My book “Feminine Wiles” is a short story collection featuring stories about female villains. All 16 tales feature a different villain in all of her seductive glory. From sirens and succubi to serial killers and fabled witches from lore, each tale delves in the supernatural and seductive lure only women can conjure up. No victims, no damsels in distress. This time it’s the girls’ turn to have some fun.
How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
Most of my writing career.
How long did it take you to write your book?
The book came together over years…the stories within span my entire writing career from my early days in my twenties to just three years ago.
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
I don’t finish a story until I am satisfied with the ending. I feel that most stories tell themselves and that the story will be as long as it takes to tell. The story lets me know when it’s finished. Most of the time when there is a resolution or a change that has affected the lives of the characters.
What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
I want an emotional response from my reader…fear, sadness, surprise, sympathy. Above all I want them to be entertained but I also want them to feel lost in my writing, carried away, wooed, moved in some way. I write horror but in that genre there are so many different emotions. I want the reader to experience many of them while being creeped out or glued to the page.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
I grew up in a supportive household. My mom always encouraged my writing and she was a big horror fan, so it really helped to be able to watch all the scary movies I wanted. So my creativity had a good starting point. My mother was always very creative and wanted to write herself.
What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
I write evenings after I get home from work, and on weekends.
Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?
I don’t have any particular rituals, but one thing is that I don’t like to stop or walk away from a story on pg 13. It’s a silly superstition of mine, but I will push myself to write to page 14 to avoid it.
Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?
I do my best writing at night. Love to stay up late writing. My second wind usually comes after midnight and I write like crazy from then until about 2 or 3.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on a couple of novels…some young adult horror, putting together new collection about monsters and working on a new fantasy series with some horror elements. I’m very excited about all of them and can’t wait to get them finished.
What was the first story you remember writing?
The first story I ever wrote was called “The Heirloom”. It was about a cursed item discovered in an house that was for sale. A new couple discovers it in the attic and their lives become hell. I actually sold it first too, to a magazine called Chapter One. I never saw it get published but I assumed it did.
Does writing come easy for you?
Writing does come pretty easy to me. I enjoy it so much that I can think of nothing better then when I am writing. The ideas just flow. It’s only when I am very tired that I can’t write or that it is a bit harder. Then I know not to push it because he work will suffer.
Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?
I used to keep all of my ideas and outlines in a notebook. I have about 5 notebooks of stories and ideas from when I was young. Now I keep everything on my computer. So much easier and I am so organized. I keep folders on my desktop, categorized by genre, stories and novels, ideas and outline.
What do you like to read?
I’m an avid reader. I read tons of horror, I read fantasy, sci-fi, young adult, mystery, historical, biographies, slice of life. True stories of hauntings, UFOs, mythology.
What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?
A good story is about style, the style it is written in makes it unique and second is to make the reader care about your characters. Without empathy for your characters readers won’t care what happens to them. Once they care, you can really rev things up. I think it is all in the way you tell the story and how the characters come to life. Write about what you know, add in touches from your life and real people and it will come to life.
How have you marketed and promoted your work?
I use social sites to market, horror and fantasy forums, mass emails to friends and family, word of mouth, a few book signings, keeping my site updated, I’ve recently started doing book trailers, I plan to do giveaways, and some web banners and postcards to see how that works. It’s all trial and error and no one has really figured out what really works. A good cover draws people in, good writing keeps them interested. I recently created a fan page on facebook for my writing and marketing.
What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
My advice to new writers would be to be patient, write every day and have a thick skin. Not everyone is going to love your writing but some will. Just learn to hold onto what matters, let the rest go and keep writing!
John Grover is a dark fiction writer from Massachusetts. Visit his website for more info http://www.shadowtales.com or on facebook.