1. What am I working on?
Stacey: I just finished rewrites on my novel, Ordinary Boy, about a young man growing up in the ’80s who struggles with bullies, girlfriends, and a monstrous stepfather. It’s due out in early 2015 from Dark Alley Press. My next project is a novella about two sisters, one of whom is a zombie. It’s a sweet tale of sibling bonding, insults, and the undead. My own sister is undoubtedly thrilled that I’ve turned her into a decaying zombie in this tale.
Ursula: Amber Wolf is a novel about Lithuanian resistance to the Soviet occupation of 1944. People from all walks of life moved to military-type camps in the primeval forests, and ran missions against Soviet strongholds. I talk about living conditions, the source of weaponry, and some of the moral questions. Can you fight a brutal enemy without becoming brutal yourself?
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Ursula: Amber Wolf is the only novel I am aware of that discusses the topic of Lithuanian resistance to the Soviets during WWII. While it is historical fiction, I also incorporate some Lithuanian culture with phrases, folklore, and traditions, like saying a prayer to good health under a crescent of the moon.
Stacey: Maybe my work isn’t that different from others in my genre. I’ve been accused of copying Jeff Strand, emulating Neil Gaiman, and lifting entire plot points from Stephen King. (Check out my book, That, about a murderous alien clown that lives in the sewers.) In all seriousness, I tend to write funny horror, which is probably not that common.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Stacey: I write humor because there’s nothing in the world I enjoy more than laughing (except, perhaps, for a fresh Double Stuf ® Oreo). The horror thing came about because my husband kept badgering me. “You should try writing horror,” he’d say all the time, and I’d say “If you keep that up, I’m going to slit your throat, dismember your body, freeze it, and then feed the pieces through a wood chipper.” That’s about when I realized he might have a point.
Ursula: I’ve been writing for 4 years and my novels, Purple Trees and Amber Wolf are about topics that have always interested me. My great-grandparents were born in Lithuania, so Amber Wolf has special significance to me.
Purple Trees is about a woman with a tumultuous past that affected her relationship with her son. It is also about death, abuse, and life in the farming community of rural Massachusetts during the 1960s and 1970s. I grew up on a diary farm and wanted to talk about that lifestyle.
Stacey: You did? I grew up on a dairy farm, too.
Ursula: Really? Do you ever write about it?
Stacey: Sometimes . . .
4. How does my writing process work?
Stacey: My writing process is heavily fueled by caffeine. Also, I often get story ideas by thinking about people who have wronged me in the past, and trying to imagine creative ways to do them in. For instance, there was one girl, Sally, who wouldn’t let me sit with her on the school bus because our dairy farm was a bit odorous. I recently wrote a short story in which a little girl named Sally finds herself in a dark field, surrounded by angry, carnivorous cows. Is it horror? I like to think of it as comedy.
Ursula: I write every day and try to stay organized so that all my writing contributes, somehow, to a story or novel. When the well is dry, I don’t force myself to write. I find that taking some time away from writing now and then helps ideas to gel.
A key part of my writing process involves a team effort where Stacey and I, along with two others, collaborate on the editing and marketing aspects of book publishing. For details, see our Susan Kaye Quinn post on collaboration.
Stacey: Well, yes, that answer was much more logical than mine. Good advice!