Shells Chats with author and publisher Jessica Weiss
What's your background with writing?
Writing was all I wanted to do in school, and I constantly scribbled during downtimes at my office jobs as an adult. I used it for therapy for many years and then turned them into stories. On a whim, I entered a writing contest that had several hundred participants and placed in the top 40 and published in that particular collection. From there I started submitting like crazy and things took off.
Who are your inspirations/influences?
Anyone who had the nerve to put thoughts onto paper, really. Though I love novels, time is not my friend and I don’t get much time to read longer works. Which brought me to collections, the easiest to find have always been Ellen Datlow’s, and reading those collections I decided that collections were the best thing for me (as a reader and a writer). I’d have to say that she really is my biggest inspiration.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as a writer?
There are two. My short story “Scattered Souls”(Shadows and Light volume 1) was nominated for an epic fantasy award and a fellow writer informed me that I am his daughters favorite horror writer. (Though I see my writing more along the lines of suspense/situational horror).
You have survived many health concerns in your life, how do you feel that has affected your writing?
It makes me more attentive to details. Not just grammar (which is not my strong suit), but the realistic details of life. When you’ve been told you will die very soon, you start to notice everything about you (I even study unusual bugs on my porch, just because they catch my eye). I can’t say that I really paid attention to my life before and once I was told I would live, it (as cliché as this sounds) opened my eyes. I take those details into account when I write, I want the reader to be able to see what they are reading.
You do baking, do you think food can influence writing and if so how?
Lots of baking and decorating! Food will always influence everything-it is central to living. Do I feel that being a cake decorator influences my writing? It has inspired an anthology idea that I’m currently putting to my writers. Believe it or not, all the pretty, fancy cakes have inspired a whole bunch of horror stories of body parts being ground into the batter and body fluids being used as icing ingredients. Cake decorating and writing are similar to me because it’s all being made from scratch, I think of stories while I decorate. I’m sure there will be many more cakes in future works, just as there are teenagers in nearly all my current stories because my older kids really inspire me.
You have written many short stories, which is your favorite and where can we find some of them?
My personal favorite of my own writing? That’s hard. I guess “Hug Me, Kiss Me, Bleed for Me” (Love Kills Anthology from Pill Hill Press), “Scattered Souls” (Shadows and Light Volume 1 from Pill Hill Press) and “Home Grown Horror” (Thriller Anthology from Static Movement). You can find all of these and many others at Amazon and at the Pill Hill Press Book Shoppe.
What do you find the most challenging about writing a short story?
The hardest thing for me is going back and filling in the gaps that occur during a fevered first draft. My brain tends to move faster than my fingers and will leave pieces out. It won’t be until my husband reads something and asks how the story made such a leap that I’ll notice I went from point A to point D and skipped everything else, though in my head it’s all there.
You are the editor and owner of a small Press called Wicked East Press, when did you start this, what do you publish and where can people find more information?
I opened Wicked East Press in February 2010 as a way of being creative and offering another place for unknown writers to show their work. WEP is dedicated to collections only, there will be no novels published through us. There are several anthologies open now, also reading for novella collections, and, by invitation, we are doing some single author collections. More information can be found at www.wickedeastpress.com and on our discussion forum www.wickedeastpress.lefora.com.
How does being an owner of a small publishing company compare to your own writing?
Reading through so many talented authors makes me really judge my own work in a harsher light. At times the internal judgement can get so intense that I won’t write, I will simply jot ideas but not flesh them out. The raw talent I see daily is humbling.
How do you or have handled marketing your own work and what suggestions would you have for others for marketing their work?
This will sound a bit odd, but I don’t really push my works. When a new publication that I’m a part of is out for sale, I post on my blog, post the link on my facebook, I’ll tweet it for a couple of weeks, and I let my friends know. I buy some copies for my local library and I give copies to people I work with. All marketing really comes down to a personal choice, where each writer wants to go. Personally, I have no grand illusions of being the next Stephen King or Stephen J. Cannell—I just do this because I love it.
What projects do you have planned for the future?
I’m going to attempt my first novella to be in a three part collection “Eat or Be Eaten” with authors Shells Walter and Matt Nord. I’m also working on an exceptionally long short for Jason Bakers “Abandoned 3”. Where things go from there? It’s anybody's guess as life just tends to try to stop me from doing what I really want.
Any advice you would like to give to new writers who may not know how to approach the publishing world?
JUMP!!! Just jump in and go for it. If I hadn’t done so then I’d most definitely still be hiding my stories in the closet. It is scary to put your first work out there to be judged and torn apart, but once that first feeding frenzy is over and you survive, it only gets better.
Where can people know more about you?
and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/jessica.a.weiss
Posted by Shells W