The second week of life-without-internet-at-home is drawing to a close, but I’ve managed to eek out a blog post in the midst of preoccupying myself with plotting Book II and yoga and the dreaded day job. Meghan, a friend and equally strange lady who has a deep-rooted love of the weird and bizarre, tagged me to participate in this Liebster thing. As I understand it, this gives me the opportunity to revel in a little bit of narcissism and talk about my work.
Since I haven’t dipped into full-blown promo for Wake the Dead yet, feel free to think of the following as teasers for the main event.
Liebster Tag: 11 Questions and Random Facts about Yours Truly
1) What was the worst story you’ve ever written?
Sometimes you think you’re going to do good things with a prompt, but the story veers off and after all your setup, you run out of room to wrap things up the way you wanted. I produced a short story called “The Crooked Tree” a couple of years back about three siblings who return to the motherland to bury their grandfather. Their parents are too busy, so they go off exploring, and the eldest dares the middle child to scale the wall of the local cemetery where granddad will be laid to rest. It ended up being more hype than horror — my initial plan was to explore the origins of this tree that grew at the cemetery’s centre, as it grew out of the ground at an odd angle. I thought that there might’ve been something forcing it up from the roots, trying to get out. It didn’t quite work out how I wanted.
Frankly, nothing under ninety thousand words works out the way I want.
I’ve since stuck to novels; there’s more room to play.
2) If you could cast anyone as your favourite main character, who would you choose?
Let’s talk about Eden Pearce from Wake the Dead for a second, because she’s presently my pride and joy protagonist: Eden gives no fucks. She’s a disenfranchised, disruptive teenager on the cusp of adulthood who’s been displaced by a distant father to a city that she can’t stand. With a pocketful of misdemeanours, she’s utterly determined to get the hell out of London and back to New York, whatever it takes, whatever the cost. She’s rejected privilege and she can’t stand the private system. She’s steel-toed boots and smudged eyeliner and safety pins in her stockings. She’s the hoody under her uniform jacket. She’s the doodles on her bare thighs when her skirt rides up. She holds herself together even while everything around her seems to fall apart.
Ksenia Solo. Punk rock and oblivion.
3) If you could no longer write in your favourite genre, which genre would you switch to?
Horror is my bread and butter. I’m of the opinion that without the dark stuff to balance things out, I’m left with fluff, so this is a tough one. (Not that there’s anything wrong with fluff — I’ve learned I can indeed write fluff, and romance, and some pretty good porn, but it doesn’t hold my interest long.) I’d probably vote on urban fantasy, but I’d feel a lot of remorse if I couldn’t wallow in the gore. Following that, historical fiction would probably be my next avenue of exploration, but even then I’d veer towards the gothic.
Because cemeteries and castles.
4) Do you ever act out scenes to make sure you get them just right?
I will deliberately take public transportation to nowhere while listening to music and replay scenes again and again in my head until I understand their nuances, but I’ve never acted things out.
I can’t force choke anyone, unfortunately. Regrettably, I lack the telekenesis.
5) Have you ever been caught talking out loud to a character?
If no one hears you, does it mean it never happened?
6) If you could be your favourite character, who would you be?
Of those I’ve created? None of them. I suffer with them sympathetically enough.
Anyone else’s universe: I’d be Death of the Endless. Neil Gaiman, baby. (Also a character that doesn’t die; I kill my darlings.)
7) What are your top five songs for your current book?
I’m finishing off the plotting for Wake the Dead’s sequel, and I do indeed have a couple of playlists set up:
- Cadaverous / Kai Wachi
- We’re Alive / Stitched Up Heart
- The Haunting / The Misfits
- Take the Sun Away / Pretty Lights
- The Long Way Home / The Birthday Massacre
8) What would you do if you could hang out with any of your characters?
Tea and hard liquor with Cicero. He’s a bit of a lush, but having been around for a few thousand years, I sorta see why: he was around the see the library of Alexandria burn. I’d love to hear his stories; to explore his book collection.
9) Which non-standard word do you use most often?
Does that count? I guess in the context that I use it, it’s treated like a noun, but it has a nice mouthfeel and it smashes together both light and dark elements. Death and hope of a persistent spirit following the inevitable.
10) What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to research for a book?
I went through a phase where all I was reading was forensic texts. I’m currently going through a chunk on demonology and ritual magic (and inevitably, Crowley keeps coming up), but I don’t think that really classifies as weird at all. That’s tame, you know? For the stuff I write, I think really bizarre would be cheerleading pyramid formations or something.
11) Based on your search history, would you potentially be arrested?
What search history? I erase that thing daily. (No evidence. No crime.)
Eleven Random Facts About Me
- If I stave off writing too long, I start getting night terrors. Not delicate little nightmares, but full-on auditory and sensory hallucinations. My imagination gets the better of me and sends my sleeping brain into overdrive and it manifests as things that wake me up in the middle of the night with a tickle at the back of my neck or a shove in the shoulder. Just awful, but also great motivation to show up and do the work.
- I’m terrified of flying insects. Even butterflies. Especially butterflies.
- I will abandon a book if it’s written poorly and it doesn’t seem like its going to redeem itself. I will not, however, give the book away. I still can’t bear to part with it even if I can’t finish it. I have a lot of books, but I get a real sense of embitterment when I look at my bookshelf and see something that disappointed me.
- I keep several photos of my dead pets around my apartment. The pets were alive at the time the photos were taken. (Sheesh, people…) It’s as close to an ancestral shrine as I can get, but people always ask about the two shih tzus.
- I have DeQuervain’s tendonosis in my right thumb, and tennis elbow in my left arm. Both suck pretty hard, and physio could only do so much. I started doing yoga aggressively to self-correct these minor ouchies before they could turn into full-blown problems that might impact my work. Since I’m a graphic designer by profession, I spent a lot of time hunched up in front of my computer and using a mouse. It doesn’t help.
- I have a long-standing fascination with mortuary traditions, cemeteries, ritual action, and commemoration of the dead. I’ve taken classes on it. In another life, I imagine myself as a Funeral Director. I’m sure it’d be an undertaking (pun), but it’d be well within my niche interests. I’m not particularly bothered by the dead, but I do have a problem with blood: seeing it, smelling it, thinking about it makes me faint. Forget embalming or dissection. I’d rather write about it instead.
- I vape, and I advocate for e-cigarettes over analogs. I’m definitely invested in mod culture. (Currently running a Plume Veil built at .6 ohms on an authentic Hanamod with a DNA 40 chip at a comfortable 30 watts. If you can decipher this, we should chat.)
- I’m a traveller, an adventurer, a wanderer, and I visit places because of how people have described them in books. I fell in love with New Orleans because of Anne Rice, and London because of Neil Gaiman.
- For the longest time, I thought I had an “accidental” satanic symbol tattooed on my body. The alchemical symbol for brimstone (sulfur/leviathan cross) sits at the base of my spine. I didn’t know at the time that the mark was appropriated by Anton LeVey and the Church of Satan. While I’m not a Satanist myself, I still find it funny that in the process of inking the three alchemical humours, I wound up with this thing that’s basically a symbolic representation of… the fires of hell? Thanks, Anton. (I later found out that, “This glyph is often referred to incorrectly as the ‘pontifical cross of Satan’ by Christian tract writers, due to its adoption as an emblem of Satanism by Anton LaVey in the 1960s. The emblem has no history as a symbol of Satanism outside of LaVey’s usage, and the attribution is most likely a product of anti-Catholic sentiment, as it is often compared in this context to the Catholic Pontifical Cross.”) It is, however, a representation I use for Wake the Dead, and the first leg of Eden’s journey. There definitely is an alchemical element to the book as well.
- I do own a typewriter, but my MacBook Pro is an extension of myself. It’s customized to the teeth and such an integral part of my life that the three backups I keep of my data is absolutely warranted. I name all my devices. This computer is called Katherina, after Shakespeare’s character. (I had problems with an iMac I named Ophelia. I’m pretty sure it was trying to kill itself.)
- I’ve tried both pantsing and plotting, and the more I write, the more I realize that half the effort is keeping a tight hold on structure. I wish I had better memory, but I swear, spreadsheets are saving my life right now while trying to dig into Book II.
I nominate all the contributors at the Midnight Society:
- What is your favourite thing about writing horror?
- Tell us about your writing process.
- Where does your inspiration come from?
- Do you ever scare yourself? How do you break past the wall and dig deeper?
- What’s your biggest fear?
- If you could summarize your writing style, how would you describe it? Paint us a picture.
- What’s your recent most favourite sentence from a book?
- What was the first horror novel you read and loved?
- Describe your writing ritual.
- If you could hang out with your favourite character for an evening, who would it be and what would you do?
- What’s your big dream as an author?