Today I have an interview with Corinna Underwood. Corinna as published a huge number of articles and short stories, in publications as diverse as Ultimate Athlete, The Herbal Collective, and Planet Magazine. You can find out more about her, and what she has written, via her website at http://www.ambiguousmedia.net/
JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?
CU: I grew up in Stoke-On-Trent, England and now live in Rome, Georgia. I’ve been writing stories as long as I remember, but became a professional freelance writer in 2000. My first book, A Haunted History of Atlanta and North Georgia, was published in 2005.
JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?
CU: On week days I do most of my fiction writing during the night. During the daytime I write content for magazines and websites. Fortunately I only sleep for around four hours each night, so I have plenty of time. Weekends are a different story – this is my luxury time and I write as much as I can throughout the weekend.
I usually sit at my desk at this time of year. During warmer weather you’ll find me on my porch or out camping. If I’m starting a new story or working on a first draft I will often start on my story whiteboard or blackboard, brainstorming and outlining ideas. Next I go to my note pad. There’s just something about having a pen touching paper that helps me flesh out those first scenes. After the initial draft I type the chapters onto my website, adding to them as I go. All subsequent edits are done via keyboard.
JGA: How do you personally like to read books you buy these days?
CU: I like both novels and short stories. I admit I’m old-school, though I have an Ebook reader, I prefer the feed of a book with pages in my hands.
JGA: Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why?
CU: The list is very long but currently I’m writing within two different genres. One is paranormal/mystery, which is influenced by writers like Dean Koontz, Clive Barker and Neil Gaimen. Each of these writers has a very different style, and each has a unique means of capturing and combining moments of tension, mystery and fear. The other genre I love to write is magical realism. Some of my influences here are Italo Calvino, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isobel Allende, all of whom brilliantly blur the boundaries between the real and the imaginary and in doing so, transform the mundane into the exquisitely beautiful.
JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?
CU: I have a white board and a blackboard, I alternate between the two.
JGA: What made you decide to write your story collection, “A Walk On The Darkside”?
CU: I wrote the first story to enter a writing contest organized by Phyllis Scott Publishing. The story won first place, but by then I was already so friendly and familiar with the characters that I started writing more about them.
JGA: How does the finished book differ from your original idea?
CU: There was originally one more story in the collection. I decided to omit it because I wanted to use that storyline in the sequel, Darkside And Back. This is a novel in which Pearl Blackthorn is forced reluctantly to delve deeper into her mysterious past and face the inevitable challenges.
JGA: Can you talk a bit about the main characters in your novel. What sort of people are they? How did they grow and change from your initial ideas for them?
CU: Pearl Blackthorn is a fantasy and macabre fiction writer who also works for her friend’s magazine Darkside. The magazine covers reports of paranormal and unexplained events. Pearl however is a chronic skeptic, so she sets out to debunk and rationalize each of her assignments. She soon finds that this is not always as easy as she imagined.
Pearl’s sidekick, Harry Raymond, is a photographer who accompanies her on the assignments. After the death of his wife, several years ago, Harry had a paranormal experience that made him a true believer. Now he’s on a mission to prove Pearl wrong. She finds his enthusiasm endearing, but she’s still not ready to be convinced.
I very quickly became good friends with both of these characters and they pretty much led the way in each of the stories. I decided that the sequel should be a novel because I want Pearl to explore her dark past and see how it will affect her.
JGA: Who are the readers who would enjoy “A Walk On The Darkside” the most?
CU: Anyone who has a taste for a twisted mystery, a ghost story or who has an interest in paranormal – even skeptics J.
JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?
CU: As well as the sequel to A Walk On The Darkside, I am also working on a novel entitled Elsewhere. This is a piece of magical realism that explores the inhabitants of a small island and their legacy to an ancient race. You can read the first chapter here.
JGA: If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?
CU: I would be the author of Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. If I had written this superb collection I would be satisfied if I never put pen to paper again.
You can find A Walk on the Darkside at Amazon.