1. Name one horror author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.
I would have to say I admire Stephen King. I’ve enjoyed reading some of his novels, and there are more on my TBR pile. He has earned my admiration as an author for a few reasons.
I was never a big reader growing up; in truth, reading and writing were a struggle for me. Big books intimidated me, so it’s kind of funny that it was reading one of Stephen King’s tomes that helped me overcome this challenge, The Green Mile (still one of my all-time favorite novels). The reason I was able to read this 800+ novel is that when I started it, I didn’t know. When it came out in 1996, it was a serial novel. I picked up book one that was around 100 pages and read it; then, I grabbed the next until I read the entire story. These books were a huge milestone for me as a reader because this was the first book I devoured, and I haven’t stopped since.
His book, On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft, was one of the earliest craft books I read, and it helped me realize that everyone struggles and doubts their writing. His first novel, Carrie, almost wasn’t published because he had thrown it away, thinking it was a terrible novel, thankful his wife Tabby saved it. He had his doubts, struggles, and life that interfered with his writing, but he stuck with it.
This story is encouraging to know that everyone struggles, even the king of horror, so it’s not just me. Lastly, he has had an amazing career, published several novels, seen and contributed to his work being turned into movies; he achieved what most of us are told is impossible. He reached success without a magical fortune teller prophesying that he would succeed where others have failed, that he was one of the few chosen authors, so go forth and write. No, he faced the same naysayers we all do; he didn’t listen to them, and he never gave up. He remained dedicated to his dream of becoming an author until he did the impossible. His story proves that it can happen, and it demonstrates that it’s not easy for anyone.
2. What author did you dislike at first but grew into?
I don’t really have an author that I disliked then became a fan, at least not yet. I am a person who will put down a book if it’s not for me. I very rarely finish a book that I’m not enjoying. With that said, I do have a book that when I started it, I almost put it down, and now I’m glad I didn’t. Ancillary Justice is a fantastic science fiction novel, and I realized that at about the halfway point of the story. I personally go for very linear narratives, and that is why I struggled with this novel at first.
3. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot?
Oh, this one is easy, a cat; they are my mascot to my life, not just my writing. Plus, cats are the best. The reason cats make such a great mascot for my writing is that they fit my creative process. Cats spend a good amount of their time alone, so do I, as I write. They enjoy chaos, and when things are too neat, you can count on a cat to knock everything to the floor, and this is my philosophy when it comes to storytelling; when things are going to smoothly for my characters that’s when I’ll knock their world off its axis.
4. What kind of research do you do before beginning a book?
There are two major parts to my research that start before I begin the book and continue as I write and revise.
Part one is internal. I examine the premise of my story and ask some basic questions. How does the world need to function for this premise to work? I always build the world around the story that I’m telling in the beginning. Later in my process, the story and world feed off each other.
Part two is external, and some of it takes place right before I start writing, based on what I need to know about the situation my characters are facing on page one. I do some research on the possible science behind the magic system I’m creating, I figure out how this would alter their world, and then finally I start my story bible because I’m not clever enough to remember all the rules that I will eventually create as I go.
5. Have you been published? Describe your outlook on the industry.
“If I Shall Wake” will be my first debut story [in Denver Horror Collective’s upcoming anthology, Terror at 5280′.] Briefly, my outlook on the industry is a love/hate relationship with the publishing world.
I like the romanticized idea of gatekeepers and that if we keep sending stories out, those magical days will come when the gatekeepers accept our stories to be published, validating us as real authors. The gatekeepers help us become better writers even after we are accepted. They give us advice or encourage us to revise our story to become even better. When we get those acceptance letters, it strokes our shriveled up little egos that yes, we can succeed. On the other hand, that is time-consuming. It takes time away from writing to research places to send a story; besides, it is difficult to predict who might want to buy my story based off their back issues, guidelines, or reading lists. Also, I want to write the stories I enjoy, not write to a submission call, or try to predict what type of story will be successful.
Then there is self-publishing, which I’ve been considering because it gives complete control over to the author, which as an author, I think it is great. However, there is a cost in the form of lost potential. What I mean by loss of potential is that stories grow with feedback, their worlds become sharper, and their characters deeper. Through feedback, we gain better stories to share with the world. This cost is usually not noticeable, and there are ways to compensate for it; however, it is there. Some ways to overcome this is finding an amazing writing group, find readers willing to tell you about what worked or didn’t work for them. To pay someone who is experienced to do a thorough content edit, copy edit, then a proofreader, and then there is the formatting of the story and cover art; this can get expensive. Yikes.
6. Name six of your favorite horror movies or books.
A lot of my favorite horror movies are the ones I grew up watching in the 80s. My top picks for this time-period are A Nightmare on Elm Street, Poltergeist, The Blob, Pumpkinhead, Fright Night, and The Lost Boys. There are a lot of great horror movies that came out then and I watched most of them. z
Yes, my parents let me watch horror movies, and no, that is not why I have disturbed voices in my head demanding that I write their stories; my siblings also watched these horror movies, and they don’t have the drive to write, yet.