As Halloween quickly approaches, I've got a treat for you in the form of an interview with horror author Belinda Frisch. Belinda’s fiction has appeared in Shroud Magazine, Dabblestone Horror, and Tales of Zombie War. She is the author of the horror novel, Dead Spell, as well as the short story compilation, Crisis Hospital: Dark Tales from the Ward, the World, and the Bedside. She is an honorable mention winner in the Writer's Digest 76th Annual Writing Competition and a proud member of the Horror Writer’s Association and New England Horror Writers. And, while she is hard at work on her follow-up novel, Cure, Belinda was kind enough to take out some time out to chat with me. So, without further ado, here are 10 questions for Belinda Frisch.
1. What would you like readers to know about Dead Spell?
Dead Spell is a first novel and I published it independently because it felt like a niche horror novel, not a mass market one. Fiction comes in part from fact and that was the driving force behind this novel. It was a bloodletting of sorts with a main character that hounded me until I put her out there. People that identify with my main character, Harmony, really identify with her. Author Ben Miller was one such person and his review says that I accomplished everything I set out to.
2. Who are some writers that have affected your storytelling sensibilities?
I’d say my biggest influences are Anne Rice and Joe Schreiber. Early 90’s Anne Rice brought me to horror. Joe Schreiber brought me back.
3. What do you enjoy most about writing in the horror genre?
Anything goes. That’s a great perk and you can vent anger, frustration, sadness, and hopelessness in a way that you couldn’t in other genres. I like the occasional unhappy ending.
4. What methods and strategies have you employed in order to promote both yourself as an author, as well as Dead Spell?
Like most indies, I’ve networked like crazy via Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. I’ve built up a decent following and made some excellent friends. As for marketing, Kindle Lovers site has been the most return on the least amount of time spent so far. They have a 20K+ person following and every writer I’ve sent to their site has seen immediate results. Twitter is great, but I’m careful not to over-promote myself and come off like a broken record. Social networking should all be about “look at me.” It should be about get to know me, too.
5. Writing a book is such a complex exercise that I imagine no two authors do it exactly the same. Can you summarize your process for me?
Dead Spell being my first was a lot of flying by the seat of my pants and throwing everything at it to see what sticks. It was barely organized chaos, really, and I paid the price with extensive revisions before finally shipping it off to my editor, Glen Krisch. I learned a ton writing it and now, my process is MUCH cleaner and more productive.
I start with index cards and I jot down rough notes on the scenes that come immediately to mind. I make character notes and reorganize until the flow feels right. Then, I start writing. I keep notes in a notebook because details are super important to me and I don’t want to miss a single connection as I get further into my work. I keep writing, adding more cards, reorganizing scenes, and adding layers to my characters and my plot as I go. In the end, I should have a knock-out second book.
I started with short stories. I entered some contests and even received honorable mention in one of Writer’s Digest genre short competitions. I came in the top 100 out of over 19,000 entries. That felt great and my prize-winning story, "The Look-Alike," appears in Crisis Hospital. Another of the shorts in Crisis Hospital was published in the venerable Shroud Magazine. Tim Deal, the editor, has a great eye for talent and I was beyond pleased to be accepted alongside such greats as Bram Stoker Award-Winner Kealan Patrick Burke. Do I like shorts better? No. I tend to want to go very deep with my characters and plots. Shorts just don’t offer the freedom to fully do that. I do, however, have a 6,000 word short releasing in the City of Hell Chronicles, Volume 1, in December 2011.
7. Where do you see your writing career five years from now?
In five years, I hope to be publishing both independently and traditionally. Cure, my upcoming novel, is something that has mass-market potential and I’ve received rave reviews from early beta readers. I’ve gone to working a part-time job instead of a full-time one to focus on realizing my life-long dream of being a paid, full-time author.
8. What drove you to write Dead Spell?
I think I answered this with question one, but it was some old demons and a nagging main character that insisted I write DEAD SPELL. I couldn’t let Harmony down.
Honestly, since I went independent, it was not hard at all. I wrote the novel, revised it a million times, and hired an editor because no writer should be without one. I sent the book to him and after successfully revising the manuscript into a solid final draft, I released it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace.
I do have a traditionally published text book, too, so I know what that route looks like by comparison.
10. What advice would you give to an aspiring author who hopes to see their work published one day?
Oh, where to start. Learn to take criticism. It’s hard when you think you’ve written the perfect short or novel, to hear that it needs work but you’ll never succeed without listening to others’ views on how your work can be better. Success isn’t overnight and, honestly, indie money isn’t great starting out. Write the best story you can, persist, and hone your craft. If you do all of those things and learn from the revision process, you’ll get there. Practice, patience, and persistence. In writing, there are no short cuts to success.
And there you have it. I'd like to thank Belinda Frisch for being so generous with her time. If you want to learn more about her, you can visit Belinda Frisch, Author. You can also connect with Belinda on Facebook and GoodReads and you can follow her on Twitter. She also runs a Facebook page for authors and readers of horror, mysteries, and thrillers, which you can check out HERE.