THE TOUGH QUESTIONS
Without telling us what your favorite passage / scene in the book is, can you describe how it felt when you wrote it? Was there anything unique about your writing set-up when you wrote this passage?
Let’s just say, I thought I was going to feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, and worried for the protagonist, but I felt an odd sense of relief. This is also how I knew I could write from what I knew and make some readers relate, all winning aspects for storytelling.
Can you briefly describe experiences that played a role in how you wanted to develop WEEKLY FURAPY?
Firstly, I knew many people like my protagonist and even parts of myself that I had to address as delicate subject matter, and I knew I needed some creative ways of saying, our shortcomings are parts of ourselves, and we can’t simply ignore them. Also, I wrote the beginning of act two and had no idea the backstory was going to present itself right on cue. Mostly, those are the types of structural story elements that you have to ask yourself after writing a rough draft or at least discovering while journaling or outlining, so I ran with its furry self, all the way home.
If you could ask any deceased artist one question, what would it be?
It is interesting that you made me think of how this question has progressed for me over my career, with my favorite authors especially. When I was in my twenties, I probably would’ve wanted to know if our theories were correct of why Woolf, Sexton, Plath, and many others, ended their lives all to soon. But now, witnessing the struggles of those with depression and other various mental afflictions, trying to get through the simplest of their daily tasks, I feel like those uncertainties have some answers and was out of their control. Now in my forties, as I enter what I hope is the second half of my life, if some spirit presented itself to me, or I could go to them, I am more interested in the paranormal itself then about things they left with their earthly bodies and their writing. Which shows you that I’ve witnessed some unexplainable shit, and I believe there is somewhere else, so your question can actually happen for your interviewees (insert nervous laughter here).
Do you think fiction has any function or purpose outside of the entertainment realm?
Absolutely. Fiction can have morals or lessons and be therapeutic for both writers and readers. It took me years to write about difficult things in nonfiction, such as: childhood cancer, being bullied, introverted sanctuaries, and minor compulsions, and it’s not surprising to me going into my 46th year of life that fiction is another way to write some of these issues down in great detail. You can spice truths up or give yourself some distance with crazy fictional elements tossed into the mix.
Of all the entertainment media available, pick a SUB-GENRE and explain why you like it or hate it.
One that needs to be done well so I love it or I will end up despising it: found footage horror films. Like I mentioned in my previous question, I’ve witnessed some unexplainable shit, so you can scare me very easily, with letting my mind run wild. What can happen in these films (I say can because most are great) is the plot gets lazy, especially if the first film is successful, and they do multiple sequels, such as Paranormal Activity. They can take the make them wait or the let their minds go a little too long. As authors, we know that this creates a problem with not having enough conflict, not having other changes or desires surface, and just being boring as fuck for the money you paid, going to the movies or having a service to rent films.
Which book do you think is overrated?
Fifty Shades of Grey, but E L James is laughing all the way to the bank. Not only did it start with fan fiction from Stephenie Meyers, Twilight, she is now doing the series through Christian’s eyes. Most of us have to practically kill ourselves over finding a creative way to say something meaningful and then attempt another storyline. Not get feisty, wash, and repeat. But like I said, she has a huge paycheck; I struggle to get work as a full-time professor with benefits, in this farce of a job title: Adjunct. My student loans are higher than my paycheck, and I have an extensive CV.
Can anyone be a “good” writer?
Short answer: Yes, if you have enough time. I mean, actual years, to put your all into learning the craft and also finding your unique voice. I am thankful that editors and publishers didn’t take some of my early work. If you are a writer and have a thin skin, it is a good indication marker for me that you need more time. I am a professor and a mentor, and there are longer answers, so please come see me at one of my author panels for Philadelphia Writers’ Conference or at my con tables, and we can keep this convo going.
Like all media, genre fiction is trendy; what is one literary trend that you despise? Is there one that you think is interesting?
For years, I wouldn’t read the Sookie Stackhouse Series, at my best friend’s request, because I was so tired of the brooding vampire, who didn’t want to drink his date dry. I can’t say I have read them all, but I finally dabbled a bit, even watched some series episodes on Hulu, now that the popularity has died down (I do this a lot, so no one influences me or gives away any spoilers). I have to say; I like the mix of lover and Anne Rice-type vampire, best. One of my favorite books is The Vampire Lestat, by Anne Rice. This recently caused me to be 20,000 words away from finishing a paranormal shape shifter story with weird elements from my shortcomings in life, yet again. With that said, I don’t mind if you screw supernatural beings sixty ways until Sunday in your horror, but the work has to be something that terrifies me about the monsters’ nature, not the situation or other characters around them. Antiheroes are interesting but if everything other than your main characters becomes more interesting than there is a problem.
Which book or other piece of art do you think is underappreciated? (misunderstood)
Ah, yes, that would be the Edvard Munch painting, The Scream. I overheard a group looking over a print of it once and saying things like, “Oh, it’s like Home Alone and Starry Night had a baby.” I imagined Lewis Black, the comedian, finding these comments as material for one of his stand-up routines. I always looked at that painting like, “What the fuck is that bald person seeing on the other side of the bridge!” Whenever I cross a bridge at night or early morning hours, I look to the rails with fear. Don’t you?
Cathy T. Colborn has been published numerous times in fiction, poetry, and essay. She is the author of Madame Lola’s Marvelously Amazing Medicine Show, a New Orleans steampunk novel (WragsInk Publishing), and is currently working in the romance genre. Catt’s the creator of Philly Flash Inferno, a literary journal focused on flash fiction and the seven deadlies. She works as a professor at Atlantic Cape Community College and Camden County Community College, New Jersey. If you wish to summon her: whisper her name three times, and spit some holy water over a candle in the dark, but only after you’ve read her musings.