Both Kathy Ptacek and Eunice Magill sent me these questions. I am late. Bad girl.
1) What am I working on?
I am at the editing stage with a weird western and two dark fantasy stories. Getting them ready to send to beta readers. I’m working on a couple of stories, “Blindfolded”, “Gummi Bears”, “The Experiment” and “The Sound Proof Room”. I’m also plotting the novelisation of my short story “Seed” that will be in Cemetery Dance Magazine later this year. But this is all being shoved aside for a novella about a weird underworld that I want to write for a particular market. I’m hoping it turns out well. I wrote another story for the same market, but it ended up at the 4,500 word mark…not nearly enough.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write stories that draw on my own fears, regrets, mistakes. I know a lot of writers do that, so that’s not different. I really like a lot of old-school horror and write more in that direction, rather than being experimental in structure or style. Also not different. The only thing I can think of that’s ‘different’ is my own perspective. I write about the things I care about, that concern me, anger me, freak me out. I try to come at them from a different perspective than my own. I don’t try to write like anyone. When people ask ‘who do you think your writing resembles?’ I don’t have an answer. I’m also trying not to limit myself. No matter how weird an idea, I try it. In fact the weirder the better.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write horror because it’s more personal, intense, emotional. I sometimes blend in some fantasy or scifi, just to mix it up, but ultimately I like to push into the darkest corners of my brain, grab the worst scenario lurking there and run with it.
4) How does my writing process work?
I am trying to write a bit every day. 2 hours minimum. But it’s never enough. Writing time gets eaten up by managing submissions, editing. But my process can be summarized as:
- I get an idea, either from a dream, a ‘what if’ scenario, a character or situation that tickles me, or some memory that tweaks, and then I want to write that more than anything, so other projects get pushed aside. I have a whole slew of stories near completion that have been relegated to the back burner because they weren’t as fascinating as the NEW IDEA. I pick those up again usually when I find some new angle that makes them too exciting to ignore anymore.
- I don’t really outline too much. I write down a list of scenes that I feel the story needs. Really minimal. Sometimes I brainstorm ideas for the direction of a story. This often helps me step away from the ‘logical’ direction of a story into funky new territory. I go back and look at these lists of ideas and add things, circle things I like, transfer ‘keeper’ ideas over to new lists when things start looking messy. I usually have a final scene in mind, but that can change.
- I try not to edit as I go. When I’m writing a scene, if I can’t figure out where to go with it, I call that scene done and move on. During the editing phase, when I look back, I usually realize that scene was done, cut the last sentence or two, and that’s that.
- I try to wait a week (or two) before editing. That’s a tough one for me. I’m pretty excited about a story when it’s done and not ready to leave those characters. I often experience a mourning period where I can’t move on to a new story easily because I want to live with those characters a bit longer.
- Then I edit edit edit…send to beta readers…edit a bit more. I read the stories out loud. I look at paragraphs, sentences, the page, the words.
- Finally I agonize over the title. Sometimes it’s an easy choice…something with “The” like “The Claim” or “The Garden”, other times I have noooo idea.