The morning’s scones were golden triangles, perfectly balanced with with orange and cranberries. A sweet perfume was pervasive in the café long before the oven’s timer beeped. Red dropped her oven mitts in the basket and went out to see what sweetness was emanating from the dining room. It was Nightmare Fuel. Who did she find chatting with some of the regulars? Andrea Trask, of course.
M3: Andrea, forgive me if I slip up and call you Bliss, give the M3 Readers the book jacket version of who you are.
AT: Andrea Trask, the internet’s Bliss, is a Thingmaker – from knits and knots to words and worlds, she creates things for the joy of others. When not creating chills and thrills, she raises two children on the Massachusetts coast and encourages people to be excellent to each other.
M3: I love it. Anyone you want to thank before we start sniffing the fumes?
AT: My English teachers who pushed and developed me, particularly Mr. Burgiel and Mark Destler. Naton Leslie, the poet in residence and Creative Writing teacher at Siena College, who really kicked my literary ass and redpenned my work ruthlessly.
Everyone with whom I’ve written at Elliquiy, which got me in the habit not only of writing every day but writing a volume and variety – particularly Blake Sinclair, who is also my cowriter on the forthcoming novel Beneath the Jolly Roger.
Finally, Everyone on Google+ who participated in my Nightmare Fuel writing project, from which my Nightmare Fuel collection emerged.
M3: My guess is we have not covered how you actually got started in the industry yet.
AT: I started in the industry while it was still firmly entrenched in traditional publishing. My high school received a monthly literary newspaper for and by teens, to which I regular submitted and in which I sometimes was published. The editors put together a book called Teen Ink: Our Voices, Our Visions in which one of my essays was included. There followed a period of about 15 years until I submitted my first erotic microfiction, “Spaced,” to Circlet Press, and I’ve been putting out work in several genres since then.
M3: Quite a bit of a break. Was that an official hiatus?
AT: I have a friend who likes to say, “I never stop writing, I only take breaks to plot.” I find this pretty apt – even when I’m not actually writing something, I’m still working, either mulling over ideas or observing the world, absorbing experiences.
Neil Gaiman has a fantastic essay about where writers get their ideas in which he says, “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”
We can take vacations. We can stop producing on a certain project for a while. But we never really stop working.
M3: The idea factory never truly goes on hiatus. Does economics play a part in your writing?
AT: Only in that I have not had a traditional 40-hours-a-week job in over a year and a half, which has left me with more time to write and a much stronger and more present inclination to pursue it as a vocation rather than a creative hobby.
M3: Which makes the idea of a day job moot.
AT: Writing is my day job! But I suppose that you mean a standard job that brings in money to pay all the bills, performed on a set weekly schedule? I don’t see why other people should care if I have a day job, unless said job would somehow impact my writing. I know quite a few people who write really interesting things while holding down a standard job, and other people who don’t write much or at all when they have a non-writing job to focus on.
M3: What is your first best advice for noobs?
AT: Like a child learning to walk, you’re going to fall down a lot. You’re going to teeter. You’re going to fail. Failing is good, as long as you don’t let it stop you – in failing, in making mistakes, you learn what things don’t work.
You may think that if you aren’t a very good writer when you start out, you just don’t have the talent for it. Bull. Writing is a skill, not a magical conference of ability from the invisible writing gods. It’s a skill just like walking. With any skill, you need to practice. Gradually, you’ll be standing up. Then, you can walk.
Then you can run.
M3: In all this running you are doing, how do you find enough time?
AT: Time doesn’t lay around, seeping under the couch and creeping into corners. You have to create the time before you can create the stories. It’s invisible work.
It’s not hard, though. If you set aside 15 uninterrupted minutes of solid writing, when you finish you have new words. If you type 50wpm, in three months you have enough words for a small novel. You have a short story in anywhere from a week to a month.
I look at that, and then look at what I spend time on that doesn’t really matter the way writing does.
M3: Funny, I thought the lump in my couch was time. Hmm. So, what are you spending your time on these days?
AT: I always have several projects in the works. I’ve edited an anthology of ocean-themed erotica, Like A Coming Wave, soon to emerge from Circlet Press. Beneath the Jolly Roger is a pirate erotica co-written with Blake Sinclair that is currently in edits. My big solo project right now is a horror story about The Yarnmen, little people made out of yarn that are given a semblance of life, like a golem.
Beyond my own projects, I also run regular daily writing image-prompt pages on Google+, which different themes each month.
M3: At least you are keeping busy (laughing). Tell me a secret you may not want me to share with the M3 Readers.
AT: Don’t tell them my books are terrible. We writers are such fey and fragile creatures, with egos of spun glass, and- (laughing)
No, I can’t even keep this up, I’m giggling too hard. Writer-egos get massively callused. Just don’t tell them how much whiskey I put in my coffee.
M3: You mean coffee does not come with whiskey? Oh, right! (nods knowingly) Let’s talk about Nightmare Fuel. Did the genre pick you?
AT: My instinctive reaction is to say no… but thinking about how Nightmare Fuel came to be, I suppose it kind of did. Yet it’s not the only genre in which I write – I have collections out in both horror and erotica, and at least one novel that is firmly in the epic fantasy genre.
M3: Why do I get the impression how Nightmare Fuel came to be is why you are close to it?
AT: For several years running now, I’ve had a spate lasting from a few days to a weeks each fall where I suffered from nightmares so bad I’d keep waking from them and be unable to get back to sleep until I was operating on a dangerous sleep debt. Nightmare Fuel has pretty major personal significance because it came out of a project of writing daily horror shorts to try and get the nasties out of my head. A lot of people ended up wanting to join in, and it helped me build a fantastically supportive community of enthusiastic writers on Google. Also, it got rid of my nightmares.
M3: Tell me about some of your community.
AT: I think they’re fantasticakes! I’ve had someone tell me I live in a self-induced pocket universe where all writers sing butterflies and poop rainbows, but I’ve found the writers that I’ve connected with to be incredibly supportive of myself and each other, helping each other work through sticky spots in writing and then in the process of either self-publishing or shopping a work to more traditional publishers.
We’re the music-makers and the dreamers of dreams. It makes sense to me to combine our efforts to improve ourselves and each other, effectively raising the quality of all the work we produce.
M3: I think that is important. Do you see the traditional publishing industry looking down its nose at self-published material?
AT: Speaking as someone who is mostly working outside the traditional industry, I don’t know that I can necessarily speak for their views. I think that the idea that self-produced material is inferior does have some groundings in reality. There are people who self-publish without edits, without consideration of what makes a good layout or cover.
Conversely there are a lot of indie writers who are putting significant effort intro producing good stories, having them well-edited, and working up good presentations for the final product, all attempting to battle against that very presumption.
M3: Personal responsibility cannot be foregone strictly because you are the boss. You take a lot of it making Nightmare Fuel different from all the other horror books in the library.
AT: Probably the great charm of Nightmare Fuel (I know, charm in horror? Stay with me.) is that it is a very cerebral sort of horror. Horror movies in recent decades have been edging and then diving into the arena of torture porn, trying to show the most horrible possible things as utterly realistically as possible. Nightmare Fuel, on the other hand, is in the vein of creepypasta. It doesn’t shock, stab, scream – it lurks in the edge of your vision, in the shadows behind the mirror in your bedroom. It’s meant to induce a subtle, creeping fear that lingers in the dusty corners of the brain long after you’ve put the book away.
M3: Which is definitely far creepier. As for things going bump in the night, have you had any victory over the traditional publishing industry?
AT: I decry the idea that the industry is something against which I as a writer have to do great battle. It’s like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. The industry exists to make writing a reality, to put stories in the hands of readers, be it as a digital file or dead-tree pages.
M3: I like the attitude! As an Indie you also have to take responsibility for your own marketing. How important are your social media efforts?
AT: It’s crucial. As a self-published indie author, I have nobody else in place to do it for me. It’s up to me to make sure people know my books exist, and keep reminding people, with the hope that they’ll excitedly tell their friends, and that word of mouth will proliferate.
M3: Be your own agent and tell the M3 Readers in 15 words or less why they need to buy Nightmare Fuel.
AT: Nightmare Fuel is keep-the-lights-on creepiness that gets into your head without resorting to flaying skin.
M3: I am looking forward to seeing you again with Beneath the Jolly Roger.
Dearest M3 Readers,
Please take a few moments to check out Andrea Trask and Nightmare Fuel. Visit Andrea’s blog to learn more about the author and her books. Follow her on Twitter for the latest on her upcoming books. Her books are available in other formats than just Kindle. Autographed copies are available for pre-order for a limited time!
Thank you for your constant support of the talented M3 Coffee Shoppe authors. When you tweet and +1 this post, please use the hashtags #authors, #books and #WW.
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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