Wicked Women Wednesday #3

In celebration of my birthday (yes, today) and the month long voting period for the Wicked Women Writers Challenge (click HERE to listen to the stories…then, vote for your favorite by emailing horroraddicts@gmail.com  …  end shameless plug), I’ve conducted a series of interviews with the other participants.  Since there are 4 weeks to vote and there are 13 women taking part in the contest, more than one author will be featured each Wednesday until the first week of October.

This week Julianne Snow (no relation), R.L. Weston, and Sumiko Saulson step up to the plate and take a swing at the questions.  Keep reading to find out tidbits about these interesting women.  How did they get here?  What do they have in common?  Who yawns and who procrastinates and who doesn’t have a microphone?

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Julianne Snow (no relation)

What brought you to the Wicked Women Writers Challenge?

JulianneSnow2What you should be asking me is: why did I wait so long? But in all seriousness, who doesn’t love the idea of a little competition? I didn’t come into the competition thinking I wanted to win, I came in with the desire to achieve the end goal – total domination! Okay, maybe that’s not completely serious but I had fun writing my story and then recording it.

What did you find most challenging in doing the recording of your story?

Reading it without having to cough or yawn. It’s just one of those things. Anytime I need to talk and make it sound good, my body betrays me in one of those two ways.

How do you create your villains?

Honestly, they create themselves from amalgamations of the people who rub me the wrong way at one time or another. While it may only be a private joke, I can look back at some of them with a distinct sense of personal satisfaction. I can say I have yet to cross the line though – I’ve never killed a character I’ve based on an actual person. Yet.

What’s your worst experience with killing a character?

Worst experience? Do you mean in the worst way they died? It would have to be the little girl with blonde pigtails full on running across her yard after getting off of the school bus, her pink backpack bobbing up and down on her back as it slowed her down before she was overrun and devoured by a horde of undead chipmunks. Yes. I did that. And I still get readers who write me just to say how much that scene horrified them and made them want to read more.

What are your thoughts on happy endings in horror stories?

A happy ending is only as good as the perception of it. What might be happy for some, could be hell to another.

If you could have any animal as a pet or familiar, what would you choose?

Rebecca, you’re seriously going to ask me this? After all of the things we’ve been through? I don’t want to talk about it, but if I have to I’d pick the house hippo. Just small enough to be cute, but odd enough to be hip. Shhh… Don’t tell my cats!

Like her on Facebook.  Follow her on Twitter.  Visit her Website.
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R.L. Weston

RLWhat brought you to the Wicked Women Writers Challenge?

I saw a post about the challenge on the HWA Facebook page and decided to give it a try because it looked fun. I also hoped it would kick start me out of a fiction writing dry spell.

What did you find most challenging in doing the recording of your story?

Finishing the recording in four hours. I’m a huge procrastinator. I also really hated, and was intimidated by, parts of my prompt, so I was thinking about chickening out.  I eventually decided that I’d be more upset with myself if I didn’t try than I would be if I wrote something I didn’t like.

I think a lot of the time procrastination goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism. That’s the case with me, anyway. I think if I spend enough time thinking about something I’ll eventually whittle down the perfect way to start it; which is NEVER the case. It’s usually best for me just to start it and fix it as I go, but starting is the hard part.

The quote “I don’t like to write — I like to have written” (attributed to Gloria Steinem, Ernest Hemingway, and Michael Kanin online, anyone who knows the true source, speak up) very much applies to me. There’s nothing like finishing a story.

How do you create your villains?

I don’t really pay much mind to villains. I generally focus on the protagonist and what she is struggling with internally. The villain is there to make the struggle harder for her. That said, I do have one villain I’m rather fond of. He is the antagonist in a wendigo story I’m writing and he is rather cheeky. But I didn’t do much to create him; he just sort of popped into my head as I was contemplating the nature of wendigos.

What’s your worst experience with killing a character? 

I wrote a story once where a kitten got stepped on and died. That is the worst experience to date. I have no problem killing off humans, but it hurt to kill that kitten. I still feel guilty about it. It was necessary for the story to work, but it still sucked.

What are your thoughts on happy endings in horror stories?

I hate happy endings in horror stories. Nothing should be tied up in a neat little bow at the end of a horror story. If the story was truly horrific then the characters are going to have some residual baggage and some unresolved issues to address.

If by “happy” you mean, “well, all my friends are dead and I need to find a hospital to re-attach my thumbs, but the bad guy is dead and I’m safe if I can get to a well-traveled road before nightfall” then, ok, that is an acceptable ending. Happy horror story endings should not resemble happy fairytale endings. I don’t want to see Thumbless sitting in the hospital and reuniting with the love of his life who he now appreciates so much more due to his near-death experience. NO. No no no no no. I will promptly feed your book to my book-eating cat if you do that to me at the end of your story.

If you could have any animal as a pet or familiar, what would you choose?

Ack! This is probably the hardest question of this interview. I’m not sure, but I can say the pet/familiar would probably find me.

My husband calls our house a refugee camp because we have a way of attracting strays. Four cats and two dogs have found their way to our front door in three different locations. The most recent addition is a husky and I think my borador (border collie/lab mix), Sadie, recruited him. He wandered into the yard and she escorted him into the house. Apparently, she’s a canine social worker.

Um, anyway, to get back on topic, I think it would be really cool to have a raven as a pet/familiar. Then again, it would probably outsmart me, so maybe not.

Find her on Facebook.  Follow her on Twitter.
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Sumiko Saulson

Sumiko SaulsonWhat brought you to the Wicked Women Writers Challenge?

Back in February, I started talking to David Watson about African Americans horror writers – he was doing a piece for Black History Month, and I was writing a piece about black women in horror writing for Women in Horror Month and Black History Month. He told me about the Wicked Women Writer’s Challenge. He actually included me in his article, which was great!
What did you find most challenging in doing the recording of your story?
I do not own or have a computer microphone, and at first I was trying to use the webcam and strip the audio. Eventually, I had to borrow my mother’s MacBook and use that to record it. The other challenge was getting it down to ten minutes. I am more used to reading books in person, and of course if someone gives you ten minutes to read, they aren’t going to throw you off the stage if you go a minute or two over. With the challenge, it was a stricter parameter. I spent a lot of time determining what I could cut out to get it to fit.
How do you create your villains?
I usually come up with what I think would be a frightening circumstance, and work backward from that: the nature of the villains is determined by the nature of the evil they represent, so I take a thematic approach. For example, in “Warmth” the central conflict involving the ghouls internal: do they attempt to retain their humanity, decide to declare themselves better than humans, or simply devolve into animalistic, unthinking creatures? The villain is someone who has descended into not only madness, but a more animal-like behavior or morality.
What’s your worst experience with killing a character?
One of my dead characters turns out to have an afterlife in a sequel: dealing with her feelings about being dead, her fears about what lies before her once she relinquishes her position as an earthbound spirit, I find these a lot more heart wrenching than her original death scene. When she died, the reader could project her into whatever afterlife they envisioned, but as an earthbound spirit, we really feel her anxiety and emotional pain, which revolves around her fear of the unknown. I guess that is what a lot of us fear in death: entering into a realm that seems unknowable because in many philosophies, no one has come back from the dead. She has to let go of this fear in order to get past her time in earthly limbo as a revenant.
What are your thoughts on happy endings in horror stories?
I am for them. If all of the endings are tragic, they become fairly predictable. A lot of horror occupies the realm of the tragic, and as such comes to a seemingly inevitable heartbreaking conclusion. I prefer the mystery of endings that could go either way. I have to admit that the reason I am writing a sequel now is because some of my readers felt less comfortable than I did with ending one of my stories in ambiguity: not so much a cliffhanger, as a story that intentionally left a lot of conclusions up to the reader. One reader took that ending as very positive and he hated it. Most of the readers took it as intended, and they just wanted more. One example of a horror novel that ends on positive note is “The Langoliers” by Stephen King. The conclusion is positive for the survivors, but the fate that they escaped is still there, waiting to potentially threaten some other unwitting victims in an unspecified future.
If you could have any animal as a pet or familiar, what would you choose?
I have cats… three cats, a calico, a black and white tuxedo, and a dilute gray torbie. I am perfectly satisfied with them and don’t have any desire for more exotic animal companions. Sometimes I think this is the cats’ house, and my fiance and I just live here because they need someone to serve them dinner until they develop opposable thumbs.
Like her on Facebook.  Follow her on Twitter.  Visit her Website.
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Thank you, ladies, for your enlightening answers.
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