Well, according to my mom, when I was five I used to painstakingly make books out of typing/copier paper, writing the stories in pencil and illustrating them as well. I don’t remember much of that, but I do know I’ve been an avid storyteller for a long time. As a kid, “pretend” was my favorite game; I remember spending hours making up elaborate plots and characters to populate my play-world.
I didn’t start writing right away though. I got terribly frustrated and gave it up because it never turned out the way I envisioned it. I pursued music instead–coming from a musical family, it was easier to express myself through an instrument than anything else. I continued to dream though. Tried writing again. Gave it up. I did that several times. It wasn’t until I took a creative writing class as an elective in college that I ‘found’ the key to unlock my skills, so to speak. I found I could write something, finish it, and that it turned out much closer to my original vision. From that moment on, I was hooked! I thank my professor every day for the help she gave me, and for the encouragement to pursue writing as a career.
What type of books did you read as a child? Were you a precocious reader?
Oh, I read practically everything I could get my hands on. My preferred genre was speculative fiction though, sci-fi and fantasy. I’d read six books a week if I could get my hands on them. I was always friends with the local librarian. She challenged me to read more, read harder books. I think I often surprised her with my reading material.
When did your fascination with horror and the paranormal begin?
Well, my fascination with the paranormal began in high school. As a dreamer, I’m always wondering what is beyond, both physically–like alien worlds–but also mentally/spiritually. I think it was my exposure to Poe in eighth grade. The way he depicted the shadowy elements of our existence, the mirrored landscape. It intrigued me. Still does. What dark and murky things lie within the recesses of the mind, hmm?
Of course, I do have my limits. I can’t stand slasher-type, bloodbath horror. I get nauseous! A little bit of gore, well, I can deal with that–I’m a rancher’s wife and an avid sportsman, I see that sort of stuff often enough. But the horror that’s over the top, well…. That’s another story. It does make it interesting as a writer, however. Sometimes my characters demand I deal with the sorts of things I have a hard time dealing with personally. But then again, when I’m writing, it’s a little different. I’m detached. My character is the one talking, I just have to grit my teeth and scribe.
Tell us a little about your short story, “Darkness Cornered,” and where it is available for purchase.
“Darkness Cornered” is the story of a man and a woman who are different but who have found common ground in their feelings for one another. It’s also the story of a man cornered by his traits–in this case, mutation. He has to find a way around himself, essentially, in order to confront the prejudice, the single-minded crimes being committed in the name of science.
It’s currently available through Fictionwise (http://www.fictionwise.com/), strangely, under the mystery/crime heading. Then again, Lear is a detective, and he is dealing with crime…. Ok, maybe it isn’t so strange. Anyhow, the story runs about $2.00, less if you’re a fictionwise club member.
You also have a fantasy novella coming up soon. Tell us a bit about that.
It’s called “Prophet’s Choice,” and tells the story of a girl caught in the middle of a war-torn country. She has certain abilities that make the leaders of her country think she is one of their legendary Prophets–a savior figure. She doesn’t think she is–her abilities drain her strength whenever she uses them. In all, it’s a story that questions belief, faith, and the deeds people do in times of desperate measures.
I worked on “Prophet’s Choice” on and off for about three years. It started out as a novel, but I felt the novella form suited its nature much better. The shorter form gave it some pop, and I’m pleased with the result.
Do you outline your stories beforehand, or are you more of a stream-of-consciousness writer?
It really depends on the story. Some of them, usually my longer ones, demand an outline. My current project, another fantasy novella, insisted I outline. “Prophet’s Choice,” however, did not. It really depends.
What author(s) do you admire in the horror genre? Why? Do you think some famous horror authors out there are overrated?
In the horror genre, definitely Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King. Both have completely mastered the art of suspense, of telling the reader just what they need to know and when. The art of withholding information until the crucial point. Yep, they’ve got it. It’s a balancing act.
As for authors that are overrated, I think that’s just part of the business. If the “right” people like your stuff, you’re going to get a lot of hype, regardless if your craft is down, or not, or whether the general public is really impressed. Then, of course, you’ve got different kinds of readers out there too. You’ve got the ones who are looking for a romp, those who are looking for some deep, literary thing, those who are looking for escapism. Then there are those who are looking for craft pointers, those who are looking to be critics. It really depends on who you’re talking to.
What goes on in the mind of a horror author as opposed, let’s say, to a romance author?
Well, if you’re going by the stereotypical romance book, I’d say that your average, run-of-the-mill romance author doesn’t take into account action. Rather, don’t go looking for a realistic fight sequence in a romance book (then again, why would you? The focus of the reader is different). Romance writers focus more on the relationship between their main characters. That’s their focus.
A horror writer, fantasy writer, suspense, what-have-you, are focused more on details. If that gun only holds eight bullets, you can’t have your man shooting and shooting and shooting without reloading. Objects have significance. If they appear in the story early on, there’s a reason behind it. That sort of thing. Other types of genre writers take the nitty gritty details into account. That’s how they craft complex stories.
I understand you’re also an accomplished musician since you were a little girl. Do you still play music? Do you use music as a tool to unleash your creativity? Any particular piece you listened to while writing your horror story, “Darkness Cornered”?
Yes, I still play music although not on as regular a basis as I once did. At the moment, I’m taking a break. I pushed it real hard when I got my minor in Music–the same time as my English degree–and I’m just relaxing, playing for fun when I feel like it.
As for using music as a tool, yes! I can’t function without music. Music helps me write, it helps me think. Sometimes it even helps me connect with my characters. When I wrote “Darkness Cornered,” I listened to a lot of Coldplay, “Parachutes” and “A Rush of Blood to the Head.” Their music is very fluid, very lyrical. It’s easy to concentrate to, the lyrics aren’t overpowering.
Do you have a blog or a website where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Yes. My website is located at: http://catharsys.wordpress.com/ It’s a blog/portfolio. I encourage discussion! I love comments and e-mail. (smiles) Please, don’t be shy–stop on by and say hello.