Interview with Horror Author Rebecca Besser

This week I interviewed the lovely Rebecca Besser.

Isn’t she cute?  Here’s what she had to say about her inspiration, writing process, and upcoming work…

1.     What would you say was the defining influence (author/book/movie/family member, etc.) that pointed you toward horror?

 

Experimentation. I force myself to try things I haven’t tried before, or am leery of. When I stared writing a few years ago, I was nervous about writing in first person, so I forced myself to try it only to find out that it wasn’t so bad. After that, I was determined to try various genres – horror seemed to be a good fit for me and it stuck! LOL I still write other things, but not as often.

 

2.     What was your inspiration for Nurse Blood?

 

Justin T. Coons’ amazing art! The cover art inspired the story.

 

3.     What is your gory main character, Sonya Garret’s favorite tool of the organ-harvesting trade and why?

 

Graphic representation of the live organ harvests

Graphic representation of the live organ harvests (Photo credit: longtrekhome)

 

She uses a surgical scalpel a couple times to inflict harm in the book, so I’ll have to go with that. When harvesting human parts, nothing comes in as handy as a small, very sharp knife. 😉

 

4.     I love the polarity of healer vs. killer.  Do you think that your MC is more evil than your average serial killer because she is a person charged with the care of others when they are at their most vulnerable yet she abuses that power?

 

I don’t know that I would call her evil. I see her as being broken inside… She’s dealt with a lot in life, but she’s still strong and willing to make her own path no matter what other people think of it. What she chooses may not be right, but it’s what she wants it to be. I guess she’s strong with a warped moral compass. LOL

 

5.     Do you have any inspirational music for your writing?  Any favorite artists to get you in the murderous mood?

 

Not really. Mostly I prefer silence. I think this is because once I get into a story, I block everything else out. I’m in my zone, so to speak, and very little gets in.

 

6.     I know you edit as well as write.  Do you find it difficult to step back and forth between the two roles?  Is it tough to refrain from changing an author’s voice while editing, or can you easily distance yourself while editing others’ work?

 

It’s complicated. I find I have the hardest time editing work by people from other countries. I get accused of ‘Americanizing’ it. Some hate it, while others don’t mind. I do tend to warn them at the beginning though, and I try to only make changes that will strengthen others work. I also try to be somewhat flexible when working with others, because, at the end of the day, it still represents them.

 

7.     What is your favorite writing project you’ve worked on so far?  Favorite editing project?

 

My favorite project would probably be Nurse Blood; it was really fun. My favorite editing project would probably be Earth’s End; it was a struggle, but ended well. 🙂

 

8.     What genres besides horror do you dabble in?  Do common subgenres or themes frequently sneak into your work?

 

Supernatural. I tend to write about the Devil.

 

9.     What is in your bug out bag, Rebecca?  How about five must-have survival tools and one luxury item?  Feel free to explain your choices.

 

Gun, ammo, matches, survival/herb book,   water, and luxury item…hmmm…hair brush!

 

10.   What new projects/books/stories are you immersed in currently?  Pimp ‘em, sister!

 

I’m finalizing Nurse Blood and starting on my zombie novel series: The Hunger Plague. I also have a few short stories in the works. 😀

Sounds great!  Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog, Rebecca!  I look forward to checking our your work!

You can find Rebecca Besser on Facebook here.  And check out her website @ www.rebeccabesser.com or her blog: blog.rebeccabesser.com

-Kim

Writing For the Love (of Pete)

Today I was thinking about how I don’t really offer up the “I’m an author” line to many people.  Generally speaking, I keep it to myself unless it comes up.  I was wondering if I made a living writing (which I do not—I couldn’t feed my cat with money from my writing, let alone a family of five) would I be more inclined to pony-up the information? 

Not that I am ashamed of how I spend my free time.  Hell, I’d like to let people know that my house gets cleaned even less lately because I’m “working” in my free time.  This place isn’t a pig sty because I’m watching Vampire Diaries and eating bon-bons for the eight hours a week all three of my kids are in school. 

I don’t suppose I can call it work if I don’t really make any money doing it, can I?   

But it is work.  It’s a time-consuming job trying to crank out enough coherent words strung into sentences, glued into paragraphs and sandwiched together with a layer of literary bubblegum to create a short story.  Forget about the bigger projects I try to make time for.

When you think about the time spent simply daydreaming up an idea–which is usually during dinner or while your Lego master is explaining his latest creation, or while you are driving a bus of wild animals to choir practice—already you are looking at hours and hours spent on a short alone.  Again, a full novel takes weeks of thinking, planning, outlining, note-taking and people-watching before you even sit down at a computer.  Then you get there and realize you know nothing about the California Gold Rush and the research begins.  Think term papers without direct quotes, only on a major scale.

Have we started writing yet?  Maybe you are a fly-by-your-seat kinda author.  Cool.  I salute you.  That could save you a bundle of time.  Or it could burn you alive with re-writes once you get half way done and realize you have plot holes the size of Jupiter.  Me, I outline.  The carefree method that would seem to be my style superficially, just doesn’t pan out for me when I’m sifting for gold nuggets.  In California.  In 1851.  With the help of my time machine.  Just tying that back together.

Okay, so all of the homework completed, we move on to the writing part.  Now, I’m a fast typist, so essentially, this doesn’t take all that long provided I am not distracted by squirrels, or bon-bons, or laundry, or singing karaoke to Breaking Benjamin songs that are too R rated to play at full blast while the kids are home.  So let’s say I rein in my ADD for the time it takes me to hammer out a 5,000 word piece.

And then saunters in my arch enemy of the writing world—editing.  I’d like to punch this guy in the face, but I can’t.  He is the most important piece of the puzzle (or so he thinks, the conceited bastard).  Editing takes a number of days, if not weeks, and a number of reads. 

All the while, an equal number of hilarious squirrels are jumping around my lawn like little clowns, waving their bon-bons at me and flipping me off to the tune of Shallow Bay.  I ignore them.  I hope.  And I get it done.

Oh!  Lest we forget, I must check the submission guidelines and format my work to the specifications of my chosen market.  Busy work, but, like editing, a necessary evil.

Now, what was my chosen market again?  In all likelihood, especially for newer authors, the publisher may have a cute little sentence under the title PAYMENT.  It could very well, and very often does, read “For the Love.”

For the love of Pete.  This is why I cannot feel comfortable saying “I’m an author.”  Like, “I work from home.  I write.”  And I do.  But non-paying markets, or token payments, for—how much time did it take me?—they don’t add up to a living. 

Therefore, this is not my job.  It is my hobby (cringe).

Do I enjoy it?  Yes.  Do I love to see my name in print?  Absolutely.  Do I want to do it for free just to spread my creativity like an infection to the masses (or the few, as the case may be)?  No, I don’t.  I can blog for free to reach out and grab someone.  I can make pointless, but ultra-funny, nonsense flyers and staple them all over town in the middle of the night.

I loved working as an RN.  Would I go pull an eight-hour shift sans pay just because helping sick people is so rewarding?  Ah, no.  Florence Nightingale I ain’t.  And she probably got paid anyway.

So why is the “For the Love” trend so prevalent?  Could be the saturation of the market.  The name in print scenario I mentioned so enough people are willing to work for free, perpetuating the problem.  All the free e-books on Amazon from self-pubs and fledgling indie publishers that make people think that the written word shouldn’t cost a penny.  It’s possible. 

But these little anthologies that are just getting their foot in the publishing door could still offer a small royalty payment.  That way the authors are more vested in promoting the material.  The publishers don’t have to come up with up-front payment.  And the authors don’t have to feel like someone is bending them over and…I’ll keep it clean, but you know where I was going.

But when I spend more money than I earned to buy a copy or two of “my” book, it hurts my heart a little.  I end up paying more than I was paid.  That is essentially paying to have your work published, which is a number one no-no, as everyone knows.

Can I be one of those working writers?  Go get a day job like so many and write in my “spare” time?  Yup, and I just may one of these days if my Sugar Daddy gets tired of supporting my pipe dreams. 

Or I may decide that my massive amounts of time are better spent elsewhere and give up the authorial ghost.

I hope that day never comes, because as much as “For the Love” is a gang of rude squirrels defecating in my sandbox, I still love to write.  For now I’ll throw my bon-bons at them and power through. 

I don’t need the empty calories anyway.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a cannibalism story that needs to be written.  Twenty-five bucks and a zombie t-shirt riding on this one, baby.  Woo hoo!  They had me at zombie.  And again at t-shirt. 

Take that, you stupid squirrels!

Female Horror Authors Writing Male Characters (and Vice Versa)

I’ve been mapping out a tale in my mind for the past week or so.  Initially, I thought that my main character would be a guy.  Initially being for about a day.  And then I got to thinking that I would much rather it be a woman.  Why?  I can’t say, exactly.  I know that I enjoy writing strong female characters.  The thing about this one is that she is flawed–psychologically scarred, tough-as-nails, and an alcoholic.  All of the traits the original character possessed only minus the penis.  I didn’t change the character, only the sex of the character.

The feeling that my MC would be better as a female got me thinking about women authors writing male protagonists, and conversely, men writing women leads.  There is no law against it.  If you do a good job with your voice, your characterization, your authenticity; your story will fly, right?

But is there a stigma where women horror authors are concerned?  I know my dad, a rabid horror reader when I was growing up, just about refused to read female authors.  I remember picking a horror novel for his birthday present, going by the blurb on the back (and let’s be totally frank, here–by the creepy cover).  My dad’s reaction was “I don’t read women authors.”

I didn’t get it.  I’m still not sure that I do.  I’ve always given equal billing to the sexes, I think.  Sure the horror I read was dominated by male authors and the romance, YA, chick-lit was all…chicks.  I don’t think that was a conscious decision on my part.  That’s just the way the numbers generally play out.  There are the exceptions.

I wonder if that author had used a manly (or at least ambiguous) pen name, would my pop have given her a fighting chance?  Would he have seen through her duplicity via her naturally feminine voice?  I know I read it and liked it, but, hey, I’m a girl.

See this article…

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/he-said-she-said

The author seems to be saying that employing less gender-specific style and dialog will make your work more appealing to a wider audience.  Makes sense to me.

But what about my main character–a little rough around the edges, even manly in some ways–will her less-feminine attributes make her more likable for male readers?

I don’t plan to change my name.  And I doubt I will play “Pin the Penis on the Protagonist” before I am done with my story.  Maybe guy readers will never get close enough to find out if it’s any good.

At least I can make my dad read it.  I’ll bring my festering outline to life for that alone.  I’m pretty sure I’m his favorite author these days. 🙂