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, Michelle Lane. Like myself, Michelle is one of the writers featured in the Women of Horror Anthology, Vol 3 The One that Got Away published by Kandisha Press
Michelle. I must start by saying your story theme in The One That Got Away is fascinating and I’m very much looking forward to reading it, but first I must welcome you to the tearoom.
Thank you for the invite, Paula.
Please explain to our audience all about your latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
My story, “Josephine,” that appears in the Kandisha Press anthology, THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, was born out of an idea I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I love body horror and at some point, I started seeing a connecting between body horror and pornography. Specifically, how women’s bodies are practically dissected into their parts and fetishized by viewers. I became increasingly interested in how women of color were represented in pornography. I’m not going to go into too much detail about my research so far, mainly because I’m planning to write a nonfiction piece that hasn’t completely solidified in my head. Anyway, I wanted to write a story about a woman of color who is in the porn industry but doesn’t accept the expectations of the filmmakers or the audience. And, I wanted it to be a horror story. So, I added a creepy vampire who essentially stalks her because that’s what vampires do, and I wanted to give him an interesting backstory. I was nervous about submitting the story, because I’m still uncertain about how people will react to the crossing of genres between horror and erotica. The connection seems perfectly clear to me given how women have often been portrayed in horror films and pornography. In my mind, there’s a definite connection.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty. I have a paranormal romance series I’ve been working on for several years that I’m hoping will soon see the light of day. I started writing the sequel to my Bram Stoker Award nominated debut novel, INVISIBLE CHAINS. I have another novel about psychics and other paranormal phenomena that is heavily inspired by the band Clutch’s eponymous album. And, I have the beginnings of short stories, snippets of dialog, and other stuff that never took off.
Do you write a synopsis first, write the first chapter, or if you only write short stories do you plan your story or let the characters lead you?
I’m not a linear thinker. And, I hate writing a synopsis, so I usually leave that until I’m at the end of the story. When an idea comes to me, it usually comes when I’m doing something else – reading, watching a movie, driving, talking to a friend – so my writing process begins from that point. It could be a scene, an exchange of dialog, or just an idea. Sometimes, when I’m driving in my car and a song comes on that makes me want to dance, I often picture characters I’m working on dancing to that song and I gain new insight into their personality. I’m a pantser, so sometimes I drive the story and sometimes the characters do, but I rarely write a piece that starts at the beginning and keeps progressing to the end. Even when I write short fiction, I don’t always know how the story will end and often surprise myself when I finish.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
Definitely. I write some pretty dark stuff at times and pull from my own emotional trauma at times, so reading some of my work is like a window into my mind on that given day. Sometimes I’m shocked by how emotionally charged my work can be, and it often feels like someone else wrote it.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
The vampire in INVISIBLE CHAINS was inspired by a real person. In fact, he has the same name, Carlos Velasquez. Carlos was a pen pal of mine when I was a teenager. He was roughly ten years older than me and obsessed with vampires. I am also obsessed with vampires, so we began a correspondence that lasted over ten years. We collaborated on vampire erotica stories, and I met him in person a few times when I visited New York City. In hindsight, maintaining that kind of connection with a person that much older than me was potentially dangerous. I often joke about the fact that if the Internet existed when I was a teenager, I would probably be dead in a ditch somewhere. I had the bad habit of climbing into cars with strangers, hitchhiking, and writing extremely provocative letters to a man much older than me who literally wanted to drink my blood.
What did you learn when writing your book or story? In writing it, how much research did you do?
INVISIBLE CHAINS is a supernatural slave narrative set in antebellum New Orleans. It’s historical horror fiction so, I wanted to make sure I was getting as many of the details correct for the time period as possible. I spent a lot of time researching everything from clothing, language, food, real place names, customs, publications, and actual accounts of slaves. I wanted to show the horror of slavery and make the setting as real as possible for the reader. I didn’t want to misrepresent the lives of the slaves I wrote about, and I wanted to have concrete examples of actual punishments and torture used by slaveholders. I learned a lot about slavery and the treatment of Black people in the United States and how that history has had a continuous impact on the lives of Black people today.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
Several of my readers won’t be surprised to know that I’m a huge fan of Duran Duran and would love to figure out a way to incorporate them into a story. I’ve been kicking around some ideas, so that might actually happen sooner rather than later. So, if Simon LeBon is reading this, he should know that he just might end up in some pretty weird situations in one of my stories.
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your books or stories, whether that be a long forgotten memory, a positive experience etc?
Each time I finish a story, I feel like I know myself a little better. I view writing as a form of self-discovery and because of the subjects and characters I write about, the process is often very cathartic. So, yes. I uncover things about myself while writing all the time, and it has helped me to discover things I had forgotten or buried and writing has helped me to heal some of those wounds.
How many hours in a day do you write?
Not enough. I work full-time and I’m a single parent. I just reread an article Gabino Iglesias wrote for Lit Reactor a few years ago, “7 Ways to Turn Your Writing Resolutions into Realities,” and was reminded that I need to make more time for my writing because it’s important to me. I try not to use being a working single parent as an excuse not to write, but I’m raising a high-functioning autistic teenager alone and there are days that I am just too damn tired to write. But it is constantly in the back of my mind and it drives me crazy when I’m not writing. So, on the days I’m no drag-ass tired, I need to be writing at least 500 words instead of scrolling through social media or numbing out by playing a stupid game on my phone. On a good day, I can crank out 1000 words or more. I wanted to argue with the article the first time I read it, but I respect Gabino as a writer and he’s not wrong. If you want to be a writer, you have to be writing. All the time. Even if you only write 50 words a day, you’re still getting closer to the end of that story.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Ironically, the hardest scene I had to write, was killing Carlos Velasquez in INVISIBLE CHAINS. Writing that book was emotionally exhausting. There were times I cried while writing certain scenes or had to take a break and do something else after spending hours researching how horrific humans can be to each other. But the most difficult scene for me to write was killing my antagonist. I had to write the scene at least three times and my mentor kept encouraging me to make his death more intense and my protagonist had to be the one to kill him. So, I needed to pull from my own strength to make her strong enough to face her abuser. My mentor even wrote me a poem giving me ideas about how to kill the vampire using Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” as inspiration. Hence, “50 Ways to Kill Your Vampire.”
Thank you for join me in the tearoom, Michelle. If you would like to find out more about Michelle’s work click on the links below:
Blog: Girl Meets Monster: https://michellerlane.com/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B07Q7XSJR5
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops, too.