Sunday, April 05, 2009

WhoHub Interview

Lily Strange [lilystrange]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I'm not sure how far back I should go with this, but as a very young child I was kind of precocious with reading. Not so with math, but that's a different story. The very first books that I actually learned to read were Dr. Seuss books at the age of four. That may not be particularly unusual, but I think that the fact that I started reading Edgar Allan Poe when I was six--and liked it, even though it sometimes gave me nightmares--might be a bit indicative of what inspired my enjoyment of the horror genre. My father was a professor of literature and this might somewhat explain my early reading habits. My first grade teacher was also very impressed with my writing and always encouraged me. She would ask me to help my classmates who were just learning to read and write.

What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I actually like almost all genres, although its rare that I read romance. As for writing, I tend to prefer working with horror or comedy. The official website showcasing my published novel is To read chapter samples, the best place is probably my E-Snips folder at I do have a blog that is ostensibly for promoting the book, but it can wander off the beaten path and be more than a bit disorganized. However, should anyone wish to view it, they can find it at

What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
This probably isn't very helpful, but my creative process simply involves me saying "damn it all, I'm going to write now." My life is pretty chaotic and a fair bit busier than I'd like a lot of the time. I don't know how much this has to do with my being prematurely gray, but I'll go ahead and blame it on this.

What type of reading inspires you to write?
The classic horror novelists, such as Poe, Bierce, Lovecraft, and those works by Kipling that most people don't think of, but especially Stephen King. I've always appreciated the way he tells a story as if he was sitting down and telling his good friend all about the horrific experience that he had or witnessed. There is no arrogance with King's work. I've always tried to achieve that in my own writing, but can't be sure how well I've succeeded.

What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
The setting is important, the plot is important, but the characters make the story happen. Without interesting characters, a story remains only an intricate outline.

What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
It really depends on the story. I don't have a favorite between these.

What well known writers do you admire most?
Of the classic authors, I got to know Edgar Allan Poe when I was only six years old and have been a great fan of his work since that time. H.P. Lovecraft is the king of atmosphere, and I consider it a terrible shame that most people only know Ambrose Bierce for "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." This is a fine tale, but many of his others are equally good if not better and deserve to be read and enjoyed and in fact learned from in many cases. I also enjoy the works of Christina Rossetti. I was inspired by her poem, "The Goblin Market," at a very young age. Sadly, I know less about Rossetti's life than I would like to. I do, however, know that Poe, Bierce, and Lovecraft all dealt with adversity in their lifetimes and I admire them for perservering in their craft in spite of the strikes against them. Poe, of course, suffered from severe depression. Bierce was a veteran of the Civil War, and his experiences inspired much of his work. Lovecraft was a sickly child and suffered from depression as well. Of contemporary writers, Stephen King has been my favorite for years, but there are others that I admire the works of. I enjoy Dean Koontz and Brian Lumley. I work in the health care field and thus have a fondness for Robin Cook's medical thrillers. And though this is a bit of a guilty pleasure, I enjoy the V.C. Andrews books. Melodrama and purple prose aren't all bad!

What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
A believable character has flaws. The only seemingly flawless characters that I have ever created are used in comedic writing and tend to be the butt of jokes. A character may just come to me out of nowhere, but often I am inspired by looking at photographs. It is less the physical appearance of the subjects of the photographs that inspires me than an attitude or emotion that may be expressed. Most of my major characters were inspired by real people, though it is rare that the person who initially inspired the finished character will be recognizable in that character. Beyond the primary inspiration, I let the character create him/herself.

Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
No. I stumble over my words and make a fool of myself. I'm much better in writing than I am in person. Though if I know my audience and am comfortable with them, I tend to be able to present them with my ideas better than I would with an audience of strangers.

Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Myself, I suppose. More specifically, for my younger self who had such big dreams. Although my works tend to be morality plays of sorts, and it is my hope that I can impart my message to my readers and thus somehow make a positive change in the world. I hope that doesn't sound tremendously arrogant.

Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
It is absolutely a form of personal therapy. When I was younger I used it to soothe the pain of being bullied at school. I resumed writing again after a number of years when my marriage started breaking up. I don't really end up incorporating stuff that happens in my life at this point because it's just too boring. I more tend to go back to ideas that I had previously and expand on them.

Does reader feed-back help you?
I actually tend to avoid reading reviews. The ones that I have read have been mostly positive and the negative points were voiced in a constructive way, so they were helpful. However, I am so sensitive to mean types of criticism that I could have ten good reviews, and if the eleventh were absolutely scathing, it would upset me for a month or more literally. So I do find constructive criticism helpful, but I am so very fearful of encountering the other kind that I tend not to seek feedback. This is probably a lousy attitude to have, but it's self-preservation.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I generally do not participate in competitions and the only award I've received is the "Well You Finally Published it, A-Hole" award that I gave myself back in 2007. For whatever reason I did sign up to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Because the material that I publish professionally is horror, the manuscript that I work on for them will be comedy. I don't really believe you can compete against anyone but yourself in the arts. Everyone's tastes are different. What one person enjoys another may despise. I don't have any need to be better than other people, just better than I was the last time.

Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
This will sound strange, but my ex-husband is my editor and I do trust him to be an objective critic. I share them with him.

Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I think I've found it. If I haven't, I'll delude myself that I have. I'm old and tired. I don't have it in me to keep searching.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I try to write at least one chapter a day at least four times a week. My "real life" schedule doesn't allow me to sit down and write for 12 hours at a go these days. I have to take it where I can get it.

What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Sorry, but I could die laughing at this question. I'm broke. My work area is the same dilapidated couch that I sleep on. I'm usually surrounded by cats. The walls in the ole trailer are thin and I always hear noise from outside. I have type II bipolar disorder, so concentration and me are something of polar opposites anyway. But if I have an idea and I get working on it, like Larry the Cable Guy said, I just Git 'R Done.

Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
When I was younger I insisted that I would NEVER EVER EVER!!!!!!! work on a computer. Now its the only way that I do anything except jot down ideas. Things change. My process is to grab the laptop, put it on my lap, and Git R Done!

What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I have some blog friends. I also sound off (translate: rant) at my blogs, Creative Crabbing ( and Lost Beneath the Surface ( Other than that, I lurk about on Facebook ( (...) ) and occasionally MySpace (

What has been your experience with publishers?
They suck! That's mostly a joke, but seriously, I'm not the sort to paper my wall with rejection slips. I'm too old. I used a POD publisher, Outskirts Press. ( I will be using them again for my forthcoming book.

What are you working on now?
The prequel to my current novel, Lost Beneath the Surface.

What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Whip 'em out and start working on them again! You never know--they could mushroom from a boring two-dimensional gothic romance into a previously unknown and utterly terrifying thing that has a life of its own... Well, that's what happened to mine, anyway. Seriously, get them out and look them over. Show someone you trust. Some of them may be fine the way they are. Others you might be able to work into something else. And then publish them. Life's too short to worry about who might think your work isn't "good enough." You have something to say, so say it. Life would be boring if only a certain kind of voice was ever heard.

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