What genre do you write?
I like the phrase weird fiction. In part because it can hold a lot in it. I write funny things, dark things, sexy things. Sometimes all at once. Someone called a short story of mine “horror erotica” recently which I thought was interesting. My current project is a comedic feminist werewolf romance novel, which I feel like is a real growth area.
What themes do you gravitate towards writing about?
I gravitate towards stories that are relational. I’m fascinated by how people communicate in different interpersonal situations. I think I’m trying to find the part that feels true in a story, the core interaction and emotions. When that part is right, feels right, then it doesn’t matter if the details are “true” or “realistic” or “in this dimension” or whatever. Then I can play with everything as long as that part feels right. Really, I like to take normal problems and push them to ridiculous levels or supernatural levels. It’s like hyperbole, but with magic.
What is it about hyperbole that’s interesting?
By pushing something to its extreme, you can understand more about its nuanced form. So, a one-night stand with someone literally ripping your heart out of your chest is an interesting way to talk about something that might actually happen.
How did you start writing?
I studied literature and writing as an undergraduate before pursuing advanced degrees in education and psychology. I’ve learned from books on writing, and classes and workshops on writing. But mostly I’ve learned from reading everything and writing. Writing a lot. Really, this is hard for me to answer. I’ve been reading and then trying to write my whole life. As a kid, I’d read a book and then write a generic rip-off immediately after I’d finished. I wrote some great Babysitter Club and Boxcar Children books. Also, Calvin and Hobbes. And then I got into RL Stine and strange young adult thrillers. After that, there was no in-between stuff for young adult readers, so I got right into Stephen King and Michael Crichton.
What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
I want to explore what scares people and why. I want to produce smart, sexy, and clever heroines that defy stereotypes in genre fiction. I want to make myself and others uncomfortable, freaked out, and a little turned on.
Which authors would you have a coffee or beer with?
I want to have a beer or three with my former professor Stephen Graham Jones, my future best friend Pat Rothfuss, Owen Egerton because he’s just the best, and maybe we could prop up the corpse of Oscar Wilde in the corner. Get weird, you know.
What about human romantic (or unromantic) relationships is it that you like writing about?
I love monster stories and always have. I love analyzing current culture through the fears we express in horror stories and movies. And in our culture, everyone is trying to figure out the merging of technology and relationships. There’s a lot to explore. There’s a lot to wonder at or be scared of. I work as an online dating consultant, helping people write profiles and messages, so I have no shortage of funny and fascinating stories to draw on.
Are you children an inspiration to you?
My daughters are amazing mini-people. They inspire me both by the way they move through the world and tell stories about it and in the sense that seeing them look for inspiring stories reminds me of the need for strong, weird, unusual, badass, and smart heroines. The stories we tell are important.
Because I write such adult fiction, they’re not a direct influence, but they make me aware that the stories around us are really important. Every time one of them is given a princess dress costume, I go out and buy an astronaut costume. So, I’m always trying to write about something I think is valuable to think about. I try to not just write sensationalist stuff.
What are you thinking when you sit down to write?
I usually have a goal, a story goal. I’m trying to finish an important scene or simply pump out words. I’m a pretty organized writer. I have a schedule and an outline and an agenda. But that gives me a place to start and then explore all the strange right turns or surprising characters that emerge as I go.
I try to hit a thousand words every day. I often do not. I also occasionally wake up in the middle of the night and text myself things. Sometimes I accidentally text other people these things.
Have you ever appeared on “Texts from Last Night?”
I should check on that.