Thursday, April 18, 2013

Author Insides - Karen Metcalf

There’s a phrase in the South, "telling stories," which means telling lies. Growing up, Karen Metcalf told a lot of stories, which wasn’t always a good thing. She was raised on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where she spent most of her time reading science fiction and horror. She continues to explore those worlds through her writing today. Karen is 24 years old and lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Karen’s well-received young adult novella, IN THE STORM, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Powell’s Books

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think I first realized that I was on to something in about the third grade when my teacher asked my mom if I had plagiarized one of my stories. My sisters have spent a lot of time laughing about some of those originals. I continued to write throughout high school, though I focused on poetry. I don’t think I was serious about it until college; and wrote only when I ran out books.

Why do you write?
I began because it was cathartic and had major middle child syndrome. I was never interested in keeping a journal, but found that a great deal of my deeper/secret thoughts came out in my fiction when I could slip them in and let the character take credit. This still has a lot to do with my inspirations today.

Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?
I never really let myself think about it until I attempted to publish my novella. I didn’t know that it would become a part-time job and constantly consume my thoughts and free time. I am truly amazed that people are publishing these amazing books while working full-time and raising a family. I had no idea how time consuming the process could be, or how taxing it.

What do you think makes a good story?
I don’t like to be bogged down with a lot of trivial details. I hate reading two pages about the characters’ clothes. For me, the point of a book is to visualize it your own way, so that each reader has their personal experience and reaction. In this way less is more. Although I want closure, I like a little to be left to my imagination. I think that’s what makes a great story stay with you.

What's your favorite genre to read?
I am drawn to sci-fi/horror. Unlike a horror movie, you can’t look away during the scary parts, and I am often surprised by the things my mind can conjure up with the briefest of details.

Who is your favorite author or poet?
I will always favor Stephen King. I was introduced to him at such a young age, and he really defined my impression of what a book should be. He can scare me in a way that no one else ever has, and at the same time make me fall in love with his characters.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?
I’ve noticed that the stories that have stuck with me the longest have had the simplest plots. My first love was The Hatchet, Gary Paulsen. It was just a kid stuck in the woods with a hatchet. Also The Long Walk, by Richard Bauchman (Stephen King). A teen is just walking down a road for the entire book. Both would be considered Young Adult by today’s standards. These books did not need a great deal of pomp and yet truly affected me. I think they stay in the back of my mind when I write.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person? Years ago I picked up a copy of Richard Matheson’s I am Legend. It is still one of my absolute favorites. After the novella was a few short stories, one of which a young girl was essentially kidnapped and had a horrible experience. I am so amazed that such few pages would still haunt me today.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?
I like to take a step back and look at the irony around me. I think a lot about descriptions and like to find metaphors for everyday things. My family is a huge inspiration.

What does your family think of your writing?
They have been subjected to it for most of my life and have always been my beta readers. They were just as shocked as I was when I become really serious about writing and have been extremely supportive throughout my experience. I’m sure they wished it paid better.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Like an idiot, I started to do most of my writing around the same time I began my Masters. It really cuts into my writing time and drains me. I fit it in on weekends and whatever free time I find between work and family. There really is no schedule.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?
I have found that my reclining sofa was my sanctuary, but had to get rid of it when I moved. I haven’t found a comfortable place to write since. I must have coffee and cigarettes.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I have to pace myself and tend to be brief when I could expand more. I would like to create longer pieces.

What are your current projects?
I have begun to play around with a sequel to my novella In the Storm.

What are you planning for future projects?
I have a sci-fi-ish plot that has been floating around for a while now and would like to add to what I have down on paper. For now everything is jotted down in a notebook.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Be aware that if you start it will consume your life. Once you get a taste of what you can create, it is very difficult to imagine doing anything else. You have to write for you, and forget that anyone else will ever read it or you will edit it to death.

Where can we find your work?
My novella In the Storm was published via Vagabondage Press, LLC and is available on their website and through other vendors in both e-book and print.

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