Karen and I were tagged by our friend, Gregory Norris (gregorylnorris.blogspot.com), to join the Blog Tour. Greg is one of the most prolific writers we know. In addition to writing hundreds of short stories, novellas and novels, he has also written a movie, “Brutal Colors,” which is in its final cut in Los Angeles.
Normally, Karen and I share a blog as “sistersdent” but felt our combined blog would go on too long, so we decided to answer individually. The following is Roxanne’s blog.
What am I working on?
We live in an age, where the greatest mystery is how quickly we can navigate the latest technological wonder. Magic seems lost in the mists of time. “Beyond the Iberian Sea,” is an urban, paranormal fantasy. It sweeps you into a world of magic, where nothing is impossible and evil is real, tangible and terrifying. Mick Grimaldi, the cheeky, shape shifting detective from “The Janus Demon,” my ninth novel, (due out this year) has been hired to find a missing person in another dimension. The money is great but he has been warned by the fey if he enters their world, a death sentence hangs over him and he suffers from a weakness that makes him vulnerable every time he shifts. In this novel, I introduce three new races, the seafaring Volk and their red robed priests, the simple Taren farmers and the exotic, Sharee traders whose voices both heal and move megalithic stones. I alternate between Mick and Bronagh, a bitter revenge seeking inhabitant of the Kingdom of the Volk and how their worlds collide and impact one another when they finally meet. Both are damaged people who must overcome their fears and come to terms with their past even as their worlds collapse around them.
I never work on one novel alone. I just completed two shorts, “The Reckoning,” a horror tale about family loyalty and “Day of the Dead,” a tale of murder and revenge. Never lacking projects, I also have several on the back burner, in various stages of completion, including “The Boy in the Green Hightops,” a YA prequel to “The Janus Demon,” “The Wager,” another Regency, and plan to set aside time to edit “The Poison Pen Murders,” a Victorian mystery.
How is my work different from other’s work in the same genre?
Until I was ten, I lived in lower Manhattan in a warm, Italian neighborhood. My mother sent me to the nearest school, “Our Lady of Pompeii.” I was the only non Catholic in my class and used to sneak out of the house to attend mass. I loved the rituals and wanted to belong, a theme that often crops up in my stories as well as being an outsider, an outcast and a holder of secrets.
When my mother and I moved to Florida, I lived for three years with an alcoholic aunt in an elderly community where the majority of residents were only there during the winter months. I escaped by reading every one of her National Geographic Magazines two and three times and anything else I could get my hands on. I was also glued to the television watching mostly Westerns and 1930s and 40s movies about swashbuckling pirates on the movie channel. It was here I dreamed of being a writer. I would hold up one of my aunt’s thick, Readers Digest books: imagine an audience, and would make up a story, pretending I had written a novel.
At thirteen, I moved again to Yonkers, NY where I adjusted to being around lots of different kids and life in the suburbs. Painfully shy, I felt out of step and invisible to the teens around me, once again, burying myself in books. It was here I first put the fantasies in my head onto paper and won a poetry competition for The Devil’s Disciple,” which encouraged me to keep writing. I returned to New York City in my early twenties and spent the following decades enjoying all the richness the city had to offer including my first book sale. It was here Karen and I collaborated on a screenplay treatment we sold to Austin Films and explored play writing for The Producer’s Club where I wrote A Weekend in the Country, a farce. I also joined The Sunday Club, a group of down and dirty independent filmmakers whose goal was to write and produce a movie in one day. We helped each other make movies and did whatever was needed from boom person to food services. I subsequently wrote and directed Valentine’s Day, a thriller which won the Audience Choice Awards in the Bare Bones International Film Festival. My screenplay, The Pied Piper, a thriller, won first prize in Fade-in Magazine.
In June, 2000 I relocated to Haverhill, Massachusetts where Karen and I collaborated on Young At Heart and Monkey Girl Blues which were put on at The Firehouse Theater in Newburyport.
Many of my stories take place in New York City where I have a great many happy memories. I write characters who are frequently lonely, isolated, quirky, secretive and gifted. Growing up, I read, and read and read. I didn’t limit myself to one genre. I was eclectic in my reading from fairy tales around the world to adventure novels like The Count of Monte Christo and Robin Hood, to Agatha Christie’s mysteries, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan series, The Dragon Riders of Pern, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
As an adult, I came to love the tales of Steven King, Kate Daniels, George Martin, Jim Butcher Charlene Harris, Jane Austin, the dark mysteries of Ruth Rendell, and The Sister Fidelma mysteries set in ancient Ireland.
As I began to write, I wrote as I read, choosing projects that interested me, rather than sticking to one genre.
Themes of mine involve magic, humor, adventure, battling inner demons, being different, and fear of the unknown.
Why do I write as I do?
I write because my characters and plots come to me daily and refuse to be ignored. They rattle around in my head haunting me until I turn the computer on. I love them all, each having something about them I can identify with. Most have a sense of humor, honor, long for love and acceptance, are often lonely and possess a little bit of greatness. I let them speak. Sometimes they surprise me. Sometimes they freak me out or piss me off. They give me the golden opportunity to let them fulfill their destinies or alter their path, give them courage and allow them to meet their fate. It’s a gift.
How does my writing process work?
I know people who think a bit, then pound out their novels non-stop and often get done in a matter of weeks. I admire them but I’m not that kind of writer even with short stories. With novels, I do a loose outline first and a character breakdown. I list names I feel fit the characters. If I need to do research, I do it. Then I write, and re-write, and re-write the first few chapters before moving on. I frequently take breaks to embark on a short story. Every morning, as soon as I take a few sips of coffee, I turn on the computer. I sneak a peek at Facebook, check my e-mails and what anthologies and contests are out there. if I have anything to submit, or if a particular theme inspires me to begin writing a new short story, I make a note of it. I try to get in at least a 45 minute walk, usually with my sister. Later, we might go to Panera’s or Starbucks with our laptops and write. It breaks things up by going to a place where the aroma of French Roast and the low murmuring all around me helps me to relax. I don’t look up and think, damn, got to do laundry or clean the kitchen floor. Once I’ve finished a novel, I take another longer break before reading it again and editing as I go. At night, I watch some TV and nestle with my cat, see a movie, buy a book or have dinner with friends or family.
I pass the torch along to two fabulous writers, Tony Trembly who is the author of horror and noir fiction. He writes under the pen name of T. T. Zuma. His short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies, websites and print magazines. He is also one of the editors, (along with Nanci Kalanta and Christ Jones,} of the Eulogies series of horror anthologies for HW Press. Tony is also a reviewer of horror and dark fiction for Horror World and Cemetery Dance Magazine and is a lovely person.
And Kristi Petersen Schoonover, whose fiction has appeared in countless publications, most recently the Rose Red Review. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and is an editor for Read Short Fiction; currently she’s getting herself organized and polishing some older work. She lives with her husband in the haunted woods of Connecticut and sleeps with the lights on. You can find out more at http://www.kristipetersenschoonover.com