Dreams of Avarice: “Gold Digger” by Taija Morgan

Penitents Gold


Thank you for joining us for another installment of Between Two Flames — where we place authors in our hot seat for what surely must feel like an eternity of environmentally unfriendly gas grilling.

TST: Today we welcome Taija Morgan, author of “Gold Digger”, a thought-provoking tale of why your Last Will and Testament should always contain a few surprises, from our latest Purgatorio Tower’s book Terrace V: Penitent’s Gold. Taija, please tell us a little about yourself in exactly thirty-five words.

Taija: Hi everyone, I’m Taija Morgan. I’m an editor and a horror/thriller/suspense author. Not much to say about myself besides that I love the horror genre. I like to travel and read constantly. High-key ultra introvert.

TST: We love high-key ultra introverts – we should start a club! Oh… right… Maybe it can online. With no video. Anyways… let’s get right to the greedy guts of it. What does Avarice mean to you? Is it inherently a bad thing? How does that play into your story of excessive desire found in this glitzy volume?

Taija: Avarice… Well, this was a fun, challenging topic to write on for this story. As an author, I love sinking my teeth into some hot rage and seething desperation, but I didn’t have a lot to draw from for greed initially. For me, avarice isn’t quite synonymous with greed but rather expands on the standard definition of greed as “I want it all” to become “Not only do I want it all, but I specifically don’t want you to have any of it, just because I say so.” It’s a malicious, calculating, vindictive energy. So, of course, perfect for horror. 

Inherently bad? I don’t think anything is inherently bad, just inherently human. It all depends on how far you take something and in which direction. Avarice can also be something like healthy ambition taken to an ugly extreme. But I love ugly extremes, so that’s what I tried to capture with my own short story in this collection. In Gold Digger, we see a woman struggling with unprocessed grief and a broken heart, and her response to those difficult emotions is to do some pretty stupid, dangerous, gross, and wildly inappropriate things—all in an attempt to hold on to something she’s lost while simultaneously holding on to her self-image as someone who doesn’t care about what she lost, even as it tears her apart.

TST: Good. Bad. Here in the Towers it’s all about the gold, right? So, confession booth: Tell us about a time (real, embellished, or completed fabricated) that you (or, y’know, a friend) desperately desired something and went to unexpected lengths to acquire it.

Taija: *waves vaguely to the current global political climate* I can’t beat that, sorry. The closest example of real, true avarice that I can think of off the top of my head might be that story about Tonya Harding, the figure skater, who disfigured her competitor in order to secure her position as figure-skating top dog. I remember that being on the news when I was a kid. If that’s not a messed-up, super-dark manifestation of avarice, I don’t know what is.

TST: Figure skating is a goddamn vicious sport, I think we can all agree on that. Though Christmas shopping is a close second.

Can you see any of your characters popping up again in other stories?

Taija: Hard to say, since they don’t all make it… But maybe some could!

TST: From beyond the grave! Literally!! Now’s the time to show off. Give us a sentence (or short paragraph) from your story that you feel knocked it out of the cemetery.

Taija: Okay, here’s a line that really cracked me up when I wrote it:

Sterling is wearing an Armani suit, simple lines, a casual “sure, I’m grieving, but I have to catch the next flight to Ibiza with the boys” vibe that Jennifer doesn’t hate.

TST: Horror is all about the fashion—we’ll keep saying that until everyone believes.

Can you tell us a little about how you came up with this story or your creative process?

Taija: Absolutely. I spent ages trying to think of something to fit this theme, and I knew I wanted to center it in some way around a funeral. Funerals provide a really fertile space for people to be on their absolute worst behaviour. People you’d think are the sweetest and calmest in the world can go absolutely rabid with greed at a funeral or just while grieving in general. So I thought, hey, let’s put the “fun” back in “funeral” for this story! From there I crafted some particularly detestable characters to play with and then let them take the reins on the plot. I did do a ton of research for this short story just to be able to convincingly talk about things like fashion and embalming. There are some crazy expensive dresses out there!

TST: You certainly put the fun back into funeral. Such a fabulous story. So, what’s next for you? Any forthcoming releases, hatchings, or germinations we should be on the lookout for? Or, any recent grim delights you’d love to flog?

Taija: Sure! I’ve got another story released Oct 27 in Prairie Witch by Prairie Soul Press that I’m excited about—there’s a haunted train track and a witch, so it’s a lot of fun. And between now and winter I’m expecting the release of two other anthologies, Bad Spirits and Rabbit Hole V, in which I have a short story as well. Hoping to get some novels out in the world next year too, so if you love disturbing horror/thrillers/suspense, you can follow my latest releases by joining my newsletter at www.TaijaMorgan.com or following me across any social media platform. Here’s a list of the most relevant: www.goodreads.com/taija_morgan | www.linkedin.com/in/taija-morgan | www.facebook.com/TaijaMorganAuthor | https://www.instagram.com/taijamorgan/

TST: Thanks Taija! And folks, don’t forget to check out Terrace V: Penitent’s Gold, available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca and under whatever rocks and tiny libraries you might find stray books.

About the Author:

Taija Morgan is a professional fiction editor with short stories and non-fiction articles published in various anthologies and magazines, such as Opal Writers’ Magazine, the Aurora-nominated Prairie Gothic anthology (2020) and Prairie Witch anthology (2022) from Prairie Soul Press, Tales to Terrify’s horror podcast, and When Words Collide’s In Places Between anthology (2019). She has bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology that contribute realism and insight to her dark, twisted fiction.