Thursday, May 9, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions - Writer's Edition

The beautiful weather is slowly returning to my part of the world, which means I am taking some time to crawl out of my coffee stained hidey hole in order to catch some fresh air. That also means engaging in conversations with people, usually at the pub, where the question of what I do for a living almost always comes up. I am still pretty sheepish with my "writer" answer, if only because it somehow seems a little pretentious coming from my lips. What usually follows is a series of question that I try to answer as though I have never heard them before. I really don't mind, though, because for the most part people really do seem genuinely interested. Here are the questions, as well as the answers I usually give:

What do you write about? - The answer here is pretty much everything. I make money by writing articles for blogs and websites. I never know what I am going to get asked for next, which actually makes it all a little interesting. Now, if I had my choice, I'd much sooner write short horror fiction, but until someone starts coughing up some real dough for my work, that part of my "career" will have to remain a hobby.

OH!! You write stories, where do you get your ideas? - Most of my ideas start out as dreams or from something that I see or hear when I am out and about. A single little overheard snippet of conversation can get the gears grinding, as does an image that may seem ordinary at first, but which somehow turns into something else in my head. I have long since stopped trying to figure put why my mind does that, as it always has, without offering me any sort of explanation for this seemingly odd behavior.

How do you write? - It is here that I usually start to lose people a little, probably because they like the Hollywood image of a struggling writer hunched over a typewriter, cigarettes piled off to one side and wads of crumpled paper on the other. The truth is, I don't start typing until the story is fully formed in my head. It usually starts out with a series of conversations between the characters, whose words seem to throw paint on the canvas behind them. Oddly enough, most of what I write is very free from character dialogue, but it's their words which paint the scene. Once the story is done, I type. There are very few moments where my hands leave the keyboard, and I am somehow able to fill in little details that weren't in my minds rough. Again, I don't question this process, I simply follow it.

Have you ever been published? - Yes. My first couple of submissions were met with rejection letters that almost made me quit altogether. I then received one from an editor that loved what I had written, but who felt the story wasn't quite suitable for his magazine. I was referred to another publication, where the story was published. That was so long ago that I have even forgotten the name of the magazine, but it's still the best $25 I ever made. I don't send stuff out anymore, choosing instead to either self-publish or just throw some stuff up on my other blog, Pretty Little Dead Things.

Who are your influences? Easy one - Clive Barker. I am in awe of how he can make the grotesque sound so stunningly beautiful.

Who is your biggest fan? - I only have one, I'm afraid to say, but even if there were millions, it would still be my wife Penny. She will not simply blow smoke up my ass and tell me how wonderful I am, choosing instead to point out the things she didn't like or understand in a story. I love that, and I love her.

That's about it. I am sure there are more, but by the time those arrive I am usually well into the beer and simply can;t remember them. If you guys have any questions, please feel free to fire away. You can buy me a beer later.


Drew Brown said...

Great post, John - I love seeing how interesting people tick.

I have a couple more questions, if you don't mind...

1) Do you have set routines to your writing? Like a particular time of day, or do you have silence or music in the background. What goes on around you as you write?

2) In your fiction, do you ever censor yourself? Are there topics/issues you are unwilling to commit to paper?


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