Today’s special guest on my page is author K.M. Reynolds, whose short story, “The Twelfth Maid,” was just published in the anthology A Contract of Words, which features 28 authors from all over the world, including my new short story, "Two Gunslingers." Here is what she had to say about life, writing, and her story:
1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't live without?
If we are talking about things, not people, then my answer is coffee. Without a doubt.
2. What was your inspiration for your story?
I saw a photo of an old mansion at a friend’s house, and I got the idea for Hammond House. The rest of the story just sort of flowed from there!
3. If a genie could grant you 3 wishes, what would you wish for?
I’m assuming “More Wishes” isn’t an option… so
1. I would wish that my body would be in peak condition for the rest of my life, and that I wouldn’t be able to get sick or injured. In a nutshell; perfect, unwavering health.
2. I would wish that I (and my children and descendants) would be set for life financially, and not have to worry about money.
3. I would wish for love and equality to be the ‘norm’ on a global scale.
4. Has reading influenced your decision to be a writer? What book(s) made you want to write?
Reading absolutely influenced my desire to become a writer. I remember reading the Nancy Drew series and The Chronicles of Narnia when I was about 9-10 years old and being enthralled. I knew I wanted to create memorable stories and characters that would persevere even after my death. I hope someday, that dream comes true!
5. Would you describe your writing process? For example, do you write in a specific place, have music playing or is that a no-no, lean toward outlining specifics, or are you a pantser?
I typically write at my desk, unless I’m working out-of-home. I use earplugs to eliminate all distractions and write in silence. Even muffled background noise feels like a jackhammer in my skull, so the silence is a must. As far as outlining vs ‘pantsing’, I fall right in the middle. I like to create a general outline, detailing who my characters are and what I want the general beginning, middle, and end of the story to look like. Then, I just write what comes to mind and makes sense at the time. Sometimes, it flows beautifully with my vague outline, but other times, like in The Twelfth Maid, it takes a turn that surprises me.
6. When faced with the dreaded “writers block”, how do you push through and find inspiration? Is there a ritual or process you have to get yourself back on track?
I often find myself facing a brick wall when I’m writing. Thankfully, I have several WIP’s going at once, so if I’m running out of steam on one story, I divert my attention to another, and usually, the little flame of inspiration re-ignites. On the off-chance that my other stories fail to get my creative juices flowing, I take a step away from the computer. I go for a walk, listen to some music, and sometimes take a nap (or go to bed for the night). After giving my brain some time to rest and recharge, it’s usually ready to jump back onboard a story line and keep going.
7. Did you know how your story would end when you started writing it? If not, did plans change while writing or did you improvise when you arrived?
As I sort of alluded to in Question 5, I did not see the ending of The Twelfth Maid coming. The story was supposed to be a lighthearted romance with a touch of creepy… and it wound up dragging me down the rabbit hole. The story turned out well though, so I can’t complain.
8. If a movie were to be made of your story and you were in charge of casting, who would play your characters? Who would direct?
I would cast Elle Fanning as Mary, and Evan Peters as Archie Hammond. For directing, I honestly have no idea who I would choose.
9. How close did your story end up being to the original concept you had in your mind? What were the biggest changes? Why did you make them?
The biggest change I made was essentially everything that happened after Archie startles Mary in the library and asks for her help. I did not plan to take the story in that direction at all, but the characters had other ideas. I just wrote what flowed organically and what I saw playing out in my mind at the time. Not at all what I had envisioned.
10. What book were you reading when you thought, This stuff sells??? Oh, hell, I can do that…
Personally, I’ve never had this experience… but I’ve heard of some very popular books that elicit this reaction from many of my writing peers. I’ve never read them, though.
11. Did you have to do any odd research for your story? How did you conduct that research, and then how was it used in your story?
I did have to search for some basic taxidermy related things, as well as how to effectively clean blood out of various surfaces.
12. If you could pick one place to sit and write, where would it be?
Looking out of the window of a home nestled in the mountains, overlooking a lake. Sounds like heaven.
13. How closely do you relate to/identify with your characters? What inspired them? Did they take over your story or did you direct them?
I don’t really relate to either character, to be honest. But they absolutely took over the story, despite my attempts at direction. Stubborn creatures.
14. What do you consider your all-time favorite novel? One that you would read again and again.
Jane Eyre. I have so many favorites, but Jane Eyre will always top my list.
15. How much of your writing is outlined from the beginning and how much of it is ‘pantsed’ or written on the fly?
I usually create a very vague outline, with some mentions of possible major plot points or events in the timeline. When I sit down to write, I occasionally refer to the outline, but I mostly just let the story flow organically. Maybe it matches the outline, maybe it doesn’t.
16. What are your favorite snack-as-you-write or eat-as-you write foods? How do they help your creative flow or process?
I can’t eat and write at the same time; my coordination isn’t that good. Plus, I tend to get very easily distracted, so I create a bit of a ‘zone’ for myself with minimal interference to the writing itself. The only staple food or beverage during my writing is a large 30 oz mug of coffee that I refill a few times. I’ll take breaks for various snacks and to stretch my legs, but the coffee keeps me going. I also keep a gallon jug of water on my desk to prevent having to get up too often to fill a glass.
17. How is your ACOW story typical or atypical of your writing in general?
The Twelfth Maid was my first story that involved any type of horror element, however mild. I wasn’t sure I could even pull off this kind of writing, but now, all my new story ideas seem to be this same style and genre. So, I’d say it’s representative of about 50% of my writing style at this time.
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