PATIENT: ROSE BLACKTHORN
When I was in my mid to late teens, I lived with my grandparents in an area that was pretty rural. They owned several acres that were nothing but fields, and I used to just walk around in those fields by myself, telling myself stories. I don’t know how long I did that before it occurred to me if I was to write them down, then I could come back and read them again later. So really, that’s when I consider the start of my writing. They were just stories, daydreams meant for my own entertainment. Then as time went on, I let some of my friends read some of what I’d written. That’s when I realized that other people might get some enjoyment out of my little flights of fancy. I went through a very intense period where all I was writing was poetry/song lyrics, and would stay up half the night being very ‘artistic’ and ‘in touch with my emotions’. Good thing I grew out of that fairly quickly!
As far as genre goes, I don’t know that I really picked it. My earliest attempts at actual story-telling with a beginning/middle/end were rock-n-roll romances about the members of rock bands I idolized at the time. But I’d spent most of my teens reading fantasy, sci-fi and horror (thanks to my amazing Mom) and so speculative fiction just feels at home to me. When it comes to short fiction however, I naturally gravitate to horror. Short stories lend themselves to horror, in my opinion. I’ve written some really creepy things that are only 100 words in length, and they’re still effective. It’s kind of funny actually – when I first starting writing purposefully, I could never seem to find the end of the story. It would just go on and on, and I’d end up with these rambling novels. Now I find a great deal of joy and satisfaction in writing shorter pieces, and the challenge of micro-fiction is a blast.
Where do you get your ideas from? Do you journal at all?
Ideas come from everywhere. I’ve gotten story ideas from dreams, from conversations with people, even from commercials on TV. Sometimes the best ideas come from everyday things, if you just look at them from a slightly skewed perspective.
As far as journaling, I’d have to say no. My Mom kept diaries, and since she has passed away I’ve gone through and read what she’d written. There were some fascinating things in there, things that we’d never actually talked about, and I never would have known about them if not for her writings. I have tried on more than one occasion to keep a diary or journal. I’ve been in classes that required journaling, and managed (just) to complete them as assignments. But I just don’t have the patience for it, and it seems like when I sit down to write things about me I can’t find anything I want to say. Yet, there are facets of me in every story I’ve ever written.
What’s a normal (writing) day like for you?
I have a day job, like a lot of writers. I am not by any stretch a morning person, so I can’t make myself get out of bed to write before going to work. So, I get up and go to work (I work from home so I have a nice stress-free commute) and put in my hours there. Then in the afternoon and evening, between things that have to get done and spending time with my boyfriend and my dogs, I write or edit or read. Weekends are when I get the majority of writing done, because I can pretty much spend the whole day working on whatever my current project is, with short breaks to take care of other things.
Favorite author or book? Who are you currently reading?
I can’t list a single favorite for either. I’m a huge fan of Patricia McKillip, Anne McCaffery, Jean Auel, Barbara Hambly, PC Hodgell, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Neil Gaiman, and Charles deLint. I’m particularly fond of THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD by McKillip, The Darwath Trilogy from Hambly, and WATCHERS by Koontz.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of anthologies, partly because I’ve been writing so many short stories. Just in the last little while I’ve read Stalking You Now by Jeff Strand, Devil Inside by William Cook, Dragonthology from Untold Press, For the Preservation of the Species by Michael J Evans, Pentacle – A Self Collection by Tom Piccirilli, and From Beyond the Grave from Grinning Skull Press. At the moment I’m reading Knock Knock by S.P.Miskowski, and Horrific History from Hazardous Press.
Do you prefer writing poetry or prose? Why one over the other?
I do write poetry from time to time, but almost always when I’m writing it as one of my characters, as part of a story. I really prefer prose myself, simply because I feel that I have more room to say what I want to say.
Do you write in silence or with noise (TV, movies, music)?
It really depends on what I’m working on. I occasionally write in silence, and rarely with the TV or a movie on. Most of the time I have music playing, and it has to be something conducive to what I’m writing. When I’m working on something in the fantasy genre, the music tends toward Celtic instrumentals, or sometimes movie soundtracks like Lord of the Rings or Braveheart. Sci-fi stuff can be movie soundtracks again, or some rock music. Horror writing usually works better for me with rock music.
Do you have any weird habits when it comes to writing? Do you type or write longhand?
I don’t know about weird habits, but I’ve found it helpful to find an image that puts me in mind of what I’m writing. When I was working on NEPTUNE DREAMS for the Fear the Abyss anthology, I found a gorgeous rendering of Neptune and some of her moons which I put up as a wallpaper so I could look at it whenever I wanted to. A dark fantasy piece THE LILAC HEDGE takes place in this verdant flower garden, so I put pictures of lilacs and roses and irises on my screen to help me stay in that place. A story I’m working on right now is a post-apocalyptic tale and I found a photo I took myself on the Oregon coast when it was cloudy and foggy, and there was no one to be seen for miles. Just looking at that puts me in the frame of mind I want to be in, and then I can go from there.
The only time I write longhand is when I’m writing poetry; it seems to flow better that way. Everything else is typewritten, for practicality. My handwriting is atrocious and I taught myself to type by touch when I was thirteen on an old manual typewriter specifically because of that. It’s helpful too that I type fast enough, I can almost keep up with my brain when a story is really flying.
Would you consider yourself a Plotter or a Pantser?
I am definitely a Pantser. When I first started writing it was all so I could find out where the story would go. If I knew how a story was going to end, there was no point in writing it down. Of course that’s changed a bit now, but I still usually don’t have a clear idea of the end of a story. I can have certain points that I’m working toward, steps that I want to be sure are taken. But that’s about as far as my Plotting goes.
What do you think is the hardest aspect of the craft?
There are a few things. Time is one of those; I am rarely able to spend as much time writing as I would like to. Objectivity is another. Sometimes it can be very difficult, especially when you’re caught up with and emotionally vested in your characters and their stories, to be able to recognize things that shouldn’t be there. Sometimes it’s so much fun writing a scene, that you don’t want take it out even though it really doesn’t need to be there. That takes a certain amount of discipline, and sometimes it’s downright painful to do what you know is best for the story. And last is promotion. I think that’s definitely become a part of the craft of writing, at least if you’re trying to get published. I’m an introvert, and rather shy with people, so trying to put myself out there and make connections and promote myself can be frightening and extremely uncomfortable. But it’s part of being a published author, and so you do your best to let people know you’re there!
I’m working on several short pieces for different submission calls, as well as the first book of an epic fantasy series (working title BARD’S RETURN) and an urban/dark fantasy novella about shape-shifters from another reality who wind up in current day Los Angeles.
How do you balance being a writer?
Mostly I just try to keep my equilibrium, and prioritize. Obviously I need to pay my bills, so the day job is a necessity. I love my family, so I make sure to set aside time for them. But I also have to answer to my own requirements for creativity – whether that be writing, or taking photos, or working on the jewelry I make. Sometimes I wish I could do without sleep! But it’s all about not neglecting the things that are important to you.
What do you think people expect from you with your writing?
I don’t know that I’m at the point where people are expecting anything, but I think readers will always find something of beauty in my stories. Whether the genre is fantasy or horror, I always try to find something that really touches me and I do my best to share that in my writing.
Advice for aspiring writers?
Two things – enjoy yourself, and don’t give up. There’s no point in doing it if you don’t enjoy it. Find a genre or a niche that speaks to you, and go with it. And don’t let anyone tell you stop, not if it’s something you love.
- FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE by Grinning Skull Press
- NECON E-BOOKS BEST OF 2012 FLASH ANTHOLOGY from Necon E-Books
- HORRIFIC HISTORY from Hazardous Press
- ANOTHER 100 HORRORS from Cruentus Libris Press
- EULOGIES II: TALES FROM THE CELLAR from Horror World
- BARNYARD HORROR by JWK Fiction
- BLOOD AND ROSES from Scarlett River Press
- WATERLESS from Buzzy Mag
- WHAT WE DO FOR LOVE appearing in the summer issue of 69 Flavors of Paranoia.
BIO: Rose Blackthorn currently lives in the high mountain desert of Eastern Utah with her boyfriend and two dogs. She spends her time writing, reading, beading and doing wire-work, and photographing the surrounding wilderness. An only child, she was lucky enough to have a mother who loved books, and has been surrounded by them her entire life. Thus instead of squabbling with siblings, she learned to be friends with her imagination and the voices in her head are still very much present. She is an affiliate member of the HWA, and suffers from an overactive imagination, but rather than complaining... she just goes with it.