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, Sonora Taylor. Sonora is the award-winning author of Little Paranoias: Stories, Without Condition, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, and Wither and Other Stories. Her short stories have been published by Camden Park Press, Kandisha Press, Cemetery Gates Media, The Sirens Call, Tales to Terrify, the Ladies of Horror fiction podcast, and more. Her latest book, Seeing Things, is now available. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband and a rescue dog. Sonora, 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, Sonora Taylor. My first question to all my guests is what would you like to drink?
Thank you for invite me, Paula. Please could I have a 20-year-old pu-erh tea, black, thank you.
Now we have our refreshments, can I start by asking you, what writing elements do you think are your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I believe my strongest writing suit is dialogue. The easiest portions of my work to sit and write are the scenes where two characters are talking to each other. I tend to think in thought and response all at once, and thus it’s almost second nature to craft my characters talking to each other–and by letting the characters talk it out, they sometimes surprise me with what they’re actually like!
In turn, I would like to be better at setting a scene or describing the sense of place. I often find the set-up to be the hardest thing to write because I’m so eager to jump straight to the action. Also, I know all about where they live, what they look like, etc.–why do I need to spend time on it? Of course, it’s because I’m currently the only one that knows that, ha ha. But I have to convince my brain to sit down and spell all that out to make the story flow at its smoothest.
Tell us a little about your latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
My story, “From Scratch,” was an idea that was inspired by a call for food-themed horror. I wanted to explore how someone with dangerous impulses could channel them through the safer hobby of cooking–and how that hobby may not be as safe for her as it is for others, since the viscerality of cooking seems to only trigger her further. It’s especially ironic in a time where a lot of us have worked on sharpening our kitchen skills in order to ease our anxiety.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
At least five, ha ha. Most of them are short stories I’ve started and need to finish ahead of giving my editor the full manuscript for my next short story collection.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter?
I write–I’m a pantser through and through. I’ll sometimes write a note for myself if I’m in the middle of another project, but the best way for me to plan my stories is to write them. They almost always change from what I first envisioned anyway!
What did you learn when writing your story? In writing it, how much research did you do?
That cooking can be very gross when described in detail! Ha ha. I love to cook and I had fun turning its more visceral aspects into something disgusting. I’m a vegetarian, so I especially had fun talking about how nasty cooking meat can be–I ate meat until I was 20, so I do have some experience cooking and preparing it.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
Given how I write parent-child dynamics, they may be surprised to know I have a great relationship with my parents and also had a happy childhood.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I write when I can. I try to write a little bit each day–even if it doesn’t amount to much in quantity, it’s better than nothing. I do have a day job and so I have to balance both. Funny enough, I don’t like writing on weekends because I do consider it to be work.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I usually go with a name that feels right. I’ll sometimes change it partway through. I never know everything about them before I write their story. That’s part of the fun for me, being surprised by my characters as I write.
What was your hardest scene to write?
It was less a single scene and more figuring out what the climax would be. I initially intended to go beyond the final scene into something frightening, though I couldn’t figure out what that would be without the story getting cheesy. I brought a draft of the story to a writing group I was a part of, and one of the members suggested I could end with the scene I’d written up to; which in turn gave me the idea to flesh out the middle. The story came much easier after I approached the story that way. This is also a plug to find a writing group or at least a trusted reader to help you with your stories, even if you think you don’t need one. You do! And we all get feedback and assistance–you don’t have to go at every story alone.
How long on average does it take you to write a story?
It usually takes me at least 2-3 weeks to write a story so long as I’m consistently working on it. Sometimes it’s faster if I have a strong compulsion to write, but usually, I get better character development and a more satisfying story arc if I work on it a little at a time and get to know my characters as the story progresses.
Thank you for joining me in the tearoom, Sonora. If you like to find out more about Sonora’s writing and books please 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.