Hi Mandie and welcome to Horror Scribes!
Please tell us a bit about you and your writing.
As a writer, I like exploring the unknown, from the human psyche to the supernatural. Whether I’m writing horror or another genre, I enjoy capturing moments of human vulnerability. I’m intrigued by places with unexplained phenomena, and sometimes use them as starting points where the unravelling of the tale will fill in the mystery left in real life.
I’m currently working on editing my first horror novel, and I also write poetry, flash fiction, and short stories for literary magazines. I have a deep desire to help other writers, so I write a blog with writing tips and tricks to help and encourage other authors. And I’ve created an online writing community that has brought together over 100 writers in my town, which is an impressive number for the small size of our town.
Flash fiction is still in its early days and hasn’t yet been fully embraced by mainstream culture. Do you think it ever will and how can you see it grow as a genre?
While the term flash fiction is still relatively new, there have been stories that fit into that category since storytelling first began. The medium is rapidly growing. In fact, I have found more literary magazines that publish flash fiction than publish genre fiction like horror. With the short attention spans of today’s audience, flash fiction may be the only fiction that some readers consume. A hint of this growth is seen by the number of terms that have popped up to describe shorter and shorter pieces of fiction, such as micro fiction, instant fiction, dribble, drabble, sudden fiction, immediate fiction, short shorts, twitterature, and more are popping up all the time. Social media is helping flash fiction grow in popularity, and the switch of many literary magazines from print to online allows for a lot more flash fiction opportunities in magazines catering to online audiences with short attention spans.
Flash fiction challenges the basic structure of storytelling (beginning, middle and end). Is this a limitation of the genre?
I think that flash fiction develops at a different pace, but I don’t think it should feel incomplete. I find the most successful writing in any length of story is the kind that makes you feel something in the fewest words. There are authors who can create a more complete and vivid description of a character, setting, or emotion in a few lines than less-skilled authors can accomplish in several pages. Perhaps the most common mistake I see in flash fiction though is developing a piece in the same style and pace as a novel and then coming to the end of a scene and ending the story and calling it flash fiction. That’s a beginning of a story that hasn’t been finished yet. A flash fiction piece may not spell out the ending, it may even leave questions, but there’s enough there to know where the story is going and gives the essence of what is taking place.
How do you feel about flash fiction as a medium for horror?
I love it. I’ve written several flash fiction pieces, but I haven’t wrapped my mind around how to convey a horror story in that short of a piece yet. The trick is to create atmosphere and a sense of terror in a short space without relying heavily on clichés. It’s something I’m still working toward, and to see other writers do it successfully is such a treat.
What scares you the most and do you have a horror scene/passage/novel that has stayed with you?
I have a high tolerance for horror, and there’s a fine line for me between what I find scary and what I find creepy or gruesome. I don’t like stories that are just creepy and I don’t like gratuitous gore; although, a horror story can contain gore and have a creepy element that I find satisfying. I tend to find horror intriguing more often than scary. But when I find that thrill of a scare in a story or a movie, it has to do with the unknown and when something unexpected happens. The last time I remember lying awake at night was after I watched The Grudge. I could picture tendrils of hair flowing from the dark recesses of the room. There’s nothing that’s captured my imagination in quite that way since.
What is your advice to new writers?
This advice can never be said too much, read and write a lot. There’s no better way to learn about writing than to write. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t through hands-on experience. Read about the writing craft. Learn the rules, and if you break them, know why you are breaking them. Read fiction. You’ll intuitively pick up writing by reading other authors. Then you’ll start consciously noticing things that work well and things that shouldn’t be done. If you find yourself in love with a piece of writing, stop and figure out why it works so well. If you are reading something that is pulling you out of the story or bogging you down, stop and figure out what the author is doing that isn’t successful. And listen to audiobooks. The ear will pick up on things about a story that the eyes miss.
Please give us a one sentence horror story!
Terrence should have fled from his pitch-black house when he felt the presence, but when he heard the rumbling growl, he knew it was already too late.