In this interview, Lori Titus, author of the short story collection, Green Water Lullaby (Sonar 4 Publications, 2010) talks about stories and the effect they have on people:
When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was about ten years old.
I originally started by writing down nightmares I had, which always seemed to go away once they were on paper. At some point, I wasn’t having bad dreams anymore, but decided to start creating stories just for fun.
I used to take my stories and poetry to school, and would turn them in to my teacher for extra credit. Early on, my teachers encouraged me, that this was something I should pursue. So it’s always been a plan of mine [to get published], but figuring out exactly how I was going to do it was more difficult.
How did you eventually manange to do it?
I was surfing the internet one day and happened to notice that there were a lot of short story websites around which accepted work from unknown authors. I sent a couple of stories around, and finally got published on MicroHorror.
Once I got that first story accepted, I got busy writing more stories, and started submitting widely.
How would you describe your writing?
I’d describe it as paranormal/horror with a dramatic bent.
There are always paranormal elements, but the stories are all about people and how they relate (or fail to relate) with each other.
I believe that everyone is fascinated with the unexplained, with things that scare us, and things that we can’t see. My stories take the ordinary world and bend it a little.
I try to spark something in the reader’s mind, that question of “what if…?” So rather than appealing to any one group, I try to appeal to a human sense of curiosity.
Which authors influenced you most?
As a child I read a lot of classic authors, and [Edgar Allan] Poe will always be my favorite.
That said, I find that I am influenced by many authors, both known and up and coming. Some of my favorites include John Sanford, Dean Koontz, Tananrive Due, Stephanie Meyer, and Alice Hoffman.
How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?
I have always been enthralled with people's stories, how they tell them, and which things they emphasize.
Every story you hear from a friend, a co-worker, or relative, has a theme behind it, a certain meaning they want to convey. I’m always interested by what people have to say, how no two people tell the exact same story in the same way. In this way, your life is often reflected in writing. There are defiant themes within the stories that are relevant to my life experiences.
What are your main concerns as a writer?
My main concern is writing a story that is entertaining, that holds the reader’s attention.
I want people to be able to relate to the characters, and I want to surprise them with what comes next.
I try to make the characters as relatable as possible. They may be in extraordinary circumstances, but they all have the capacity to love, hate, and make mistakes the way any ordinary person would.
My biggest challenge, like most writers, is finding the time to write.
I am very disciplined about what I write, but I do not write every day. I have been known to go on a “writing jag” where I will write a chapter a day for a few weeks, and then nothing at all for a month. Being an editor for Flashes in the Dark and Sonar4 helps keep my creative juices going when I am not writing my own stories. It also keeps me encouraged to plunge ahead with my own work.
When you write how does each session start? How do you proceed, generally?
I don’t write every day, but I usually have in mind how much I want to write before I stop. I may want to finish a particular scene or a group of scenes over a period of time.
I have a little office in my apartment, and I spend a lot of time there! Sometimes I write something by hand, but other times I go to the computer and start typing. I usually don’t stop until I have reached the end of whatever scene I’m working on.
How much writing have you done so far?
I have had stories published in three anthologies so far: A Demonminds Halloween 2008 (CreateSpace, 2008), Mausoleum Memoirs (House of Horror, ____) and Toe Tags (Lulu.com, 2009).
I also have another book of short stories which will be out next year. All of these are horror collections.
I also write an online novel for Flashes in the Dark called The Marradith Ryder Series. The first half of the series (or the first book, which is about 84 episodes) is already complete, and I am starting to work on the second half.
Marradith Ryder is a young girl who is not what she seems. She is abducted by a man who claims he was sent to protect her. At first, she doesn’t trust him, but soon finds herself the object of a hunt. Meanwhile, all the secrets her family has kept from her start to unravel.
How would you describe the stories in Green Water Lullaby?
Green Water Lullaby is an anthology of stories about the make-believe town of Chrysalis, South Carolina.
All the stories have a paranormal aspect, but there are equal portions of romance and action. There are stories about brothers at odds with each other, vengeful lovers, and a pregnant housewife awaiting the return of her husband, a soldier stationed overseas. There are ghosts, werewolves, and other things not as easily labeled.
These stories were written over a period of six months, between my work on Marradith Ryder and other projects.
The book will be published through Sonar 4 Publications [and] will be available from Sonar 4 Publications in April, 2010.
Which were the most difficult aspects of the work you put into Green Water Lullaby?
The editing phase is always the most difficult, because I tend to pick my stories apart a lot before I settle on a final version. I think that I’m picky! But in the end, I feel my work has always benefited from it, so I just work at it until I’m comfortable with the product.
I like to change around the point of view, and I read the stories back to myself to see if it sounds like what I have in my imagination. I like that moment when I know I’ve almost got it where I want it.
I enjoyed writing all of these stories, getting into the psyche of characters that were very different from myself and each other.
What sets this collection of short stories apart from other things you've written?
The tone and the level of intimacy the reader will have with the characters in these stories is different. Each of these stories is like a photo with a shadow, lurking somewhere in the corner. Just within sight… but not easily recognized until you observe for a moment.
What will your next book be about?
There are two “next” books, because I am writing them at the same time. One will be about Marradith Ryder and another will be a sort of spin-off. There are also multiple, smaller projects in the works.
What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
I am very happy with the success I have seen so far, but I can see things going further.
The Marradith Ryder Series and the response to it has been great. I’ve enjoyed writing all the stories I’ve had over this past year and a half, including the ones that made it into anthologies.
I always like to keep going forward, to the next project. That said, I also think that being an editor for two online ezines has been a big achievement. It’s made me grow as a writer, and I now feel that I am included within a community of artists that I am very proud to work with. But my most significant achievement, I like to think, is somewhere down the road. I always like to think about the exciting things that come next.
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