Why writing? What drew you to it? Why do you continue?
Writing has always been, generally speaking, an easier way for me to try and communicate what I think and feel. I was a pretty shy girl growing up, and as socially awkward girls often do, I had a harder time articulating what I felt aloud and often felt embarrassed when I did. Notes to boys were easier than standing and having a conversation with them. Written reports were easier to write than giving oral presentations. Anything was better than having to put a ‘voice’ to my opinions, thoughts, or feelings, but give me a paper and pen, and I’d be off like a rocket inking out ten pages.
I was also very into reading, so it felt pretty natural to me to think, “Oh, I’ll be an author when I grow up.” In many respects, the idea that I’d be an author and get to tell all my own stories was one I always believed that I would achieve and be able to make money doing. Little did I realize…it’s harder than it looks to make money doing something you love.
A high school guidance counselor came to me once and asked what my plans were after school, and I told him, “I’m going to be a writer”. When he advised me that maybe I should seek other alternatives in the meantime, I shook him off. I believed so strongly that it wouldn’t take me long to do what I wanted to do that I didn’t need the advice. I’m not sorry that I believed in myself enough to not listen to him, but these days, I’m a little more sorry that I didn’t consider college as a more viable option. It’s taken me longer than expected to become published, and I could have used a degree in a steady career path in the meantime.
If you were freezing to death and the only thing left to burn were the books in your library, what 5 books would you burn last? (And yes, everything else burnable has been burnt.)
This answer might surprise you. These books made a marked impact on me growing up- I always loved the horror genre, but I wasn’t always just reading horror. Horror for horror’s sake never really hooked me the way other genres did, even though I devoured novel after novel of creepy, gory, fun. I’m sure I could list an arm-length list of books I would never want to burn but I’m digging deep here and really trying to feel for those 5 books… I read everything, as a reader should, so don’t be shocked… (subject to change if someone asks me again in 6 months)
Knight in Shining Armor – Jude Deveraux
Remembrance – Jude Deveraux
Honest Illusions – Nora Roberts
Lightning – Dean R. Koontz
Summer of Night – Dan Simmons
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done (in life or in writing (your choice))?
To date, the most challenging writing thing has been to complete my finished manuscript for Cryptic. I had a pretty good handle on how short stories flowed for me, but upon undertaking a longer project, I found it was much more challenging to get to the finish line. While I was always excited about the concept of my story, the longer I worked on it- the more I would question certain aspects of it. Which at times did help make the story that much better but it was also a maddening experience trying to sort it all out. Somewhere along the way the final word count for Cryptic truly felt as if it was about 50k words longer than it actually was. It makes me smile a bit when I read people saying they wanted to read more of Cryptic and wished it’d been longer because at the time, it truly felt like a full length novel by the time I was finished with it. “What do you mean it wasn’t 100,000 words? It sure felt like it!”
What’s one word or phrase that drives you nuts? Why?
I’m always afraid to answer this question because sometimes when you say it aloud, you see the word EVERYWHERE you go. Intentionally used or not. And if I tell you, Rebecca, I have a feeling you’ll use it to torment me…
(RS: My guess is that word is “erinaceous.” As I have my own quirkish phrases to hate, and I understand their irksomeness, I typically don’t use them as torture devices…barring extenuating circumstances. )
Do you have a favorite character you’ve created? If so, who is it and why?
I don’t really have a favorite yet.
Creepiest place you’ve ever been? Has it appeared in your fiction? Why or Why not?
I have to admit that I haven’t been to too many creepy places, but it’s funny that you ask that. Just recently, I had this flashback to one of the flash fiction pieces I wrote. I was walking into a ladies rest room, and fluorescent lights lined the tops of the stalls. On the far left end, the light was burned out, and the stall was dark beneath it- for the entire day. Every time I went in there, I would think of my story “Warm Damp Places” (in Monster Gallery) because a similar scenario (with worse consequences) happened to Ms. Torres in the showers. Of course, I laughed at myself over it, but it crossed my mind and seemed at least a little creepy.
What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?
The best rejection I’ve ever received was from May December Publications. Upon reading my submission for a short story casting call, they turned around and asked me to submit to them a novella length title instead, because the story had more potential than in short form. I was absolutely ecstatic with that rejection. That’s how Cryptic was born.
How did you get that scar?
A makeshift horseshoe post. Way back, my cousin Trisha and I were horsing around in the backyard doing all kinds of dumb things. For some reason, we chose to jump over horseshoe posts that had been pounded into the ground. They were made out of rusted old, closed-off pipes. As we were taking turns jumping, my pant leg got caught on one of the pipes, and my leg slid down the length of it. The makeshift head of the pole was unforgiving. Needless to say, it took quite a gouge out below my knee, and I needed to go to the hospital for shots and stitches. It was horrible.
What song would precede your entrance into a room if we all had personal soundtracks?
I honestly don’t know which song that I would like enough, for long enough, to choose one that might “define” my personality. I tend to like a song, play the heck out of it, and then only listen to it sporadically after that because I’ve played it to death. Maybe some peppy instrumental piece from violinist Lindsey Stirling, but that’s only because lately I’m really into her music. Ask me in two months and I might have a different answer simply because I’m in a difference place in my life at that time.
Promote yourself and/or your writing
I have a lot of great short stories out there that I put a lot of work into, to try and make the reader not feel as though they are short stories. I hope that I do my job well enough so that my readers are suitably entertained and feel the same way. “Homicidal Rage” in Wake the Witch, an alternate Ancient Egypt alien short in Before Plan 9, “Cranial Rewire” in Hell Hath No Fury, and my first short story ever accepted “Zombie Bites: The Old Dead” in First Time Dead 2. I have a great little gore-fest in the April 2012 edition e-Zine by Sirens Call Publications called “Ripper” that I had a great time with, too. To date, my longest, is Cryptic. I am in the process of writing several new stories that I can’t wait for the opportunity to share.
Any final thoughts before you run screaming for your life?
Never give up your dream. It may have taken me longer than I thought to accomplish mine, but I have to tell you that once I got there, it was worth all the time I put into it. It’s an investment in yourself more than for anyone else, and it’s a heartening experience to have. I’ve had so much love, encouragement, and support over the years that it’s been truly a wonderful journey that I wouldn’t give back for the world. My boyfriend Kristopher’s rock steady encouragement and enthusiasm, my family’s support, all the great friends that I’ve made at every step of the process, and the wonderful advice I’ve received humbles me.
Getting there is never really easy and it does take a lot of hard work, trust, dedication, motivation, and persistence, but really- there is no other kind of pride that makes you value yourself quite as much as accomplishing your dream come true for the first time. It’s truly an amazing feeling (after the exhaustion wears off). I hope you all get a chance to know what that feels like and that you treasure it for the rest of your life.
Get dream hunting guys, shoot for the moon.
Thank you, Ms. Chaney, for taking the time to visit the tank and answer a few questions. Remember, folks, the word is “erinaceous.”