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, Mocha Pennington. Mocha, like myself, is one of the writers featured in the Women of Horror Anthology, Vol 3 The One that Got Away published by Kandisha Press
Welcome to the tearoom, Mocha. As always my first question to my guests is what would you like to drink?
Thank you so much for your invite to this lovely tearoom, Paula. My favorite beverage is a steaming cup of black coffee, thank you.
Now we have our drinks let me start by asking you, when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I’ve been drawn to horror for as long as I can remember. I was the kid who never flinched during Friday the Thirteen and laughed along with Freddy Kruger during A Nightmare on Elm Street. When we had a creative writing project in elementary school, I always incorporated some aspect of horror into my writing. I’m actually surprised I was never asked to visit the school counselor. I never gave not writing in the horror genre a second thought. When I knew I wanted to be a writer, I knew I was going to be writing horror.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
My short story, “Liked”, began as an idea for a novel that never really flourished. I was in love with the concept, but it was too close to a movie that had come out that year. When I saw Kandisha Press’ request for submissions for The One That Got Away, I thought about how I wanted that abandoned novel to open and believed it would not only work better as a short story but would also fit perfect with the theme of Kandisha Press’ anthology.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Too many to count if I’m honest. I have this annoying habit of hoarding everything I’ve ever written, I’m still unsure if it’s healthy or not. Everything from a few chapters of an abandoned novel to a few quick descriptions are all saved to my iCloud. Hell, I even have the spiral notebooks I wrote a novel in back in high school.
I will say, in my defense, that hoarding everything has come in handy a time or two. I extracted a scene from an abandoned novel and plopped it into the novel I’m currently writing. I like to think small incidents like those justify my hoarding.
Do you write a synopsis first, write the first chapter, or do you let the characters lead you?
I dive into the first chapter and see what happens. I go into each writing project with an idea of what the story is about, but I’ve never written out a synopsis. I really enjoy the surprises that come with writing. You can start a project believing a character is one way but can come out completely different, or a new character can pop up and change the course of the story and the relationships between other characters. As cliché as it sounds, I let the characters write themselves and manipulate the story.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
I don’t think my characters will allow my moods to have any bearings on them and their story. When I open up that word processor, they know it’s time for them to speak and anything I have going on won’t be acknowledged.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
I haven’t written a character yet who has been inspired by a real person. I do, however, have characters who have certain quirks and mannerisms from people I know or have experienced something similar to someone in my life. For me, if I went into a writing project knowing a character will be heavily influenced on a real person, then that character would be placed inside a box and wouldn’t be able to develop.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
My taste in television. I don’t watch much television, but when the latest season of American Horror Story isn’t on, I like reality TV. And not just any reality TV, I like what’s on VH1, all the franchises in Love & Hip-Hop and Basketball Wives. Since Covid, I’ve been having reality TV withdrawals. I haven’t seen a new episode in a year. I find myself intermittently searching Google, finding out if any filming has begun.
How many hours in a day do you write?
In my ideal world, the answer would be eight plus hours, but since we’re in reality, I’d say that it varies. My weekends are dedicated to writing, that’s when I get to spend those eight plus hours on writing. In the week, however, I don’t get to write as much as I would like to. Without counting the weekends, I’d say I write about three hours a day, and that’s if I got to write every day in the week.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
If I read or hear a name that I really like, I keep it in the back of my head until I’m beginning a new writing project and give it to my character. I tend to give my main characters names I adore. When selecting names for my minor characters, I usually give them a mashup of first and last names from characters in the book I’m reading at the time.
I have a good understanding of my characters before writing them, but a lot of the time, they reveal extra layers to me as I get to know them better through the writing process. I once believed a character was going to be the heroine of the story, but the more I got to know her, I realized she wore a mask to fool everyone, and she was, indeed, a villain.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Any scene that is important to the story, I find it a bit difficult to write. For example, I have a scene I call “the final dinner” in the novel I’m working on. Without going into too much detail, the scene is meant to cause a division between the characters. I attempted to write it a few times then avoided it. I feel like I tend to overthink important scenes and doubt myself a lot before I’m able to shun any second thoughts and give into my writing.
Thank you so much for joining me in the tearoom, Mocha.
To find out more about Mocha’s writing and books the links below:
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops, too.