Author's Ink

We grow writers!

Interview with Kristen Selleck, by Courtnie Dotson

·        Where are you from?

 

I was born in Detroit, and lived in a lot of places after that.  Currently, I call Grand Rapids home.

 

 

·        Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

 

I’m an evil scientist committed to taking over the world.  So no, I really can’t.

 

 

·        What do you do when you are not writing?

 

Okay, you twisted my arm.  I’m a medical scientist that does a lot of work in the environmental field.  I’m currently trying to get a grant to fund some new research.  It’s a study of how graveyard seepage affects ground and pond water in urban areas.  It’s really interesting stuff where there hasn’t been a lot of work done.  Most people don’t know that the polio virus can migrate through soil and be drawn into plants and trees.  Alright, I confess, it’s a fancy way of saying, ‘please give me money for zombie research’.

 

 

·        How long does it take you to write a book?

 

About a year.  Most of the time is spent in editing and reworking it.

 

 

·        Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

 

I had the misfortune of stumbling upon the book ‘The Gashlycrumb Tinies’ when I was very young.  It’s basically a very macabre ABC book with illustrations depicting  children dying in strange ways.  I found it hilarious.  I still remember my favorite letter, it was ‘B is for Basil who was mauled by bears.’  In fact, the first book I ever wrote, when I was six or seven, was basically a rip-off of that and Dr. Suess.  My first page depicted a well with a stick figure girl on fire beneath it.  The caption was:  ‘There was a girl named Belle, who tripped and fell, right into a well.  It went all the way to hell’.  My parents thought there was something wrong with me for a long time.

 

 

·        Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

 

Absolutely.   The fodder for Asylum was living close to an abandoned sanitarium called Waverly Hills when I was in high school.  It was an absolutely creepy place.  It sparked a fascination in me for abandoned asylums, and  I’ve done a great deal of research about the history of asylums and psychology.  All the historical facts in the book are true.

 

 

·        Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

 

Sure, quite a few things are based on what I’ll term, ‘embroidered truth’.  I really did have too much to drink one night in college and at three in the morning, broke into an old dormitory that was being used as offices to do a Ouija session.  I now feel compelled to say that I do not condone breaking and entering, or Ouija…or drinking until these things sound like good ideas.

 

 

·        What scares you?

 

Spiders.  Big, hairy spiders with vendettas

 

 

·        Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite horror book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of the horror genre?

 

Definitely ‘The Turn of the Screw’ by Henry James.  You only see what the governess does, and what’s really horrible is what you don’t see--what you have to guess.  It’s a book that will give you goosebumps even when it’s back on the shelf.  Outside of the horror genre, I’d have to say, ‘The Master and Margartia’.  I love that book.  It’s one of very few books I can read over and over.

 

·        What do you think makes a good story?

 

Good characters.  You can’t be horrified, or curious, or even interested if you don’t give a crap about the characters.

 

 

·        Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

 

That’s a hard one.  I guess it would have to go to Anthony Burgess.  I loved ‘A Clockwork Orange’, but I think my favorite right now is ‘the Wanting Seed’.  My favorite Burgess book changes all the time though, and I guess that’s what makes him my favorite author--consistent awesomeness so that it’s hard to pick a favorite.

 

 

·        What does your family think of your writing?

 

My husband is tolerant of it, and my kids are somewhat less than enthusiastic.  In fact, when I got my proof for Asylum, my oldest, who’s five, opened it and saw his name in the dedication and got pretty angry.  He thought I had written a book about him.  It took a long time to explain what a dedication was, and I think he’s still suspicious.  My two-year-old has ripped seven pages out of the proof so far.  He’s a very tough editor.

 

 

·        What book are you reading now?

 

I hate admitting this, but the only thing I’m reading right now is ‘Grant Writing for Dummies’.

 

 

·        Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

 

Sure.  Now that I am an indie author, I’ve been reading a lot of other indie books.  So far, I’ve really liked  ‘What Would Satan Do’ by Anthony Miller (pretty funny) and a short I’ve been reading in installments called ‘Nathaniel’s Window’ by Peazy Monellon.

 

 

·        What are your current projects?

 

I’ve got two in the works.  The sequel to Asylum which is called ‘Abraham’s Men’, and another piece which is based on the early years of Vlad the Impaler’s  second reign—tentatively entitled, ‘The Dragon’s Wife’.  That one has been slow going as there’s still a lot I’ve got to learn about 15th century Wallachia.

 

 

·        Can you share a little of your current work with us?

 

No.  I’m kind of a perfectionist and I edit my work severely before a beta reader even sets eyes upon it.

 

·        Will you have a new book coming out soon?

 

Define soon.  No, since Asylum came out in October, I’m hoping to release Abraham’s Men in October of 2012.  We’ll see…

 

·        Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

 

Two things I have learned on my own that might help you:

1.   Do not drop out of medical school because you are absolutely certain that you can write a best-selling novel in a few months.  What the dream-crushers tell you is correct: very, very, very few writers support themselves on words alone.  Get a good day job and write in your off hours.  The experiences and people you meet from your normal life will be what enriches your writing, I promise.

2.  Do not use your mom and your best pals as beta readers.  Your best friend will never tell you that she was tempted to clean her eyeballs with bleach after exposing them to the awfulness of your work.  She’ll tell you that she ‘couldn’t put it down’ (or maybe couldn’t look away…like a car accident.).  Go online, join a writer’s group or website and get some critique from strangers.  If it hurts a bit, you’re doing the right thing.