Lucy A. Snyder is one of my favorite authors and not only does she have a new writer’s guide out, SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE HEAD FOR FUN AND PROFIT, but she’s also just released a brand new story colletion, SOFT APOCALYPSES, and she’s kindly stopped by to talk about the new books, and more! Please welcome her back to the blog!
Lucy, you’ve got two new, and very different, books out, SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE HEAD FOR FUN AND PROFIT (a writer’s guide) and a story collection, SOFT APOCALYPSES. Personally, what are a few of your favorite stories in SOFT APOCALYPSES?
The book contains my story “Magdala Amygdala”, which won the Bram Stoker Award. I think that it’s one of my best short stories. But my personal favorites were the ones that were a whole lot of fun to write.
There’s “Repent, Jessie Shimmer!” which, as you might guess from the title, features the heroine from my urban fantasy trilogy. In this story, Jessie and her familiar Pal go back down south to lend Miz Devereaux a hand, and in the process Jessie gets into a whole passel of trouble. It’s a fast-paced adventure tale, and Jessie fans and zombie fans should enjoy it.
And speaking of zombies, there’s “Tiger Girls vs. the Zombies,” which was originally supposed to appear in the anthology Redneck Zombies From Outer Space, but that book has been delayed, and so it’s actually debuting in Soft Apocalypses. It’s completely gonzo, and it takes place in the universe of my book Installing Linux on a Dead Badger, so if you liked that brand of geeky zombie humor, that story should be just your thing.
There are also a couple of stories that were both fun to write and were the first times I’ve written in particular genres. “Diamante and Strass” is a post-apocalyptic rock-and-roll science fiction Western. And “The Leviathan of Trincomalee” is my first steampunk tale. Steampunk has been criticized for not having enough “punk” in it, so the young protagonist in “Leviathan” is both rather rebellious and embodies the do-it-yourself ethos.
I love that so many of your books and stories combine the best elements of horror with SFF, and I’m especially fond of your Jessie Shimmer books. Speaking of which… Are there any plans for more books or stories in Jessie’s world?
Absolutely! Earlier this year, Alliteration Ink ran a successful Kickstarter for the fourth book in the series, which will be entitled Devils’ Field. I’m in the process of writing the novel, and I hope I’ll have it finished in time for an early- or mid-2015 release. I have plans for two more Jessie novels past that one, and once readers have Devils’ Field in hand Alliteration Ink will run a Kickstarter for #5.
Devils’ Field will tell the story of how Jessie tries to find her Aunt Vicky’s trapped soul and bring her back to life. She’ll get help from her fiancé Cooper Marron, her faithful familiar Pal, and her father, the enigmatic Magus Shimmer. As she pursues her goal, she’ll risk serious side effects from the sorcery she’ll have to use; if she fails, she might become a zombie, or worse, a monster like her arch-nemesis Miko.
Even if everything goes according to plan—and when does anything ever go according to plan in Jessie’s world?—she will have to face down monsters and the Virtus Regnum to rescue her aunt from eternal torment.
In other Jessie Shimmer news, her world and magic system will be a playable setting in the new d6xd6 CORE RPG game. I’ll be writing the setting details myself for the game company, and I’ll be turning that in at the end of October, so presumably her game details will be published sometime after that.
I’ve also got some stories featuring secondary characters from Spellbent (the first Jessie novel) coming out very soon. My noir urban fantasy story “Santa Muerte” (which features Kai, and which I co-wrote with Daniel Robichaud) will be in Streets of Shadows from Alliteration Ink next month. My erotic horror story “Demonized” (featuring Mother Karen) will be in What Lies Beneath from Circlet Press sometime this fall.
People who are interested in reading that and other sexy Jessie Shimmerverse stories should check out my collection Orchid Carousals, which was released last year by CGP.
You’ve got tons of experience conducting writer’s workshops, and of course, you’ve got the new writer’s guide out, but what’s one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you’d started writing?
There are a couple of things I’d wished I’d known! The first is, never stop trying. That’s the one thing that separates amateur writers and professional writers. The pros keep writing and keep trying to improve their work.
Even when they get discouraged, they keep writing and trying to be better.
And the second is: it’s completely useless to beat yourself up over failure or perceived failure. When I was starting out, I’d heard most everyone say that if you didn’t write every day, you were doomed to failure. And for me, that’s not true; I work to deadlines but I don’t write every single day. And so if I missed a day writing, I’d beat myself up, and it was wildly counterproductive. If you miss a day or a week or a month, don’t waste your energy on self-recriminations. Take a deep breath and resolve to do better. It doesn’t matter what you didn’t do last week; this week and next week matter.
It’s been a while since we caught up (2011!!) Have you read any good books lately? Anything you’d recommend?
I highly recommend that all fans of dark fantasy and horror read The King in Yellow by author Robert W. Chambers, but it’s essential reading for fans of Lovecraftian fiction or HBO’s “True Detective”. The book was first published in 1895 and can be read/downloaded at Project Gutenberg. About half of the tales in the collection are supernatural, and the first four ¬¬— “The Repairer of Reputations”, “The Mask”, “In the Court of the Dragon”, and “The Yellow Sign” — all deal with the King In Yellow and his Yellow Sign (so, if you’re short of time, you can read just those and be all caught up). The King in Yellow was a considerable influence on Lovecraft’s work, and so Chambers’ mythos is retroactively considered to be part of the Lovecraftian mythos.
What’s next for you, this year and beyond?
Well, there’s Devils’ Field, and I’ve also just started as a student in the Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing program. I’ll be writing a novel as part of the degree requirements in that program, and it might be a Lovecraftian/King in Yellow project I’ve started entitled The Girl With the Star-Stained Soul. The short story that serves as the seed for that novel will be in the anthology The Court of the Yellow King from Celaeno Press sometime this fall.
I’ve been writing quite a lot of short stories lately; in the past six months I’ve been invited to write stories for not just one but five different Lovecraftian/KiY anthologies ( “True Detective” seems to be having an effect on reading tastes!) My story “The Leviathan of Trincomalee” was just out in Steampunk World from Alliteration Ink, and my story “The Abomination of Fensmere” will be in Shadows Over Main Street from Hazardous Press. My science fiction horror story “Dura Mater” will be in Qualia Nous (from Written Backwards) and my southern gothic tale “Kudzu” will be in A Darke Phantastique: Encounters with the Uncanny and Other Magical Things (Cycatrix Press). I’ve also been invited to write for a new X-Files anthology, and since I’ve been a Mulder and Scully fan from way back, I’m really looking forward to that.