NickyXX (2017) #WiHM

In the Creepypasta kingdom, NickyXX reigns supreme.

It was a cold January afternoon when I first made her acquaintance, riding shotgun on the road to Dallas, during one of those peculiar Texas winters when the weather shifts from balmy to arctic in the blink of an eye and tropical sunrises give way to gray, frozen dusks. Pennie and I were en route to a business function, and to kill the time during the four-hour slog—made even less interesting than usual by the endless vistas of frozen, grey grass and naked trees—I googled “best Creepypastas of the year.” Rather than the catty internet debate I expected, I was greeted with a unified chorus uncharacteristic of online discourse. Burned Photo, everyone seemed to agree, was the Creepypasta of the preceding year, and anyone who said otherwise was either a liar or a dolt.

There wasn’t another sound on the road as I read aloud Burned Photo, the multigenerational story of a family’s endless flight from something, a nameless, pitiless entity with no apparent goal other than torment and no motive other than single-minded hatefulness. The inexplicable terror wrought on the unsuspecting protagonists was palpable in the car as we approached the conclusion of the story, which ends with one of the most chillingly indelible images in Creepypasta history. When we were finished, Pennie and I agreed: What we had just experienced was unlike anything we’d read in a very long time.

Pennie and I like to count ourselves among the earliest Creepypasta aficionados, connoisseurs of the genre in its’ infancy when the line between reality and the fictional worlds they created was razor thin. We watched with initial joy and then some consternation as the world of Creepypasta grew, expanded, and, to our mind, became somewhat bloated, with the format shifting between “true tales” into simple short stories posted online and given the Creepypasta label. Gone was the “this really happened” vibe that, it seemed, made Creepypasta what it was. All of that elitism went out the window, though, after Burned Photo. We were excited about Creepypasta again. We’d been reminded of its’ possibilities. In the space of an hour, an anonymous author named NickyXX had made us believe again.

It was to our shock that little information was available online about Ms. XX. For sure, she’d been picked up by an anthology; she must be an internet superstar by now; there had to be fan pages. For the rest of the trip, I sought furiously for any trace that NickyXX was anything more than a name on a screen. But, nothing: No published work. No digital stardom. All we found was further evidence of her literary brilliance: Three Friends Diner, a disturbing little tale about the student film shoot from Hell; and The Cats of Juniper Valley, a creature feature for the Internet age. Her stories were Lovecraftian: first-person accounts of awful horror wrought at the hands of unknowable entities; yet at the same time there was an intimate relatability that moved them past Lovecraft’s clinical detachment. Though the content was too fantastic to be true, there was still that lingering thread that first made Creepypastas so effective: This might have happened.

NickyXX was amazing, that was for sure; but who was she? Recurring themes and elements in her stories gave intimations, but they were only that; and as the year wore on and we sought out more of her stories, we were left stunned each time that, but for the Creepypasta corner of the internet (and a fan artist in Sweden who created a rendering of The Shredder Monkey, one of Nicky’s eldritch abominations), she had not become the horror genre’s new literary Rockstar.

Shredder Monkey by MantaTheMisukitty.

Shredder Monkey by MantaTheMisukitty.

When we decided to start our Women in Horror Month Extravaganza, I set what I thought was an impossible goal for myself: I would interview NickyXX. After all, it was (apparently) a woman behind these stories, and her work was revitalizing the Creepypasta scene. She, if anybody, deserved to be spotlighted.

It was to my shock, surprise, and delight when my search paid off; and, one early February evening, just about a year after Pennie and I first read her work, we found ourselves sitting around a telephone, waiting in anticipation to speak with the woman herself. Neither of us could recall the last time that we were so nervous to conduct an interview; I, especially, after nearly five years, have lost some of the star-struck giddiness that comes with talking to celebrities. Yet here I was, twitchy with anticipation, about to answer the riddle that had plagued us for a year: Who is NickyXX?

As it turns out, she’s very much the witty, insightful personality the protagonists of many of her stories would betray. There’s a moment of levity at the start of our chat as we attempt to determine who’s more nervous about speaking to whom, and almost instantly she’s drawing the attention not towards herself but some of her Creepypasta colleagues: Have we heard of the Dalek Emperor? EZ Misery? Do we really want to interview her? If her writing hadn’t already endeared her to us, the haste with which she tries to bring her contemporaries to attention does the trick. Who is NickyXX?

I’m happy to say that, today, CineDump has that answer. Presenting the author herself in her first ever interview, ladies and gentlemen, NickyXX.

Pennie Sublime: How did you discover Creepypasta, and what inspired you to start writing it yourself? Nicky XX: I’ve always loved writing, since I was a kid. You know, I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. But, you know, I never really had a lot of inspiration to finish stuff. Like, I’d finish a story, now what do I do with it? How do I get feedback? How do I share the story with other people? Years ago, I got stuff in a couple of online literary journals or something, but not a lot of people read them. It’s kind of hard to get feedback. A couple years ago I was actually on YouTube, and I was really into like, those Mojo.com top-ten videos, and there’s one that was top-ten Creepypastas. This was back in, like, 2014. I had never heard the phrase Creepypasta before. So I watched the vide, and I’m like, “Oh my God. I did not know this was a thing.” So I went and I basically googled Creepypasta, I found Creepypasta.com, Creepypasta wiki, and just started, like, insanely reading stories. ‘Cause I’m like, Oh my God, this is amazing. This is the perfect opportunity for me to get my stuff out there and be a better writer.

Preston Fassel: Why do you think Creepypasta has become such a phenomenon?

NickyXX: Well, people like to be scared. And--maybe not any more as much, because so many people are getting into it-- but the cool thing about reading a creepy story online is—particularly Creepypastas are usually first person, are presented as personal experiences. It’s kind of blurring that line a little bit, y’know, between reality and fiction. Where you’re pretty sure this didn’t actually happen. You’re PRETTY SURE. But… It’s not like a book, where you’ve got the writer’s name there and you know it’s fiction. There’s always that little tick in the back of your mind that, “I wonder if this is actually true?” Particularly where you go on Reddit and you’ve got the No Sleep stories, where you’ve got the—the game is, you pretend everything’s real. But you’ve also got like the Let’s Not Meet stories, which are actually true stories—in theory. So I think it’s that blurring of what’s real and what’s not real.

PS: You said you liked to write a lot as a younger person and then got back into it. Was there a specific catalyst?

NX: I never found I actually stopped, really, it was just, “I want to write. I really want to write. But, I can’t make money doing it, so…” So you gotta go to school, and that takes up all my time, and you gotta get a job, and that takes up all my time. So I think actually, I do credit Creepypasta with getting me back into writing consistently. Because it kinda kicked my ass to do it. It was like, OK, I can finish this story, I can put it up on the board, I can get some feedback. You know? Hopefully, the idea is, what a lot of other online writers do is they get a fan base, and then I can maybe self-publish some of my stuff. So, yeah, that’s kind of what got me back into it, because I’ve got something kicking my ass to do it.

PF: What would you say your inspiration comes from?

NX: Just in general life. Stuff I’ve read, uh—I was a very scared kid. When I was a child, we couldn’t go to Jurassic Park because I was too scared. I didn’t see Hocus Pocus until I was an adult because I was scared of everything. I left the nightlight on, I was just a real chicken when it came to anything scary. Even, like, horror movies. I still sleep with the light on when I watch a horror movie. I basically figured out—I still have a roommate now, I’m probably never gonna live alone, just because I would get too scared at night. But I think because of that—It’s hard to scare other people if you can’t be scared. A lot of it is, first I have to try and scare myself. And if I can scare myself I can scare other people. Some of it’s just experience. I used to be an EMT for two years, so that’s where the inspiration for a couple of my stories came from, stories I heard from other people.

PS: What’s your favorite horror movie or book?

NX: I know it’s stereotypical, but my favorite scary movie is The Exorcist. I also loved The Conjuring movies. Favorite scary stories? I got into H.P. Lovecraft a couple years ago. I love, y’know, basically anything he writes. I really love Richard Matheson… who else? Stephen King, back in the day. I think kind of the first scary stories I was exposed to as a kid were Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. That was incredibly disturbing.

PF: Any final thoughts on the art of horror writing?

NX: I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s all horror writers, but, I used to live with a ton of roommates, and my apartment now I don’t have a lot of people, so I’ll go out to coffee shops to write a lot of the time. Sometimes on work days I’ll go at night. And how I’ll know I had a really good day of writing is if I’m scared to death to walk to my car, and I’m looking over my shoulder the entire drive home. That is how I know I’ve done my job for the night.