1. At what age did you start writing?
I always answer this question with “seven,” which is approximately right, and as close as I’m going to get since I don’t remember specifically. Maybe as young as six, maybe not until I was eight, somewhere around there. I can remember sitting at the kitchen table, writing and illustrating stories about an anthropomorphic raccoon and squirrel who were detectives/crimefighters, but not exactly how old I was. I can also remember writing a text-only fantasy story about warriors slaying a monster, specifically using the phrase “blood and guts,” which I was so proud of I asked my teacher if I could read it to the class. I’m reasonably sure that was third grade at the latest.
2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?
I feel like speculative fiction was always all around me. Star Wars came out before I turned three, I had a steady supply of superhero comic books as I was learning to read, and my favorite Saturday morning cartoons were things like Space Ghost and Thundarr the Barbarian. It’s probably more apt to say that speculative fiction was my gateway to reading grown-up novels at a young age, to get my fix of alternate world-building, and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien was my entry point.
3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?
It’s a toss-up between The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. In both cases I love the overall sense of humor of the work. They’re written by people who know and love spec-fic, and therefore recognize many of the things inherent to the genre which are fairly ridiculous. So they poke fun at the tropes, not mean-spiritedly, but while embracing them. It’s a neat and highly entertaining trick.
4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?
When I was very young I started writing down the stories in my head just because it felt like the thing to do, but when I was a teenager I became utterly addicted to Stephen King. I had been reading novels by various authors for years, and I thought of short stories as assignments for English class, but King‘s collections like Night Shift and Skeleton Crew made me realize that writers didn’t have to spend years cranking out doorstop epics. That was the point at which I started getting serious about my own short fiction again.
5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?
First drafts are supposed to be terrible, and no story can exist without running that gauntlet. I have heard other writers lament, and know I have felt the pains myself as well, how they start a story and can’t bear to finish it because it isn’t turning out as well as they’d hoped. An unfinished, abandoned story is such a shame. Better to plug away at the first draft and recognize it as one step in the process, finish it, take a breather, and come back to it. Alone or with help, a first draft can be reworked into a second, and ultimately into something worthwhile. It’s not easy, but if it were easy, everyone would do it, right?
6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?
Waiting for feedback, or in some cases having to live without it. In my ideal world, every time I started to write a story it would be because of a pre-existing demand, and every progress update I gave would bring a rapturous response, and once I got the story done I would be spoiled for choice of people with whom I could discuss the results. Instead, a story is written mostly in isolation, submitted blindly, and often as not rejected without comment. If it’s accepted, it still remains unseen for a long time during the production process, and then once it’s unleashed upon the world, it’s extremely unlikely to receive one percent of the attention that its creation took from me. Fortunately I tend to see having a story published at all as its own worthwhile reward, because if I waited for spontaneous praise I’d be in a near-constant state of disappointment.
7. From where did the inspiration for your submission arise?
To name-check the fairy tale that inspired my submission would give away one of the twists it’s built around, so I will coyly avoid specifics here. I will say that the concept of the anthology, not only re-telling fairy tales but mashing them up with other genres, was an inspiration itself, as I decided to take things in a dark science-fiction direction in order to create a rational explanation for the fantastic elements of the original. The original fairy tale is an old favorite of mine, largely because it was never Disney-fied. (I think it was probably adapted by other animation studios, but I never sought those out.) Nothing against the Disney classics, but there’s a lot of appeal in working with less well-covered source material.
8. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart from the others?
My story is largely a one-woman show, so obviously she’s my favorite. I did enjoy writing Melise, given her unique position as essentially a blank slate, not being acted upon by other characters, only reacting to her environment and driven by her internal desire to figure herself out.
9. On what projects are you currently working?
I have a story in the editing process now for the upcoming Pro Se anthology PIRATES AND MONSTERS. I’m also working on the next adventure of Kellan Oakes, private investigator and son of a druid, a sequel to his holiday adventure from the PulpWork Christmas Special 2014, which should be part of the 2015 edition. Lots of other unofficial stuff in the hopper, too. These days I’m never not writing!