An Interview With S.K. Sophia!

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Okay, so this is the first time I’ve ever done an author interview. And I might have set the bar incredibly high with my first interviewee. S.K. Sophia is a Beta reader for me, therefore she’s beyond brilliant. She’s also a scarily talented writer who has me quite literally gripped to the edge of my seat and screaming like a little fangirl every time she uploads a chapter of her book, Finding Elyssia. Of which you can read here: Finding Elyssia. Anyhow, we may as well get started!

    What are you currently working on?

Finding Elyssia. It’s about a narcissistic and unstable girl who just gets out of prison. She wants to get her life together, but is befriended by ex-convict, Noah. He went to prison for murder. Long story short – She wants to get better. He doesn’t. Chaos ensues.

 

    Name 3 weapons you would use against invading aliens and why?

I would have sais attached to my wrist, a katana riding my back and a Mossberg 500 shotgun in my hands. The sais are for close encounters and throwing. The katana is for quiet, close combat. The shotgun is for messy and noisy fun.

 

If you could go back in time with a copy of one book and claim to be the author, whose book would you steal and why?

I’d feel too guilty to do something like that, but if I did, I would claim Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella. That book made me laugh and fall in love with the 20s party scene.

 

   What was the first ever book/album/film you can remember buying?

I bought a monster joke book at my school’s book fair. God knows why. The jokes were terrible.

 

   There’s a zombie apocalypse coming. You’re only allowed to hide in a famous building/landscape. Where would you hide and why?

I’d lurk on the top of Eiffel Tower. Let’s see those fuckers climb that thing. Wait… these are dopey Walking Dead style zombies, right? No? Shit. There’s nowhere suitable to hide. I’ll stay outside and fight, eventually dying a hero.

 

  Would you rather be a unicorn or a vampire?

Vampire. I mean, c’mon! Unicorn? What would I even do? Vampires are the coolest. I can wear a long black leather coat and drink blood cocktails. Come at me, bro.

 

What is the meanest thing you’ve ever subjected a character to?

I can’t tell you because it’s the biggest spoiler for Finding Elyssia, but let me tell you, it is evil at its most raw. I felt sick writing it (and I’m not easily sickened by something).

 

 If you could be a character in a book, and live in their world, who would you be and why?

Can I choose a comic book character? I was going to say Kitty in Astonishing X-Men, but I recently started Young Avengers and I love Kate Bishop (Hawkeye). So, I choose her. No, wait – Faith in Angel & Faith. I forgot about her for a second. It’s always Faith. She’s my fictional soul mate. We would totally be best friends and cause havoc together (but she would apologize afterwards because of the whole redemption thing. Ugh, such a drag).

 

 Someone has told you that you are taking part in NaNoWriMo or else you will be subjected to the music you hate most for the rest of your life. What would you write about and if you failed, what music would be playing?

I’d probably write something that starts off really light and funny but slowly turns into a dark story about torture and death. Off the top of my head, I’d say people get trapped in a haunted house at an amusement park, with a sadistic killer. If I fail, pop music would be playing.

 

 If you ever got really rich and famous, what would you do with your first million (assuming you earned that much) and who would you want to play you in a biographical film?

I would still do what I do when I’m broke – use the money to change lives. But that’s not all I would do. I’d travel to comic cons all over the world, buy a cozy little house with a fireplace, get a bunch of dogs, and buy awesome clothes that make me look like an assassin. Also, I have a huge passion for weapons (mainly the mechanics) so I’d start collecting and building my own weapons.

 

Drew Barrymore would play me in a film about me. I’m not a hardcore fan, but she’d be perfect.

 

 What would you call an autobiography if you wrote one?

Um… Curly fries taste better than straight fries even though they’re basically the same. This is a difficult question. I’m terrible with names. I’ll probably call my children things like potato or gizmo.

 

 When did you decide to become a writer and why?

I always knew this was what I wanted. I love stories. I used to read so much that my mum had to come into my room and tell me to stop. My parents never really bought me books, so I read anything I could get my hands on and reread unreturned library books (I know, I know, sorry). I used to write short stories and take them into school to show teachers. They would pass them on to the principal, gush about me to students, enter me into competitions, but I lost motivation for it until I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and reading Sophie Kinsella books. I don’t just want my writing to change people. I want it to educate them. I want to help readers accept themselves no matter how dark or scary their minds are, because the moment you feel inferior and excluded, you use your darkness to do even darker things.

 

 Marvel or DC?

Marvel, but DC is cool.

 

 Do you ever base your characters/events in your stories from real life?

Not intentionally, but it happens to me a lot. Reality and fiction constantly bleeds into each other. I explore a lot of my darkest fears through Elyssia in Finding Elyssia. Right now I’m her before she becomes a whiny bitch, so I still have that to look forward to. Ha! 

 

You’ve mentioned that one of your works The Mechanics of a Broken Brain is partly made up of your own diary entries. Did you find that particularly difficult to publish online where people can see it?

No, because people don’t know which entries are my own. That makes it a whole lot easier. Although, I have to admit, I feel shy about sharing it with people I know. Just in case they, you know, guess.

 

 Invent a word and a definition for it.

Destructo – Something that’s been destroyed but still works as normal. For example, “That girl is a destructo! Her Twitter name must be Destructo Girl. Haha! So lame. Let’s go smoke a joint.”

 Finished reading? Good, now go follow S.K. Sophia on Twitter

Or you could just follow her blog

 

Writers: Kill Your Darlings!

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It’s a quote from William Faulkner. It’s an upcoming movie. It’s what Stephen King advises writers to do with added description/scenes, even when you love them…

And it’s what I think we should do with our characters.

There seems to be a large amount of books streaming in where the characters who die re-emerge, either because they are now a vampire/zombie/ghost, they were in on a plan to stop the villain that meant they had to play dead and scare everyone to death, or because they were really wounded but now they’re alive and possibly being held hostage etc.

  My point is (if you actually understood any of this) that characters do not stay dead nowadays. They are as difficult to put down as a cockroach in a nuclear factory (sorry for the bad metaphor). And I’m starting to think that the cure is to actually kill them off. Without them coming back.

  Readers, when they read a story, get attached to characters. They don’t want them to die. They’ll probably be pretty mad at you if a character they loved and invested in was killed off. But ignore that. I think it does that character a sense of decency that is denied him/her/it when they are dragged back from the dead time and time again, like some old relative who only ever is carted out of their home on Christmas. Should we really be flogging a dead horse? And is it not, on some level, denying the reader that emotional state.

  I’ll give you one example. One book I was reading was horrifically sad and, after a long and dreadful illness he died, leaving his fiancé unmarried and actually unaware that he was dead. His best friend was absolutely devastated. I cried until the book looked like I’d thrown it in a river. And then, he came back from the dead. He’d found a sort of cure just seconds before he’d died and was reborn as something else.

   As much as I loved the books, I actually kind of found myself wishing the character had just stayed dead. Not because I disliked him (I hardly ever cry at books) but because it seemed like a bit of a cop out. It was like the author couldn’t stand to lose that character, or she/he was too afraid of the fandom backlash. Certainly, he played a very small part in the book after he was alive again. And then, just to do it again, she cured him of his immortality. Ditto with another book I just read where a character died and re-emerged as a vampire who is actually just impossible to kill off (even though it seems the entire  book is trying).

  So maybe we need to look at this as saving our characters a little dignity, saving us writers ways of resurrecting them, and saving some readers from feeling cheated.

Why there are some things you can’t say to strangers…

Yes, there is such a thing as ‘free speech’. I may hate those people who are racist, sexist or homophobic in their own head, but thankfully the subject is very rarely approached over lunch. 

   Strange then, that a conversation last night with a complete stranger (she was on my course, but still) resulted in a chat about mental health. One student commented on the dismissal of someone who did something unacceptable in their job. That woman who was fired later turned out to have Bipolar Disorder. The other student at our dinner table then made the mistake of saying she thought the woman was ‘crazy’ and that she wouldn’t want anyone who had Bipolar to be looking after her children. Ii was then prompted to remark that if the action was done while the woman was experiencing a manic state, surely it was unfair dismissal?

  Up until this point, I had tried to be kind. I had made conversation. I had not shown this girl who thought mental health problems meant people were ‘crazy’ that I was practically shaking with indignation. The girl repeated her earlier comment and the table fell quiet. Perhaps this was what prompted me later on, while talking to a friend about doctors appointments in front of the girl, to mention I needed to have regular appointments because I was being tested for bipolar.

  Funnily enough, the girl went absolutely white, stared at me, and spent the rest of the evening looking suitably shame-faced. 

  What I do find really strange, is that all of us at that table are doing a subject at university that is generally thought to be quite liberal. How can someone sit and emotionally discuss the evils of topics such as segregation and the need for equality, when they don’t actually believe in it themselves? It seems pretty backward to me, and, on some level, this girl must have thought so too, otherwise she wouldn’t have reacted like she did when I said that.

And, while I may or may not have Bipolar, I am perfectly unashamed of who I am. My problems do not define me, they just make me myself. And I’ve always been a person who is unable to deal with those small-minded, prejudiced people who don’t have the capacity to think in a civilized way. Therefore, if you’re silly enough to say something to a complete stranger over Thanksgiving dinner, you can rest assured you should either be willing to defend what you say or shut up.

  And maybe, in these situations, it really is best to keep opinions to yourself.

Dust to Ashes

Very happy to announce that I am currently about a third of the way through editing Dust to Ashes. Hopefully, that means those lovely people known as publishers can have a little look-see soon!

Delays

Okay, now that I’ve been fully introduced to uni and the joys of sitting referencing for hours on end (I really hope you can understand why I chose my username by now) I’ve decided to concentrate on reading and writing again!

 

Actually, I’m not entirely sure why I bothered to write a whole blog post about this, except that I’m excited! I’ve already started work on another novel called A Spill of Ink. This one will be a horror 🙂 I’ve been a little bit stuck on the plot, but luckily for me I have been raised on Stephen King books by a father who also loves reading horror books, so my phone call to him went something like this:

 

Me: Dad, I wanted to do NaNoWriMo this year. But I got stuck. I have no way of finishing it on time, but still. 

Dad: What was your plot?

Me: Basically, it’s about a recluse with a typewriter.

Dad: What about… hang on let me think. Hmm, blood! How about it includes lots of murders and this could happen *SPOILER* and he could think this is happening but really there’s loads of murder.

Me: That sounds great. Hey listen…

Dad: And how about *vividly describes an idea for a really twisted plot twist*

Me: You are sick.

Dad: *Evil laugh.*

 

Honestly folks, my uni professor knows him as Stephen-King-Guy because he spent all of the open day appointment talking about the books in my professor’s room (I’m doing American Lit, so it isn’t much of a surprise).

But yeah, wait ’til you see the plot of this one. This is what happens when you pass horror books on to your kids.

 

Prologue: Dust to Ashes

As a kind of thank you for those who have followed my blog and an apology for being so absent recently, I’ve decided to post my entire prologue on here. However, I will warn you: IT’S VERY DARK AND ISN’T SUITABLE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN AS THERE’S SOME LANGUAGE IN IT… Okay, since that’s over, here you go. And do feel free to tell me what you think.

Prologue: The Dead Room
I charge thee, fling away ambition:
By that sin fell the angels.
-William Shakespeare, Henry VIII

The body lay under a bare light bulb. One side of the bulb had shattered and the filaments stood exposed and vulnerable. It swung in a lazy arc, swaying back and forth, throwing shadows and light across the walls.
The scent of blood lay thick and heavy on the air. It clung to the tattered drapes like invisible cobwebs, imprinting torn fabric with the ghost of a memory. It would be the sharp, bitter tang of copper, sweet lifeblood…
(Lost things)
and would linger there forever. He dropped the dagger to the floor with a soft thud and a smile. It lay there; stained; useless. He’d never even needed it, but it didn’t hurt to be sure. She could not be allowed to live.
Overhead, the bulb began another descent. The wire gave a definitive creak as it swung down, pulling taut. The stranger ignored it, glancing out of the remains of the broken window. Night had chased the dying sun away just an hour or two ago, leaving a city of glittering lights in its wake. A trail of fireflies. Pretty, if you were the sort who appreciated a city that never truly slept.
(Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?)
That explained New York- a relentless, elegant pounding that echoed in your ears, a collection of people moving through life so fast they blurred and became oblivious to the orchestra of misery surrounding them. Just one glance down and he wondered how many children were out there, living on the streets. How many people walked by and watched it happen- or averted their eyes with distaste? Mortals were always the same. Gone in the blink of an eye, as the saying went. He should know, he’d watched for long enough.
The light bulb spun once more, casting shadows into the corners of the room.
It was a mess. He’d seen humans living in slums before, but never by choice. Empty bottles lay scattered all over the floor and something…
…Ah yes, something tainted the air like a trickle of poison, a feeble wisp of aftershave caught on the air, as faint as a sigh. A caress. Just a suggestion, a hint, but enough to explain why the girl was only partly dressed. Lying tangled in the sheets in her underwear
(The glimpses of too-much-flesh disturbed him)
like a limp marionette. No chance, no, no chance to run- not before he’d cut the strings and severed her hold on life. The taste of her death laced his memories with a sweet rot. Her glassy eyes held half-shed tears. They congealed around the rims in pools, winking in the light, like diamonds dropped into dirt. Her mouth frozen; parted in a terrible parody of life, the words on her lips forever unspoken. Not even a whisper. Mascara ran down her cheeks in careless streaks.
Overhead, the light bulb completed another lazy arc.
He peered down, admiring the pattern of bruises around her delicate throat. Spots of blue, blooming on pale white skin. How odd, that in death she appeared so fragile and doll-like! Had he not, only a few minutes ago, had to wrestle the life from her? Had the feisty creature not torn into him with nails sharp as tiger claws? Perhaps desperation could lend strength. Not that it mattered. He felt that laugh growling up his throat, that hoary chuckle that refused to be repressed. He gave in to the paroxysms without a second thought.
(I know why you ran.)
But not fast enough, oh no.
The wind rustled the soft fabric of his cloak, bringing the distant drone of sirens. It reminded him of why he loved the City.
Because, with his hands bathed in red, he thought he understood it. That beautiful façade with the dark pulse thrumming beneath
(Like looking in a mirror.)
was perfection. Beauty.
Beauty always stemmed from cruelty, he thought.
(All things truly wicked start from innocence.)
A sound startled him into awareness, but a quick glance down told him it was only a fox, rifling through an overflowing garbage can. Perhaps it was only his imagination, but the image sent chills up his spine. Still, it couldn’t be… It just wasn’t possible.
Nevertheless, he needed to leave. He gripped the edges of the windowsill and watched the paint begin to flake beneath his fingers. Something crunched under his foot…
…glass.
In the darkness, the shards glittered and the girl’s blood became an ink black. Mesmerized, he bent down to pick one up, hissing as it sliced through his palm. He bit back a cry of
(Jesus H CHRISSST!)
and spat at the body. The bitch’s fault. Always the damn bitch’s fault.
A shadow and a heartbeat later he was gone, with nothing but a dead room and a bloody red handprint on the wall to suggest he’d ever been there.

Horror as a genre

This is going to be a weird piece of advice, but hopefully you’ll be able to see where I’m coming from and not think of me as a strange individual for this analogy.

Horror writing should be seductive. It should wrap readers around it’s little finger, manipulate them, make them stay awake all night thinking. That’s what you, as a Horror genre writer, are trying to do. I’ve always thought Horror is best when it’s psychological, like a drink too many, or a bad acid trip. You look in the mirror and see something behind you, only to look back and see nothing. It should screw with your mind.

To me, gore isn’t the same as horror. That’s not to say that I don’t use it, but it shouldn’t be substituted too often. Throwing too much blood and gore into a book saturates it. The chilling effect goes after a chapter or two. It’s like going out with a really cheap date; one who wears reeeaaalllyyy tight jeans or a low cut dress that reveals everything that should be left to the imagination at this point. To be blunt, gore is like a date that you know is going to put out on the first night. Fun, perhaps, for a little while, but surely enough, when you look at settling down the cheap date is dumped. That’s what happens with gore. Sure, it’s unsettling and disturbing, but after a while it stops getting at you. That’s why horror films usually feature ghosts and poltergeists. And really, why not ask yourself, which did you find more disturbing; The Shining or Saw? Trust me, horror should be something that eats away at the mind. Your readers should be seduced by it. Even as it scares them, they should be turning the page and eagerly eating it up. Because that is what disturbs us most of all; our ability to be seduced and hypnotized by the horror book…

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Sorry for the absence

I will be back!

I’m so sorry I’ve been away, but I’ve been a bit ill, and all my time has suddenly been taken up by going to the doctors, and then suddenly
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comes my results day and suddenly I’m running around like a headless chicken sorting out accommodation and finance for uni and I haven’t even been able to write, which makes me sad. Oh well, I’ll get onto that now, and just so you know, I also was nice enough to leave you with this, since I quoted Arnie before…anigif_enhanced-buzz-6990-1348002721-21