amwriting, Author Interview, Pagham-verse

#WriterlyWiPChat: July Q&A Week 1

Days 1-7

Introduce yourself!

Hello! CMR/Mel – your friendly local Gothic eldritch horror writer. My life is a Gothic Horror bingo card with a bit of creative flair and a lot of soft things. Wander with me through ancient evergreen forests of bone and smoke until you reach the signpost that says ‘Milton Keynes 5 miles’. Then know that we have wandered too far.

WIP Intros! What are you working on?

Here’s a little run down of my current big projects! #AmWriting, Honest!

I have written a short story for submission this month, called ‘The Sound of Darkness’, currently being edited. Thirteenth has gone off to beta readers. I’m re-outlining Real Meat, my werewolf noir thriller, and really enjoying writing Eldritch Girls with Nita Pan. If you’re not familiar with her work, check out her short story ‘Life and Death’ in From Ashes to Magic.

How would you celebrate a big milestone like a book or movie contract?

I’d be pretty pleased. I don’t really celebrate things like this: I might go out for dinner. Not sure I’d tell many people.

It’s BBQ time! What would your MC [Main Character] indulge in?

– Katy Porter has a burger and salad
– Wes Porter goes for the vegetarian option
– Ricky Porter eats the meat patties raw because he hates BBQs, doesn’t want to be there and can’t be bothered to wait
– Sasha Shaw drinks a lot and goes for salad, bun-less sausages and all the dessert options

What holidays factor into your WiP [Work in Progress]?

Thirteenth takes place in January (after New Years) so no holidays.
Eldritch Girls takes place in the Spring of 2016, before the Brighton Wheel was dismantled, and there aren’t any holidays explicitly mentioned there either. There’s a family Sunday lunch, which is a set-piece / midpoint of the story that might count as a ‘holiday’ in that it’s a day off work for the villain protags and Sasha’s awful family.

[Note for readers of The Crows: this branch of the Shaws are not awful in the same way the Porters are awful. They are very similar though.]

What are your characters’ favourite holiday foods?

– Katy Porter loves her Gran’s cooking. Granny Wend would make her casserole after school, but her roasts were infamously good. Yule roast in particular. Katy also really loves Yule for the chocolate log dessert.
– Wes Porter’s whole life is a holiday, but his favourite holiday food is a cheese board with grapes, crackers and paired wine. Only kidding, that’s what he tells his posh rich friends at their Christmas parties. Wes (currently a vegan/vegetarian due to the fact he has two human partners and you never can tell what or whom the meat is at family events) misses his Gran’s roasts so much.
– Ricky hates all holidays, they are miserable affairs and full of bad memories. He was never allowed his Gran’s gingerbread once she figured out he could see the future better if he wasn’t focused on the present. Bland food and hard asceticism is the order of the day. He still doesn’t eat dessert, but he’s taken a liking to things Carrie makes for him all year round.

Sasha’s favourite holiday food is chocolate, so Easter is her favourite time of the year. It’s secular for her, of course.

Backstory. How do you find the line between too little and too much?

With difficulty! I do a lot of experimental writing that may end up canon (or may not). Some of it might end up in the actual story, but most won’t. I might allude to it, but if it’s not necessary and breaks the flow of the story rather than helps to underline a theme or provide foreshadowing for character development, then it will probably get cut. I don’t think all backstory should serve a purpose, necessarily – some of it is good for showing the character’s personality and How They Got Here, and that’s all, but that has a place too.

For Thirteenth, I drop the reader into a situation where there’s a lot of complicated family drama and backstory that’s all relevant to the plot. When I was happy with the first lightly edited version, I handed over to two first-pass readers who gave me comments on it. Some of that was about pacing, backstory/memory/flashback balance, plotting, and so on. The draft got edited again to take on board the comments, then again when I’d taken a few weeks off. It helped to read it all the way through and try to see it through the eyes of someone who hadn’t read the first book, and even if they had, what would they make of the new characters and their stories? It’s now with beta readers (10) so I’ll see if those comments give me more of an idea about what to do with the backstory elements or if I have the balance right this time.

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