I've been writing since high school, but I only recently began testing the waters of traditional publication.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Wow, this is an interesting one!
It really depends on what, exactly, I'm writing--non-fiction is so much different from writing fiction that it's difficult to give one answer to suit both. I think with non-fiction, the biggest thrill I've gotten is from readers saying that I got them just as excited about the topic as I am, or that I've managed to reignite an interest in something they thought they didn't care about or weren't good at. With fiction, there's the potential to create entirely new worlds and new ways of being that you can then immerse a reader in, if you've done it right.
In both cases, though, you spend a lot of time trying to work out how to get something exactly the way it should be, and it's enormously satisfying to feel like you've finally got it.
What are you working on next?
My next project is shaping up to be an exploration of a particularly persistent and flexible urban legend. I think it's the first urban legend I ever heard, so it's got a special place in my heart, and I'm pretty excited about it!
Who are your favorite authors?
I cut my serious-fantasy teeth on Terry Prachett. I love Seanan McGuire's fairy tales, Ursula Vernon's fables, and Leigh Bardugo's world-building. Warren Ellis's unparalleled ability (and willingness) to weave fantastic oddities into modern settings will always have me coming back for more.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in a small town in Florida, and the state is strange in a way that's difficult to describe to someone who's never been. Very little of it is off the beaten path anymore, but between the weather and the vegetation, it's still incredibly easy to blunder into these strange spaces with animals and people and structures that very clearly don't belong where they're at, all thrown together and left to get on with it.
It's difficult for me to really believe that there's such a thing as a mundane story or day or life, and I chalk it up to growing up in a spot where a placid little pond can disgorge a half-dozen apex predators the second the sun comes out from behind the clouds.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love live entertainment. Plays, concerts, tourist attractions with animals and sculptures, lectures--pretty much anything where there's an element of spontaneity. I love movies and television, too, of course, but there's a level of separation there that's not as easily achieved with something meant to be ephemeral. When you're with something as it's unfolding, even the disappointments and misfires are unique, and they occasionally turn into something more interesting than a perfectly-produced performance might have.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
You know, I really don't. I grew up in a family that valued reading--intensely valued reading--and so I was reading before I have many useful memories of what reading meant to me, or the stories I was reading. I remember quite a few stories having a tremendous impact on me in various ways--"Three Skeleton Key" kept me up nights, and "A Sound of Thunder" damn near put me off science fiction with its fatalism--but I think the earliest one I remember having a visceral response to was "The Giving Tree," which struck me at the time as horrific.
What do you read for pleasure?
There's little I won't read, if it's well-written, but my preference is for the fantastic, the bizarre, and the humorous.
Describe your desk
Covered in plants. It tends to startle people, the first time they see it, and I've had more than one person refer to it as 'the jungle.' Even the artwork I've put up around it has all somehow fallen into a vegetation theme.
What is your writing process?
I tend to start with a scenario, then pick it apart and examine it until I can tell whether I want to flesh it out into a real narrative. There are so many appealing set-pieces and interesting plots, but that's not enough for a complete story. If I can't get a feel for the characters or how they got there, I usually don't move forward with the concept.
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