Today I am interviewing a rising talent in the Horror realm. In this interview we discuss everything from noisy households to the fears that keep us up – and leave the lights on – at night. For any of you who thought that you need to be a little horrific or at the least “strange” to write successful horror stories, C.W. LaSart will prove this untrue. So what makes horror such a thrilling genre, besides the obvious skin crawling Heebie-Jeebies? Curious? Then sit back, make yourself comfortable while I talk to someone who lives,breathes and writes Horror and all things horrific – fictionally speaking.
Welcome C.W. LaSart
girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is C.W. LaSart?
C.W.: Okay, well, I am a mother of three grade school age children and I live in the Midwest with my kids, my beloved Lou, two dogs, three gerbils and a Norwegian rat named Booger. There’s rarely a quiet moment in my house, so I stay up way too late to get my writing done. I am addicted to coffee and Rockstar energy drinks! I bar-tend three nights a week at an Irish Pub, which leaves the majority of my time free for little league games, trips to the ER (three kids, remember!) and once in a while writing!
girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?
C.W.: I don’t know that it was a conscious decision; I just always have been a writer. I used to make whole books for my mother as soon as I could put two words together on paper. They were dreadful works of plagiarism, but she still has them somewhere!
girl with a quill: How long have you been writing for?
C.W.: I have written in one form or another for most of my life, but I only started getting serious about it maybe a year ago.
girl with a quill: One often hears that you need to face your fears to overcome them and I believe writers often use stories to work through events. Have you ever/Would you create a story with things you fear?
C.W.: Oh, I would say, as a horror writer, almost everything I write deals with personal fears. The fear of death, loss of a child, spiders! EWWWW! It is in my best interest to use my own fears in writing, because if I can’t scare myself, then how could I possibly hope to scare anyone else.
girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?
C.W.: I have several people who serve as my beta group and put up with my writing chatter, but I have also been very lucky to have met some wonderful writers through twitter and groups on Facebook as well. Some of them have become personal friends, and I really value the relationships with people who are at similar points in their careers as I myself am.
girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?
C.W.: When I was a child, my Dad used to sit me on his lap and read the stories of Edgar Allen Poe to me. This was a wonderful bonding experience and very precious to me because my Dad rarely reads anything that isn’t a technical manual. My Mom is a fan of horror movies and instilled this into me at an early age as well (we still see them in the theater together). When I was twelve, she let me start reading Stephen King, and there has been no turning back! I have hundreds of horror novels and would like to say that I’ve read nearly every horror author who has published more than one novel, and many who never made it to publishing the second.
girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?
C.W.: Probably some sort of comedy with a bit of tragedy thrown in. I would have to say that though I’ve had some bizarre things happen in my life, and my fair share of hardships, my own life would make a very boring read!
girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?
C.W.: My desk is shoved in one corner of my living room. It’s currently so covered in mail, my daughter’s bottles of nail polish and my son’s toys that I can barely reach the keyboard, but it works for me. There is also one solitary packet of KFC BBQ sauce sitting here, not sure where THAT came from!
girl with a quill: Do you prefer to write in silence and solitude / around people/music?
C.W.: I need noise. I can’t think in silence. Between the kids and the dogs at home, and working in a bar, I NEVER have silence. When the kids are sleeping I turn on the television for background noise.
girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?
C.W.: This one is hard for me. My ideas always come on their own. One second they aren’t there, and the next they are. They usually start as just a line of dialogue or just one small scene. I tuck them away in the back of my mind where they roll around, sometimes for weeks and sometimes only minutes. When they are ready to be written, they start to bug me, kind of like an itch I can’t scratch. When it gets bad enough that I can’t focus on anything else, I write them. The writing process is usually very fast for me. A short story rarely takes me longer than a few hours and I once wrote a novel in three months. Though it may sound flaky, I really subscribe to the whole muse thing. My ideas rarely feel like my own effort, more like someone poured them into my head.
girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?
C.W.: Definitely a pantster! I occasionally take a note or two about a story if I can’t get to it right away, but usually it’s just the title and a few lines in a notebook. My stories come fairly free-form. I’m not even sure that I am capable of writing a clear outline.
girl with a quill: You write mostly horror. What draws you to this genre?
C.W.: EVERYTHING! Horror has been a part of my life since I can remember! I love everything about it. Movies, books, artwork. They all appeal to me on such a basic level that I can’t even begin to explain it. It’s a guilty pleasure for me that I have held since childhood. The thrill of being scared without actually endangering yourself is a powerful thing.
girl with a quill: What is the secret, if there is, to writing horror?
C.W.: I don’t know. I think that to be good at horror, you have to really love it, but I guess that’s true of any genre. Originality is, of course, a must. Like any genre, I think the secret is that you must have a story to tell, and you have to love that story enough to share it. Well, now I just sound weird!
girl with a quill: Writing horror involves delving into darker realms of the imagination. Have any of your stories given you nightmares / haunted you?
C.W.: I don’t think I’ve had any real nightmares about my stories. My nightmares tend to lean towards bad things happening to my family, but I have been bothered by my characters before. Sometimes the actual story will haunt me for a few days after it’s written, but mostly the act of actually writing it seems to purge my demons.
girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?
C.W.: Probably romance, but more of the fantasy sort. I would enjoy making up worlds and throwing a star-crossed pair into them. I do enjoy the paranormal and fantasy romance genres.
girl with a quill: You have published one short story and are due to publish a few more. Short stories can be more difficult to write than a novel. What about writing short stories do you enjoy?
C.W.: Actually, I have published three short stories now and I have a few more due out in various publications this Fall. I never used to write short stories, then one day, the first one came to me and they have been filling my head ever since. I like the way that you aren’t required to explain everything in short stories. You have a limited amount of space, so you are able to pack it with just the meat and bones, leaving out all of the filler. It’s also more acceptable to leave the reader wondering than it would be in a novel. I like to let the reader come to their own conclusions about some things. I actually find them easier than novels, but I know that most people would disagree with me.
girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?
C.W.: Yes, I am currently finishing a few more stories for my first book, Ad Nauseum, being published this Fall by Dark Moon Books. I wrote an extreme horror story for one of their contests and the publisher was so impressed that he offered me a contract off that one story. I currently have 7 of the 13 required stories done, and I have to be finished by August, so this is a very busy time for me! The publisher has also requested 5 flash fiction pieces from me for a charity anthology that he will be publishing at the same time. He has gotten promises from Jack Ketchum and some other horror “heavies” to participate, so this is a huge honor for me!
girl with a quill: Why do you write?
C.W.: Because I have to. Not writing isn’t an option. The stories build up in my head and if I don’t purge them, I become distracted and start making stupid mistakes in my life (like ignoring stop signs and forgetting appointments) and people begin to think I’m crazy! Which I kind of am when it gets bad enough!
girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?
C.W.: Good question. I don’t really think that I do. My stories are generally dark, not terribly humorous (but when they are, it’s a terrible humor!) and morbid. I tend toward the extreme. I guess, quite a few of my stories tend to deal with motherhood in one way or another, but that’s where many of my own fears lie.
girl with a quill: The first draft a writer writes for themselves. Who do you give your second draft to?
C.W.: My good friend Kacy. She went to school for English Mass Communications and graduated top of her class before deciding to be a stay at home mom. Nothing I write ever goes out without her edit. She is also a horror fan and much pickier than I am, so I guess she is my ideal reader as well. It’s a great relationship! I pay her in fuzzy winter socks and t-shirts that I think she might like, and she fixes my mistakes!
girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?
C.W.: I would probably have to pick someone else’s work, since no one in their right mind would ever want to live through one of mine!
girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
C.W.: Wow, tough question! I guess I would have to say story first, since that’s what comes to me, but characters are so important too. You need to care about people to care what happens to them, but often my characters are very ordinary and it’s the extraordinary circumstances around them that make it interesting. Also, my characters are not always that likeable.
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
C.W.: The villain/hero in my first short story, Jack and Jill is my favorite. I still have questions about his motivations and his past that even I don’t know. He is the one that people question me about the most, and I just don’t know the answers.
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
C.W.: Hannibal Lecter, definitely! What a classy villain. So smart and dignified, yet such an evil person. Love him!
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
C.W.: Stephen King (duh!), Robert R. McCammon, Morgan Freeman, George Romero, and Robert Englund. Mr. King, Mr. McCammon and Mr. Romero because they are brilliant and have helped make horror what it is today, and Morgan Freeman because I just love his voice! Of course, Robert Englund because it would be fun to listen to him talk like Freddy Krueger all night!
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
C.W.: Simon from Lord of Flies, because he was the most delicately, beautiful child character that I have ever read. Hannibal Lecter, though I wouldn’t want him to cook. Dracula would be a hoot to hang out with, despite the fact that he never drinks….wine. The main character (can’t remember his name) from John Dies at the End, because I like his sarcastic humor, and Van Helsing, in case Dracula gets out of hand!
girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
C.W.: I would tell myself to make time for my writing and never give up on my dreams. I have come so far in the last year, that I can only wonder what it would have been like if I hadn’t waited so many years to get serious about it.
girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
C.W.: I hope that I still take the time to enjoy the process. I don’t ever want to become so jaded that I no longer find the joy in simply telling a story.
girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
C.W.: Of course, I would like to know that people read and loved my stories. I hope that someday I am able to inspire someone else to follow their dreams and write their stories without fear. And I want to win the Bram Stoker Award someday! Haha!
girl with a quill: Finally where can we find you and your stories on the web?
C.W.: You can find my stories in Dark Moon Digest Issues 1 and 4, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. My website is http://CWLaSart.com and you can find my weekly blog as well as my Facebook page and follow me on twitter from there! I will also post links on my website as other publications and my book, Ad Nauseum, are released.