The murder of a trans teen reveals the dark, vampiric underbelly of a quaint beach town in Piper’s All the Hearts You Eat (Titan, Oct.).

You’re part of a wave of trans horror writers. Why does the genre appeal?

I think on a foundational level, everyone has the capacity for horror. We’re all afraid sometimes, we’re all dealing with stuff. As far as trans folk writing horror, I think it works because we have a unique perspective about our bodies—we usually have a period where it doesn’t feel like our bodies belong to us. And the hope, of course, is that we can reclaim that. But it’s hard to go through that without some sense of horror. Even if you’re not writing about outright bigotry, it still translates into a worldview. I liken it to a sense of being haunted. And that translates into all kinds of stuff—body horror, vampires. Horror is cathartic, and dealing with some of the stuff that trans folk deal with, you need some catharsis.

Why vampires?

Ridiculously enough, I had initially come up with an idea about a robot in a postapocalyptic scenario. I had to think up a backstory for one of the characters, and I ended up liking that backstory so much that I was like, “oh, I don’t want to do the robot thing anymore, I want to write about this character in this small beach town.”And that became the heroine, Ivory, and from there her circumstances started to involve vampires. It just kind of grew. I wasn’t like, “so, what monsters am I going to use?” It was about what felt right.

Your take on vampirism also incorporates some feline elements.

I just felt like my vampires were acting very catlike. But that’s not original to me. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla would prowl around as a panther, and it’s implied that her victim, Laura, would wake up and feel that there was a large cat around her. And that’s 25 years before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. So that’s not a me thing. I think you can get away with a lot with a character if you make them kind of a cat, because people accept that cats are going to be assholes a little bit.

The book toggles between the dead girl Cabrina’s diary and the POVs of Ivory, who found her, and Cabrina’s two best friends. How did you land on this ensemble?

That was another thing that grew. At first it was just Ivory. And then I was like, “I want to have Cabrina’s perspective. She’s dead, but she wrote this diary, so why don’t we see that?” That’s when it started getting way more personal than I had planned. My original plan was to do a kind of horror-romance-sapphic-vampire-story. But the more I was writing the diary entries, the more I realized, I need to get this out of my system. Soon after that, I realized it wasn’t going to work without getting into Xi and Rex’s points of view as well. And then I couldn’t just do a little of that. So it ended up being a bigger tapestry than I intended.