Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Author Interview with Corie L. Calcutt

It HAS been a while hasn't it. 

A number of projects, not the least of which is my day-job, have monopolized my time, but be not afraid.  I have not forgotten the blog.  And I have some pretty exciting stuff coming up, so stay tuned!

And to bring the blog back to life in style, I'm posting an interview today with Untreed Reads author Corie L. Calcutt, who just recently released a new suspense/thriller novella entitled TAKEN.

The Accidental Author:  Obviously, this tale is a nice mixture of macabre and mayhem. Where did you get your inspiration for TAKEN?

Corie Calcutt:   Honestly, I was inspired by a mix of things. I had heard of several real-life abduction cases in which more than one state line was crossed (I am, sadly, a true-crime junkie); however, in all of those cases the victims were women. I was interested to see what might happen if the victim was male; more specifically, a young man who might statistically have a better chance of fighting off their abductor.

Another thing I was interested in was seeing an abduction tale told specifically from the victim's point-of-view. In so many plots like this, readers see it from all sides: the victim, the abductor, the party or parties working to resolve the crime. I was curious to see if a story told from only the victim's point-of-view would work; to see the crime unfolding through only one pair of eyes. I felt it gave more mystery and was more suspenseful if the reader had to learn the information in the same way a potential victim of a crime like this would.

AA: When you set out to write, do you tend to have a strict outline, or do you allow the story to evolve organically?

CC: All of my work evolves organically. Sometimes it doesn't even evolve in the right order! :)

In the case of TAKEN, it was not only an organic process, the story really almost wrote itself initially. I just couldn't stop writing the first draft of it; like a good suspense thriller, I too was sucked in right until the end!

AA:  Do you feel that your works are more character-driven, or more plot-driven? In other words, do you allow the strength of the characters to bend the plot to their will, or does the strength of the plot transform the characters?

CC:   It's a little bit of both, actually. Most times I find that the plot will sometimes drive the characters; in some cases, the characters are SO strong that the plot bends around them.

One example of this from TAKEN is the character of James: in all three versions of this story that I wrote, I found readers were more drawn to him than they were the main protagonist! In writing for James's character, his personality really determined what would happen next, even though I usually had a rough idea of what that next step would be.
AA:  In terms of mechanics, when do you know a work is complete (or at least, ready to submit)?

CC:  Actually, I am a horrible judge of when my stories are good enough to shop out. Oftentimes I rely on a very small circle of friends in the art and writing world to proof and give me feedback on my works, and when they like it, it's done.

With TAKEN, it was a twofold process: there were three different versions of the story written. As far as the plot of the story went, I simply wrote it until I felt it needed to stop. Originally I (and the main characters) was going to Saskatchewan; once I hit Omaha, the story was telling me to wrap it up.

Two of my versions were nothing more than a perspective change: I found that writing it in first-person POV was much easier storywise than the third-person POV I was accustomed to writing in. Much less thought italics. :)

As with my other works, I had it looked over by my small circle of writing friends. Once they liked it, I shopped it out.

AA:  Do you revise while you write, or do you complete a full draft before you go back and revise?

CC:   Usually I revise as I write, but it honestly depends on the project. In this case, I did both, making my own changes and accepting the suggestions of my writing friends. If I were to write out a full draft before revising or requesting feedback, I'd never finish anything!

AA:  When you write things like TAKEN, do you write about things that you fear personally in a sort of personal catharsis, or is it something else entirely?

CC:  It's not so much what I personally fear rather than it's what piques my curiosity. As I stated before, I am a true-crime junkie; I grew up on mysteries and the like. I tend to write more tales about false confinement (kidnapping, hostage situations, etc.) because I find that the mindsets of those involved fascinate me, both the criminal's and the victim's POV's. There's just so many outcomes and things one doesn't normally consider unless they are in a situation like that that is worth exploring.

AA:  What are you working on now?

CC:   Right now I am working on two different projects in the midst of Real Life: one is a collaboration with a graphic-artist friend to turn one of my previously published short stories, "Consolation Prize" (first published through Kasma SF) into a short graphic novel. The other is a more fragmented work consisting of several short stories that, when read together, create one overarching story involving the meaning of family and the costs of obsession and vengeance.

Corie L. Calcutt is the author of several short stories, including Consolation Prize, Hostages at the Kitchen Table and TakenShe has a bachelor's in Creative Writing, is a lifelong Michigan resident, and has a very active imagination.