“Meet My Character” Blog Hop

Grindhouse1The “Meet My Character” Blog Hop is a tour through the blogs of various independent speculative fiction authors as they talk about a character from their latest work. Each week a new author discusses what makes their character tick, and this week I’m up.

But first, big thanks to Marina Finlayson for hosting the previous stop on the Blog Hop. Marina is a reformed wedding organist who now writes fantasy. She is married and shares her Sydney home with three kids, a large collection of dragon statues, and one very stupid dog with a death wish.

Twiceborn, the first book in The Proving trilogy, is her first novel.

Now it’s time to meet my character.

What is the name of your character?

Mimi St. Laurent. She’s the protagonist of the short story, “Deviltown,” from my latest release, Grindhouse.

When and where is the story set?

This is a great question – I don’t even know! When I wrote this story, I had it in my mind that it was going to be very dark, very noir – I don’t think I really pinned down exactly where it would be set though. Maybe New York in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s? But then I hesitate to even say that because there may be some modern references in the piece that wouldn’t lend themselves to that time period so whatever. I think the mood of the story is more important than where it’s set.

What should we know about him or her?

Mimi is probably one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written. She’s a pre-op trans hooker with dreams of becoming the woman she always wanted to be, and dreams of escaping the streets. She’s incredibly savvy, sassy, and she takes no shit. She’s probably the character most like me personality-wise.

She’s also a recycled character. I was writing a story for a literary magazine about a young boy who grows up around drag queens and Mimi was from that piece. She was the boy’s drag mother and I liked her so much that when that story didn’t quite pan out the way I wanted it to, I took her from that world and put her in this one. It’s kind of a shame because bad shit happens to her in this story.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his or her life?

All three stories in Grindhouse are revenge tales. They deal with women who have been victimized mentally, spiritually, and oftentimes sexually, seeking vengeance against those who hurt them. Mimi is brutalized by one of her johns and it really fucks up her head. She can’t think of anything else besides retribution. Her attacker committed a hate crime against her, tried to kill her even, and when she realizes the police don’t give a shit about bringing this man to justice (because of her lifestyle and gender issues), she decides she has to take measures into her own hands.

What is the personal goal of the character?

Mimi’s personal goal at the beginning of the story is to get out of the life and to have surgery to become a woman. She’s been trapped in the wrong body her entire life and she’s thisclose to having enough money to make her dream come true.

Her goal towards the middle and end of the story is to kill the bastard who raped and beat her, leaving her for dead in an alley.

What is the title of the book, and where can we find out more?

Like I said above, “Deviltown” is a short story in my micro collection of shorts called Grindhouse. You can find this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and other e-retailers.

When was the book published?

December 31, 2014. It’s my first non-spec fic publication (though the final story in Grindhouse, “The Beautiful People,” may or may not have a spec fic element to it).

Next week’s “Meet My Character” Blog Hop participant is Jennifer R. Povey.

As a fiction writer, Jennifer R. Povey has short fiction credits from a number of magazines including the Australian popular science magazine Cosmos (for their website) and long-running ezines Big Pulp and Bards & Sages Quarterly.

As a freelancer, she offers quality, human-readable web content and copy to individuals and businesses at reasonable rates. She also writes articles and guest blog posts on a variety of subjects, but specializes in material related to fiction writing, equestrian activities and travel. She also provides proofreading and basic copy editing services.

She also enjoys horseback riding, travel, role-playing games and hanging out with her highly supportive and wonderful husband, Greg.

The Writing Process Blog Hop

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this site, but trust me – I’m not dead. Although this post would be very interesting if in fact I was dead. I mean, trying to figure out the metaphysics involved alone…

Anyhow, I’ve been invited to participate in a spec-fic blog hop, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to get acquainted with some very talented writers like this one:

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Michael Patrick Hicks has worked as a probation officer, a comic book reviewer, news writer and photographer, and, now, author. His work has appeared in various newspapers in Michigan, as well as several The University of Michigan publications, and websites, such as Graphic Novel Reporter and Leelanau.com. He holds two bachelor’s degrees from The University of Michigan in Journalism & Screen Studies and Behavioral Science. His first novel is CONVERGENCE.

http://michaelpatrickhicks.com

Go check him out, folks!

Now, onto the topic at hand: my writing process. I’m sure many of you have lain awake at night, tossing and turning, wondering how it is I come up with my stories. You’ve probably racked your brains trying to discover the method to my madness – I know I have. So when I saw the questions we blog hop participants were being asked to answer, I thought, “How in the world am I supposed to talk about my ‘process’ when I don’t even know what it is?”

Well, since I’ve deemed 2014 my year of introspection, I’m going to attempt to make sense of what’s going on in this crazy head of mine. Bear with me, Dear Readers – this could get messy.

1) What am I working on?

I have several things going at the moment. First, I need to finish one final story for a new short collection (Grindhouse, release TBD) I’ve been working on since November (!). All three stories in Grindhouse are very different from anything I’ve ever written. For starters, they’re more violent. They also have a ton of graphic language and explicit sex – it’s like a 1970s B movie in print. Or a Tarantino film. Same diff.

Then I’m getting back to my roots with an erotic horror novella. I’ll be tackling a second zombie novella, and of course, I’m always trying to craft the best pieces I can for my Dark Tales series. eVolume Three needs to be released soon and I kind of want to mine classic horror tropes again since eVolume Two was more thriller/suspense.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like to think my work is different, but maybe it’s not – maybe it’s incredibly derivative. I’ve been heavily influenced by film and television, oddly enough more so than books. Maybe a lot of what I put in print is something Carpenter or Craven or Argento have already done. I don’t know; I haven’t seen every film they, or their peers, have made. But I know I take inspiration from them, as do many of my peers, so I can’t claim to be a special snowflake in that regard.

I would also say my stories are darkly humorous, but again, that’s not unique to me. Stephen King does dark humor better than just about anybody. He’s the first author I can remember reading so of course some of his style would rub off on me.

When I read this back, I’m like, “Damn – I’m not original at all.” This realization would probably bother me if I didn’t know there are only something, like, seven plots in literature and they’ve all been done before. Hell, even Shakespeare cribbed things from writers who came before him.

So maybe the point isn’t to try and be original. Maybe the point is to give audiences tropes they’re familiar with, but do it in such a way that it feels fresh and new. Context is everything. If you tweak and twist a trope enough, it becomes something else entirely. Throw in interesting, vivid characters, sparkling dialogue, and a killer hook and ending, then voila! You’ll have a kickass story that nobody else has (assuming you can tell a good story to begin with). I think I do a decent job of this. I’m always striving to improve my craft, though, always pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and always trying new things.

For instance, I never thought I’d write about zombies. I love zombies as much as the next person, but I thought, “God, that’s so played. How many ways can you tell a post-apocalyptic zombie story?” Turns out, there are an endless number of ways to do it, some of which have been brilliant. Others…not so much. Still, I knew I couldn’t do it. If I was going to write about zombies, I had to do it on a more intimate level. So I wrote a novella called Good Eats and took the zombie myth back to its Haitian roots. There’s no virus, no survival camps, no bullets to the brain. It’s all hoodoo and dark magic. I wanted to write a novel about grief and loss; how those two things can drive seemingly rational people to do unspeakable things in the name of love – and the devastating consequences that occur once those wheels are set in motion.

Like most things I write, most people either love Good Eats or hate it. Some folks thought it was just “eh.” I’d never written a novella before so I thought I did a decent job of it my first time around. Plus, I love the story. It resonates with me; it’s one of the few things I’ve written where I’ve been physically moved while pounding out a scene. And the rising action all the way through to the denouement was wicked fun times.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’ve said it once before, but it bears repeating: I love to be afraid. It’s perverse, I know, but facing Big Bads in fiction and coming through it (relatively) unscathed makes me feel I can do anything in real life. I like to think there are others who feel that way too, so I write for them as well.

4) How does my writing process work?

Okay, this is the part where things will probably be nonsensical (note: you were all warned at the top this was coming).

I don’t have a process per se. If I did, it would probably look something like this:

– turn on laptop

– stare at blank screen and flashing cursor on white page for twenty minutes

– stare at the ceiling and count how many cracks are in the old plaster

– stare out the window at all of the fancy rich people going in and out of the private club across the street from my apartment

– wish I drove an Audi or Jaguar like those fancy rich people

– go back to staring at my blank laptop screen until I go cross-eyed

– slam the laptop shut and turn on old Buffy episodes and wish I could write anything half as inventive and witty

– two hours later, weep because I’ve made zero progress on my WIP

See? This is why I dread questions like this because that’s legitimately how my actual “process” works. At some point, I’ll get hit with enough inspiration/energy/luck/whatever to get off my lazy ass and put words to page, but for the most part, the above is how I spend my evenings when I’m supposed to be writing.

Hey – maybe if I am dead, I can be reanimated as a more efficient, more disciplined version of me?!

Ah, who am I kidding? I’d come back even slower, and more brain dead, than I already am.

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Next up on the blog hop?

S. Elliot Brandis has studied both psychology and engineering. He can tell you not only how they built that bridge, but why they felt the need to in the first place. Or so he would have you believe. In truth, he enjoys the little things in life: Bloody Marys with too much tabasco, and jeans that haven’t been washed. He often wears a cowboy hat when he writes. It keeps the light out of his eyes.

In May he publishes his first novel, Irradiated: a tale of two sisters living in Brisbane, Australia, post-civilization. He invites you to visit him at selliotbrandis.com.

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Before signing off, I’d like to thank all of the writers, editors, publishers, cover artists, etc. who nominated “Child’s Play” from Dark Tales: eVolume One for Best Short Story for the 2014 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards! I had no idea this was a thing, I only heard about it Saturday for the first time on KBoards, so imagine my shock when I clicked on the link and saw my story listed as a nominee. I still keep refreshing the page expecting it not to be there, as if it were a figment of my overactive imagination. But it’s there and I couldn’t be happier. Even if I don’t make it to the finals, I’m thrilled to have been acknowledged since I’m still a noob to the industry. I had no idea other indies knew I existed, let alone read my work. So thanks for the shout out. I’m in good company.

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