Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on our friend, Kristi Petersen Schoonover! Kristi has been to our store several times, and we’re very happy to host her again, along with her friends and colleagues, Melissa Crandall and g. Elmer Munson. They’ll be here on Saturday, April 28, from 1:00 – 4:00 PM for an afternoon celebrating scary stories, dark humor, and their collection of novellas. The authors will talk about their work, read, sign—and possibly break into mad libs for this haunting event.
Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s short fiction has been featured in several magazines and anthologies; most recently, she curated Dark Alley Press’ Ink Stains: Volume 7 anthology, which focused on the subject of decay. She holds an MFA from Goddard College, is the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony residencies, and is a co-host on the Dark Discussions podcast, which covers speculative films. In her spare time she enjoys birding and volunteering at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk (she’s also really digging AMC’s new dark drama, The Terror). She lives in the Connecticut woods with her husband, occult specialist, and co-host of Shadow Nation, Nathan Schoonover, and still sleeps with the lights on.
Welcome back to the store and blog, Kristi! Thanks for joining us again. What was the inspiration for Three on a Match’s “Splendid Chyna”? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
The full story of how “Splendid Chyna” came to be is included in Three on a Match’s back matter, but in short, the first shot was a missed opportunity to visit a Kissimmee attraction called Splendid China, the mixer was that it closed, fell into ruin and became a dangerous place where vandals reigned. I added a splash of my Florida dream house, a pinch of a dear late friend of mine, and a twist of Asian horror and shook vigorously…but that was all the easy part. The tough part was making the mystery work without giving it away, but without being confusing, and the initial drafts had some problems. It was worked and re-worked for close to a year before it was ready to submit to the publisher.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
This is the perfect question to answer for “Splendid Chyna!” I’ve set a lot of my stories in New England—especially when I was a younger writer—because I grew up here, and it was what I knew. I still set stories in New England if the market calls for it or if I’m in the mood, but lately—especially in the past five years—I’ve been exploring other options because I want a challenge. Let’s face it, New England is easy. It’s grey, dark, cold (even in summer) and cheerless a lot of the time. One of the scariest stories I ever read was Alison Lurie’s “The Pool People,” and it was such a stunning surprise because it was set in a bright afternoon at a sunlit-filled home on Key West. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to stay away from New England if at all possible. I’ve learned that stories in exotic places or fun locations—like “Splendid Chyna”’s modern home in a Kissimmee gated community just down the road from the Disney main gate—can be just as effective if done well.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I have a very exciting how-to guide that’s coming out in early summer, but other than that, right now there are some competitions I’m judging, and I have a few short stories that need thorough polish. Since I’ve no new ideas right now, I’m going to focus on cleaning up those.
I’m also going to be curating a second anthology for Dark Alley Press in 2019, but I’m enormously proud of the rewarding year I spent pulling together Ink Stains: Volume 7, and I’d encourage anyone out there who enjoys dark fiction to check it out anywhere they buy books or here: http://bit.ly/inkstains7
What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?
For me, the hardest part is actually not writing—more specifically, knowing when your body doesn’t want to do it. Yes, there’s the theory out there that “you’re not a writer unless you’re writing every day, so you should force yourself”—but that’s never worked for me. If my body has no fiction it wants to spew at the moment, that’s my cue to shift my focus to other things that get pushed aside when I’m knee-deep. It’s also a chance for me to spend more time reading. I use the down time to my advantage—and I usually find that taking that time to rest improves the quality of my fiction when I come back to it. But it’s not easy to do. As a writer, you feel like you have to be doing it all the time. You don’t. You just have to be at peace with when you’re not doing it.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!) And how can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
My short works are featured in several magazines; anybody interested can visit https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/where-to-read-me/ to get links to the (still available) online journals I was published in. I also have a store page for links to anthologies at https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/store/. My novel Bad Apple and novelette “This Poisoned Ground” are available both through Amazon and through the publisher Dark Alley Press’ website at http://www.darkalleypress.com/. Your local bookstore can also order them! Here’s where people can stalk me:
Thank you again, Kristi! We’re looking forward to hosting you, Melissa, and g. Elmer Munson for our Light it Up: Three on a Match celebration of literary horror on Saturday, April 28, from 1:00 – 4:00 PM!