Today on my blog I have the great pleasure of chatting with Jennifer M Zeiger. This lady is one of the first fellow bloggers I met, and she’s always been encouraging and supportive. On this very day of Halloween, Jennifer, together with eight other writers, publishes the anthology Midnight Abyss. Here she is on writing, on Midnight Abyss, and other scary stuff…
When did you start writing, and what led you to do it?
When I was young, I’d watch my older sister, who I idolized, sit and read for hours. I wanted to be like her so bad. Then I started school and found reading really hard. They tested me for all sorts of reading disorders and found nothing but I’d still read words backwards, move letters around, struggle to understand the sentence I just read because it took me ten minutes to read it.
This lasted until the seventh grade. I still idolized my sister and she had a boyfriend who gave me a book to read. Now, this wasn’t a small book. This was Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World. But I wanted so bad to have something to talk with Nick and Leslie about that I sat down with that book determined to read it.
At first it was just like always. Read a page and then start over in hopes I’d understand it the second time. I didn’t realize when I didn’t have to reread a page. The story finally sucked me in and, somewhere in the middle of that gigantic book, I was reading without struggling.
That’s when my passion for writing started. I loved the magic I found in books and wanted to create it. I’ve been writing stories ever since.
Who and/or what influences you as a writer?
Besides my brother-in-law (yes, Leslie and Nick got married), handing me a fantasy book? I’d say all sorts of things influence my writing. I still love to read fantasy. So that always influences my writing. However, I also love to read sci-fi and a bit of romance. They sneak into my writing as well.
I was born and raised in Colorado, so you’ll see a lot of stories set in the mountains, with pine forests, and snow storms. Oceans and boats…well, I attempt those sometimes but, to be honest, they tend to trip me up.
As for who influences me, I say my husband influences me the most. Stephen King talks about writing to your ‘ideal reader’. Nate’s that for me. He’ll tell me when something’s not right but he’s also supportive without fail and he pushes me to keep at it.
What is your writing routine? Do you have any writing rituals?
Hehehe. Routine? Um, yeah, about that… I struggle with a writing routine. Always have. Right now, I try to write for a couple hours after work and during my lunch hour. As for rituals, I don’t have much. If I can find sunshine streaming into a room, I’m there, sitting in the sun. For some reason, this makes writing easier, helps it flow.
You’re not alone, I struggle to maintain a writing routine as well! How do you relax when you’re not writing?
I love naps. 🙂 And I’m a sucker for a good show. Nate and I will sit for hours watching Once Upon a Time or Stargate Atlantis or Fringe or… well, I could go on for some time.
I relax a lot with family. Whether it’s hiking, sitting and watching a show, or eating a good dinner, that’s how I relax.
Who are your favourite authors?
That’s a long list. John Flanagan, Brent Weeks, Peter V. Brett, Anne McCaffrey, Cassandra Clare, Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Christopher Paolini, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis… the list could go on for a long time. If I had to pick just one, I’d say John Flanagan. His writing is for a younger audience but he’s got a little bit of everything, humor, romance, action. Plus his world building is fantastic.
How did you come to be involved with this anthology, Midnight Abyss?
I was invited to join some others from Writer’s Carnival, an online workshop site for writers, in writing this anthology. This blew my mind. I love the writing site but it never crossed my mind to self-publish with eight others from the site.
Tell us a bit about the book and the stories in it.
Midnight Abyss is a collection of horror and dark fantasy short stories put together by nine authors who met online. It’s got a great variety of stories ranging from vampires to dragons to zombies to urban stories that involve demons or just plain human depravity. It you like blood and guts and are a true horror fan, it’s right up your alley. If you don’t like blood and guts, there are several stories that’ll still intrigue without the gore but have darker elements to them.
How did you come up with the idea for your story, The Orbs?
For some reason, The Orbs was difficult for me to write. All I could get was the picture of a winged girl faced with choosing between her own people and something else. And the something else had to be worth it because the consequences of going against her people could mean losing her wings. Where this idea came from, I’ll be honest, I’ve no idea. Many times I won’t have an idea until I sit down and force myself to put words on paper. Then the ideas start rolling for some reason I don’t understand. I’ve come to trust that if I’m faithful to sit down and write, a story will come to me.
The ending of The Orbs leaves an opening for the story to continue. Are we going to hear more? (Please say yes!)
It’s definitely possible. My true passion is for writing novels. I find many of the short stories I write have the potential to be a much larger story, so I’ll take from my store of short stories to seed the novels I write. This is one I’ll definitely put in my possibilities folder.
Apart from your own story, do you have a favourite from the others in Midnight Abyss? Or one you wish you’d written?
Wow. Until you asked this, I’d never thought about it. All of the other writers are very talented. I admire Greg’s humor and Matt’s ability to describe the world in his stories. Doug’s ability to get into his character’s heads is something I’d love to get better at. And I could go on. If I had to pick just one of the other stories, I’d say Gregory K. Shipman’s Debt Collectors is my favorite.
One I wished I’d written? I’d say Matthew X. Gomez’s Comes a Slayer because he writes fantasy like I do but tends to be better at his fight scenes. 🙂
Midnight Abyss is being published on Halloween! Do you like Halloween? Do you do anything special? (I watch the same scary movies every year, while lying in wait for trick-or-treaters).
Halloween’s a lot of fun. As a kid, I dressed up as Cousin It from the Adam’s Family most years because the costume was all fake fur with one hole to stick my arm out through. All that fake fur made for a lot of warmth and in Colorado, where it usually snows on Halloween, it was the best costume ever.
Now, I still love to dress up but I live out in the country, where going trick or treating from door to door requires more walking than it does candy. As for something special: carving pumpkins and baking the seeds with a bit of salt. I absolutely love eating pumpkin seeds.
Finally: Midnight Abyss is a collection of tales each with a scary element. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why? How did you get over your fear to go ahead and do it?
Okay, I may come out sounding like an adrenaline junkie with this question. 🙂 I grew up sport climbing, so when I got older, I learned how to lead climb and set my own anchors. I knew from my younger experiences that I feared heights but nothing prepared me for the mental struggle of hauling my gear up to that first bolt. Skill wise, I knew that first bolt should be easy but the knowledge that I wasn’t attached to a rope yet scared the wits out of me.
How’d I get over the fear? By breathing and working through the muscles shakes and the sweaty hands one move at a time. Even now, years after I led my first time, I have to fight through the fear to lead again but there’s something incredibly exhilarating when I reach the top. It’s worth it every time.
Wow, sport climbing! Sounds like great inspiration for writing scary tales! Many thanks for answering my questions and telling us about Midnight Abyss. If you want to know more, pop over to Jennifer’s blog for interviews with the other authors and excerpts from their stories, or find Midnight Abyss on Goodreads, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.