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, Shawnna Deresch. Shawnna, 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, Shawnna. As always my first question to my guests is what would you like to drink?
Thank you for the invite to the tearoom, Paula. Could I please have a southern sweet tea with some lemon slices. Please allow me to congratulations on your story in Kandisha Press Women in Horror Anthology Vol. 3.
Thank you so much. Congratulations to you too. Now we have our refreshments lets start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I’ve always gravitated toward reading horror, the scary, the macabre my whole life, but I’ve always resisted labeling myself as a horror writer or a writer of dark fiction because it seemed horror books got a bad rap. Yes, we have Stephen King and Anne Rice, but those are the exceptions, it seems. I tried my hand at writing romance, suspense and even mystery, but I always felt the stories were missing an element. It wasn’t until I was in high school when a journalism teacher discovered some of my dark fiction stories and encouraged me to write horror. I still resisted until probably the last 10 years. When I finally decided to just give it a try, that’s when my stories and my fiction writing came together.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
After finishing my short story, Little Sally Ann, which is included in Kandisha Press Women of Horror Anthology Vol. 3, I’ve revisited a draft of a novel that I began over a year ago. It’s working title is called Tethered. It’s about a female non-denominational exorcist. One of my favorite horror subgenres is possession.
I also have been toying with writing an historical fiction with horror elements about Tsar Nicholas, II and Tsarina Alexandra Romanov and their involvement with Rasputin. It would be a lot of research, but the Romanov family has been a part of history that has always fascinated me. I also have a few short stories for some anthologies that I’m currently editing.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Oh, wow! Way too many to list. I hope someday I can go back and dig out the ones that I can possibly save and rework/rewrite. There’s some that should be deleted. The only reason I don’t delete those are because I like to look back and see how far my writing has changed over the years. I have stacks of notebooks with just tons of notes, possible plots, research notes, just anything I want to remember, strewn all over my office that need to be transcribed in to my laptop.
Do you write a synopsis first, write the first chapter, or if you only write short stories, do you let the characters lead you?
I am plotser. I plot everything. So I have a pretty detailed outline before I actually sit down and get that first draft written. I love character driven stories so I’ll already have a main character shaping up in my head before a plot materializes. I have so many characters that I’ve created in my head that most will never be put down on paper. There’s just not enough time.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
I do have several of my characters that are based on or inspired by real people but very loosely. I have used some traits, physical and personality wise, from real people that I know. I’ve taken good traits from good people and put them into the antagonists and some bad traits from bad characters and put them into the protagonist. I love the quote by Anne Lamont, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I’m a morning person so I like to get up early between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. And before I do anything else, I need caffeine so I’ll make coffee or tea. Oh wait, even before that I have to feed my cats and puppy otherwise, they won’t leave me alone and I won’t get anything else done. I love living in yoga pants and t-shirts with my hair pulled back so that’s my work attire. My best writing time is between 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. I’ll check emails, brainstorm a new idea, etc. throughout the day. But my head is best in the game at the very beginning of the day. That’s when I do the real writing and editing.
I always carry a pen and notebook just in case I get an idea that I want to write down. I always have both on my nightstand. There’s been times where I just rollover in bed in the morning and pick up a pen and start writing in that notebook before I’m 100% awake. I’ve gotten a lot of ideas in between sleep and that time when you’re not fully awake. By 1:30 p.m. or 2:00 p.m., my brain is mush so I have to take a break. I go to bed really early so sometimes I might write a little in bed, but the real work is done in the morning.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
I do write daily. My goal is at least 500 words a day that’s useable words for a project. Most of the time I write way more than that. I like having a 500 minimum word count so even if I have a day when I’m under the weather or running errands, I’m still getting words down and I feel accomplished. And those words add up at the end of the week or month. If I write more on a bad day, that’s great, but I figure 500 words, that’s at least a page or two, I can do that even when I have an off day. I have actually written at least 500 words a day, every day, for the past few years without missing one single day, but one. And I made that up the next day with writing over 1,000 words.
How many hours in a day do you write?
Including brainstorming, outlining, rewriting the same paragraph five to ten times and looking for the perfect word, I write several hours a day. It’s not the same as when I had a 9 to 5 job at the law firm. Creative inspiration can hit at any time so if it’s 2:00 a.m., I’ll get up to write. But I’m a morning person so I like to get up early when I have the most energy and write for about 3 or 4 solid hours.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I have considered writing under a pseudonym several times over the course of my writing career. And I did for a while when I began writing seriously in the horror genre. But I ultimately decided that I’m using my real name. Not everyone will enjoy reading horror books or dark fiction, but it’s what I like, and it’s what I enjoy writing so I’m not going to hide behind a pen name. I do respect why people use them and I even had several close people in my life strongly suggest that I need to use one. I know my name is a difficult one to remember and pronounce and I hated it when I was little because it was different. And being different was no fun growing up in a small town. It took me many years into my adulthood before I realized I liked being different. I love my name so I’m going to display it proudly on my books.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
Coming up with my characters’ names is pretty easy. I will already have a good picture in my head of what they look like before I even start writing. And sometimes, the name just comes to me even before I start writing out a plot or brainstorming. Once I pick a name, I rarely, if at all, ever change it because to me, that character is already real in my head.
Thank you for joining me, Shawnna. To find out more about Shawnna’s work check out the links below:
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops, too.