Today, I am excited (some may say TOO excited) to have one of the cool kids come by for a few words. Suzi M. is a Trifecta of looks, brains, and writing talent all wrapped up in one. It is my honor to call her one of my friends. So, enough of me...(Seriously, do you even know I'm here with THOSE eyes looking at you?)
What is your favorite part about being a writer?
Being a tourist in the worlds I’ve created. Living, laughing, loving and occasionally killing the characters created in those worlds.
What are some of the lessons you have learned as a writer that caught you off guard?
Never fall in love with a character. They will haunt you forever and hijack a story.
What can you share about your writing process?
I can’t say that I have a ‘process’ per se. It’s more a ritual, possibly? There is a lot of energy gathering and conjuring involved. The only thing I can liken the entire experience to is a full-blown séance of 1920’s proportions complete with automatic writing.
If you were to up and change genres, what would be your next choice?
Comedy. Laughing is a fear reaction brought on by a ‘good scare’, after all. Or maybe erotica, because that’s a bit like horror and comedy’s hot cousin.
What could traditional publishing learn from the Indies? And how about the other way around?
For big publishers, I think they can learn that the public is ready for something more than just varying shades of vanilla they’ve been soft-serving for a while now. The caveat to that is that there ARE some fantastic writers that managed to sneak through the big publisher machine and get their books out there, but the majority of what’s been released seems like a lot of the same themes over and over.
For indie folks, humility. We DO need an editor, and sometimes we DO need to be pulled back from the Too Far Café where we have giddily stolen all of the café’s dinner mints at the register, ordered five coffees with too much sugar and a cheesecake, then proceeded to hammer out a manuscript on the already dented diner booth. Not that I’ve ever done any of that, be it in imaginary example or in a dive diner in North Bergen, NJ. I swear.
The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up? Solutions?
I think there’s a two-part problem going on:
1) It seems you almost have to act crazy to get any attention. This makes it harder for the mad geniuses to shine in the shadow of Springer drama erupting all over social media sites. Poor netiquette would also be another issue. Whether on purpose or by accident, folks are posting their stuff everywhere, and it’s information overload. Worse still when they start posting on fellow writers’ walls without ever saying so much as ‘Hello.’
What I thought would be a common sense solution apparently isn’t so common, and it’s not working very well. I went on the idea that folks would be polite and considerate of others in the etherverse. Sadly, doing this seems to only ensure obscurity, so I have no real solution.
2) Reviews. I know, I know… groan. It seems there are folks out there who just hound people for good reviews on Amazon, and they get them. Some folks have their friends just post nice reviews for them. Personally, I’ve never been one to force anyone to review my work, it feels dirty to me and isn’t the honest opinion I’m looking for. If a friend does happen to review my work, be it a positive or a negative review, I thank them and offer a free copy of another one of my stories as a thank you for taking the time to post a review. It makes me sad that these days I see a book with 100 5-star reviews and I’m sceptical as hell about it, but if the description sounds interesting and it’s along the lines of what I might like, I will still download a sample just to see if I might like it before I download the entire thing.
Solution…. Again, this is one of those things for which I’m not sure there IS a perfect solution. Amazon has made the issue a bit worse by making it harder for writers to post reviews of fellow writers’ works in the name of ‘competition’ or some such nonsense, but who better to review a work than another writer? For those of us in the field, it’s all about professionalism, and I think Amazon needs to give writers the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming we’re all a bunch of negative review-writing heathens bent on the destruction of capitalism. There are ways to write a constructive and negative review without being catty about it. A professional will understand that the only one hurt in a good ole fashioned bridge burning is the person standing on the bridge who set the fire.
The social media is…
…. In my ceiling, watching me type? J
Share some information about your work with us: (feel free to be as in depth as you like)
While I write horror 99.999999% of the time, it’s not always straight gloom and doom. I like to add facets to horror elements that haven’t quite been done before or subtly poke fun at elements that have been done to death (or in the case of my Immortal War series, undeath). I think I might be the first person to give a nod to Girl Scout Cookies in a vampire novel (because I was once a Girl Scout, believe it or not, and I am still a recovering cookie addict).
I also like to hide inside jokes in my stories, as well as acknowledgements to those who inspired me. A friend of mine made a comment that there weren’t enough Goths in my novels, so I wrote a club scene as a poke at him. Anyone who used to enjoy the club scene in New York City circa 1990’s will recognize the Limelight as both the club that Nemesis and Lamia end up going to at one point, and as Lamia’s ‘cathedral’ home.
Anyone who has read the works of Xircon or James Glass will also recognize that odd couple from both my old website, my old Live Journal, and the international euphictional anthology Cover Stories wherein they got to be characters in a couple of stories. The truly observant may even recognize the writing style in the writings of those two gents just a little bit.
What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?
Insanely tired of being asked if my vampire novels are like Twilight. I even made a t-shirt for the occasion.
How will you deal with negative reviews?
I laugh and print out the reviews to correct their grammar and spelling with a red pen --- I kid. J
I’ve gotten one really bad review and it irked me, not because the reviewer hadn’t read the story or not understood the story, but because they DID understand the story. Part of me wanted to respond to the review – not in a bad way, I actually wanted to interact with the person and get their perspective – but I didn’t for fear of appearing even more socially awkward than I already am.
How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
Not enough reading!! I have a TBR a mile long, and it’s been difficult to not have time to read. Reading for me is as essential as breathing, and I adore books. There’s no way a person can call themselves a writer if they don’t read or don’t like to read, and I mean an actual book, not headlines or the sports pages. A real, honest-to-goodness BOOK that can be found someplace other than the bathroom.
When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?
When there’s no other interaction from the writer other than ‘Have you read my book today?’ or every sentence is something about their book worked in somehow where it doesn’t belong, or their book links are plastered all over the place with no intro or reason for being there.
What projects are you currently working on?
Currently editing a novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo, compiling posts from my Secondhand Sarah blog, and making a script for a graphic novel version of The Lazarus Stone (Conspiracy Edit).
What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?
I have a sense of humour and I like to splash in puddles after it rains. I refuse to kill anything, be it insect or animal. I spin yarn, knit, crochet, and weave. I also make soaps, perfumes, and candles; paint, and enjoy photography and making films. I know it’s more than just one thing, but it all kind of glops up together and gets stuck in the creative drain more often than not. I also collect antique books and Daguerreotypes.
Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?
There are a few folks I’d like to give a nod to, but I suspect they already know who they are. J
What is in your “to be read” pile right now?
Liber Null and Psychonaut, Liber Kaos, and The Apophenion (again), The Source Field Investigations, The Dresden Files: Cold Days, Beneath the Tor, etc. etc. etc.
Suzi M Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Suzi-M/e/B003TTLGP2/
Xircon Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Xircon-Z/e/B005N099QS/
James Glass Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/James-Glass/e/B009K6RSG4
Second-hand Sarah Blog: http://suzi.typepad.com/secondhand_sarah/