Next up in the Author Interview segment of my new blog is an interview with short fiction aficionado, Gwendolyn Kiste.
Here is a bit about her:
Gwendolyn Kiste is a speculative fiction writer based in Pennsylvania. Her stories have appeared widely in publications such as LampLight, Nightmare Magazine, and Flash Fiction Online, among other outlets. She currently resides on an abandoned horse farm with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts.
Nathan: Hi Gwendolyn. Thanks for swinging by the new blog for an interview. Let’s start with you telling us how long you’ve been writing and primarily what you write.
Gwendolyn: I’ve been writing most of my life, but I became very serious about fiction about three years ago. I spent over a year penning a novel that will never seen the light of day because it was too raw, but it was a great experience and taught me a lot about process. Over the last eighteen months, I’ve been writing a barrage of short fiction, mostly of the horror genre with some fantasy and science fiction in there as well.
Nathan: How often do you write? Do you work on it daily or just when you have inspiration? And where do you get your story ideas from?
Gwendolyn: I write every day, sometimes as many as ten to twelve hours a day (though sometimes as few as one hour if social media distracts me). I’m incredibly fortunate that for the time being, this is my only job. In terms of story ideas, oftentimes, my fiction starts with an image. A ghost crawling down a hallway. A Victorian bathtub filled with blood. A yellow beak pecking its way out of a woman’s abdomen. I like to have a specific image in mind and design a story around it. In my experience, I’ve found a story can invoke a more visceral reaction if you can start with something concrete and horrifying and work from there.
Nathan: I feel lucky when I get an hour a day so good for you! So you write for blogs, and do a lot of flash fiction and short stories. Do you have a novel you are working on or are you planning on writing one? I know for me, I started out doing shorts and now novel ideas are starting to take over my writing life.
Gwendolyn: My first love will probably always be short fiction, but now that I’ve had more experience writing stories and submitting to editors, I think I’m ready to give the novel another go. So if I drop off social media for a month or two, you’ll know that’s where I’ve gone! Like Alice down the rabbit hole to Wonderland.
Nathan: Do you have any idea how many stories you’ve had published?
Gwendolyn: As of right now, I’ve had just over 60 publications. A few of those are reprints, so it’s around 50 stories published with another ten or so in queue for publication in the next six months to a year.
Nathan: Wow, congrats on the success. You recently had put together a short story collection of autumn and Halloween tales, titled A Shadow of Autumn. How was the experience for you and would you do it again?
Gwendolyn: It was a fantastic experience, draining and intense, but truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I definitely plan to do it again, though the next anthology is probably going to be a shared world project, something I promised myself I would never do, simply because of the difficult logistics of creating such a complex concept with so many authors. But then I always like a challenge, so maybe a shared world project is perfect. For the new anthology, I’m enlisting the help of the always awesome Scarlett R. Algee, which makes me even more excited and confident that it’s going to be amazing. However, for now, the project is only in the very early stages and won’t be out for another year or two, just to ensure that we can do it well. A Shadow of Autumn came together in two months; I’m curious what I can do over two years.
Nathan: As you know, I’ve started a little publishing company and you are one of the authors in my first publication The Haunting of Lake Manor Hotel. Can you give us a quick teaser of your story in it? Just a general idea to leave everyone wanting to read it. J
Gwendolyn: First off, thanks again for inviting me to be part of the debut anthology from your publishing company! I’m so excited to be involved!
Like many of my stories, the piece for The Haunting of Lake Manor Hotel started with an image—the horseshoe driveway—and went from there. In the story, a female jockey named Christiane comes to the hotel to convalesce after a severe accident on the racetrack injured herself and others. Everyone is saying she caused the accident, but she claims there’s a woman haunting her who appeared on the track in the middle of the race. Soon enough, this woman starts appearing around the hotel, and Christiane’s grip on sanity becomes increasingly tenuous. The story’s still in progress right now, but I’m looking so forward to bringing it to fruition and seeing it in the book!
Nathan: I was happy to invite you to take part, and your story sounds great. You write mainly horror and fantastical type stories. What do you typically read? What are you reading right now?
Gwendolyn: My favorite stories also tend toward horror and fantasy. I love Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson. I’m also getting into Charles Beaumont a bit more. I knew his work mainly from The Twilight Zone, but I’m currently reading more of his short fiction. Though he departed this mortal world almost a half century ago, it’s fascinating to see how well his work holds up. That’s definitely something I think about way too much: will my fiction still feel relevant ten, twenty, fifty years after my death? It’s strange because there’s no way of knowing for sure, but that’s certainly a skill I admire in writers—being able to hit on such a universal human experience that it never feels dated.
Nathan: I hear you. I’ve read classics like Tolkien, Jackson, Clarke this year and they all hold up so well over the years. Thanks again for joining me, and I just have one final question for you. It’s a thunderstorm outside, there’s no power and your laptop has enough juice to watch one movie. Do you choose: Addams Family Values, Scream, or The Shining?
Gwendolyn: Addams Family Values, definitely. My nickname growing up was “Gwensday” after Wednesday Addams, so I feel like she’s a long lost sister in arms. I’ll take an opportunity to hang out with her anytime.
A big thanks for coming by, and for more information on Gwendolyn see her website at www.gwendolynkiste.com
and on Twitter at @gwendolynkiste