinawa, Japan. It was a vast change from the states in which I grew up, Ohio and Tennessee. I had traveled little (which means almost none) in my youth and I welcomed every opportunity to travel and explore. The exposure to and interaction with Okinawans and even Americans from other parts of the country shaped me for the better as a human being on this rock we call home. Many of us grow up with preconceived notions we don’t realize we’re carrying, and then when surrounded by so many unique people we open up and share ideas, communicate beyond the superficial, and learn our differences—it expands our souls. Since then, traveling every two to three years for over three decades exposed me to various people, cultures, and world views. The experiences have enriched my perception of people, their triggers, fears, expectations, and so on, which helps develop characters, scenery, and plot points many readers feel drawn to as they read.
How do you feel military veterans and the broader military experience has thus far been represented in the horror genre?
I couldn’t give a general statement on this subject. It depends on the book. Some authors do a fabulous job of portraying characters in a realistic fashion, while other authors haven’t done their research and wind up depicting military characters with an overly exaggerated trope or in an unrealistic, annoying manner.
Who are some civilian characters in horror that you think would have made for great soldiers?
These answers are tongue-in-cheek, but Michael Myers would make a great infantryman. He has one goal and lets nothing get in his way. Leatherface for the same reasons and he doesn’t mind a mess. The Babadook could be an interesting sniper since he can’t handle close-counter confrontation. Pinhead from Hellraiser could play a twisted battalion commander. He doesn’t do much of the work himself, but when caught in a bind, Pinhead could mess someone up in the most vicious way.
Who are some military veteran horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
Weston Ochse, Tim Waggoner, and Michael Knost come to mind right away. I wish I knew other women military veteran horror authors. I may not be the best one to say this since I’ve recently begun publishing my horror works again, but I believe we’re an underrepresented or acknowledged segment of horror writers. And I think we’d have great ideas for an anthology or collective works with our unique military perspectives and love of horror.
What’s something about veterans most people don’t know?
I don’t know about veterans overall, but please for all that is horror, if authors, screen writers, and movie makers in all genres would stop calling Marines Soldiers, we’d really appreciate it.