Shells Chats with author and editor Myrrym Davies

When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a child, but to tell the truth I never actually intended to become a published writer. Up until 2006, I wrote simply for the pleasure of writing. It wasn’t until a few of my blog readers urged me to submit some of my work that I seriously considered writing for publication.

Halloween seems to be a big holiday for Horror authors. How do you feel that holiday inspires your stories?

Halloween is the biggest holiday in our household, but it also marks the start of my writing “downtime.” I love the fall, and do find the seasonal changes inspiring, but with all the holiday gatherings I host, I don’t get much writing accomplished between October and January. I may take on the occasional article or invitation, but for the most part, I use any free time between holidays to edit for Graveside Tales, and then pick up the writing again in February.

What do you find the most disturbing about writing Horror?

Honestly, I find very little about writing horror disturbing. I am a practical sort of person, and do not allow emotions to override my determination to craft a good story, regardless of how disconcerting the material may be. That said, I do occasionally look over some of my work and wonder if my head is screwed on straight. It seems no matter how demented I make my bad guys, I can still empathize with them enough to justify their actions. It’s a little creepy, being able to rationalize such cruelty, but I try not to dwell on that too much.

When writing short stories, do you prepare an outline or just as the characters, settings go along a particular story?

For short stories, a full outline is not usually necessary. I jot down a few notes on where I want the story to go, get the key events and settings cemented in my head, and then let my characters figure out how to get from point A to point B.

If you had to pick a favorite short story what would it be?

It’s a toss up between the zombie talk-radio parody, “’Til Decay Do Us Part,” and a more serious piece called “Painting Grace.” While these two stories are on opposite ends of the horror spectrum, I feel they best represent my particular style of writing. I had a lot of fun creating them, and both have garnered good reviews from those who have read them.

Where can we find some of these short stories?

“’Til Decay Do Us Part” can be found in Best New Zombie Tales, Vol 2 from Books of the Dead Press. “Painting Grace” will be in the April 2011 issue of Necrotic Tissue magazine. More stories can be found in the Ante Mortem anthology from Belfire Press and the Ladies and Gentlemen of Horror anthology from Sonar 4 Publications.

You also have and still do editing. How do you feel that has helped your own writing and what can be some of the challenges in editing you have found or some of the common mistakes you see authors make?

I do feel editing has helped me hone my skills by virtue of showing me what NOT to do. Editors read a ton of submissions every day, and we do see certain errors pop up over and over again. Poor formatting, excessive wordiness, shaky sentence structure, and clichéd subject matter seem to be the most common problems, and seeing them crop up so often in the course of reading makes it easier to spot those same mistakes in my own work. As for what I find most challenging about being an editor, I would have to say time management. I spend at least two days a week doing nothing but correspondence; the rest of my free time is spent going through submissions and editing accepted works. Needless to say, sleep and downtime are two things I don’t get a lot of.

Not so long ago you were diagnosed with Lupus. How does that effect your writing?

So far, the effects on my writing have been pretty minimal. There are days when I tire easily or my joints hurt too badly to sit in front of the computer for extended periods of time, but that usually only occurs during a flareup. The one thing I do find frustrating is the short-term memory loss. I have a very hard time remembering where I was going with a story if I have to step away from it for more than a day or so. I’ve gotten into the habit of writing down any ideas I may have the moment I think of them. Thank goodness for Post-It notes!

Any projects for you in the future you can share with us?

I do have a few projects in the works for 2011 but, unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss them just yet. I can say I am excited to be a part of every one of them, though!

Is there any advice you would like to share with writers based on your experience?

If I only had one piece of advice to give, it would be this: research your markets – thoroughly. Let’s be honest, the only way to get a publisher to look favorably upon your work is to send them the kind of material they are looking for; and the only way to know what they are looking for is to be familiar with their publications. That means checking out their websites, looking over their guidelines, and reading their publications. Granted, it’s not the most pleasant part of the writing process, and it can be quite time consuming, but the chances of getting an acceptance letter is greatly increased if you submit to the markets that cater to your particular literary style rather than just blindly submitting to every publisher in your genre.

Where can people find out more about you?

I have a website people can visit for more information, I am also on Facebook. People can find me there by searching Myrrym.

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