Andrea Stanet is one of the authors in the soon-to-be released urban fantasy anthology, Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, and I’m very happy to have her featured on my blog for an interview.
What do you like about writing in the paranormal genre?
The paranormal genre and I have had a long and tumultuous love affair filled with many sleepless nights for almost my entire life. To this day, I can’t get enough of vamps, were-creatures, and of course, ghosts. One thing I love about the genre is that you can do so much with myths and creatures. I enjoy turning tropes on their heads in wacky ways and I like to toy with the humorous side of the genre. For instance, a few years ago, on a whim, I thought a YA quartet of short stories that is a mash-up of vamps, werewolves, zombies, and aliens all living in a suburban community would be hilarious. It’s pretty silly, but I had fun writing it.
What prompted you to write this story?
“Under the Mattress” came from a very different place than most of my other short stories and novels, so I’m not completely sure what prompted me to sit down at the keyboard. Even at the time, I didn’t know where it stemmed from; it just popped into my head and bled out. I disliked it when I first wrote it because it felt so dark. The first draft left me sad and disturbed. I felt much better about the story once I revised and solidified Nathan’s arc, thematic issues, and the ending.
At the time I had been thinking quite a bit about a family member, let’s call him “P,” who is an Iraq War veteran. This was almost exactly a year ago, and his birthday was coming up. Shortly after I finished the first draft, I learned that P had been experiencing an emotionally traumatic period and had been suicidal. Fortunately, he had the presence of mind to seek help. Since then I’ve felt that on some level his pain drew this story out without my knowledge. While the main character isn’t a veteran, like so many veterans’ families, his loved ones’ experiences still profoundly affect him.
What other things have you written/are you writing?
I recently wrote a short thriller that will appear in the anthology, Stalkers, set for release in October. Currently, I am revising a middle-grade piece to submit for a tween and YA paranormal anthology called Wild Cards. The proceeds will go to the National Children’s Cancer Society.
I have several fantasy novels in the revision stage. I decided to completely rewrite the perspective on the fae middle-grade I was submitting. Once my last anthology submission is done, I will also start revising a dimensional-travel modern fairy-tale. Some of my other novels feature zombie dragons, twisted fairy-tale characters in a house of horrors, and twins who get transported to a sword & sorcery world.
Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?
I almost never plot ahead of time. I’ve tried with disastrous results. As I’m writing, I may project a few steps ahead so that I have a general direction, but I don’t really know where the story will end beyond a vague idea. For example, in “Under the Mattress,” I didn’t know what was under the mattress until at least midway through the story. It’s always fun when I get to the climax of a story and can’t decide how it ends. Luckily, the characters usually take over by then and don’t give me too much say in their outcomes.
When and how did you first become interested in writing?
The first story I remember writing, “Who Killed Crystal?” wriggled out of my brain when I was about nine. A young girl recounts a burglary and her attempts to escape the intruder. Too bad for Crystal, she ends up telling the story as a ghost. I recall that there was a lot of upheaval going on for me at the time, and I think writing fiction helped me cope with scary nine-year-old issues. My father and older brother had introduced me to monster movies and ghost stories at a young age, so it’s no surprise I followed the horror/paranormal/fantasy path from the very beginning. Since then, I’ve always had stories in me, even those that never make it to paper. When I go too long without writing, the ideas build up and assault me in my dreams, giving me terrible nightmares until I get back to work. So now I make sure to write all the time.
What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?
I don’t exactly follow a schedule although I do prefer to write early in the morning. My brain just doesn’t work after sundown. Whatever the opposite of a vampire is, that would be me.
When we first moved to what I consider “the country” (being the city kid that I am), I had grand visions of sitting out on the patio all summer with a cup of tea drawing inspiration from the woods around us. Then I learned that the trees block most of our morning sun, and it gets buggy as the day warms up. There’s not much inspiration in a drowned gnat polluting your tea, trust me.
Now when I work, you’ll find me hunched over my laptop in the corner of our dining area, often with a space heater blowing on my feet. I have two desks, but my work space is the dining table. Go figure. My second favorite spot in the winter is in front of our pellet stove. I like to borrow one of my kids’ lap desks, wrap myself up in a blanket and sit with my back to the fire. A warm, bug-free environment and fresh brain cells are the necessary components for my creative process.
Next I would like to see one of my novels published. I haven’t yet decided if I want to try self-publishing. There seem to be an increasing number of benefits to it, but it’s also a scary prospect. For now, it’s just revising, and then I’ll see what opportunities arise and where fate takes me.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My website is a work in progress at: http://AndreaStanet.com. I am in the process of slowly rebuilding my autism blog at: http://myautisminsights.com, and you can also find me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/AutismInsights. Thanks for reading!
The following is a short excerpt from Andrea’s story in Urban Harvest.
Under the Mattress
A fresh bouquet of assorted flowers added the only splash of color to the otherwise dismal family plot. Nate’s eyes roamed over the simple engraving on the stone, stopping at the date. Three years ago. The end of good times.
As he kneeled to straighten the flowers, water seeped through his jeans.
The rain stopped. His hands stilled. Then they clenched into fists. Nate ground his teeth together so hard they hurt. “I’m so done with this shit, Dad. I’m supposed to be the kid, not the parent! She’s useless!” Sitting back on his heels, he ran a hand through his curly black hair. “Ever since she came back—”
“I know, Nate.”
The voice came from behind him.
Nate gasped. He whipped around, fell over, his butt squelching into the wet grass, his spine smacking against his father’s headstone. Nate visited the grave often because he always felt his father’s presence, somehow. But he had never expected to see his Dad again—not in this world, anyway.
His father stood in the at-ease stance, his chin held high, across the grassy aisle that separated his section from the next. He wore his dress blues, the ones he had been buried in. Nate could see rows of headstones behind the transparent figure. It was impossible, yet there he was.
“Dad?” He reached for his father, then let his hand flop back to his lap. That’s it—I’ve finally cracked.
To read the rest of Andrea’s story, check out Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, available from Amazon this Sunday!