Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with horror short story writer Tabitha Short. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Tabitha. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Morgen: You predominantly write short stories, did you pick them or did they pick you?
Tabitha: Short stories are a great way to exercise writing skills. I use them as learning tools.
Morgen: Is there a genre that you generally write?
Tabitha: I’ve been working a lot to build the brand for Tabitha Short’s Horror Short Stories so recently I’ve really been concentrating on creating horror scenes and creating characters that are realistic and scary.
Morgen: Is there a particular market you aim for when writing stories for publication?
Tabitha: My intended audience for nearly everything I write is young adult or adult.
Morgen: Are there any publications you can recommend for short stories (submissions and reading)?
Tabitha: At this point in time I’m not too familiar with publications that showcase short stories. I have found a few websites that let authors upload short stories for others to read for free. One of these sites is wattpad.com
Morgen: Why do think short stories are so hard done by (with most readers going for novels)?
Tabitha: The majority of people looking for a book to read are accustomed to reading portions of it, setting it down and then coming back to it later. They repeat this cycle until the book is finished. These are people who read for leisure and to relax. With a short story, you read it through in one sitting. They are great for quick reads on the train or while waiting in line for something. I think people will increasingly begin to notice and request short stories.
Morgen: Do you write flash fiction? Can you remember the word count of shortest story you’ve ever written?
Tabitha: I haven’t yet written flash fiction, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t in the future. My shortest short story in publication is just under 5,000 words.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Tabitha: To date I have published three horror short stories and two novels.
Morgen: Are your stories available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks (novels or short stories?) or is it paper all the way?
Tabitha: All my books are available as ebooks. Some of my stories are published by a publisher and some of them are self-published books. For the self-published books I am in control of the entire process from editing to book cover design to creating the ebook. I generally hire an editor to look over my work and do my own book cover designs. For the ones that are published by publishers I have to relinquish those responsibilities, which can be difficult. As for me, I enjoy both printed books and ebooks. I don’t suppose I have a preference, but if I find a grammatical error on page one I’m likely to stop reading it altogether as I have done on many occasions. It is important to have your work edited, even if, like me, you are an editor. It’s important to go through the process of analyzing the structure of a story, how to reveal the plot and how to create characters.
Morgen: You’ve self-published, what lead to you going your own way?
Tabitha: I do self-publish and I prefer to self-publish. Most small presses do nothing in the way of marketing and sales and I am too impatient to wait for responses from agents. For me, I know how to get my work edited properly and I generally can create my own book covers so I don’t need anything except marketing. Unfortunately, hiring a marketing team to market your book is very expensive. I’ve been working to discover new routes of online marketing to get my book in front of the right readers.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your stories or characters? If any of your stories were made into films (Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain originated as a short story), who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Tabitha: Probably my favorite story recently is Arena Games: Petrova’s Legacy, which was available January 19, 2013. If any of my stories were made into films and I was in control of who would play my characters, I would follow the spirit of Indie select actors and actresses that are not well-known. With your traditionally-published stories / books did you have any say in the titles / covers? How important do you think they are?
Tabitha: I was not able to choose the title of the publication or have a say in the book cover design. Titles and book covers are important, especially the book cover. I’ve heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” a dozen more times than I’d like to have heard it, but the truth is that everyone judges a book by its cover. If the cover isn’t interesting to a reader they will not pick it up to try it.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Tabitha: Currently I’m promoting a horror short story titled The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man. It is the first in a series of horror short stories. The second will be subtitled The Lost Soul and the third will be A Mother’s Own. There will be more in the series, but the titles have not been decided. I am also working with a manuscript that is currently untitled and is in the thriller / mystery genre. I am finishing up with Arena Games: Petrova’s Legacy.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day?
Tabitha: I do something pertaining to my work as an author every day. Sometimes it is writing, sometimes it is promoting.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Tabitha: For most of my stories I develop the story in my head and then fill in the details. For Arena Games: Petrova’s Legacy I knew it was going to be very long so I wrote down the plot points and started writing. As the words came, more plot points developed and I added those into the outline as I went along.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Tabitha: To create a character I jot down phrases they might say, mannerisms they might have, clothes they might wear and adjectives that describe them. Character creation is important, readers should be able to make distinct differences in the characters. Most writers will try to differentiate their characters by using physical descriptions, but it’s more important to create the distinctions by using actions to define the characters. To find a character’s name, I usually try to pick names that are used a lot. For me, personally, I try to use names that I do not associate with anyone in my life because it makes it difficult to create the character while the character of the person in my life is swimming in my head. For Arena Games: Petrova’s Legacy, I tried to choose names that went with the background of the story so it would mesh together.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Tabitha: As I write a pay attention to grammar and speech, but I always do a number of rounds of self-editing before sending it off to be edited by someone else. When I receive it back, I look over it again and then send it to another editor. I generally stick with two editors, but sometimes I will use three. I also do freelance editing myself because I have an extensive background in Journalism and Editing. You can see my credentials, rates and reviews at my website here: http://www.thefirstfivepages.blogspot.com/p/editing-services.html
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Tabitha: Yes! Research is the fun part. For The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road series I read books, watched movies and read articles online about female serial killers. I learned a lot and that’s what intrigues me. For Arena Games: Petrova’s Legacy, I studied a lot about chemicals, plants, herbs and stones.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Tabitha: Second person is very tricky. For first and third person the reader creates his own thoughts and there’s an element of figuring things out. With second person, the writer, in essence, controls the thought processes of reader entirely, leaving no room for the reader to deduce his own reasoning. I prefer to write in third person, but occasionally offer a first person point of view.
Morgen: It’s said everyone has a novel inside them, do you write novels (and/or poetry or non-fiction)?
Tabitha: Yes. I enjoy writing fantasy fiction for young adult.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Tabitha: At the moment, no I do not.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Tabitha: I have had many rejections and many acceptances. I’ve received more rejections than any one person could count. I’ve come to realize that rejections don’t mean your work isn’t good, it means it is not what an agent / publisher is looking for. Publishers have to look at many aspects of the whole picture, not just the story a writer has told. They have to think about how much time it would take to prepare it for publication, how much money will be spent and how an audience will receive it. They have to think of how they’re going to market it and to whom they’re going to market it to. They have to be certain the book can be turned into something that an abundant amount of readers will enjoy.
Morgen: Do you enter competitions?
Tabitha: I haven’t entered any competitions as most require works that have not been published and, again, I am impatient. If I entered a competition I would have to wait until after it is over to publish my work.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Tabitha: I do not currently have an agent. I think agents are great assets because they advocate for your work.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Tabitha: I do all the marketing for my self-published works and am currently learning new ways of doing so. I am also working to the build brand Tabitha Short Horror Short Stories. By Halloween 2013 I will have about six horror short stories to promote. This year I had only two, but the reception for both was amazing so I plan to continue to build on it.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Tabitha: My least favorite aspect of my writing life is that at this point in time I have to maintain a full-time job. It would be really nice to spend my days writing, editing and promoting. I enjoy the work I do in my community, but my heart belongs to the pen.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Tabitha: For the love of God, get your work edited. After it’s been edited, send it to an editor. When you get it back, send it to another editor.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Tabitha: Jesus! <laughs> Charlie Chaplin and some suave prince from the East. I’d hire chefs to make all sorts of goodies.
Morgen: If you had to choose a single day from your past to re-live over and over, what day would it be and why?
Tabitha: The day I married my husband, of course. 🙂 I got to see my entire family.
Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Tabitha: Everything happens for a reason. I also like: If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Tabitha: Yes. I do freelance editing for a small fee. You can find my credentials, rates and comments from previous clients here: http://www.thefirstfivepages.blogspot.com/p/editing-services.html
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Tabitha: I work. I am a Supported Employment Specialist for a mental health agency.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Tabitha: I use http://dictionary.com every single day. If I’m not looking up the definition and usage of a word I am looking up synonyms in the thesaurus. I also use http://grammargirl.com and amongst other grammar websites.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Tabitha: Currently I am not on any forums. I have Facebook and twitter. They are crucial in promoting my books.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Tabitha: Writers will have to become increasingly aware of how to market their own work because there are more individuals self-publishing their work than ever before.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Tabitha: My author website is a great place for coupons and discounts for my work. It will show you what is coming next, too. There are excerpts, summaries, book cover image and even videos. It is here: http://www.authortabithashort.com.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Tabitha: The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man can now be purchased at your favorite etailer.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Tabitha: What have you and readers found to be the best tactic of marketing in terms of increased sales?
Morgen: Just doing a bit of everything; guesting on sites, being on social networks and so on. It’s all about getting noticed and having people remember you. My opinion, anyway. Thank you, Tabitha.
I then invited Tabitha to include an extract of her writing and this is an excerpt from The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man…
His face lit up as his hand gripped the handle of the car door. His entire body felt relief and his chest rattled with cries of happiness. He pulled the handle and the familiar sound of the car door opening that met his ears brought an unsurpassable amount of joy. He climbed into the driver’s seat, arranging his broken leg with his unbroken arm. It was excruciating, but he had to get through it to get away. He was almost there. Sweat beaded up on his forehead and he prayed he wouldn’t pass out again. He just needed a few more hours of consciousness to get out alive.
As his breaths slowed he felt his way to the ignition switch to start the engine. His heart sank when he discovered the keys were not in the ignition. No worries, I can hot wire it, he said to himself. The wiring was easy to find, hidden behind an access cover. Fumbling with the wires because of his swollen fingers, he quickly found the two he needed. Bending forward was agonizing, but he managed it and used his teeth to strip the wires. He twisted the copper strands together and found the purple wire. It gave him a little bit of trouble, but he was able to skin the plastic covering from it as well.
He heard a loud clunk on the hood of the car and his head jerked to attention. Standing in front of the vehicle was Vanessa. She was jingling the keys in her hand.
“You…are…one…stupid girl,” he said aloud, most of it coming out as nothing more than mumbles. He hit the wires together and the engine stuttered and then came to life. He laughed heartily, his chest rising and falling painfully. He glanced out the front windshield, ready to enjoy the look on the stupid girl’s face, but she was not there. His fingers quickly moved to lock the doors just as he heard her grip the handle. She was at his driver’s side window.
Her face grew angry when she could not open the door. She removed her shirt, wrapped it around her fist and began hitting the driver’s side window, trying to bust it. Mathew put the car in reverse, looked over his shoulder and began to back down the driveway. He was free! As the car rolled down the curved driveway, Vanessa ran after it. He laughed out loud and considered running her over, but thought against it as he neared the end of the driveway.
And a synopsis…
He wakes up every morning knowing the world owes him something. Every woman was created for his demand, except for Vanessa Roundtree and her mother. Once lured onto their farm in the middle of nowhere he becomes their prey. As they torment his body, they break down his arrogance. Will he be able to escape? Or will he become just another of the corpses of Old Farm Hill Road?
Tabitha Short is the writer of many horror short stories including The Roller Coaster of Death (found in the compilation titled Misery Loves Company) and The Please DO Feed The Animals ZOO. Her YA novel, Arena Games: Petrova’s Legacy, was published on January 19, 2013. The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man is the first in a series of horror short stories. The second will be subtitled The Lost Soul. There are expected to be five to seven books in the series and will be released throughout 2013. You can purchase her books at http://amazon.com, http://barnesandnoble.com and http://smashwords.com as well as at her author website at http://www.authortabithashort.blogspot.com. Tabitha also operates the literary blog The First Five Pages, which can be found at http://www.thefirstfivepages.blogspot.com.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on the mixed blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, https://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the main blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel, which is serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at the main blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.