One of the awesome writerly people I’ve met in recent weeks via facebook is none other than Kristin Dearborn. I picked up her latest release Woman in White and while I won’t be reviewing the novella, I was pleased to discover an author who was experimenting with story structure, and touching on serious issues (gender politics/patriarchy/domestic violence) while delivering it within the vehicle of a pulp horror tale. Many thanks to Kristin for stopping by my blog for a quick chat!
Q: You have a new novella out with DarkFuse Press. It’s called Woman in White. What is your favourite aspect or part of Woman in White?
KD: Woman in White was particularly fun to write. I got to blend a creature feature kind of campy vibe with feminist issues—especially domestic violence—which are near and dear to my heart. I think the juxtaposition works particularly well blending the “monster of the week” atmosphere with really powerful, flawed, female characters. I had a blast with Mary Beth, Angela, and Lee. I wanted to make the three of them imperfect in various ways: Angela is a domestic abuse victim who’s had an abortion. Mary Beth is overweight and more interested in video games than hunting or being a mom. Lee is career-focused and is sleeping with a married man. These complexities made them fascinating to spend time with in my head.
Q. So in WIW…the mayhem that is going on… is this just a vengeance on the bad men of the town, with a few innocents caught in between, or is there a deeper statement here about patriarchy in general? Was this a conscious theme you set out to write on or something that developed organically for you?
KD: The idea of Woman in White was inspired by the plight of the male angler fish, specifically as described by a cartoon written by The Oatmeal. The male angler fish, for those of you who won’t click the link and read the cartoon, has a really shit deal. He’s tiny and weak and spends his entire life searching for a female angler fish, who lures him to her with terrifying, wonderful pheromones. He thinks she’s the most beautiful thing in the world even though in order to breed he winds up literally melding with her and losing every part of his identity. I wanted to create a monster that operated in a similar fashion, and in doing so, I found it impossible to avoid gender focused themes. I’m tired of seeing the same old story where a bunch of dudes save the day. I wanted the men in town to be the damsels in distress. In WIW, Jason is one of my favorite characters. In any other book, I’m pretty sure he would be the hero. I think I went easy on him, though…
Q. Do you find it easy to let a story go when it’s time to write “the end”, or even when it is published?
KD: Honestly, and I feel like I lose author street cred points here, I don’t feel like I have a problem letting this stuff go. I’m well aware it can be tweaked to death, and I don’t want to do that. I think I err on the side of under-tweaking. I like to finish a draft, then let it sit for a while before I let myself or anyone else look at it. I’ll give it a go, send it along to some of my beloved beta readers, then, like a bird, set it free out into the world.
Q. Do you read your books once they’re published? (Simon: Once something of mine is in print, I can’t actually can’t bring myself to read it. It’s bizarre.)
KD: When I see my own work in print, it’s like every little flaw crawls off the page and boops me in the nose. It’s not the same with galleys, those always look great. That said, it’s pretty rad to see a thing I made out there in the world that people can hold in their hands.
Q. Do you find after publication that the creativity tanks have been drained? What do you do to fill them or recharge the creative battery?
KD: I find publication charges my batteries more than drains them. What gets me kinda down is the time when I’ve polished a manuscript (as much as I’m going to) and I’m starting to send it out. That’s not particularly energizing for me. I have a few tricks for my creative batteries: I have found NaNoWriMo a fun opportunity to just pour out something I don’t care about that gives me a chance to practice plotting, pacing, and production. I have never looked at one after the fact, just pump out the words, learn from the experience and forget it. The other thing I like to do is switching between short stories and novels or novellas. The thing that most recharges my creative juices, however, is the act of being in an environment with a bunch of other writers. The Seton Hill University Alumni Retreat in Greensburg, PA and NECON in Bristol, RI are the two I enjoy the most.
Q. You ride a motor bike – When did you get into bikes? I heard something about a rustbucket. Tell me more!
KD: When I graduated from college, I bought myself a non-functioning $600 motorcycle on Craigslist and got my motorcycle license. I was convinced I could teach myself how to fix it and learn to ride. That bike never moved. I was terrible at motorcycles, and kind of gave up on the whole thing. I referred to myself in that dark time as “the world’s least enthusiastic motorcycle enthusiast.” Fast forward three years to my moving to Vermont, where a former boss decided he was gonna sell me his motorcycle. We agreed on the price of one hundred US dollars. Former boss got the bike out of storage, checked it over, then let me know he could not, in good conscience, take any money for the thing. Thusly, I was given Rustbucket, a 1982 Yamaha Maxim 400. (Not to be confused with the Maxim 650 I had a few years later. That thing was a battle tank and I loved it dearly.)
After about a thousand bucks of repairs, I rode Rustbucket for a season, even though its functionality was dubious. Eventually it died and I sold it for $50. I’m now riding a 2013 Harley, and put on many thousand miles every summer (riding seasons are pretty short here in the frozen northland of Vermont). Last summer I survived an incident I’ve been fearing since I first started riding…the dreaded bee in the helmet. I’d always thought a bee in my helmet would just, like, make the bike spontaneously explode. Instead, I lifted my visor and shooed the flying hypodermic needle away and didn’t even stop. Simon shouldn’t have asked about this because I could talk about motorcycles FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.
Q: What new or forthcoming books are on your radar? Whose work are you loving right now?
KD: I’m super super pumped for Joe Hill’s Fireman, Bracken Macleod’s Stranded (I’m a sucker for a wintery story), and Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock. Right now I’m in the middle of Stephen King’s most recent short story collection Bazaar of Bad Dreams. I don’t think it’s got quite the same teeth as Skeleton Crew or Night Shift, but still pretty dang good. Other things I’m pretty into at the moment are James S. A. Corey’s Expanse series. Space opera goodness.
Q. What are your goals in the year or two ahead for your own writing? Got any story markets you’re trying to crack, or working on a novel or collection or are you working on novel etc?
KD: I have a couple novels up my sleeve. One with a finished first draft that needs some serious grooming and polishing, one halfway finished, and one in the larval idea stages. It’s all about getting the butt in the chair and producing some words
Check the synopsis below and fantastic praise of Kristin’s Woman in white \ and click the cover image to visit Amazon and pick up a copy!
Rocky Rhodes, Maine.
As a fierce snowstorm descends upon the sleepy little town, a Good Samaritan stops to help a catatonic woman sitting in the middle of the icy road, and is never seen or heard from again. When the police find his car, it is splattered in more blood than the human body can hold.
While the storm rages on, the wave of disappearances continue, the victims sharing only one commonality: they are all male. Now it’s up to three young women to figure out who or what is responsible: a forensic chemist, a waitress struggling with an abusive boyfriend, and a gamer coping with the loss of her lover.
Their search will lead them on a journey filled with unspeakable horrors that are all connected to a mysterious Woman in White.
“Horror born straight from a nor’easter, Dearborn’s Woman in White is a great read for a winter night—with a monster I’ll never forget.” —Christopher Irvin, author of Federales and Burn Cards
“Kristin Dearborn’s Woman in White is a rip-roaring monster tale with sharp-eyed characterization and something to say about the power dynamics between men and woman. Thought-provoking and entertaining as hell!” —Tim Waggoner, author of Eat the Night
“Great stuff! Suspenseful, quickly paced, unpredictable and wonderfully evil tale. Kristin Dearborn’s best yet!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure