31 Days of Author Madness: Stacey L. Polishook

The Fiver:

1. What is your writing process?

I have a writing process that is a bit unique. I tend to be inspired by a question or a character. I actually write scenes out of order and discover the story through writing these scenes. As I come to know my cast of characters and their stories, the overall shape of the novel ( and typically the ending) begin to come into focus. At this point I start to try organizing the story into beats and making sure that both the narrative and character arcs have the proper structure. Then I fill in the gaps with scenes that are missing in order to complete the arcs cleanly.

Writing out of order is not for everyone and does require a bit of flexibility as well as allowing yourself to be comfortable with writing a scene or two that you might not use. But for me, it prevents the story from becoming stagnant as I am constantly discovering new things myself! It also allows me to write the exciting scenes when they pop into my head and not wait till I reach them in a linear plot progression.

2. What inspires you to write?

I will say that I am most inspired by history and the funny habit it has of repeating itself… Throughout my life I have been interested in learning about the past as a way to understand our present. In trying to understand how humans capable of creating so much art and beauty and spreading such joy to one another while at the same time being capable of acting as destroyers, killers, and spreaders of hate. I have also spent a lot of time time traveling the world, exploring different cultures and looking at parallels in the stories we share and our collective history as human beings.

All of that inspires me to create speculative fiction that explores my questions about our world and our place in it. As a result, my writing tends to be a bit on the darker side ( I like the fluffier stuff for reading on occasion but don’t tend to be inspired to write it myself). Questions of morality, mortality, and human interactions in the face of adversity, tend to take center stage in everything I write.

I am also highly inspired by the places I have traveled and the diverse people I have met along the way. I am a person who takes pictures on my phone a lot and is constantly collecting visual, auditory, and olfactory details in my mind for use in the stories I still have yet to imagine…

3. Writing is considered a dream job by many, but what if you were granted the opportunity for a true, magical ‘dream job’. What would it be and why?

Hum… this one is tough! Writing IS a dream job for me, but I guess if I could create a dream job, it would be something that involved traveling and making a difference. I have been to more than twenty countries and want to explore so many more. I love learning about new people and cultures and history. A job that would allow me to do that would be amazing. Bonus points if that job also allowed me to help the communities I visited in some way. Maybe I should quit my day job and travel the world doing humanitarian aide…

4. You are standing on a stage, addressing a high school auditorium of teenage creative writers. What advice would you impart to them about the craft and the career path of being a writer?

I would impart to them how very important stories are. Stories are how we interact with and process our world as human beings. They teach us about other people and places and help us develop empathy. Stories are an integral part of who we are and the written word is key to preserving those stories to be passed on from generation to generation. As an author you have the chance to become a part of that amazing history. Choosing writing as a career path is not easy. The industry is tough. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow your passion. Those stories demand to be written and if you have a tale to tell…WRITE IT!

Look for inspiration in the world all around you. Look in history, in different cultures and myths and landscapes. Try to imagine how you could record, in words, the things that move you, from a sunset to a rain shower, to the smell of week old garbage that you keep neglecting to take out. These observations of the world around us are the colors with which authors paint stories on the page.

Remember that writing is a life-long endeavor in improving craft, honing voice, and writing A LOT…even if there are days when everything you put on the page feels like crap. All authors go through writer’s block. All authors will face a crisis of faith. Keep working to tell your stories. Keep track of your old pieces and when you are feeling hopeless, look back on all you have accomplished and how far you have come. Find your “tribe” of writer friends who can share the journey with you. Writing is a solitary discipline but it is important to have critique partners & writer confidants who can support and help you as you, in turn, support and help them.

5. You’re stranded in a snowed in cabin, well stocked up on food, but no internet. What is on your emergency book shelf?

Well Anne Rice is my author hero so I would expect a full collection of the “Vampire Chronicles” + “Mayfair Witches” (those can all count as one since they cross over right?). I would also include her non-vampire novels ( “Servant of the Bones” is actually my favorite Rice book). My most worn books from reading again and again are Monica Furlong’s “Juniper” as well as “Wise Child” so they would be good to have. How long am I stuck in this cabin? hehe. I would toss in Robert B. Parker’s “Spenser” series for variety, some Philippa Gregory, and ask for some surprise options too from authors I don’t know. Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Historical Fiction… Pretty much any collection of speculative fiction would work for me. 🙂

Where to find her:

Snippet/ Teaser:

Dawn crept through the cracks in the walls, allowing slips of light to paint the floor with strange patterns of gray and black shadows. Rachel’s head pounded. It had been difficult to sleep on the hard concrete floor of their cage, but at least she’d managed to get some rest. There hadn’t been much else to do once the slavers had left them, shutting off the lights and leaving them in almost total darkness. Maybe it was for the best. The more strength she could gain through sleep, the more likely she could plot her escape.

It was not long before the slavers made their rounds, delivering the bowls of gray goo. Rachel ate obediently, trying to better survey her grim surroundings with the aid of daylight and rested eyes. The room was lined with cage after cage of frightened women, boys, and girls, all cowering, stuffed on top of one another in their cramped cells.

“Got an order for one mature young female. Around 140 pounds live weight,” A loud voice cried out. A moment later Ren appeared at the door. Rachel held her breath as he walked down the aisle of cages, his eyes scanning until they rested on a cage not far from her own, stuffed with girls who all seemed to be in their teens.

Reaching to his belt, the sibla took up his keys and unlocked the door. The girls quickly attempted to escape his grasp, but Ren managed to grab a firm hold of one unfortunate’s arm and drag her from her fellows. Slamming the door shut again, Rachel watched as the sibla forced the chosen girl onto a scale.

“I’ve got 146 on this one!” Ren called back.

“Customer will take her,” came the response. “Bring her round back.”

Rachel could see the poor girl shivering in fear.

“Please don’t,” she whimpered softly.

Ren frowned at her. “Come on,” he said, pulling her roughly from the scale. “No good resisting. You know better than that.”

When the girl continued to struggle against the sibla’s attempts to drag her from the room, Ren’s hand rose and struck her soundly across the face. Rachel cringed as the woman’s body crumpled to the floor.

“Need help with this one,” he called out. Another slaver quickly joined him and the two carried the woman away.

“What are they doing with her?” Rachel asked the boy by her side, noticing her cage mates watching the proceedings.

“Taking her to the back,” he whispered. “That’s where they slaughter us.”

-After Humanity, Stacey L. Polishook

Any other news or updates you would like to share?

While I continue to work on publication of my book “After Humanity,” I am also hard at work on a sequel told from the POV of Alice, the one main character who is not given her own voice in the first book of the series. My hope it to create at least three books from this world. I also am still hard at work on my first novel and the rest of the epic fantasy series from which it stems.

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