September 13, 2016
As far as I know, author Lucy A. Snyder has never met a genre she didn’t like. Or one she couldn’t do wonderful things in. Personally, I am most familiar with her darker material, and she excels at that, to the tune of wining the Bram Stoker Award an impressive five times. She is also doing double duty here at Dark Regions Press with two short stories in two new anthologies: You, Human and Return of the Old Ones. So I am very grateful she could spend some time talking with us today.
BMS – Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us, Lucy. Now before authors began to write, they were readers, so what were some of your earliest literary loves? Who inspired you and made you want to keep on reading?
LAS – I wanted to be a writer pretty much from the moment I learned how to read; my desire to be a speculative fiction writer was firmly cemented after I started reading books like Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. Other writers I really loved when I was young were Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Anne McCaffrey. I didn’t start reading horror until I was older, but Ray Bradbury was the first dark fantasist I read and loved.
BMS – What, or who, are you reading now?
There is so much excellent work being written now that it’s hard to keep up with it all. Victor LaValle’s novella The Ballad of Black Tom blew me away. I’ve been recommending it to anybody who reads Lovecraftian fiction. And I’ve been enjoying Caitlin R. Kiernan’s work, particularly The Drowning Girl and The Red Tree. Reading her always makes me want to work harder to become a better writer.
BMS – Do you recall when you first thought about writing your own stories? Was it a sudden epiphany, a gradual thing, or something else entirely?
It happened the same time as when I discovered novels and stories that I loved. I thought to myself that if I could write something that made another person feel the same shivery sense of wonder and excitement I got from my favorite books, then that would have to be the best job in the world.
BMS – What was your first sale and to what market?
My first sale was a short story, “Thirteen’s Revolution”, which I sold to Midnight Zoo. It was the first story I’d ever sent out, and that was the first place I sent it. I thought, “Wow, this isn’t too hard!” After another seven years (and, critically, after attending the Clarion workshop) I finally made my second story sale. Easy!
BMS – What is the best thing about being a writer?
The first best thing is that I love books, and not only do people give me books all the time, I get books containing things that I’ve written! Books with my name on them!
The second best thing is that occasionally I will get invited to do something very, very cool. For instance, last year I was invited to be a guest of honor at AnimeKon, a pop culture convention in Barbados. Beautiful ocean, lovely weather, seafood and rum! That was an amazing trip, and it wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t a writer.
BMS – What’s the worst thing about being a writer?
The caffeine withdrawal headaches, and constantly needing to find more bookshelf space. And the constant freelancer’s hustle. That gets old, even if you’re like me and you enjoy a challenge.
BMS – Do you have a set routine as an author, like a specific time of day to write, a set number of hours you devote to it, do you use longhand or just go right to typing it up?
I write when I can but I don’t write fiction every day. I’m a binge writer at heart, so I set aside large blocks of time to work on my stories, usually on the weekends. I’m frequently working to deadlines; it’s mostly a function of having a lot of projects to finish and a day job and adjuncting to juggle along with my writing. I work best at night, assuming I haven’t blown all my brain cells on other work already.
My handwriting is desperately bad, so I always use my computer or my iPad. I prepare for a writing session by making sure I’ve got coffee and a playlist of music that I only listen to while I’m writing. I find that environmental cues like specific music are very helpful in getting my brain in gear for what I need to do.
BMS – If I asked you for three stories or books that would give a reader who is unfamiliar with your work the best representation of you as an author, what would those three be?
If you’re looking for entire books, I recommend my first novel Spellbent and my collections While the Black Stars Burn and Soft Apocalypses. If you’re looking for short, free-to-read pieces, I recommend my story “Magdala Amygdala” and my humor stories “Installing Linux on a Dead Badger: User’s Notes” and “Your Corporate Network and the Forces of Darkness”.
BMS – You have worked in the genre/fields of horror, sci-fi, weird, urban fantasy, poetry, and nonfiction. And I may be forgetting some. Is this a conscious decision on your part so that you’re not easily pigeonholed, or do you just do what you want, when you want, and let the pieces fall where they may?
It’s a deliberate decision on my part. Early on, I decided that I want to be the kind of professional who can write anything and write it well. If an editor approaches me and says “We’d like you to write a narrative sestina that re-tells the myth of Daedalus in a near-future dystopian setting; what do you think?” or says “We need a 4,000-word, first-person magic realism story set in Victorian England,” I feel that my response should be “Why yes, I can do that; when do you need it?”
BMS – Of the many genres mentioned above that you have worked in, is there one that speaks to you the loudest and influences you the most?
I have been writing a whole lot of weird fiction lately, which I really enjoy because I like taking old tropes and twisting them and modernizing them. I also really enjoy writing urban fantasy because it’s cross-genre. I tend to mix genres a great deal in my work, regardless of the primary type of fiction I’m writing.
BMS – Is there any genre or type of story that you haven’t done yet but you would like to take on?
I haven’t written much mystery or detective fiction and would like to do more. I recently finished a novel about girl detective Penny Farrell, who some readers will recognize from my stories in Shadows Over Main Street and In the Court of the Yellow King, but given her terrifying circumstances, she doesn’t get to do a lot of traditional detective work.
BMS – You have a story in the new Dark Regions Press dark science fiction anthology You, Human, what can you tell us about that story without giving too much away? A teaser, if you will.
The main character is my take on the alpha male trope, and goes a long way towards explaining why I don’t write traditional romance. It is one of the nastiest short stories I have ever written.
BMS – You and also a tale in the new Dark Regions Press weird fiction anthology Return of the Old Ones, what can you tell us about that one?
“The Gentleman Caller” is a tale of twisted telephoning, separated conjoined twins, and dark plots. I figured a young woman who works a phone sex line would make a great Lovecraftian protagonist.
BMS – Can you share any info on what you’re working on now?
I’m working on Devils’ Field, the fourth book in my Jessie Shimmer urban fantasy series. I’m also partway through a new story for the Hath No Fury anthology, which recently made its funding through Kickstarter. I’ve got a half-dozen invites to various anthologies, and I’ll be working on those over the next six months.
BMS – Any words of advice, or even warnings, you would like to give to beginning authors?
My main bit of advice is keep writing, keep reading, keep learning, and don’t give up. My more in-depth advice to beginning authors is in my book Shooting Yourself in the Head for Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide.
BMS – What is the best way for people to learn more about you and your work?
You can visit my website (www.lucysnyder.com) or follow me on Twitter (@LucyASnyder) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/lucy.snyder1)
BMS – Thanks again for taking the time to talk with me today.
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