How it works: Answer the questions, should you accept the challenge, then tag three other authors you admire.
What are you working on right now?
I’m in between drafts of my World-Mart prequel, which I hope to have fully edited in the next few months. I’ve received letters and reviews from readers asking if I might revisit the story in the form of a sequel, but I decided against it because of the way World-Mart ends. When something one of my sisters said sparked an idea for a prequel, I jumped on it.
What experiences have influenced you?
I’ve led a difficult but bizarre life, and I think just about every chapter of it has had some kind of influence on my writing. The most influential aspects have likely come from my young adulthood, in which I made many naïve mistakes, experienced personal events too unreal to put in any book, and lived for many years in poverty. You’ll notice most of my characters are victims of extraordinary circumstances, and many of them are among the working class.
College also had a big influence on my writing. Reading and analyzing such a wide variety of works had a tremendous impact on the way I viewed literature.
Why do you write what you do?
Most of my works are dark speculative fiction, and this is a reflection of my need to express my thoughts and feelings about the darker aspects of life. It’s my way of making sense of the world and sharing the hopes and fears that come along with it.
How does your writing process work?
I typically begin with a theme, which quickly morphs into vague bits of a storyline. From there, I brainstorm characters and important plot points, which I use as a skeleton for the story. When I write, I’m basically filling in that skeleton—giving it a heart and a brain and a bit of muscle—and holding it all together with an interweaving of connective tissue. The fine details come on their own, often surprising me when I write them.
What is the hardest part about writing?
In the past, my biggest issue was with time management. Either I had one difficulty or another keeping me away from the computer or I engaged in what I call “binge writing”—which entailed me writing until I dropped, forgetting to eat, and foregoing sleep because I could not bring myself to stop. I once wrote a novel in three weeks.
More recently, health issues have gotten in the way of my being able to write as often and long as I’d like. What used to take me hours now takes days or weeks, which can be frustrating.
What would you like to try as a writer that you haven't yet?
I’d love to write a traditional murder mystery. I’ve made a few attempts, and they’ve always transformed into paranormal thrillers.
Who are the authors you most admire?
Among the living, I admire Stephen King for being the only horror author capable of giving me goose bumps, Louise Erdrich for being so inspirational through her fiction, and Shirley Rousseau Murphy for making the murder mystery genre so fun and lighthearted. Among those no longer among us, Kurt Vonnegut, H.G. Wells, George Orwell, Roald Dahl, Isaac Asimov, and Virginia Woolf are the first to come to mind.
Who are new authors to watch out for?
There are so many good ones making their mark right now, I hate to write a list in fear of missing any of them. Among those I’ve personally discovered over the past few years (a couple of whom I know are veterans but are worth mentioning) are Trent Zelazny, Lori Lopez, Jaime Johnesee, Michael Meeske, Dana Fredsti, Jeffrey Kosh, Joseph Nassise, A. Ray Norsworthy, Bryan Hall, Robert S. Wilson, Billie Sue Mosiman, and Rob M. Miller. There are many other names I’ve heard a good deal of buzz about, but I just haven’t had a chance yet to check out their work, and I’m sure I’m leaving out at least a few up-and-coming greats; again, these are the first to come off the top of my head….
What scares you?
I’m afraid of a few things, but I’ll focus on the biggie for the purposes of this post. People scare the hell out of me. They’re so unpredictable. So many people are afraid of snakes, rats, or spiders, but you always know what to expect when encountering any of them. There are human beings out there who are capable of so many terrible, senseless, evil acts—people who can charm the pants off you one minute and have a knife in your back in the next. I’ve known a few of them. They’re the real monsters.
And now, since I was told I have to tag three victims in this blog posting frenzy, I tag:
Billie Sue Mosiman