Category Archives: Artist Interviews

Angela Slatter—Award-winning Fantasy Author

I became familiar with Angela through her short story collections, which I believe are brilliant. Then I found her on Facebook and she is super nice. So, after fangirling like crazy, I asked her for an interview, and a new favorite author of mine is on my little blog. If you love speculative fiction, fairytales (think Grimm, not Disney), and suspenseful horror, read Angela Slatter’s work, which can be find on her website, Goodreads, and Amazon (links below). She launches now Restoration, the third book in her urban fantasy series starring Verity Fassbinder.

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations abstract and material, and strategies, techniques, nuances, secrets, or magic spells. How does this differ for creating a novel versus short stories?

I always need to have an image or a line or a character…sometimes I don’t know what the story is going to be, but I do have a really strong image or action in mind, so I’ll start writing from there. I don’t “push” at it, just let the words roll out and give me some idea of what might be happening with this character or in this place, or the consequences of this act. Sometimes I know exactly what will happen in the story, and I’ll just write the whole thing in a day or twoalas, that’s pretty rare!

I have a bunch of notebooks I scribble ideas into, also post-its, and occasionally cocktail napkins with rambling notations slightly smudged by whiskey. I have a desktop in the office, but I also carry the laptop around the house; sometimes I write by the pool; sometimes I sit in front of the television, ignore the program, and just write (but those are times when I kind of want “white noise”). Sometimes I write to music, but that’s generally if a project’s been inspired by song lyrics or a tune.

When I’m writing a novel, there’s a lot more planning required—I have a spreadsheet that I use to get myself to the turning points in the story. They’re always just suggestions (like the Pirates’ Code), but they give me goalposts to write towards, and they can and generally do change depending on how the story progresses. Short stories—I always just have a rough idea of a three act structure, but I don’t worry too much about that in the first draft—I just brainvomit it out, and then the editing phase is where everything gets made “pretty” and logical.

Alas, I have no magical spells, but I do have some figurines on my desk that are my guardians: one Roman centurion, an elephant, the Goddess Bast, and a faun’s head. Plus, pinned over my desk are poems and sayings that are meaningful to me, a photo of my mum and I when I was about one, and a card from my mentee…so I guess those are my objects of comfort that I like to have around when I write.

 

 

Walk me through the publishing process from final draft to final product, including publishing team and what you do to market your books as the author. What is the difference in publishing a short story collection?

Well, collections such as Winter Children and Other Chilling Tales and A Feast of Sorrows, and the new (as yet unannounced) Best Stories of Angela Slatter, have generally come together when I’ve got a body of stories that have been published only once, and I write a couple more new unpublished ones, then I approach a nice small press and see if they’re interested. So far I’ve been very lucky.

With Sourdough and Other Stories and The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, they are both mostly new stories with a couple of reprints in them. I was lucky enough to have had Tartarus Press pick up two stories for their Strange Tales anthologies, so when I finished putting Sourdough together, I approached Rosalie Parker to see if she and Ray were interested in the collection; fortunately they were! Same thing with Bitterwood, and they are waiting very patiently for the third mosaic in the series, The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales.

With The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, the publisher at Ticonderoga approached me to see if I’d like to put together a mostly reprint collection. That came out about a week after Sourdough. The other two collections that I’ve written, Midnight and Moonshine and The Female Factory with Lisa L. Hannett, came about because we had been throwing around Norse-inflicted stories for M&M and had approached Ticonderoga about publishing that collection; The Female Factory came about because the editor at Twelfth Planet Press asked if we’d contribute to her Twelve Planets mini-collection series.

Basically, because I made my name with short stories at the start of my career, and some won awards, I was in a position where publishers often approached me.

Novels are different— if you’re working with a large publishing house; it helps if you’ve got an agent to make representations on your behalf. I was fortunate that Jo Fletcher of Jo Fletcher Books had already published some of my short fiction in anthologies by Stephen Jones. She knew what I could do and was interested to see how my writing translated to longer form, and she waited patiently to find out! I’m fortunate in her as an editor, as she’s got such a broad range of experience and knowledge, so she generally gets what I’m trying to do and suggests the best ways forward.

Describe your support system—online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

My family are always there for me, whether it’s to listen to me cry, or to listen to good news. My friend Lisa L. Hannett always has the pompoms out, and my beta readers Peter M. Ball and Alan Baxter are great sounding boards. And Kathleen Jennings, my frequent illustrator, is also a terrific person to talk to as she’s very calm. My housemates and their dogs look after me, and make sure I’m fed and watered regularly, and other friends make sure I leave the house at regular intervals, so I remember how to put on trousers the right way and talk to other human beings!

 

I’ve also got a fantastic group of readers and reviewers who seem to enjoy what I do, and on the difficult days, it can really help just to find a sweet tweet about how much they’re enjoying one of my books, especially the days when I decide I’m a terrible writer and decide to sit under the desk, rocking back and forth, and eating a packet of TimTams.

 

 

 

How does your life influence your work and vice versa, and how do speculative elements drive your stories? I love your short stories’ unique connections to fairytales and Grimm-esque ambience. What draws you to the darkness?

I was at the Bendigo Writers Festival this weekend just gone and that question about darkness came up a lot! My mother used to read me fairy tales, and they were the proper old Grimm ones, so they made a lasting impression. And my father was a police officer, and he used to leave his police journals around, which had reports of murder investigations and autopsy photos in them, and as I was a voracious reader from a young age, I saw a lot of interesting things! I have always been obsessed with true crime, and reading crime novels is what I do as a “break” from my usual genres. But I read it so much I think that it bleeds through into everything I write, subtly or otherwise.

 

I’m fascinated by things that go bump in the night, things that we don’t expect and can’t explain…I guess I’m just the sort of person who’s going to take the darker path in the woods (but I am also smart enough to pack a very sharp axe)…

 

What do you love most about your creativity?

I love that I can escape from whatever is going on in the world that’s bothering me, for a while at least. It gives me a bit of respite where I can sort things out, take a breather, and work out some solutions rather than feeling panicked or pressured all the time. I love that I get to create worlds, that I am making stories other people are loving. I especially love that I get to be part of a long line of fairy talers, that I have had stories handed on to me—I will re-work them to my own tastes, and then I’ll pass them on to someone new, who will continue to pass them on and transform them. That makes me happy.

 

Connect with Angela and purchase books:

Kimberly Brock—Award-winning Author, Literacy Educator, and Founder of Tinderbox Writers Retreat

 

I met Kimberly through Bloom, the Facebook group for Tall Poppy writers and their readers. If you’re looking for reading material, this author collective has writers of many genres and styles. Since I love speculative fiction, I asked Kimberly for an interview and she graciously agreed to share a little peek into the magic that is writing. Enjoy! And join Bloom if you’d love to a part of a community of stories and supportive human beings.

 

Describe your writing process—schedule, environment, inspirations—and everything you do as an author beyond writing.

Almost always, I start with a place, because setting is so important in my writing, and a problem. I love the peculiar or unexplained. Outliers and underdogs are always my favorite characters and often a voice comes to me with a line or two of dialogue or narrative that will send me off to learn that person’s story. In fiction and in real life, I can’t stand not knowing why. I’m a bloodhound for the whole story.

In terms of my writing day, I’m not a morning person, so I usually work during the late morning and through lunch while my kids are in school. When I’m drafting a story, I can write through the day without realizing the hours have passed. I love research and I have to be careful I don’t get lost in it. I often go through many drafts of a novel before I find the real heart of what I’m trying to say and that means it takes me quite a while to complete a book. Luckily, I have an agent who encourages me to dig deep and likes being part of my process.

When I’m not writing–and trust me, I’m always writing–I spend my time with my family. I have three children–a daughter who is entering college this fall, a son who is a rising senior in high school, and a second son who is entering fifth grade. We have two dogs–a cairn terrier and a rescue dachshund. My husband and I love to cook and travel, and our favorite spots to visit are Savannah, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina, and the occasional trip to the Pacific Northwest, where we lived early in our marriage. We’ve been to France a few times and lately we’ve been talking a lot about Cornwall and Wales. Maybe someday!

Walk me through the publishing process from final draft to final product, everyone involved, and what you do yourself to promote your new books.

I think my experience in publishing is pretty typical. I spent many years at work on multiple manuscripts, submitting queries to agents and entering contests. I was very lucky to sign with an agent, but I sold my first novel on my own to a small press and it was a lovely experience. My editor and I and a copy editor worked together to get the book in the best shape possible before it went to press.

After the novel was in the world, I went to work making use of all the networking I’d done over the years prior to publishing–relationships I fostered with generous book bloggers and fellow writers–and I sought out every way I could find to put the book in front of as many readers as possible. The novel won the Georgia Author of the Year award, and I went on a book tour across the southeastern US and visited as many independent bookstores as I could. They are the fairy godmothers of authors and readers!

You are a member of the Tall Poppies author collective. Tell me how that happened and about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

A few years ago, Orly Konig invited me to lead a workshop for the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association’s first retreat. Over that weekend, I learned about the Tall Poppies from author Kathryn Craft and got excited about the group. I had lunch with Amy Impellizerri before we left the airport and I absolutely adored her, too. I was delighted when they invited me to be a part of this inspiring group of women authors. They are absolutely my support system online AND IRL!

Patti Callahan Henry and Amy Nathan have been longtime supporters and friends. Outside of Poppies, Allison Law, Joshilyn Jackson, Sally Kilpatrick, Nicki Salcedo, Heather Bell Adams, Gina Heron, Reta Hampton, Shari Smith, Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon have encouraged me so much along the way. Emily Carpenter and MJ Pullen know where all the bodies are buried. There are so many more! I know I’m leaving so many people out.

The short stories on your website evoke your Southern Gothic style; they are a wonderful introduction to your writing. How does your life influence your art—and vice versa, and how did speculative elements find their way into your storytelling?

Thanks! The short stories are like little treats for myself that I hope readers enjoy. In them, I allow myself to just play with the magical elements that I love in my favorite stories. My novels aren’t so heavy with magical elements, although they are most definitely present. I love the inexplicable.

I think my world view comes through in my writing and my choice to always force characters to examine what they think they believe and especially what they are willing to accept without concrete evidence. I like to challenge black and white ideas and I’m interested in what exists in the gray areas. I grew up and have lived most of my adult life in the South where ghosts and spirits, religion and superstition are a part of everyday conversation. I’m a very intuitive person. I think I could hardly write anything else.

What do you love most about your creativity?

Over the years, I’ve heard so many writers lament a loss of creativity in their lives. I don’t adhere to that idea. I believe that people are inherently creative by nature. Like any other natural ability, we have to be healthy in other areas of our lives in order to function at our best and creativity is no different. There are months when my creativity seems dormant, but it’s easy to know why if I look at other areas of my life–my physical or psychological health.

The most amazing thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that the answer to reviving my creativity is engaging in creativity. It’s self-healing. The more I allow myself to be freely creative, the more my physical and psychological health also improve. If I neglect my creativity, everything else goes downhill with it. It’s imperative for a full life.

I started the Tinderbox Writers Workshops, which led to an annual retreat, based on these ideas and my own experiences. Every year, writers meet on the South Carolina coast for a week of inspiration, friendship, writing and transformation. It’s one of my favorite things and truly the most rewarding part of my writing journey.

FORTUNE’S KEY. I contributed a short story to a new collection this February. The best part – all proceeds of the ebook sales for the anthology A CUP OF LOVE, go to First Book, a children’s literacy charity. ONLY $2.99! Give a little love, get a little love! And I’d love to know what you think of Phoebe and Henry!

Connect with Kimberly:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Amazon

Bookbub

 

Sullivan Suad—Comic Artist

 

 

I met Sullivan through a writerly Facebook friend who hires him to illustrate his stories. His work is fantastic, so I asked him for an interview. He graciously agreed, and here I can share his work with you and offer a peek behind the scenes at his artistic process.

 

 

Describe your artistic process—schedule, materials, studio, and inspirations.

Let’s start with inspiration—my inspiration comes from everything I’ve read that I’ve seen and lived. It comes from all that. The comic gave me everything, gave me my work, gave my culture, gave the taste for reading; the comic led me to like various things. Although my family did not encourage me much, the first time I won a comic, I found it fascinating. I thought, “This is what I want to do.” While other kids said they wanted to be doctors, lawyers, or football players, I said I wanted to work for Marvel drawing Spider-Man. HAHAHA!!! My studio is my bedroom. Here I work and develop everything. The materials I use are conventional—I am still learning to adapt to the use of technologies. The creative process comes when the script itself arrives; you read and begin to internalize the scenes. So I do. I imagine it and play it all on paper soon.

 

Tell me about your support system, online and in real life.

I can say that who supports me in my work, both in real life and online, is my teammate Zilson Costa. It has been a few years since we started an excellent partnership, and this has paid us good results. Our production chain begins when the client sends us the script, and it comes to me that I make only the pencil sketch. After I do the drawing, I send it to Zilson, who puts in the ink.

 

How do you obtain clients, and is all your work specific to clients?

I already have some specific clients, others are by indication. But I am always divulging my portfolio to get new jobs.

How does your life influence your art and vice versa?

I counted on the influence of several friends, also comic book fans–who were an incentive for me to gradually learn everything as a self-taught artist. The inspiration came from Marvel and DC Comics.

 

What do you love most about your creativity?

It may seem heresy on my part, but I love my profession, because it is like playing a little god. You create, give a life to a character, and lead a whole universe of possibilities—it is something incredible. I wanted to finish here and leave a positive message about all this: Never stop studying, the market is always changing and you need to update. If you do not practice every day, you will surely miss an opportunity for someone who practices every day. As for the financial part, those who work with comics can earn as well as any other professional in another area. It only depends on it, not only as a drawer, but as a person who knows how to take advantage of the opportunities; after all if you follow a career for the status of that money always, there would not be so many lawyers changing branches. The beginning is always complicated, no matter the area or profession. You will grate, you will work double, and you will receive little. But if you sneak in and keep on evolving your work, believe me—there’s never going to be a lack of opportunity and money can be interesting.

 

Connect with Sullivan

Facebook

Google+

Goodreads Author page

 

Zilson Costa—Freelance Comic Artist and Illustrator

I met Zilson Costa through an author Facebook friend, who hires him as an illustrator. I’d asked about the work, because it’s so bold and detailed, almost jumping from the page. Fortunately, Zilson agreed to an interview, so here are his words and his work:

 

 

 

Carolina Daemonic 2 Back Cover Suad n- Zilson

 

Describe your artistic process. When do you draw? What materials do you use? Do you have a dedicated studio? What are your inspirations?

I draw every day. I do this since childhood, but since 2012, I work as a comics professional in Brazil and the United States. I use pencil, paper, and my interactive pen tablet display to make inks and colors. I do this in my own studio, in my house. My main inspirations are the comics of John Buscema, Jack Kirby and the dynamism of the 90’s.

 

Through what avenues do you obtain commercial work?

Most of the work I do is through e-mails and social media networks, when I contact authors and vice versa.

Also, I create my own characters. I publish my own comics with the characters Skull-Man and Brazilian Legion of Super-Heroes, and in August, I will publish the comics inspired by my own band, Evil Machines.

 

Sharkman by Suád n- Zilson

 

 

Tell me about your support system, online and in real life. Who are your biggest cheerleaders?

In fact, my wife and friends have always supported me in my work.

 

 

 

childrencover-2

 

How does your life influence your art and vice versa?

I try to put in my work what I like. I like harmony, clarity and try to pass this on in my work. But I also really like superheroes. My art influences my life when I teach drawing techniques to my elementary school students and I see them growing as people. This is very rewarding.

 

 

Brutal Bazaar Cover colors

 

 

What do you love most about your creativity?

Like drawing, coloring, composing songs, playing my guitar… A lot of stuff.

 

 

 

 

Links and Bio:

Website

About Zilson

Facebook

 

Zilson Costa has been a comic book author since 1996, a founding member of the RHQ Factor group. Born in São Luís, Maranhão, Brazil, he created the character Skull-Man and his entire universe based on experiences and people from school age. He works as a comic book professional since 2012 for American publishers, webcomics, and Brazilian authors. His first work for the US market was the story “The Origin of Shazrath” by the publisher Argo Comics. He holds an academic degree in Plastic Arts from the Federal University of Maranhão and teaches the art discipline at municipal schools in São Luís and São José de Ribamar. He is also a guitar player and founding member of the heavy metal band Evil Machines.

Paula D. Ashe—Educator and Writer

 

 

I met Paula through a writerly friend on Facebook. One story of hers and I’m hooked. She graciously agreed to an interview. As a horror fan, I’m delighted to share her work.

 

 

Describe your writing process: schedule, medium, environment, strategies / techniques, and inspirations mental, emotional, and material.

So, I used to be one of those writers who thought she had the luxury of waiting until she was in a certain setting, in a certain mood, with the certainty of uninterrupted hours available, before she could write anything. Then that writer never wrote anything, so now I write whenever I can, provided I’m mentally able to do so. My most recent short story publication was “Exile in Extremis” in the anthology Visions from the Void by Burdizzo Books. I wrote the bulk of the first draft of that story on my phone.

I wish I could tell you I have a schedule, I really do. I will someday.

It’s sweet that you think I have strategies and techniques. I mean, I’m sure I have them, I just am not self-reflective enough as a writer to know what they are.

Inspirations are abundant. I never run out of story ideas, I run out of the energy to tell them. I tend to write about the worst of humanity so, never a paucity of material, you know? Emotionally, I’m inspired by real-life stories that make me hurt. And like any sensitive/damaged person, I experience a pleasurable frisson from exploring that pain. So…a story like “All the Hellish Cruelties of Heaven,” which is about an immortal witch who falls in love with a serial killer (the story is much cooler than I’m making it sound), gave me the chance to play around with figuring out why people—or at least I—have such a fascination with humans who wantonly destroy other humans. It also gave me the opportunity to incrementally articulate the belief system / mythology that has been pocketed in most of my fiction without much fanfare.

Talk me through the publishing process from final draft to final product and selling—who’s involved, what they do, and how much you contribute, especially to marketing.

So the process is basically like this (a flowchart would work exceptionally well here):

– An editor invites me to sub something.

– I review the guidelines, especially the deadline, because I am the slowest writer on planet Earth.

– I scan my ‘stories in progress’ folder, to see if there’s anything I’m working in that fits the anthology’s theme. Rarely do things match up.

– I cogitate.

– I write. I’m sure this is supposed to be more exciting, but it’s just not. But it’s also the most exciting part.

– I inevitably miss the deadline because I’m me.

– I ask for an extension and am usually granted one (read: several).

– I submit the final draft, knowing it’s the final draft only because I’ve prodded that exposed nerve of a tale until it’s a bloodied pulp. All that’s left is the thrill of knowing the story will (likely) go on to intrigue and/or hurt other people. I honestly have no idea why I’m like this and I don’t want to know.

– Rarely, edits are requested. When they are, I generally comply. It’s the only benefit of being the slowest writer on Earth; I tend to do a thorough job of proofreading.

– Publication day! I post about it on social media, predominately Facebook. I’m really terrible at marketing.

– I let the editors ask for reviews because I feel weird asking people to review my work. If they want to read it and review it, they will. This is also why no one knows who I am..????‍♀️

Who’s your support system, online and IRL? Does it shift as you progress from writing to publishing to marketing?

First of all, my wife is amazingly supportive throughout the process. I’m in several FB writing groups that offer support—Colors in Darkness and Ladies of Horror, and individually: Chris Ropes, Brian Barr, Crystal Connor, Suzi Madron, Eden Royce, and Christine Sutton, to name a dear few (I’m forgetting so many people and I’m sorry).

How does your writing influence your life and vice versa? Did this change when you became a mother?

So, I am a maudlin MF (I don’t know if I can curse in this interview…). I have…a multitude of mental illnesses—have had them since adolescence. My worldview is reflective of that. I write terrible stories about terrible people doing terrible things because…that’s how I have (by degrees) experienced the world. Now it’s not all been horrible, but the stuff that lingers…skews towards the dark. So, I love horror. I write horror, I read horror, I watch horror movies, I listen to true horror and true crime podcasts, I listen to dark and violent music (I listen to all sorts of music but there’s a theme here, yeah?).

I am a writer of the ‘nothing is off limits, provided there’s a reason’ variety. I’ve written about childhood sexual abuse, incest, necrophilia (all in one story!), serial killers, hate crimes, infanticide, mutilation, matricide, racism, patricide, ableism, religious cults, genocide, misogyny, xenophobia, etc. However, since my son was born, if I have a story where something…bad…happens to an infant or small child, my brain immediately substitutes him as that infant or small child. So, I have a sequel to “All the Hellish Cruelties of Heaven” in the works titled, “All the Heavenly Mercies of Hell” and something…bad…happens to an infant in that story, and although I’ve had most of the full story in my head for years, I just can’t bring myself to write it.

But I’ll have to.

 

What do you love most about your creativity?

I rarely meet an idea I don’t like. I mean, there are plenty of half-started stories that I’ve abandoned for one reason or another, but there’s always some part of it I can appreciate. For that reason I save everything I write, because it often will work its way into another, more promising tale.

Author Extra: Write a flash fiction piece right now! 50 words, ma’am!

Someday she’ll remember. Now there’s only waiting. For what, she also can’t remember. This dim, cold, aching place has no secrets. Others like her—more patient, smarter—hidden in apartments with devoted lovers. She dosed there in the hall. Alone. Paralyzing pain.

Now she sits. Forgotten and forgetting.

 

Connect with Paula:

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads Author page

Amazon Author page

 

 

A small selection showcasing her talent:

7Magpies anthology

The Witness

Aspects of Emptiness

Katherine Center—New York Times Bestselling Author

I received an ARC of How to Walk Away from the publisher St. Martin’s Press and fell in love with Katherine’s writing. Although never having had to face such a challenge as the main character, I could definitely relate to her constant bewilderment at other people’s actions. After following Katherine’s book tour online, I gathered my courage and asked her for an interview. She graciously stuffed my little blogblogblog into her bursting schedule. I’m excited to share a little insight into the life of this bestselling author. Check out her website (below) and follow her on social media.

Tell me about your writing process, including schedule, environment, and strategies, techniques, and nuances that keep you moving forward in the craft.

I’m just always thinking about stories. Whether I’m working on one of my own, or reading someone else’s, or watching a movie, or reading a news story, or talking to my kids—stories are just kind of the lens that I bring to everything that I do. When I’m not writing, I’m reading fiction, or reading about fiction, or writing about it in a journal. It’s fun for me to take stories apart and figure out what makes them work (or not work). As for schedule, I’m not a person who writes every day. When I have a story going, I write obsessively, but then I take breaks in between to focus on something else and let the well fill back up. I am very chatty and sociable, and I find hanging out with my cute family almost irresistible, so when I have a big deadline, I leave town for several days so I can really concentrate. My mom has a sunny little beach house on Galveston Island in Texas, and I’ll spend four or five quiet days there several times a year so I can get big bursts of writing done. But I think the time when I’m not writing is as important as the time when I am—letting the story “drain,” and letting myself get distance from it, is important, too. My main strategy for getting better—and I am always trying to get better—is to try to get clearer and clearer about what I love in a story, myself, as a reader, and then to get smarter and more skilled at how to do those things for readers when I write. Whenever I read a story that I fall in love with, I try to figure out what I loved about it and teach myself how to do that. I really find, in writing and in life, that it’s best to focus on what you love.

I love your philosophy of resilience, always getting up no matter what happens. This makes me think of Sophie Kinsella’s work, with the feel good, happy, yet realistic and pragmatic, endings. How do you maintain that sense of joy and positivity, and trust in your work—what inspirations do you have in your work environment and in your head?

Humor is a coping mechanism for me, and I’ve always had a wry sense of humor, but I wouldn’t say that I’m naturally sunny, exactly. I’ve had to really work at it. Growing up, I had a strong tendency to focus on everything that was wrong in any situation—usually out of an earnest desire to fix it. I had this idea that we could only be happy if nothing was wrong. But of course, the older you get, the more you realize that you can never fix everything. Things are always going to be wrong—and right—all at the same time. The trick is to learn to savor life’s joys even among all the hardship. It’s never just one or the other. It’s always both at the same time. So the way I embrace joy is hard-won—and very deliberate. And that’s what I do in my stories, as well. I try to put joy on the page. I try to write stories that are infused with pleasure and laughter—even among all the struggles and troubles. In fact, you can’t write about joy without also writing about suffering. You need the contrast. We tend to think of comedy and tragedy as being opposites, but I think they’re two sides of the same coin. They live side by side—in real life and in fiction.

Describe the process of publishing, from final draft to final product, including your publishing team and all your cheerleaders, and all the promotional work you do yourself.

That’s a big question! Honestly, it’s different for every book. For How to Walk Away, my publishing house worked very hard to get the word out. They printed a gorgeous tri-fold brochure and a first chapter sampler. They designed a phenomenal cover that was so eye-catching and totally captured the book’s vibe. Then they printed up Advance Reader Copies (ARCs), which are like a paperback version of the final book, to send to reviewers and book bloggers and Instagrammers. With How to Walk Away, I was very lucky to get some beautiful blurbs for the ARC from many bestselling authors, including Emily Giffin, Nina George, Elinor Lipman, Karen White, Graeme Simsion, Jill Santopolo, Brené Brown, and Jenny Lawson. In the months leading up to pub date, my publicist and marketing team at St. Martin’s Press (The most amazing, fun, hardworking people!! Love them!!) sent out advance copies and worked to get the book out there as much as possible! My part of it has been to say YES to everything! I visit book clubs, chat with readers on Instagram, post on Facebook, answer Q&As, do podcasts, write guest posts. It’s very busy around book launch time—we call it “book season”—but I just go and go, because I want to do everything I possibly can to help my books take flight and find the readers who will love them.

I can imagine that you’re a powerful and inspirational speaker; I’ve enjoyed following you online on your book tour for How to Walk Away. Who arranges your speaking engagements, where do you speak, and what specifically are your speaking topics?

I love to speak! I’m a talker from a long line of talkers, and going up on stage is one of my favorite parts of my job. Sometimes I set up the details of speaking events myself, and sometimes it’s a speaking agent, depending on the kind of event it is! When folks email me, I route them to the right person. I usually talk about some aspect of stories—how they work, why they matter, how they make us better at life. I’ve also spoken about why telling great stories helps businesses, how failure is good for you, and how to learn to look for the good stuff in life. I gave a TEDx Talk this spring about how stories teach us empathy—and why we need to encourage boys to read stories about girls.

How does your life influence your writing, and vice versa, and what do you love most about your creativity?

Creativity is joy for me. I am always happy when I’m making things. And I love to make lots of different things. I love stories and writing, but I’m also very visual. I almost went to art school, and I love making collages, doing hand-lettering, doing embroidery, and painting. I did black and white darkroom photography while I was in grad school for creative writing. In college, I made art books—using art papers and sewing my own bindings. Leave me alone for any amount of time, and I’ll start making things. As for how my life influences my writing and vice-versa, I’d say that both my books and my life exist as a kind of search for joy. Not short-term thrills, but the slow deepening pleasure that comes with understanding and wisdom. My characters are always struggling to learn the same things that I am struggling to learn—what really matters in life and how to savor every disappearing minute.

Connect with Katherine:

Website

How to Walk Away

Facebook

Facebook Author page

Instagram

Twitter

Heather Burch—Bestselling International Author of Contemporary Fiction and YA

First, let me say thank you for having me, Lael! I love visiting with reader friends and new readers who may not know me yet!

Describe your writing process, including subject, schedule, environment, inspirations, and techniques / strategies.

I have an office in my home that is the backdrop for most of my writing. It’s a large space filled with things I love. But I do change up and write outside sometimes or cart my computer to Starbucks. Change is good. As for my schedule and process, I am an early riser so I do my best work in the mornings before the world is awake. I usually write for a few hours, then take a break. Sometimes I go back to the computer; sometimes I get busy with social networking. When I’m working on a book, I try to stay really close to the project—it’s never far from my thoughts and is always working in the back of my brain. I don’t let it totally dominate, but I do allow that creative magic to flow so that it’s there when I need it!

Walk me through your publishing process, from final draft to finished product; include your publishing team, who does what.

I’m always amazed at how many hands are on any particular project. I send the final draft to my editor (each publishing house has their own way of doing things, but these steps are fairly universal). The editor will read, offer suggestions, give feedback, then it’s back to me to decide which elements help make the book stronger and which may not. Round two, she reads again, then passes the project to another editor who will also read—this time for smaller content issues and continuity. A third editor will read for typos and the like. Each editor may go through a manuscript more than once, and the author will tweak with each editorial pass. (By the end, we’ve read our books 6-8 times.)

In the meantime, a creative team is working on items like cover, back jacket copy, marketing strategies.

The author has their hands in each of these processes—which is fascinating! It’s incredible to see your project come to life with so many talented people doing what they are gifted to do!

Italian
Italian
Italian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you get your novels in so many different languages? That is awesome! I want to know step-by-step and who does what for that to happen, and how your work sells in other countries.

I started getting contacted by international publishers when my book, One Lavender Ribbon released. It’s a contemporary story, but has a WWII tie-in, in the form of love letters from a soldier. Well, the book released over the 70th anniversary of D Day, and I think the world really came together over the events of WWII.

Turkish

 

The first time I was contacted, I thought it was a joke. But I sent the email on to my agent and she sent it to my US publisher. Next thing I know, I’m signing a foreign contract. I’m now in about 12 languages—which is just surreal. I sell extremely well in Italy and was named one of the top authors in three Italian cities. Crazy! I’d love to go to Italy and do a book tour! I also sell quite well in Turkey. Fun fact: My book titled In the Light of the Garden is titled The Willow Tree in Turkey. What is fun about that fact? My original title was The Weeping Tree, but the publisher felt like it wasn’t the right title.

Spanish
Slovenian
Serbian
Norwegian

 

German

Tell me how your art (writing) and life influence each other; what other talents do you have?

I spend a lot of time “searching” for the perfect story. Everything that comes into my mind is viewed through a writer lens. There are tiny seeds of ideas lurking everywhere! We just have to look around and notice them.

I love to cook, but I wouldn’t call it a talent. My husband and I love to travel. We spend our leisure time dissecting movies and talking about what could have been done differently to strengthen the story. If the story is perfect, we talk about why.

What do you love most about your creativity, and how does it play into teaching the craft of writing?

Freedom! When you’re writing, you’re free. Free to change the world or create a new world. Free to roam through the tunnels of time and land anywhere you choose. Reading is the same way. When you’re reading, you’re free. One of the strongest points I make when teaching about writing is to never ever, ever lose your childlike wonder. View the world through a different lens, then write it so we can all come along on the journey with you.

 

I’d love to stay in touch. Here are the places you can find me.

Website https://www.heatherburchbooks.com/

I hope you’ll add your name to my newsletter list on my website. There are usually at least one of my books on sale for $1.99, and I give the direct links for those in a monthly newsletter. Also, when you sign up, you can request a link to a free book! It’s a story that was written for Princess Cruise Lines.

Other ways to stay in touch…

https://m.facebook.com/heather.burch.50

https://www.facebook.com/heatherburchbooks

https://twitter.com/heatherburch

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-burch

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4983102.Heather_Burch

https://www.instagram.com/heathereburch/

Lynn Taylor—Professional Photographer and Fine Art Photographer

 

I went to school with Lynn, but we weren’t friends then; I didn’t fit in—she did. She has fond memories of school—me not so much. There’s an adage floating around the internet, attributed to various people, as happens these days, that states—People don’t remember what you did, but they remember how you made them feel. When Lynn sent me a friend request on Facebook, I gladly accepted, remembering her as a quiet, sweet person, and looked forward to getting to know her better. A couple years ago, she started taking pictures for fun and found out that she loved it. So she started her journey to become a professional photographer, and she is well on her way! It’s been exciting to see her grow in this career. I have thought from the beginning that she has natural talent, and I can see the stories expressed in her photos, whether fine art or portraits. She’s already done quite a few projects, a few of which are listed at the end of the interview. She works primarily in her new studio that she shares with a few partners, shooting people for senior photos, weddings, and other events. Sometimes her work takes her outside; she lets her clients lead her. This recent quote tells you how she really feels: Wedding number one for the week is in the books, and I can’t wait for wedding number two this Saturday. Of all the regrets I have in life picking up a camera will never be one. Love my life!

Model: Ashley Hopkins (click name to connect with Ashley!)

First of all, tell me about your journey—what prompted you to move from a 9-5 to a career of creativity? And, would you share pictures of your studio and how you came to it?

I still have my 9-5, but photography takes up the other half of my life.  It started as a hobby, but the more I challenged myself, the more I wanted to learn and turn it into a career.  I love that photography is a field of endless possibilities. It has led me to a lot of new places, and to meeting a lot of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I find it fascinating that several photographers can take a shot of the exact same thing in the exact same light, but each one will have a different result, whether it be because of technique or a different point of view.  It’s a never ending opportunity and challenge. 

Last year, I was fortunate to be asked to share studio space with some friends I met in a photography class. It’s a pretty awesome space in a renovated warehouse in Kansas City’s Historic West Bottoms. I love the rustic feel with the old wood floor and brick wall. The area around the building is also full of potential spots to shoot, so it’s a win-win whether you want to shoot inside or out

Senior portrait: Sue Oneslager

I love that your work tells stories—your clients are smart to choose a photographer with this inherent magical ability. Describe your process: determining location, timing, lighting, angle, etc…also, in your fine art pieces, how you choose your subject matter and understand the composition.

This is a tough question to answer! A lot of it depends on what type of shoot it is and what the client wants. Photographers are always chasing the light, but the golden hour before sunset is by far the best time to shoot. I will help clients pose, but overall I try to catch people as they really are. Sometimes people visibly relax when they get over the stress of knowing I don’t expect them to know how to pose, and I’d rather they feel like they can be themselves. In that sense, I’m a bit of an opportunist. I am constantly shooting during a session, and some of my favorite pictures end up being the ones when I catch a person slightly off guard and completely relaxed. One client told me I had captured her son in the way she had hoped the whole world could see him. That was a huge compliment, and it told me I’m doing something right when it comes to telling the story of who a person truly is.

For me, fine art is a lot of trial and error, but sometimes I see something either while I’m shooting, or when I’m editing, that just pops out as something I could potentially turn into fine art. That’s the short answer, but more often the not that’s the way it happens

Arionna Spletstoser

What is your support system like—online and IRL; how do you connect with other photographers / artists and potential customers

I’ve made a lot of really great connections and friendships through photography classes, workshops, and group shoots. The talent in the Kansas City area is truly amazing, and I’ve been fortunate to meet and work with some of the best of the best, from hair and makeup artists to fellow photographers. One great thing about the circle of friends I have made is that there is no judgment. They are all there willing to support, help and give advice to others.

Facebook has been my way to connect with potential customers. I look back at some of my first pictures my friends raved about, and I feel pretty sure that they were just being kind, but the constant support made me strive to do better. I still feel like I’m struggling when it comes to shooting as well as some of my mentors, but posting images on Facebook has led to senior and family shoots as well as weddings. One client surprised me this year, and made me over the moon happy, when she nominated me for The Best of Lawrence!

Wildlife

How does your art and work and life intertwine?

I don’t get nearly enough sleep. My life consists of work, shooting, and editing. It’s kind of funny that I don’t consider the time I spend shooting and editing as work. It’s my life. It’s my addiction. I’m pretty fortunate that I have found something I love to do that also brings in extra income.

b&w

What do you love most about your creativity?

I see things differently than I used to, and I feel like I have a greater appreciation for light and color. There is always an opportunity, whether it be in nature or with people. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. But the fun is in trying. There is a certain sense of excitement when I watch pictures upload and know I got the shot(s) I was hoping I would get. The very best part, though, is being able to share my work with others. It makes me happy to know a landscape or sunset shot made someone else happy. That feeling is tripled when a client loves the results of a shoot. Picking up a camera, and really learning how to use it, is by far one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

Connect with Lynn:

Facebook: Lynn Taylor Photography

Instagram: LynnTaylorPhotography

Projects

Majestic Car Club

 

99.7 The Point’s Red Fashion Show, in partnership with The Americ

Model: Clara Simkins

Designer: Coral Castillo

MUA: Mitsu Sato Hair Academy Hair: Roseanna Pollina Garrett — with Clara Simkins, Mitsu Sato and Crystal Avena Soria.

Prairie Plowing Days in Concordia, KS

John A. Benigno—Award-Winning Fine Art Photographer

I know John online through a Facebook friend, a fellow author who lives in New Mexico, where John has been working on a photography project. His work intrigues me, so I wanted to ask him more questions about his work, and here we are! Enjoy learning about this fantastic fine art photographer and his projects, outlook on his art, and his artistic process. I’m pleased to share him and his photographs. Please go to his website for a more extensive gallery and contact him for purchase. Links to website and social media follow the interview.

Describe your artistic process: choosing subject matter; determining projects; inspirations; and the nitty-gritty of taking photos—location, timing, angle, light, etc.

I am a Fine Art Photographer. This gives me the freedom to pursue projects that appeal to me without commercial pressures. The downside is that I have had to look elsewhere to make a living. This is not a complaint, but a choice. Over the years, I’ve worked in public relations, marketing, fund raising, and real estate – all of which I have enjoyed thoroughly.

I don’t really choose projects. They seem to choose me. In fact, I don’t really think there is any rhyme or reason as to why I take on a project. The only connecting theme that comes to mind is my curiosity with “place” and how “place” relates to culture.

Perhaps I’m best known for my Adobe Church Project. During my first visit to New Mexico some 15 years ago, I was taken by the absolute beauty of these simple structures, the history they represent, and the important role they play for the communities they serve. I’ve never looked back.

Tea staining these photographs, first in the darkroom, and later replicating this result in Photoshop, is my way of commenting on the connection between the buildings and the natural material from which they are constructed.

Riding the Rails

Riding the Rails is a project that came about by happenstance. Returning home on a commuter train from Philadelphia, I happened to make a photograph of a scene that caught my eye while looking out the window. The train was moving quite fast, and upon inspecting the resulting print, I was fascinated by the sense of motion—the way colors melted into one another. This inspired me to photograph this project in color, rather than my usual black-and-white.

Bicycling through the back roads of Pennsylvania’s Amish Country first inspired my Amish Country Landscape project.  The countryside is so quiet and open—the slow pace allows plenty of time to meet the people and to take in the landscape.  Later, I would return with my camera to make photographs. As many people know, the Amish shy away from being photographed.  In fact, their religion prohibits them from posing.  I’ve always done my best to respect their wishes.  Instead, I look to the landscape to tell their story and to celebrate their way of live.

Laurel Hill Cemetery

My Laurel Hill Cemetery project offers a unique window into the history of Philadelphia and its urbanization during the mid-1800s. The cemetery is a time capsule.  It is not just the remains of our ancestors that are buried there, but a way of life.  Designated as a National Historic Landmark, countless prominent people are buried there.  While names such as Rittenhouse, Widener, and Strawbridge pique local interest, Laurel Hill also appeals to a national audience.  General George Meade and 39 other Civil War generals reside there, as well six Titanic passengers.

Laurel Hill Cemetery is very much a product of the Victorian era.  The monuments and garden reflect the art and architecture of those times.  Who were the people who built them?  What life did they pursue?  I hope that my photographs conjure up these questions and make us wonder what traces we will leave behind.

I don’t really have any theories about location, timing, angle, or light. I pretty much let the subject determine these qualities. I will often photograph a subject many times using different focal length lenses, from different angles, and at different times of day. One of the advantages of “project photography” is getting to know your subject. If the light isn’t right, I’ll return when it is. This does take patience, but the results are well worth it.

Summarize the chronology of your career and its highlights—when did you “feel” that you embodied the “title” of Photographer?

This is more difficult to answer than you might think. I’ve been involved with photography for some 60 years. So, as you can imagine, there are many, many fond memories.

There is the first camera my father bought for me when I was 10 years old. I came down with the whooping cough. My dad thought a camera would cheer me up. Oh, by the way, I still have that camera.

When I was in high school, I was the photographer and photo editor for the yearbook and newspaper. This might not sound like much, but every time I was excused from class to cover an event or game, I felt like a kid playing hooky.

However, on to more serious “art” stuff, as it pertains to my career as a fine art photographer. (See answer to next question for my beginnings as an actor.). It wasn’t until 1992 that I made an effort to take my work seriously and to search opportunities to show.

1992 marked the first time my work was accepted into a juried show, and it was the first time I was awarded a prize for my work.

In 1994, I was asked to show my work in a gallery for the first time. In addition, it was the year I sold my first photograph. And 1996 I have my first showing in a New York City gallery.

White Flowers “Trio”

1998 was the first time one of my photographs was published. “Trio” from my “White Flower” project was published in the “Antietam Review Journal of Creative Writing and Photography.”

1999 marked another first. The Woodmere Museum in Philadelphia accepted one of my photographs for its permanent collection.

The Lancaster Museum of Art invited me to participate in my first museum exhibit in 2001.

In 2002, a photograph was accepted for the annual “High and Dry” exhibition sponsored by Texas Tech University in Lubbock. This was the first time one of my photographs was accepted in a show beyond the local Philadelphia area.

2005 was the first time I received statewide recognition for my work. One of my photographs was accepted into Pennsylvania’s Annual Art of the State Exhibition. Also, 2005 was the first time I was invited to jury a photography exhibit.

Between 2006 and 2009 I participated in many shows, and I was fortunate to have my work awarded many prizes. Then, in 2010, my “San Francisco de Asís IX” photograph was awarded the Plastic Club Silver Medal. The Plastic Club is one of Philadelphia’s oldest and most prestigious art organizations. Perhaps this is the beginning of the “feeling” that I could call myself a fine art photographer.

2012 was a very good year, and the “feeling” that my work was gaining acceptance continued to grow stronger. I had a retrospective show at the Keystone Art & Culture Center in Lancaster, PA. Also, in Lancaster, one of my photographs was selected for the “Permanent Collection on Exhibit” at the Lancaster Museum of Art. In addition, Lisa Hanover, then the Director of the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum at Ursinus College, selected one of my photographs for the “Picture Making: Recent Acquisitions in Photography” exhibit.

Adobe Churches

In 2016, the Luminous Endowment for Photographers awarded my “Adobe Church Project” a grant enabling me to return to New Mexico to continue work on this project. This marks the first grant of my career. In 2017, I was a finalist for a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, but, unfortunately, I was not awarded a grant.

Then, in 2017, Rosemont College awarded me a solo show for my adobe church pictures. This was an amazing experience. I have worked on this project for almost 15 years, and to see the work come together in a single show was the highlight of my career to date.

For me, being a finalist for a Guggenheim Fellow and the solo show at Rosemont finally convinced me that I could truly call myself a fine art photographer.

Tell me about your support system, and explain who and what are involved in connecting you as a professional with those who would purchase your work.

I am going to combine my answer to the above question with my answer to your following question: Elaborate upon your life influencing your art/work and visa versa.

An artist cannot exist without a support system. And, hopefully, yours will begin at an early age, as did mine. Theatre and acting were my first interests. Fortunately, my parents, while hesitant, did support this early dream.

During my teen years, they introduced me to Broadway theatre, and made it possible for me to participate in local theatre productions and to study acting. From there I went on to study theatre and acting in college and graduate school.

My life has had many chapters. As a young actor, I had the support of both my parents and wife. I was fortunate to find work on stage, on TV and in films. However, there came a time to put this world aside.

The next chapter involved working with non-profit organizations. In this way, I did not completely leave the arts behind. I worked in public relations, marketing, fund raising, and special events. All of these positions made use of my photography skills.

(These business skills proved invaluable a few years down the line when I started promoting my work. No one is going to do this for you. I cannot stress enough: learn how to write a press release, learn how to put together a press kit, learn how to approach local newspaper editors, take note of who purchases your work, and learn how to be professional when approaching a gallery director.)

In this small way, I never put down my camera. And, eventually I began to show my personal work. Over the years, I developed associations with local visual arts organizations.

My advancement into the world of the visual arts would not have been possible without the support of these groups. They organized shows for members, provide opportunities to learn about other media, networking, and professional career counseling.

Amish Country Landscapes

Networking was especially important to me. For example, it led to a friendship with fellow artist, Don Patterson. Don introduced me to bicycling through Lancaster County, which lead to my first real photographic project—Amish Country Landscapes.

Over time, the exposure these groups provided led to recognition for and interest in my work.

Again, I must return to the importance of family—this can be blood relations, relations by marriage, or, even, a close-knit group of friends. All I can say is that without the support of my wife, I wouldn’t have lasted in the non-profit world as long as I did. Not only did her income far exceed mine during these years, but she has always been my biggest booster.

While I might hang back, she never did when it came to telling anyone who would listen about my work and accomplishments.

Unfortunately, the non-profit world did not provide the economic stability I needed to continue my personal work. So, I moved on to the next chapter.

This led me to a career in private sector public relations, and, eventually, to real estate sales. Real estate may seem an unlikely path for a fine art photographer, but the opposite proved to be true.

Southwest Landscapes

Real estate is not a nine-to-five desk job. You may have a breakfast appointment and another later in the evening. However, if you manage your time well, there is “free” time for the pursuit of personal projects—photography and volunteer work with arts organizations. And the income made it possible for me to travel to locations to work on projects and to purchase needed equipment.

Most important, the income gave me the freedom to concentrate on developing my career as a fine art photographer. It meant that I could work on projects important to me.

This was the key. My passion for my subject matter began to show in my work. Potential clients saw and appreciated my commitment, which, of course, translated into sales. But more important to me, my work gained greater acceptance within the fine art community, leading to several awards, and eventually a grant from the Luminous Endowment for Photographers.

Before moving on to the next question, I must comment on social media. It’s essential for today’s artist. Yes, it takes a lot of time, and I fully agree with everyone who dislikes the endless nonsense on Facebook. But, using sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr, I have developed relations that lead to sales, exhibit opportunities, and, more important, good friendships with people such as yourself, Lael.

Research is another important component of social media. For example, I’ve development friendships with many artists from New Mexico. Living in Philadelphia, this has proved invaluable. I am most appreciative of their willingness to share information about adobe churches, and to suggest churches that I simply don’t know anything about. It would take me weeks of endless driving through unknown territory to find out a small portion of their local knowledge.

What do you love most about your creativity?

I think the most delightful part of being an artist is that it keeps you in touch with your inner child.

Details

Back many years ago when I was learning how to develop film, that magic moment when an image would appear on a blank piece of white paper never ceased to amaze me. Yes, it’s chemistry, but there is a charm and sense of accomplishment to it akin to what a child must feel when conquering a new experience.

Fortunately, I have never lost this excitement. Even in today’s digital world, there is a sense of youthful pride that comes from seeing the final image appear as you envisioned it. And, this sense of accomplishment grows exponentially from seeing my work exhibited and appreciated by others.

I don’t mean just people buying my art (of course, this is important), but their genuine appreciation puts a bounce to my step.

Travel is, perhaps, the second most important component of my life as an artist. It’s not simply visiting distant locations, but it’s the people you meet along the way.

For example, most of the adobe churches in New Mexico are in extremely remote locations. Even so, inevitably, someone will appear out of nowhere and want to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Sometimes they will chase you away, but I’ve always found that if you are genuine with them, they will listen, and, then tell you their story—and, in most cases, it’s much more interesting than anything I have to say.

They will tell of their childhood memories attending the church, of their friends, their parents, and even suggest churches that I might want to photograph.

Yes, when you come right down to it, fine art is a “belly to belly” business.

By the Sea

Links:

John Benigno website
John Benigno Flickr
John Benigno Instagram
Application to Luminous Endowment
Final report to Luminous Endowment
John Benigno Facebook

David Gibbs—Award-Winning Author and Editor

I met David through Storyteller Magazine, for which he was Editor and I was a mere peon volunteer curator, both of us contributors of short stories. David’s tales live in the darkness—we won’t ask where David lives (his website says Cincinnati; seems dubious)…..

but his writing snatches you and drags you, wide-eyed and speechless, into the stories.

He, however, is a super friendly guy, so I wasn’t nervous about asking him for an interview. Links to connect with David come after the interview; check out his uber-user-friendly, gorgeous website, where anthology after anthology showcase David’s talent. The first book of his YA series “Mad Maggie Dupree” comes out June 26!

Tell me about your writing process, including schedule, environment, and inspirations. I love your blog post about the muse being a romantic notion. If you would, explain as well how you transitioned from this magical mythology to your prosaic philosophy of writing.

Well, as with most writers, my process has evolved over time. I used to like plotting and outlining everything before I even began writing my first word. When I’d get stuck plotting or writing, I’d blame my muse, the fickle little minx that she was. I honestly just thought that’s the way the writing process went. I’d have to wait for this mystical thing to whisper the next line or the key point I’d missed in my work.

That all changed a few years ago. I read about “pantsers” or those writers who didn’t plan anything and just wrote from the hip, so to speak. Honestly, I thought it was ridiculous. How could anyone write without planning, without plotting, without doing the leg work first?

Curious, I decided to give it a try and haven’t looked back. My output increased ten-fold and I enjoyed being surprised by the twists and turns the characters gave me. It’s made the process much more fulfilling.

Thought it may sound daunting to writers who are plotters and planners, I fully understand it. The thing is, now that I’m a “pantser” I don’t need a muse. I write. Period. I don’t have to wait for her to whisper to me. I trust myself as a storyteller and know I will come up with what needs to happen next as I’m writing the story. I no longer have writer’s block, because I merely write myself out of it. It helps me average over 2,000 words a day. Last year alone, I had my biggest output as a writer, finishing with 690,000 thousand words. That equated to eight novels and a dozen short stories.

Writers have to find what works for them, but they also need to be willing to try new things. Whether it’s a new spot in the house, writing at a coffee shop, or changing from pen and paper to a laptop or vice versa. Sometimes just making a small change can spark the most wonderful things.

Remember, writing is a superpower. Take a chance. Write some words. Make some magic.

My husband theorizes that people who suffered challenging childhoods prefer reading / writing horror. It happens to be true in my case. Although writing my debut novel was highly cathartic in healing some of that damage, I still love horror, so perhaps his theory is debatable. What draws you to the darkness?

I’m honestly not sure what’s drawn me to it. I’ve written in many different styles and different genres, but there’s always a touch of creepiness to everything I write.

 

While growing up, I enjoyed reading everything and anything I could my hands on. When we went to the library, in school, I always checked out books on UFO’s, Bigfoot, Loch Ness, Area 51, vampires, and werewolves. But when I read The Shining in middle school it was over. Horror hooked me.

Talk up your support system, from beta readers to reviewers, anyone and everyone who is your cheerleader, online and IRL.

My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of my writing. But I have to say one of the most rewarding parts of being a writer and an editor is the community of friends and colleagues I’ve met along the way. I talk daily with my writing group, made up of fellow writers from the ashes of Storyteller Magazine. I also talk with quite a few writers on Twitter as well. It’s always great to share experiences with other writers and editors.

Describe your publishing process from final draft to final product, from perspectives of self-publishing, and all that entails, and traditional publishing, including your publishing team.

I’ve enjoyed both self-publishing and traditional publishing. They have both been fulfilling and challenging at the same time. Both require a lot of work, but in the end the onus is definitely on the author to make them both as successful as possible.

I’ve found a wonderful home with Clean Reads Publishing, formerly Astraea Publishing. The owner, Stephanie Griffith, has been great. She has an impressive group of editors she works with who are thoughtful and thorough working through both Mad Maggie Dupree manuscripts they’ve accepted. This is my first foray into the middle grade arena and it’s been an awesome experience so far. They have their own art department which has done outstanding work bringing Mad Maggie Dupree to life.

What do you love most about your creativity?

That I can use it to escape at moment’s notice. No matter how good or how bad the day, writing is the gravy that makes it all worthwhile.

Author Extra: Write a flash fiction piece right now! 50 words, mister!

He heard the sound again, sharp and flinty, a bone poking his heart. He stared into the darkness, waiting for the knobby knuckled hand to clutch at his clothes, the chill bone deep. Then grandma appeared, withered and stooped, giving him a goodnight kiss, hands icy, breath from a crypt.

Connect with David:

David J. Gibbs website

David J. Gibbs Twitter

David J. Gibbs Amazon author page