Christa Miller, Author of Sodom & Gomorrah on a Saturday Night

Interview with Christa Miller, Author of Sodom & Gomorrah on a Saturday Night

Running Wild Novella Anthology, Jade Leone Blackwater and Lisa Diane Kastner (November 2017)Please join me in welcoming Christa Miller to the spotlight at Running Wild Press today. Christa is the author of Sodom & Gomorrah on a Saturday Night, one of five novellas featured in our newly-released Running Wild Press Novella Anthology, (November, 2017).

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EN: Tell us about your story; genre, target audience, length, etc. Give us a quick blurb about it. (As much as you can without giving anything away.)

CM: Sodom & Gomorrah on a Saturday Night is speculative crime fiction set three years from today, in a barely recognizable Seacoast New Hampshire where human trafficking has been legalized and empathy — the ability to read another person’s emotions — outlawed. It’s a story about capitalism run amok, taken to its furthest extreme: fully privatized government, all manner of activity — including human trafficking — is legalized as long as it can turn a profit, and people who used to serve the US Constitution are now forced to serve corporate interests. Unable to solve the murder of a young girl, its two former police officers turn to unorthodox methods to locate her killer — and just maybe, spark a revolution.

 

EN: What inspired you to write fiction? What moment in your life can you recall knowing you needed to write?

CM: I had been really into drawing and painting until fourth grade, when I won a school (or district? can’t remember) award for a story I’d written. That was when I shifted focus from art to writing. But it wasn’t until middle school, when I started to write a lot — for myself as well as for assignments — that teachers started to encourage me to write, and then into high school it became a “dumping ground” for whatever intense emotions I was working through, and even though it took me until well after college to decide to “be a writer” (when I kicked off my freelance career), that was really when I learned that words are how I process the world.

 

EN: How did this particular story come about? Did it come in pieces over time? All in one flash of genius?

CM: I started working on the basic idea, the murder of a young girl in a beach town, probably 15 years ago. It was originally the sequel to another (very bad first) novel I had written, but it would never work as straight crime fiction. Over time I added elements like her being a human trafficking victim, but the story never came together until I made the world a dystopia. Then, because I was free from the bounds of genre, it came together actually pretty smoothly. I drafted it over the span of about three months and then revisions were fairly straightforward after that.

 

EN: As I read Sodom & Gomorrah on a Saturday Night, more about the world it is set in was slowly revealed. This type of reality, a Totalitarian government, a type of altered existence, did current events inspire the story? Or did you have this story completely plotted out, characters fleshed out, etc. far in advance- is life imitating art? Also, the concept of certain emotions being outlawed is a terrifying concept. Do you feel in certain places around the world, certain places in our own lives this is already happening on a subconscious level?

CM: I wrote it over the summer before Election Day 2016, back when many of us expected a totally different outcome, so if anything I was thinking that it might serve as an academic “might have been” kind of world. Before that, I decided that the dystopia aspect worked because that is what human trafficking victims live with each day. And there were already articles being written about privatization of different industries, notably prisons but also other entities — transportation, healthcare, education, water — that are public in other countries, so even at that time it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine privatized everything, where anything goes as long as it turns a profit.

The empathy ban was on a somewhat different level. It wasn’t in the version I originally submitted; I added it in later. The cognitive form of empathy, where we put ourselves in others’ positions, is certainly not cultivated in our society — far from it in many cases. But I wanted to take it a step further and address the ability to actually feel someone else’s feelings. In this world, that ability is a given, and to have it outlawed and deadened to the point where it’s a measure of defiance not to take one’s inhibitor drugs I think definitely parallels the desire of those in power to control people by disconnecting them from one another. We’re harsher with each other for lack of understanding, and harsher with ourselves.

 

EN: Do you have anything in store for the characters is Sodom & Gomorrah on a Saturday Night? Will we be reading more about them as individuals? Will they reappear together again in another story?

CM: I’m working on a sequel in which the narrator, Ray, is a secondary character. I’m not sure yet whether his “partner” Suzanne shows up. I tend to write by the seat of my pants, so it’s totally open, though I’d love for her and Callie to show up again. The main character, though, is a young female journalist who is dealing with ghosts of her own while she’s telling these very illegal stories in this environment, and the choice she eventually has to make to maintain her “inhibited” empathic state, or go off her meds and get involved. (Which is kind of the position a lot of us are in…)

 

EN: If you could pick one author to spend the day with, living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?

CM: I admit both parts of this question are throwing me. Just one? Do? 😉 It would probably involve a coffee shop or pub and a long walk and talk, but there are so many I’d like to learn from for various reasons, I don’t think I could pick just one!

 

EN: How many unpublished and half-finished works do you have?

CM: SO many. I’m a short fiction writer because I’ve found I start to lose the threads in novel attempts and that’s very uncomfortable for me, so I keep my writing fairly simple for my brain. Having said that, I have at least a dozen stories in various stages of completion — some drafted, some mid-revision, some close to done if I can settle down long enough to complete them!

 

EN: What is your favorite childhood book?

CM: I loved anything by Madeleine L’Engle, who wrote about some very complex topics for her YA audience, and my favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

EN: What are your future project(s)?

CM: Aside from the Sodom & Gomorrah sequel, I’d like to write a sequel to my children’s book Raccoon Rescue (released by Aulexic, September 2017). Of course I have a few additional new story ideas, so hopefully I’ll get to begin work on those after I clear out some of the other projects!

 

EN: What does literary success look like to you?

CM: I’d settle for modest — solid, consistent sales, a loyal core audience, strong reviews — but my pipe dream will always be runaway best selling (yes, of short stories LOL) that would allow me to buy a cottage on the coast of Ireland or Scotland.

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EN: Christa, thank you so much for sharing a little about yourself, your craft, and your work. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for sneak peeks at the Running Wild Press Novella Anthology and other great titles planned for 2018.

Interview with Sara Marchant, Author of Let Me Go

Rachael Angelo here, your friend at Running Wild Press, and I am happy to introduce you to Sara Marchant with our interview today. Sara is the author of Let Me Go, which appears in our upcoming Running Wild Press Novella Anthology, available for pre-order on Amazon, (November, 2017).

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Sara Marchant, Author of Let Me GoRA: Where did your inspiration for this story come from?

SM: ‘Let Me Go’ was just an image I had of a girl walking down the empty streets of a small town. She had a broken boot heel, a toothache, and it was so hot that she wanted to cry. This image was so strong that in order to give the poor girl some relief I imagined walking into an overly air conditioned house; this image was accompanied by the scent that overly chilled air gets when you have the a/c cranked up all the way for like, days because it’s just unrelentingly hot. Then I thought, ‘well, what’s the backstory? And why? And when?’ The story just grew from that girl who popped into my head.

RA: Is there anything about your story in particular that is close to you?

SM: I think I’m more interested in the parts of the story that aren’t close to me; the parts that after I’ve let the MS sit for a few days and then come back to it, I go ‘whoa, who wrote that?’ I’ve had people say ‘I think that character is you.’ Which I think is hilarious because they are all me. I am the girl walking down the street, yes, but I am also the mean grandmother shoving the baby off her lap who ultimately drinks drain cleaner. I’m the baby on the lap. But when I read a section that I can’t remember writing but that I find really interesting, those are the days and the parts I enjoy the most.

RA: It felt like there was a lesson to be learned here about our choices, especially in Sylvie’s case with the hand she was dealt, at least what I took away from it, was that your intention?

SM: Oh gosh, I hope not. I didn’t set out to write a morality tale. I certainly didn’t mean to inspire pity for Sylvie because I don’t pity her. She’s too strong to pity. I did occasionally wish I could cut her a break, but without conflict there is no story. Sylvie was an enjoyable character to spend time with. I loved that whatever I threw at her she handled it, maybe she didn’t handle it the way society and her family and the patriarchy would prefer that young females handle things, but too damn bad, you know?

RA: Sylvie, she is definitely a tough girl and I gathered she is “troubled” but I feel as though she’s been misunderstood and given titles not support, am I correct?

SM: I think the family is troubled, not Sylvie. By titles you mean labels? The ‘bad girl’? Maybe, but I think Sylvie would say she worked really hard to earn that title and consequently be very proud of it. Which is part of her problem. Children who do not receive attention will do anything to get it, even if it’s all negative attention. Coming from a family with a history of suicide, alcoholism, and rampant selfishness on the parent’s part, I think Sylvie turned out amazingly well. And here I go getting all protective over a character I made up!

RA: The sheriff, does he actually hate Sylvie’s existence or is it more that her presence reminds him of what he feels he lost? Can you also explain the complexity of their relationship?

SM: Oh, Buddy! I love Buddy. He is such a twisted weirdo. I think Buddy would like to hate Sylvie, but can’t. He can’t because her mother was the only woman he’s ever loved and Sylvie is the only reminder he has of Polly. He can’t hate Sylvie because she looks like Polly, but is far stronger than Polly ever was emotionally and mentally, but he also resents her for those very same reasons. He also can’t hate Sylvie because he suspects he might be her biological father, in which case he bears some blame for Polly’s final descent into the depression that took her life. Plus, there’s that creepy quasi-incestuous attraction thing they have going on. Gross. But I still love Buddy.

RA: I have to ask, the Asylum there in that town, is there more to that building? I feel as though there are many stories. For example, why would the doctor release Sylvie’s mother? How was that allowed?

SM: Sylvie’s parent’s backstory was entirely inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. The doctor has a beautiful patient with whom he becomes involved, marries her and has a couple of children. By the end of the book, the supposedly insane wife has left him for another man and the doctor is an alcoholic who has lost everything. In my story, the doctor gets involved with Polly in the asylum (yes, this means he is a very bad doctor and lacks all morals). When it found that Polly is pregnant he releases her from care so that he can marry her. But she was involved with Buddy both before and after her brief hospitalization. Could this happen in real life? It probably has, it’s just not the type of ‘how we met’ story families share at Thanksgiving.

RA: Before I wrap up, I have to ask what your writing process is? With this story I am rather intrigued on what makes you pick up the pen.

SM: I don’t understand my writing process, either. I really don’t. Like I said above, with this story I had the image of a girl, who became Sylvie, walking down a hot, deserted road, and I decided to fill in the blanks. I couldn’t stop with this story until I understood why she would be outside, alone, in 112 degree weather, walking on a broken boot heel. Where was her family? Why was her boot broken? Why was she so angry? I kept writing until I answered the questions. Some people write every day, and students are always told  ‘write every day!’ like it’s some kind of law. Well, I don’t. I write when I have questions I want to answer. And this is true of both my fiction and the essays that I love to write. Luckily, I have a lot of questions. But I can tell you this: I started seriously writing when I became too old to play with Barbies. The events are linked.

the happy goat of Sara Marchant, Author of Let Me GoRA: To finish up I have one more question, can you tell us what your next project is?

SM: Thanks for asking! I’m currently doing re-writes on another novella, ‘A Driveway Has Two Sides.’ I’m developing curriculum for Pen & Paper Writing Workshops where I’ll be teaching non-fiction in January 2018. I’ve another novella in the embryo stage that’s been put on hold but it’s tickling the inside of my mind (that’s sounds creepier than I meant) with so many questions. My editing work at the resistance-themed literary magazine Writers Resist is on-going, and my latest essay will be published there soon (shameless self-promotion alert!) Life is full, and full is good.

RA: Thank you!

SM: Thanks so much!

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You can read Sara Marchant’s Let Me Go and stories by more authors in the upcoming Running Wild Press Novella Anthology, available for pre-order on Amazon. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest.

Magic Forgotten by Jack Hillman

Virtual Book Tour for Magic Forgotten by Jack Hillman

Join us!

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Tour for Magic Forgotten by Jack Hillman, an urban fantasy novel available now. The tour will run October 23 to November 10 2017, and the author is available for guest post and interviews. A PDF and ePub copy of the book is available for review in conjunction with a guest post or interview.

Jack Hillman will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Tour Stops

October 23: Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
October 24: Christine Young
October 25: Danita Minnis
October 26: Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews
October 27: The Avid Reader
October 30: Independent Authors
October 31: The Kronicles of Korthlundia: A Window into Fantasy
November 1: Kit ‘N Kabookle
November 2: BooksChatter
November 3: Books, Dreams,Life
November 6: T’s Stuff – review
November 7: Readeropolis
November 8: Sharing Links and Wisdom
November 9: It’s Raining Books
November 10: Long and Short Reviews