My Favorite Bit: Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam talks about GRIM ROOT

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam is joining us today to talk about her novel, Grim Root. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Embark on a darkly humorous journey of reality TV meets the macabre. On the set of The Groom, a group of women must compete for the heart of Midwestern bachelor Tristan by spending a week in a haunted house. Divorcee Linda, resigned to her role as the show’s underdog, finds her resolve cracking when she begins to fall for fellow castmate Charity. Meanwhile, Sabrina, groomed by her witchy mother to deliver their family from poverty by marrying a rich man, sees winning the competition as her predestined path.

But after a shocking demise, the game takes a sinister turn. As the remaining contestants grapple with their desires for love and survival, they uncover dark secrets within and without the house’s walls. Trapped in a twisted new competition, they must confront their own demons or face elimination.

What’s Bonnie’s favorite bit?

For the last three years, my day job has been writing romance games for a mobile app. It’s no secret to anyone who’s read my fiction that I love to write romantic relationships—and that I don’t shy away from erotic scenes. Well, now it’s ingrained in me, night and day, to write the raunchiest spice you can imagine, genre be damned.

They created a monster, and with great power? Comes the responsibility to go whole hog. But I had to give my spicy scenes a horror flavor, this being a gore-fest, and that’s how you get Cronenberg-level sex scenes with exposed bones in a book filled with pink goo.

So my favorite bits? They’re the the spicy bits. After all, you can tell so much about someone in a bedroom scene.

This book has two women falling for one another, both contestants on the reality TV show The Groom,  both trapped in a haunted house and not at all interested in the eponymous man of the hour. After a particularly gruesome scene, I gave them a shower together, because what says forever love more than washing dead body off one another? They’re sweet together, but also powerful, telling one another exactly what they want, and how they feel, when they’ve been stuck behind reality TV cameras, faking their way through lines that weren’t written, as such, but heavily suggested by the nature of the genre: “here for the right reasons,” etc. They can be honest with one another in a way they haven’t been honest in weeks, and the shower, one place where the cameras can’t reach, provide that necessary privacy.

It’s a huge turning point in their relationship with one another, with the show, and as they climb out of the shower, with the central horror conceit of the book.

I’ve heard people say that spicy scenes with any explicit language have no place outside of romance, that too much or them will turn off any potential publishers… but I disagree. Horror is the perfect place for the erotic. After all, it’s a genre meant to transgress, so when better to break the rules and get raunchy?


Book Link



Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam is the author of the horror novel Grim Root (Dark Matter Ink, forthcoming 2023), the short story collection Where You Linger & Other Stories (Vernacular/Lethe, 2022), and the horror novella Glorious Fiends (Underland/Lethe, 2022). Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in over 90 publications such as Popular ScienceLightspeed, and LeVar Burton Reads, as well as in six languages. By night, she’s a two-time finalist for the Nebula Award. By day, she works as a Narrative Designer writing games for a mobile game.

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