Monday, April 29, 2013

Not Another Interview

Sorry to give the post a misleading title and lure you here under false pretenses, but yes, it's another interview. I was tagged in this interview by Nelson W. Pyles. You can check out his own version here.

If you like this, and what follows, you can check out the following blogs next week and see their answers.

Without further ado, here is my own interview, which I know you're just dying for!

* What are you working on right now?
I've just finished my second short story collection with the working title, 'High Heels and Elegies.' After the long editing process on that I figured it was too soon to go right back into editing. So I decided to write a short that will go into the third collection.
At the minute I've taken a teeny hiatus to travel home to Ireland. When I'm settled in here for a few weeks I'm going to go back and edit a novel I finished last November. This was never meant to be a novel, but in fact another short story to go into the second collection. However, when I started to work out the details it just exploded. About 20,000 words into it, ideas for a second and third in the series were already starting to germinate.
I set the first one aside for a while, so I could edit it with fresh eyes. And this, to haul a long story to a short end, is what I'm working on now.

* How does it differ from other works in its genre?
The novel is set back in the late 1800's. The protagonist is a twenty-something innocent whose family has fallen on hard times - Lillian. With the death of her father, the running of the homestead fell to her and her mother. The antagonist... well that would be telling.
We open with a call from her sister, asking her to come to join her because she's getting married. From there on Lillian's world is thrown into confusion.
The story links Christianity with the occult. It's something along the lines of Bram Stoker's Dracula meets The DaVinci Code without the God awful, frustrating cliffhangers (DaVinci code – I haven't a bad word to say about Stoker.)
Rest assured there's not much that sparkles in this novel. And as for happy endings, well, you'll soon see that I'm a hard-hearted cow in that respect. Sex, darkness, the eternal struggle between good and evil, and some nice, old-fashioned chills – that's how it differs from other current works in it's genre.

* What experiences have influenced you?
It's hard to pick 'experiences' as such, but I guess I could pinpoint some specific episodes that inspired this particular work. Stoker's Dracula is by far my favourite book of all times. They just don't make them like that any more, and this pisses me right off. We need to turn this Hollywood crap around, lose the damn sparkles and boo hoo storylines and bring it back to the 'chill down the spine' basics. (I hear the latest fad is zombie love stories, and I'm not entirely sure I want to live in this world any longer.)
Christianity – and all religions as a matter of fact – fascinate me. They inspire such hope, yet at the same time such mania and violence. So rich and colourful, so many hidden truths. And let's face it – Christianity and the occult go hand in hand. We eat up these stories of conspiracy and shady goings-ons behind closed church doors. It was while researching something else that I stumbled upon a connection between the two - a kind of clich├ęd 'aha' moment if you will.
On a broader scale, beyond this one novel, anything influences me. A dream, a random thought that pops out of a conversation, a photo on the web, my past, my hopes for the future, a single fecking word – anything can be turned into a story in my brain. You have been warned.

* Why do you write what you do?
Because I want to, because I love it, and because it grabs me by the throat, penetrates my mind, and forces me to do it. Some things just get under my skin and make me shiver. Many of these things wouldn't be your idea of traditional horror, but to me they are terrifying – horror without the crawlies and tentacled monsters; horror to me sometimes, can be found in the simple monotony of everyday life.
I love reading, with a passion. They say a person who reads lives a thousand lives, well if that's true then a writer lives, breathes, creates a million lives. And that's why I write. Besides, how else am I going to get all this stuff out of my head without being arrested?

* How does your writing process work?
Explaining that could be a novel in itself. Let's make it short and sweet (stop laughing.)
No music, no TV, no people. The idea has usually been in place for a long time. Blank sheet, Google search engine. I layout the story as it's going to go, handwritten, in a flow chart, each scene in a little bubble, flowing to the next. Outside the bubbles will be scenery descriptions or dialogue as they come to me.
Once I know all the players needed, I will pick their names, envision how they look, decide on their personalities and their quirks – do they smoke, have they a twitch etc. After that we've got to work on the place and setting - more research, more names, more quirks; sometimes maps.
Then, and only then, will I start to type. I make it sound so easy don't I!

* What is the hardest part about writing?
Finding the time to do it. Even when I have free time it seems there's something that crops up to thwart any notions I have of writing unimpeded for hours on end. There is always something, sometimes it can even be my own mind. I may be all set to write, no interruptions planned for a long time, but the mind just refuses to work. On those days every word is like extracting a gallstone, and suddenly chores like cleaning, shopping, alphabetising your trash, flossing the cat for example, become the most alluring tasks you've ever had ahead of you.
If any other career was as impossible on some days as writing is, I'd have given up a long time ago. That's why I know it's the only one for me.

* What would you like to try as a writer that you haven't yet?
A story in second person. I haven't done that yet, haven't got an idea, but I'm sure I'll get to it. The thing with writing is you're constantly learning, constantly hearing of different forms of writing. It could be as simple as stumbling across something you hadn't heard of before and thinking 'I gotta write about that.' Or, in my case, thinking 'spiders scare the shite out of me, I gotta do a story.'
But then there's also things like writing in the second person, which is basically unheard of really, and which many publishers wouldn't even look at. That sounds like a challenge to me – I know I can do this, and do this good.
Recently I stumbled upon a competition to write a story back to front – I'm all over that, says I. And another competition to create a drabble – a story of one hundred words maximum – yup, like a leper's lesions, says I.
I love challenges, and this gig has no shortage of them.

* Who are the authors you most admire?
Oh dear. As we say at home, you've went and gone and done it now.
I'm guessing, at this stage, it won't surprise you if I say Bram Stoker. Well, I do. And to read his biography is mildly heartbreaking. I've read some of his other stuff beyond 'Dracula,' and it's great. But in essence 'Dracula' was his nemesis. It made him, and it broke him. Basically anything he wrote afterwards was reviewed as 'it was good, but it wasn't Dracula.' After 'Dracula' nothing was truly recognised, and that's a terrible, terrible shame.
Next up – Daphne du Maurier. For a woman, writing in her time, she really nailed it, bless her. It was basically unheard of for women writers back then to tackle what she did, but she did it and did it well. This 'women writer' prejudice still exists, believe it or not. Now it's not intentional, it's a subconscious bias, and these are hard to break. I want to break it like she did.
J.K Rowling – against all odds. Poe – you could almost taste his soul in his writing. Hemmingway – in my eyes his best works were the ones with fewest words; the impact has never lessened. Steinbeck – classic, easy reading that will blow your mind. I could go on all night...

* Who are new authors to watch out for?
Okay, you've went and gone and done it!
Suzanne Robb. This girl writes faster than I can breathe, and I've been called prolific. But she doesn't churn out junk. This is good stuff and I would have no qualms recommending her.
Brian Dobbins. I should check this statement for innuendos, but what the hell, he blew me away.
Darren Gallagher – he's struggled, he's succeeded. He's worth it.
Adrian Chamberlin – in the words of Nike, Just Do It. When it comes to writing, this guy has eyes in the back of his head.
Last but not least – me? Sniffle.

* What scares you?
Questions like these!
I don't know. This is a personal question. I could do the usuals – spiders, heights, mild claustrophobia, and, anyone who knows me wouldn't believe it, but shyness. These are all very real and scary but I'm sure any number of people could say the same.
What really scares me? Being alone. I don't mean this in the conventional 'I don't want to grow to be an old spinster' terms – which I reckon I'm fated for – but worse for me is finding that person and losing them to wherever we go after we're done here. Same with my sisters, my family, my best friends. To be the last one, to have known this depth of love, friendship and companionship, and then to be without... I can't even begin to consider that level of fear.
End it with a bunch of bright flowers eh? On a lighter note – with writing I think that even if I'm in that position I can create one of those million lives I mentioned before and live in there. Hmmmmm, material for another interview I wonder?

There you have it. Hope you enjoyed reading. And never fear, I'm sure there will be another one along soon.

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