Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sorts of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today, I’m chatting to the horror writer, Marsheila Rockwell. Marsheila, like myself is one of the writers featured in the third volume of Women of Horror Anthology, The One that Got Away published by Kandisha Press
Allow me to welcome you to the tearoom, Marsheila. My first question to all my guests is what would you like to drink?
Thank you, Paula for your invite. I’m an iced chai latte, light on the ice, kind of girl.
Right, now we have our refreshments my first question about your writing is what writing elements do you think are your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I’ve been told I’m good at dialogue – someone once used my story, “The Short Bus,” as an example of good dialogue in a writing class they were teaching. Of course, thanks to my ever-present brain fog, I can’t remember who or where, so I could have imagined it. Wouldn’t be the first time, LOL. I feel like plotting is a weak area for me – I tend to think very linearly, and weaving in subplots is always a challenge. Luckily my husband, author Jeff Mariotte, is great at plotting, so he can usually spot holes and give me suggestions on how to fill them.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
😂Counting books, short stories, and poems? It’s in the hundreds, for sure. Then there are all the ideas lost in various half-used journals stashed around the house in “safe” places where I was sure wouldn’t forget them.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter, or let the characters lead you?
I started out my novel-writing career doing tie-in work (work that ties into an existing intellectual property in another medium, like television or comics), where everything is backwards. You get paid BEFORE you write the book, based on a very detailed outline. So I definitely outline first, with novels and short stories, and sometimes even with longer poems. (A synopsis is a different, hated creature of which we will not speak.)
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Most of the ones I kill off are.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
I have a B.S. in Civil Engineering and worked as a registered Professional Engineer for many years, during which I helped develop the soil cement specifications for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Writing has always been my true vocation, though (it just doesn’t pay the bills, alas).
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? Do you set yourself a daily word count? How many hours in a day do you write?
I don’t have a set schedule or a word count goal and I definitely don’t write every day. Part of that is because I was recently disabled in a car accident, and nerve damage makes long stints at the computer impossible. I also deal with depression, which can pose its own challenges to writing. But mostly, it’s because I understand my process. I do a lot of “pre-writing” – letting ideas swim around in my brain stew where they can bump up against other ideas and stick together or slide off of each other in ways that might never happen if I tried to force words onto the page before they’re ready. Once I’m seeing scenes or hearing dialogue in my head, that’s when I know it’s time, and I tend to crank out a lot of words at that point (pain levels willing). Then more brainstewing, and wash, rinse, repeat.
UNSOLICITED ADVICE TIME (feel free to ignore): I honestly don’t think people should listen to writing advice from other people unless it actually works for them. If it makes you feel bad about yourself because you can’t stick to it, then that writing advice is not for you, it’s for someone else, and that’s okay. YOU are the expert on you and your process, not Stephen King or Donald Maass or that annoying person in your writing critique group (you know who I’m talking about). Writing has a lot of ups and down, but ultimately, the act of setting your ideas down on paper/screen should bring you some kind of joy, pleasure, or satisfaction. If it doesn’t, the process might have been spoiled for you somewhere along the line because you tried to apply advice that wasn’t meant for how you write. Life’s too short to spend it doing things that make you feel bad, so if writing has become one of those things, it might be time to reevaluate whose process you’re following – yours, or someone else’s? /ADVICE
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I wrote one erotic horror short under a pseudonym, but never sold it, so it wasn’t an issue. I suppose if an agent/editor suggested it because of sales issues, I would consider it, but I like my name. It’s unique and I don’t have too many name doppelgangers out there. I’d like to keep it that way.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
For tie-in novels, I have to select a name appropriate to the property. For original novels, I try to choose a name that a) sounds right, b) is unique but not too out there, and c) has an appropriate meaning. Since I usually can’t start a book (and sometimes short stories) until I have the main character’s name, finding the right one is an important step in the process. I have several baby name books and several baby name websites bookmarked on my computer. For minor characters, I try to find complementary names, or Tuckerize people. It’s a great way to relieve stress, naming characters after people you dislike and then killing them off in delightfully gruesome ways, LOL.
Thank you for joining me in the tearoom, Marsheila.
Here are some links to Marsheila’s writing and books.
Website: www.marsheilarockwell.com Twitter:@MarcyRockwell
Latest book: 7 SYKOS at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/7-Sykos-Marsheila-Rockwell/dp/0062434926/ref=tmm_mmp_swatch_0
Link to latest anthology: Straight Outta Deadwood at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XVF2GX9/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops, too.