by Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
I have wanted to be I writer since I was fifteen. I was always an avid reader, and once I read The Stand by Stephen King, I was so transfixed by the plot and the characters that I wrote my own novel during the summer. It was eighty pages long, and it was about an alien conspiracy in a small desert town that is uncovered by a group of teenaged girls.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
I write a mix of horror, paranormal, spec, and urban fantasy. I have always been attracted to the dark side of existence, the macabre and the grotesque. I grew up watching Alfred Hitchcock and The Twilight Zone with my mother, and horror movies with my dad. My grandmother used to tell me real-life ghost stories of her experiences growing up on old plantation land populated by the spirits of slaves. You could say these stories are in my blood, and in a way I am retelling them to as many people as will listen.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
My mom and dad are very doting parents. They indulged anything my siblings and I ever showed an interest in. They will never admit it, but my early writing habits worried them, especially my mother. I would lock myself in my room for hours, before school and after, and write these weird stories. My dad was my first editor and actually taught me how to outline. So my dad saved me from being a pantser. I have three sisters and two brothers, who are all very supportive. We are all major fan geeks, and we argue over the plot and the actions of characters all the time. I always have a ton of experts to run ideas by. My little brother Terrence is always trying to force ideas on me.
My partner Janette is the perfect writer’s spouse. She loves all of my stories and my blog and just about anything else I do. Right now, she is my biggest fan.
Where do you get your ideas?
My novelSacred Fire came to life when I came across a picture on the Internet of an antique erotic postcard. I wondered what would happen if I saw the woman walking around today in regular clothes. The rest of the story sprang from that little seedling-idea. I also like to read true-crime and true-occult books. Colin Wilson’s The Occult, which I read in high school, has probably supplied me with enough spooky material for a lifetime. I am also big on reading mythology. A lot of our stories and modern archetypes of characters are recycled legends and myths that were told over the hearth back when people were afraid to venture outdoors at night. I like to tap in to those old stories. They are so meant for retelling.
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
I started off as a pantser, but my dad taught me how to outline. I would use index cards to write down all the scenes that I wanted in my book. I would then spread out all of them on my bedroom floor and group them into chapters. Now I use Scrivener to organize my scenes and chapters.
What makes Sacred Fire special to you?
It took me three years to write this book. It just would not gel right for the longest time. Since I was fifteen I have written a dozen books. Each time I started a new book, I would tell myself: “This is the one that’s going to get published.” It was probably a little foolhardy of me, but I’d been bitten by the bug. Somehow the feeling was strong with Sacred Fire. I think it took so long to write because I wanted it to be just right.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
My characters tend to be independent and reserved, but that is as far as I go about putting myself in my stories. I am currently working on a series, and I have written in my youngest sister as a conspiracy theorist.
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite
of this author(s)?
The lesbian authors that have most inspired me are Jordan Redhawk and Nene Adams. I used to read their online stuff when I was in high school and could not have lesbian literature lying around. I was so thrilled to meet Redhawk at the GCLS con. My life’s dream is to meet Nene Adams.
My favorite authors are Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, and Toni Morrison, to name a few.
Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
Never give up. If you have an idea, write a draft. If you have a draft, get some friends to read it. Write it again until you get it just right. You never know when your break will come. You want to be ready.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
I have three dogs, and they are always good for a bit of free fun. I’m a bit of a gamer. My console of choice is the Sony Playstation 3, and I am hoping to get the 4 this summer. I play DC Universe and the Elder Scrolls series. My partner and I love going to the movies.