A few months ago, the social media blew a gasket. A "publisher" known for his volatile personality and abusive nature was called to task by a then unknown author for making certain "creative changes" to her work that was included in one of his anthologies. People started coming out of the dark and revealing very similar tales of woe in regards to their dealings with this individual. But it didn't stop there...names like Brian Keene and Neil Gaiman hit the social media sphere with their own condemnations. Like it or not, Mandy DeGeit was now in the center of this social firestorm. Since that day, there have been many who have offered their commiseration and condolence. Today we are fortunate to have Mandy share a few words and thoughts on that whole fiasco.
You came on the scene in a whirlwind of controversy. How has that worked for you and how has it worked against you?
Honestly, I don’t feel there’s been any negative fallout from the whole Cavalcade of Terror fiasco. I met tons of great people who stepped up to either support me or to tell their story. Sometimes, I do feel like there’s a little more pressure to deliver something awesome and amazing writing-wise, since all eyes were on me for a little, but all in all, I simply consider it a learning experience and press on.
What was the worst part about all the controversy surrounding you (besides what was done to your story)?
I think the worst part is I wasn’t the first person this happened to and my story was just a short story. People lost rights to their novels and that’s not right. I couldn’t imagine if he took control and changed something I worked on for a year or something. There are people who suffered more than I did, but did so in silence and didn’t get the support like I did, which saddens me. Oh, and he’s still out there, playing publisher, (probably the exact same way he was before) and that makes me mad.
They say there are two sides to every story. Play Devil’s advocate and tell us where you went wrong in that debacle.
I should’ve researched to whom I was sending my story. If I had I searched his name, I probably wouldn’t have sent him anything. (However, if I played it smart and this never happened, we wouldn’t be having this conversation at the moment. Everything happens for a reason.)
The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. If you were Queen of all Writers, what would you fix and how?
I’d like to take a look at the big picture of the money flow, starting from the reader all the way back to the author. The cost of books has skyrocketed since I was a kid, but yet I hear of authors making less and less (or nothing) for their work. Who’s getting the money and why? I’d like to even the playing field a little when it comes to the distribution of funds. Without the stories, the other facets of the money flow chart have nothing. (I’ve always been a manager, I think it’s seeping into my writing.)
The social media is…
Social media is the reason I don’t have 4 books written by now. It’s my biggest distraction from my craft. However, it’s also a way for me to stay in touch with friends, connect with new people and promote myself. I use FB and Twitter on a daily basis, mostly to keep people abreast of what’s going on with me.
Share some information about your work with us:
I consider myself a creepy fiction writer, but the last round of stories I sent out were definitely horror. I have a few flash stories coming out over the next little while as well. (“The Only Way” will appear in A Quick Bite Of Flesh, by Hazardous Press and two flash stories, “Fatty” and “Desperation” will be in 365 Days of Frightening Flash Fiction 2013 by Pill Hill Press.) I’m currently working on a comedy/action short story, a horror novel and a non-fiction novel. I’m all over the place, just looking to see where I belong I suppose. I like to write in the first person since I put myself in the story and write from there. It’s like adventures in MandyLand.
What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write and are published?
I love to talk to people, I can’t think of a question I’m really sick of. Oh except, “Have you written anything I might have heard of?” No, cause I only have one story (She Makes Me Smile) out and it’s not even in a book. Honestly, I can’t wait until something else is out. I want to be known for something other than the Cavalcade mess.
How do you deal with negative reviews?
I don’t expect to appeal to 100% of my readers. There are bound to be people who don’t like what I wrote and that’s entirely fine. We’re allowed to have opinions; diversity is what makes life interesting. Sure it stings sometimes, but life is all about learning. Hopefully I’d be able to pull something useful out of the negative review and apply it to better my writing for next time.
There are those who have criticized your rocket ride to the forefront and claim you’re undeserving of all the attention you have received from some of writing’s prominent names. If you sat down at the table with your biggest naysayer, how would you win them over?
I never asked for what happened, but it did. I wasn’t the first person to have their stories altered, but I was the first one to come forward. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t stay quiet. I was responsible for posting the rant but it was everyone’s support, shares and comments that made it go viral. Honestly, I think it’s funny for someone to criticize my ride to the forefront. I’m a brand new author with one short story out (and a few more coming). I’m not really important now, but I feel like I can and will be once I earn it.
What do you gain from reviews?
When they are positive, reviews are both selling tools and great for stroking the author’s ego. On the other hand, negative reviews can be used as constructive criticism. I would take a negative review with a grain of salt however, as mentioned before, everyone is entitled to an opinion.
How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
I read at least 1-2 books a week. I could probably read way more than that, but Facebook is a cruel mistress. I can’t speak for everyone else, but when I read, I learn. I’m very influenced by what I read as well, if I read horror, I write horror, if I read comedy, I write comedy and so on and so forth. I can’t speak for everyone but I do require reading to write better.
Define “Indie Writer” and defend or attack their position in the book market.
Indie writer: An author who is not signed to a publishing house. One who self-publishes and self-promotes.
Indie writers are just like independent musicians and bands not belonging to a specific label created some of my favourite music. Overall, I don’t care if you’re signed or unsigned, just make sure you get paid for your work.
What new projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on my first comedy/action story, which I think is going to turn out awesome. I read a lot of Jeff Strand’s work recently, so I think his writing may have had something to do with pushing me in the comedy direction. (Plus I’m a ham, I’m always making people laugh, so it makes sense.) In the horror genre, I am writing a new short story to accompany “She Makes Me Smile” in the chapbook I’m printing this fall called This only happens in the movies. Other than those short stories, I am working on my first novel. It’s a horror novel, loosely based on zombies, but I’m keeping that all hush-hush until it’s finished.
What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?
I have a severe hatred for misplaced apostrophes… Ha ha just kidding, in all seriousness though, my “real” job at the moment is selling adult toys aka pleasure objects. I’ve always been a manager for stores such as Best Buy or Blockbuster, but got tired of the rigmarole of the corporation, so I quit and started my own home-party business called Idle Hands - Your Masturbation Destination. (www.idlehands.ca Yeah that’s totally a shameless plug there…)
If you had it all to do over again, what—if anything—would you change in your budding career as a writer?
I should’ve started younger. I’ve been writing since I was a kid but I stopped around 20 or so, when life got in the way. I assumed I needed a “real” job and let my craft suffer. I should have NEVER stopped writing.
Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?
To Kelli Owen (www.kelliowen.com) and Bob Ford (http://www.whutta.com/) for helping me through the She Makes Me Smile fiasco.
To Ron Dickie and Tasha Leblanc for being my best friends and putting up with my annoying self.
To Judy, Gerrit and Adam DeGeit for being the best family I could ever ask for.
To everyone I will be meeting at upcoming conventions. Come say hi!
What defines success as a writer in your eyes?
MONEY!!! Ha, just kidding… Sure I’d love to live off my writing, not need another job and just do book tours, signings and conventions until I drop dead from old age (or liver failure, whichever comes first…) However, what denotes success in my eyes is creating a feeling in someone that wasn’t there before. When I did my first reading, I read two flash stories, “Desperation” and “Fatty”. At the end of one of “Fatty”, someone gasped. THAT is why I write. *(Found out later the story bothered them for a few days… Perfect, means I’ve done my job.)
What is in your “to be read” pile right now?
White Picket Prisons by Kelli Owen
Samson and Denial by Bob Ford
Best New Zombie Tales (Vol.1) by James Roy Daley
Primitive by J.F. Gonzalez
Lowland Rider by Chet Williamson
Snow by Ronald Malfi
My blog – www.mandydegeit.com
Where you can buy the “She Makes Me Smile” estory - http://www.amazon.com/She-Makes-Me-Smile-ebook/dp/B0085KMVAO/