This week brings another fellow Mocha Memoirs Press author! Her book Scream of the Siren sounds like a really intense, exciting read, so I’m very excited to hear what Jessica Housand-Weaver has to say about her process!
SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?
JHW: I usually get a general idea for a story, and then I will sit there and write down some events and character notes–anything that comes to me relating to the story idea. Afterward, I will just start writing. The actual writing takes precedence in that the story usually ends up taking over and either incorporating or changing some of my original ideas. But the ideas remain points that I can jump off from when I get stuck.
SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?
JHW: I do believe in the muse–in the sense that people, places, and events can be intensely inspirational on some deep level that is difficult to express in words; for me, the inspiration to write could certainly be categorized as being moved in a ‘spiritual’ sense. My ideas seem to arrive from two basic types–either they slowly seep up into my consciousness after simmering for a time and finally deliver up the meat of the story so I can see it more clearly, or they come unexpectedly like waking up from a strange dream and vividly remembering something that happened. Of course, this fun part of mystically decoding the story is balanced out by meticulous planning and mundane reworking in order to render it reader-worthy. There has to be something that sucks about writing or we would all love it too much and refuse to ever live in the real world again.
SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?
JHW: I do play favorites because once I get into an author’s writing, I want to read everything they write. I want to be lost in their world, in the characters’ world. I will go on author binges where I only want to read one particular author’s work and deviating from that is like treason. I have loved so many authors and been spellbound by so many brilliant stories that I cannot honestly just name one. It really depends on my mood and what I want to feel at that moment because each author is so unique at playing the right emotional strings at the right time.
SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
JHW: I think it would be horror. Blame it on a love of messing with peoples’ heads, but fear is really such an intense and thrilling emotion that it becomes addicting. What author doesn’t like to be the drug of choice?
SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?
JHW: ‘Writer’s Block’–which, by the way, is also a cliche phrase that makes me want to strangle people. There is something about the carefree, niave way people refer to this hair-ripping period where there is just this terrible, restless emptiness stirring with half-realized ideas, and then nothing; it is maddening. Writer’s block is the worst thing about being a writer because when you are failing and not producing for your readers, you can feel it in your bones. Writer’s block really just means being distracted away from writing. The downside of being a writer is all the distractions in real life that keep us from being able to do what we love and what we have to do to stay sane–write.
SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?
JHW: I AM stuck in all my stories for the rest of my life! And, unfortunately, so are my loved ones and even enemies, in a sense. They are the characters, all the pieces of the characters, and they must deal with my brain. All the stories swirl and leap about in there, so I forget to do the laundry. When I’ve been writing for hours and hours, I emerge in charactor mode. My family lives with that every day, and with my silly writer’s frustrations, poor things.
SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
JHW: I would pay a lot for a recipe for success as a writer, but I’m not sure there is one. Writing is such a strange thing to devote our lives to, since there really is no way to measure how successful we can become. It is partly craft and partly luck–submitting to the right place at the right time. I think the mystery of success as a writer is part of the lure. As writers, we are all, in part, risk-takers.
SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
JHW: Writing is not an easy career choice, and I really wouldn’t wish it upon anyone who isn’t prepared to suffer for their craft. Writers write out of a love for the craft and because we feel empty and unfulfilled when we are not writing. It is somewhat obsessive. Our families think we are insane and in most cases our mental state is questionable. We lock ourselves in rooms and stare at a computer screen for hours on end and type until our hands feel like they will fall off. We banish the rest of the world and live in a fantasy world until we become socially awkward. There is nothing glamourous about writing. Nevertheless, it is fulfilling in a way that few things in life are; creating and sharing is fulfilling. I would choose to be a writer a thousand times over and then some. You have to really want it, and if you do, then nothing is going to stand in your way.
SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.
JHW: I think all genres have value. Entertainment is entertainment; it just comes down to personal preferences. I think we should focus more on the quality of writing in its intended genre rather than comparing genres. It is like trying to compare Monet to Munch–they each have value in their style of expression and the one you appreciate more is going to depend on who you are. If readers like your work, you are successful, regardless of genre. For this reason, I prefer not to lock myself into a particular genre, as I have written in many. I would rather like to be described as a writer whose work can be appreciated for its quality above and beyond its genre.
SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?
JHW: I would like them to think of something they read that really moved them in some way, really altered the world for them, at least momentarily. I would like to be associated with quality, with writing that really takes your breath away and leaves you needing to sit back and absorb everything, as if satisfied but longing for more at the same time. I would like readers to be excited about upcoming work and to seek it out.
SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!
JHW: I am changing things up a bit in the upcoming year. I am working on a novel, partly a thriller, about subcultures, social movements, that thin line between ‘good’ and ‘evil’, and the search to find a place in our society. I am also preparing a fantasy trilogy for submission and hope for it to be out in an upcoming publication. Additionally, I hope to have a book of poetry out soon. I recently had a poem, “Rapunzel” accepted for publication in the Malpais Review in an upcoming issue. I was recently nominated for the national Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Arts Award to receive my MFA in creative writing and intend to pursue graduate education this year.
You can find my webpage at www.jessicahousand-weaver.com for current news and publication information. You can also view my Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Profile-of-a-Writer-Jessica-Housand-Weaver/128526107195188?ref=tn_tnmn .You can find my debut thriller, “The Scream of the Siren”, at http://mochamemoirspress.com/the-scream-of-the-siren/ or on Amazon or Omnilit.
Blurb for The Scream of the Siren:
Jen Hanover, depressed and reclusive after her husband’s suicide, finds her life changed forever when she meets a mysterious, brooding rebel named Alejandro. At first, he seems to be exactly what Jen needs. But things quickly spiral out of control as Alejandro reveals the frightening extent of his obsessive nature and violent past. Desperate to end the dangerous affair, Jen is determined to be free of him. Yet the more she tries to escape from Alejandro’s passionate clutches, the more threatening he becomes. The story unravels with heart-pounding suspense as Jen finds herself up against a criminal mind, far more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. In the end, Jen discovers not only the darkest truths about love and the human condition, but must also face the lurking demons within herself.