Q. Where can I write to you? Do you do autographed books?
I try to answer email (when I have a moment to spare), but cannot send out free autographed books. I do send out free eBook copies for readers who are interested in writing a review on Amazon or on their blog, but I do require a link to your past reviews. Many readers offer to review a book simply to get a free book and then never come through with a coherant review. Publishing isn’t cheap, so even though my books are priced at a reasonable rate, we still have to recoup the costs of our efforts here, which includes paying editors, distribution costs, and providing copies for betta readers and promotions. I am happy to sign print books for U.S. readers if they include a self-addressed, stamped return mailer along with the book(s). Email us for more details.
Q. Will you read my unpublished work and or review my self-published book?
For legal reasons, I simply cannot beta read unpublished work outside of the formal workshop setting. As for reviewing, I have very little in the way of time when it comes to reading. Between my own publishing and marketing endeavors and my editorial responsibilities at the flash fiction ezine Apocrypha and Abstractions, I have very little time to review anymore. I am still an occasional reviewer with the Pod People Indie Review Blog, but I do not accept unsolicited requests for review as I prefer to purchase my own review books so that I may remain objective during the review process.
Q. What made you start writing Flash Fiction exclusively and will you ever write another novella or perhaps a novel?
I get asked this question a lot, specifically by readers who have little experience with short fiction. There’s nothing wrong with a preference towards longer works, but the biased opinion that short fiction is lacking, stated most often to support the argument for length = quality over brevity, bothers me. When I read longer works, and I do often, it has nothing to do with “emersion” or “character depth.” A fabulously written piece of flash can do that as well as a thousand page novel. What I expect from a novel is an elaborate effort. I want lots of complex characters, I want multiple plotlines, I want a world, not just a landscape, and I want time: years, decades, maybe even a millennia or two. Stephen King’s The Stand is a good example or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. When I read short fiction, I am looking for a good deal of ambiguity. I want to invest more than just my time. I want to interpret the story my own way. I don’t want to be bludgeoned by character motivations; I don’t want to be dragged through pages of scenery, and I want tight writing with a sharp edge that makes a point and drives it straight into my jugular. I don’t expect or want everything to hit the page. I want a bit of wonder and mystery. I suppose I want experimental storytelling, where the storyteller doesn’t tell me everything and leaves me with a bite sized nugget of truth I can chew on like raw meat for hours or days or weeks and think, WOW! that was really fucked up and really good. Did the author really just go there? When a story is character driven and specifically about one character in particular, I don’t want their every step and every thought; I want their unique perspective. And I want it in a moment that is uniquely theirs in a way that reflects a universal truth. I don’t need to live with the characters, don’t need all that getting to know them shit – I don’t want to — I only need to know them long enough for them to whisper that truth to me.
I suppose short fiction moves me in a different way. I read a lot of novellas and short stories during my literature study days — Novellas are not short novels — and it always impressed me how so much could be done and said with so few words and how many risks an author could take when the luxury of an expansive word count was removed from the equation. It’s a challenge to make a story say what you want it to say in the most concise way possible, which is why appreciate a story that ends when it wants to end. Pushing a story for word counts feels and reads unnatural to me as a reader and as a writer.
As for my own writing, I may have another novella in me at some point, but Death Dreamt took me almost four years to write, edit, and get published. It took a lot out of me, and writing flash fiction has allowed me to unwind and flex my narrative voice. It allows me to move effortlessly from character to character and topic to topic based on our ever-changing socio-political climate. I don’t feel confined like I sometimes felt when I had to spend years with a particular character or a specific plotline. I can write to current events, which, as an artist, makes me feel in the moment versus outside of it, voyeuristically interpreting it from afar. It allows me to experiment with points of view, with time and space, and with style. It’s anarchy. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but it just feels right to me right now. So no, I will never write a novel. I don’t think I have the stamina for that. Mainstream novel writing has a lot of rules, and while rules are great as a foundation — I speak to them often in my Thoughts on the Craft articles — they bore me as a reader and as an artist. I don’t care about writing rules, except for grammar. I care about a character, in the moment, and the truth they have come to know, doesn’t matter if it’s 500 words or 500 pages; though those 500 pages better be damn fucking stimulating.
Q. Why do you write about mentally disturbed often-abused characters?
Does anyone want to read about happy go lucky perfect life people? Most readers want a hero or a heroine, which means, most readers want a struggle. I just happen to like the darker internal struggle, the kind that comes with love, sex, and death. My characters suffer from abuses most people would prefer to ignore. I won’t go into the politics or religious aspects of the work. I just present the arguments and let the readers form their own opinions. Reviewers have said that my characters are deliciously disturbing but that I always manage to find the beauty in the grotesque. I like that.
Q. I’ve just finished my first novel. What advice can you give me about publishing?
I try to stay out of the advice game. Publishing is a very personal choice for a writer, but I can say this: If you’ve just finished, you’ve only just begun. Get an editor and some beta readers. Get feedback, and then go back and rewrite the entire thing. Rinse and repeat as many times as it takes to get a near perfect product. If you plan to self-publish, you’d better make it perfect. The shoddy product you slap up on Kindle will not earn you any points in the publishing world. It might even earn you a few nasty reviews and a reputation for being a sloppy writer. If you decide to self-publish, take a year to learn how to do it right. If you want to traditionally publish, you’ll want to get an agent. While you are doing that, you can start creating an online presence with a blog, or a website, or by submitting short fiction for publication. Duotrope’s Digest is worth looking into for writer’s markets. Marketing yourself starts before your book is even published. Watch what you say and do online. The internet will never forget your mistakes.
Q. What do you love so much about love, you write about it often enough?
I love the irrational nature of it. The obsessiveness and the possessiveness of it. It’s like mercury on a glass floor. If you can manage to hold onto it, it’ll poison you — to death.
Q. When will you write a sequel to any of your novellas or expand any of your flash fiction?
I won’t say never, but at the moment, I am more interested in new more violent and disturbing characters and situations than I am in revisiting those beloved old ones. With the novellas, those characters lives have ended for me. I’ve spent enough time with them that I fear they have become predictable. As for the flash fiction, I have some bizarre characters I may want to visit in the asylum for an extended period of time they are that interesting to me, but right now, I am feeling more of a social butterfly when it comes to entertaining new muses.
Q. Who is the guy with the lint fetish?
His name is Sid, but he doesn’t like anyone calling him that.
Q. Are you British? There is a bit of an accent in your work.
There is. I am a dialect lover, and my influences come from all over the world. That said, I believe a writer has the right to use our ever-changing language as they see fit.
Q. Do you really have seven ferrets?
I did. They have all since passed away, but they were the light of my life for over twenty years. I plan on writing a memoir about my life with them, but now, I share my little world with my husband and my rehabilitated feral cats, Moon and Rupert, whom we rescued from the woods behind our house.