Thursday, September 15, 2011

[Interview] Suzi M

Suzi M is the author of several novels, among them, Nemesis (Smiling Goth Productions, 2007), Lamia (Smiling Goth Productions, 2008) and The Tower (Smiling Goth Productions, 2008).

In addition to that, ten of her short stories appear in Cover Stories: A Euphictional Anthology (CreateSpace, 2010).

In this interview, Suzi M talks about her writing:

When did you start writing?

Many many years ago. Roughly 1990.

Writing came very naturally to me, as did storytelling. It seemed evident to me that eventually my work would be published. It was never a question of 'if' but was more a matter of 'when'.

I began writing my first novel, Nemesis in 1992. It took nine months to complete, and it was exhausting. When I held the full first draft of the manuscript in my hands, I had such an overwhelming sense of accomplishment that I stopped writing for two years.

I sent the manuscript to agents and publishers, and got some very nice rejection letters. One in particular suggested my novel was too violent for a romance. After checking the cover sheet to make sure I had indeed typed 'vampire horror', it became apparent that my particular brand of writing may not be for everyone. By everyone, I mean mainstream folks.

Thirteen years later, Nemesis finally did get picked up by a small publisher. Sadly, the publisher ran into difficulties and Nemesis missed being published by one month. At that point I realized it was now or never and published Nemesis under Smiling Goth Productions. Since then, it's all been a bit of a strange rollercoaster ride.

How would you describe your writing?

I do quite a bit of what I jokingly refer to as 'real writing', meaning not vampire horror. My main published works so far are mostly vampire horror, however.

Typically, my target audience is anyone looking for horror, or who isn't afraid to try out an author that isn't mainstream. Of course, if I become a mainstream author, then my priorities will inevitably shift to include whoever wants to read me.

Which authors influenced you most?

To be honest, much of my influences are gothic writers such as Ann Radcliffe, Horace Walpole, and more recent and of this century: Stephen King.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Anais Nin and Henry Miller in there, as well as Jim Butcher and Neil Gaiman.

I enjoy details as much as I enjoy a good story. In the case of gothic literature, it felt almost like I was there standing beside the characters. The other writers I mentioned are equally rich in imagery and story, and it's not spoon-fed to the reader.

I like stories that stick in my head and make me think about them. All of the mentioned writers have had that effect, and it's an effect I hope to inspire with my writing as well.

And since I tend to write while listening to music, I'd have to say Fields of the Nephilim and Combichrist are two of my favorite bands to listen to while writing.

Have your personal experiences influenced your writing in any way?

There have been quite a few experiences in my life that have helped my writing expand into something more.

Sometimes people I meet get thrown into the character mix with others, sometimes situations and events get pushed into a story or become a story on their own. In the case of Nemesis, the story bloomed around the main character, who just walked into a dream one night and stuck around.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

Insomnia. I tend to stop sleeping when I'm working on something creative, and if I'm not reminded to eat, I forget to do that, too. Other than eating and sleeping, writing is more an exercise in exorcism for me. There's a story inside me that needs to get out, and my only concern is how fast I can make that happen.

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

Writer's block.

How do you deal with it?

I don't force it. The worst thing I can do to myself and those around me is to try to force writing when the words won't come. Instead, I work on some other creative endeavor that requires me to use my hands, and when the story is ready to be written, I go back to it.

Do you write everyday?

Write, yes, but not always creative writing.

To get the creative juice flowing I start off drawing circles in my notebook until the words come.

Once the words flow, I write down as much as I can, then edit. When the basics or sometimes the entire story are in the notebook, I type it into my laptop.

Sometimes it can end mid-sentence. Other times it ends at the end. I let the story go where it needs to go.

How many books have you written so far?

I've written three novels and a book of short stories so far.

Nemesis is the first novel, published in 2007, followed by Lamia in 2008, and The Tower in 2008. All three are books in The Immortal War Series, and follow the story of Nemesis and Lamia, two vampires that love to hate each other in the most brutal ways. All are available on Amazon as both print and Kindle editions, and are also available anywhere books are sold.

Most recently, ten of my short stories have been included in the Cover Stories: A Euphictional Anthology, which is also available on Amazon.

In Cover Stories, I had a real chance to stretch my literary legs and show off my other writing.

How would you describe your latest book?

The Tower is the most recent novel I've published. It ties up loose ends, and explains the origins of the vampires. We also get to meet our main characters' parents.

How long did it take you to write the novel?

Thirteen years.

The novel was published internationally in 2008. I went independent with The Tower in order to keep my sanity and storyline intact. Since I'm the publisher for my novels, can I say it's because I'm awesome? *grin*

Optimistically speaking, the advantages to going independent publisher for my novels have been numerous, but so have the disadvantages. For example, I now get to work specifically with those I know will understand my writing, and who have a knowledge and liking for the story and characters. I know my editors well enough that they can say 'this needs to be changed because...' and it makes sense for the story.

The downside to being independent is that I'm not a marketing person. Most of my sales have been largely by word of mouth and via social networking. I'm okay with that, though. It means I get to interact with my readers on an individual basis, and really get to know them. By getting to know my readers, I can then write stories for them instead of just to them.

What sets your contribution to Cover Stories apart from other things you've written?

Cover Stories features ten of my short stories, some of which feature Nemesis and Lamia from my novels, and other stories that are completely unrelated to anything vampiric.

With Cover Stories, Christian Dumais contacted me to be part of the book, and I said sure. Cover Stories was an official nod to the musical influences that play in my writing soundtrack. It was also the first project I had worked on following someone else's lead.

What will your next book be about?

I'm currently working on a novelization of a horror movie called The Fallen Ones. It is about a family that goes on a killing spree for fun and revenge.

I'm also kicking around an expansion of one of my short stories.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Finishing what I started writing. *laughing* But seriously, each year I build on what I accomplished the year before, so I would like to think my most significant achievement is always yet to come.

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