Kate was harsh, ripped the story to shreds. I was upset, not so much by the critique, but by some of the comments. BUT, Kate was right. I went and took some grammar and editing courses (thanks Kate) and it has cleaned up my writing considerably. Gerunds....frickin hate them. Regardless, Kate taught me something important. No matter how good you think you are, you always have something to learn when it comes to writing.
I will never forget this moment for two reasons: Broke into the US, and the experience with Kate. Brings a tear to me eye.....
When did you start writing horror?
I started writing fiction in 1995 or so. Before that I was a visual artist. When I moved from Rochester NY to LA I left painting behind. I wanted to tell more of the story than painting would allow. Except for a few attempts at non-fiction everything I’ve written has some element of horror.
Have you written in any other genre?
I’ve used other words to describe my writing. Thriller, dark fantasy or urban fantasy comes to mind, but these are just code words for horror. The word “horror” has some tarnish on it from the glut of mediocre books published at the end of the 80s horror boom and the idea in the general reader’s mind that horror equals gore. The situation has improved in the last few years as horror has become more diverse. I suspect we’re on the verge of a new golden age of horror.
What makes you uncomfortable?
I think it would probably be easier to answer what doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I hate ladders and stairs and hugging and waiting my turn, and just plain waiting, and trains, the desert, the dark, driving, parking, the way people in crowds move just like rats escaping a sewer, hair in drains, crows, hats on beds… I could go on but you get the idea.
Does your family read your work?
My husband is always my first reader. He is great at finding plot holes and logical inconsistencies. Other family members can read the stories when they’re finished, but I don’t want to know about it.
Does your writing make you uneasy?
Not everything I write makes me uneasy, but the best parts do. Whenever I feel like I’ve put something too personal into the story I know I’ve onto something good.
Who would you say you write like?
I think I’ve been writing long enough that my influences don’t show as much as they once did. My early writing was influenced by Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love and Truck. And to some extent by Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn/Cancer.
Who are your favourite authors?
This could be a really long list so to narrow it down I’ll just mention a few favorites recently. I love Swamplandia and the short story collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell. Russell is truly masterful at crafting place and character. The First Bad Man by Miranda July is a stunning book with characters unlike any I’ve ever encountered in fiction. Fatal Journeys a collection by Lucy Taylor. The horror in these stories is made so much scarier by the author’s ability to transport the reader to foreign settings so well described they feel familiar, Malediction by Lisa Morton, has wonderfully vivid details about historical Los Angeles in this tense thriller. Mr. Wicker by Maria Alexander delves into a fascinating and original mythology. I recommend them all.
Who influences you as a writer?
Lately I’m finding that my work as an editor has changed the way I write. Working with talented authors as I do at Omnium Gatherum, I get an inside perspective on why and how others craft stories.
Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?
When I was 12 or so I borrowed my mother’s copy of The Exorcist and read it under the covers with a flashlight. That was the scariest book I’ve ever read. I was absolutely sure the bed was lifting up off the floor.
How old were you?
Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?
Everything is potential subject matter for stories. I do try to avoid clichés. These tend to be the first idea a writer comes up with, especially when writing quickly. When I’m writing, I’ll solve a plot problem or give a character an attribute then I’ll flip it around and ask what if the opposite happens? Sometimes that’s interesting. Sometimes it’s not. When it’s not, I’ll make a list of options. This almost always adds a unique twist to plot or character.
What was the best advice you were given as a writer?
I seem to always be the one giving advice for some reason.
If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?
If I had to start over I’d be a scientist. I want to be in the room when computers gain sentience.
How many books do you read a year?
Last year I pledged to read 2 a week and failed. I managed to read 77. This year my goal is one a week. This is still challenging, but it is absolutely crucial to keep up with what’s going on in publishing. I have mixed feelings when I hear writers say they don’t have time to read. On one hand this is sad because they are setting themselves up to fail, like a doctor who doesn’t know all the latest procedures. On other hand they are setting themselves up to fail and that means more readers for me.
Do you write every day?
My new year’s resolution this year was to devote one week a month to writing. It’s early, but so far I really love this idea. I also try to devote several hours a week to writing during the non-writing weeks.