Gothic Lit with Stephanie Lawton

Today I welcome good friend and fellow indie author, Stephanie Lawton. If I had to pick a favorite of her novels, it would be Shrapnel–an eerie blend of gritty contemporary YA, paranormal, Southern Gothic, and historical.

Thanks for letting me guest blog today, Carrie! We have a lot of things in common, but a few in particular that I think your readers will find interesting.

By now, you’ve probably heard of the concept of six degrees of separation or Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Because even if you’re removed from Carrie by five or six degrees, you’ve undoubtedly heard of her Southern historical gothic series, The Possession Chronicles, to be published by Bienvenue Press. What captured her imagination and kept her writing for eight books? The same things that prompted me to write Shrapnel. The same things that have kept readers furiously flipping the pages of scary novels since Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker, to Stephen King and Anne Rice.

First, history.

Let’s be honest—old stuff is creepy. It’s dusty, it makes weird noises and we don’t understand it. We don’t know what people were thinking back then and why they did the odd things they did…like lobotomies that scrambled your brains, or whale-bone corsets that rearranged your internal organs. And yet, human nature implores us to stick our fingers in the wound to see if it’s as bad as we think. (It’s usually worse.)

Stephen King dabbled in early American history in Jerusalem’s Lot. Anne Rice has written in nearly every historical era. Carrie’s new series spans the turn of the last century along the Gulf Coast. My novel, Shrapnel, bounces from modern-day to the Civil War in the Deep South. We commonly use phrases like, “tar and feather” and to “run someone out on a rail.” But do you know what those actually entailed? The historically accurate answers are terrifying.

Second, the unknown.

Fear of the unknown is a basic human fear in every era in every corner of the planet. It just is. Exploiting that fear through literature is the job of the writer so readers can experience those fears vicariously. Afraid of getting your first period? Read some Judy Blume. Afraid of your darker desires? Read Carrie’s upcoming series. Afraid of adult responsibilities and the power that comes with it? Read Shrapnel.

Any situation or thing you fear has been written about in some form, whether an actual thing—like clowns or spiders—or feelings and events. Sometimes the writing is allegorical and sometimes it’s more forthright and literal. Regardless of how it’s presented, plumbing the depths of our fears and the unknown through fiction is infinitely safer than facing them in real life.

Third, good old-fashioned, tension-filled lust. 

Until recently, I would have said that this is where Carrie and I have major differences. My books unabashedly capitalize on lust, while Carrie has always leaned toward very subtle hints of tension between characters. Both approaches have their places and their fans.

While not all horror/gothic/Southern gothic/historical fiction novels include overt sexual tension, I’d bet my Mulder and Scully figurines that readers find the idea pretty irresistible, even if the situation can be construed as “wrong” by conventional standards. Sexy vampires? Horrible! Seductive ghosts? Disgusting. Ever seen the previously banned X-Files episode called, “Home” or the first season of True Detective? Or, even better, Mads Mikkelsen as the latest (incredibly sexy yet skin-crawingly creepy) incarnation of Hannibal Lector. All feature completely repulsive monsters, yet we can’t look away, even if we have to watch/read through our fingers.

I’ve shared some of my favorite nail-biters above, let’s hear yours. What creeps you out, but keeps you coming back for more? What is it about them that you love?

 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StephanieLawtonWriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@Steph_Lawton/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Steph_Lawton/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5601445.Stephanie_Lawton

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/steph_lawton/

Shrapnel can be found at any of these retailers: https://books2read.com/u/bP1vjJ

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Always a misfit, Stephanie Lawton writes twisted romance that tugs the heart strings then punches you in the gut.

She has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles. She has a fascination with teacher-student relationships, bullies, psychics, doomsday preppers and larger-than-life characters.

Making readers squirm is her greatest pleasure.

Proceed with caution.

 

Guest Post: Steven Moore

This week I’d like to welcome my friend and fellow Inscribable, Steven Moore.
He’s the superhero artist behind this masterpiece.
(See below for more information about our super group.)

Science Fiction, Fantasy & History—Hand In Hand

I’m currently writing my next Gnome Legends™ Downtime Read™—The Timeless Crystal and have found myself fascinated by how easily science fiction and fantasy can blend with historical events and characters. Though much of the story takes place in my usual fantasy world filled with gnomes and elves, it includes an element of time travel. I wanted to give the future part of the story a bit of a steampunk feel, so I put the “future” characters in the late 1800s. With that I realized there were people perfect in real history for a time travel story—enter Nikola Tesla and his good friend Samuel Clemens. I already had a slight fascination with these men, but a little research showed me that they were ideal for a retro science fiction addition to Gnome Legends.

Fiction is fiction. Once you have an idea and begin to outline it, the story usually writes itself (of course your skills determine how well it writes itself). Though the story uses the crystals which had already been a part of my world as its focus point, it was the “timeless” aspect that quickly took over the story. The time travel element brought in characters that really added a nice layer of reality to my world and gave me a handful of rich characters to enhance the story.

As a reader or a writer, never be afraid to venture a little outside of what you’re comfortable with. If you decide you don’t like what you’re reading/writing, then move onto the next thing. But along the way you’ll most likely find the variety to be refreshing.

Dear reader—thank you for sharing your time with me. And Carrie, thank you very much for letting me be a part of your blog. 

Here’s a little sample of the Timeless Crystal: http://www.grimtrojan.com/timeless.htm

Please feel free to visit my website: http://www.grimtrojan.com. I’d love to have you stop by and share your thoughts.

 

Born in Frankfurt Germany on a U.S. Army base, artist/writer Steven Moore has traveled to several countries and been to numerous states within the U.S., but has lived most of his life near the Gulf Coast of Alabama. He currently resides in Loxley, Alabama with his wife and daughter.

Downtime Reads™ are books written for the entire family to enjoy during their downtimes and specifically written to motivate mid-grade readers and reluctant teen readers to read.

Steven is a proud member of The INSCRIBABLES: a group of successful writers and artists who have teamed up to educate, inform and inspire the creative young. 

Guest Post: MeLeesa Swann

After all the blog hopping I did last month, I’m returning the favor by inviting a few of my writer friends to stop by and share a bit about their stories.
Please welcome MeLeesa Swann, author of the middle grade fantasy series
Legendary Lex.

I Live with Evil Geniuses

With four kids, I frequently just want to run away. Go on a cruise or take some type of luxurious vacation. The endless “I’m hungry”, “He’s being mean”, and “Can we buy this?” is enough to drive even the most patient person insane!

But I owe my career, my dream, to the monsters.

I couldn’t create half the things I do without my little evil geniuses. I once asked my youngest boy to bring me an ice cream sandwich and he brought me a scoop of vanilla between two pieces of bread. My youngest girl recently had a conversation with a dragonfly and declared it the protector of her college campus. My oldest boy never seems to get sarcasm and takes everything so literally. (I’ve never had to be more careful about the things I say.) And my oldest girl is probably one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. (I didn’t think people like that really existed. She’s always smiling!)

Through the four of my little demons (and yes, they all have their mischievous streak) and my loving hubby (who is the king of horrible puns), I am blessed with a large variety of inspirations for the tales I weave.

So, even though I frequently fantasize about escaping to Scotland for a few weeks, I totally love living with my my evil geniuses.

MeLeesa Swann lives with her husband and four children in the lavish land of Imagica. She spends her time teaching her children the ways of the mortal world while showing them the beauty of her homeland. She also burns mystical designs on wooden boxes that allow people to store their secret items while on their journeys. Her hope for all who are touched by her works is that they find a piece of their own magic in their lives. MeLeesa recently published her first book, Legendary Lex: An ODD Beginning. It’s sequel is soon to follow. She is also the local liaison for the Mobile branch of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

www.meleesaswann.com

https://www.facebook.com/MeLeesaSwann/

https://twitter.com/MeLeesaSwann

Blog Hopping

I’ve been all over different websites lately and posting/sharing the links on my social media pages, but in case you’ve missed them, here’s the latest.

 

Book Review:

This post is a review of my historical novel, Fortitude, by MeLeesa Swann, a newcomer in the world of Middle Grade fantasy.

 

Guest Blog Spots:

This one is about seeking inspiration in the world around you, on MeLeesa’s site, including examples I find of Fortitude and Corroded in the world around me.

Then newest is a feature on some of my favorite books featuring Autism Spectrum Disorders on Stephanie Lawton’s blog. (Enjoy contemporary upper YA and New Adult novels, she’s your lady!)

 

Q&A Posts:

Steven Moore hosted me last weekend with some great questions. Check out his website while you’re there. He’s a fantastic artist (“Mr. Illustrator” from The Inscribables, who drew my “Word Rocker” avatar.) If you love fantasy books, games, etc. be sure to browse his offerings.

And I had another stop with MeLeesa Swann (she’s been great to me) to answer her burning questions.

 

Thanks for following my  blog journey and  checking out my literary friends.

P.S.

Be sure to signup for my newsletter because BIG NEWS is coming soon!

March Madness

There’s some catching up to do! This month’s been a productive time, and I still haven’t shared some fun news from February. Seeing how I labeled this post with the current month’s name, I’ll stick with the newest information this time around.

Last Saturday I crossed Mobile Bay and did a presentation for Baldwin Writers Group titled “Kid Lit 101”, in which I discussed what differentiates children book categories including board books, picture books, early readers, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult novels. It was my second time doing the presentation (the first was in December 2015 with my “home” crew at Mobile Writers Guild) and I enjoyed it just as much. If there’s one thing I can geek out about (other than my favorite musicians) it’s children’s literature. I converted at least one person to the Kid Lit side, so hooray!

Kid Lit 101

The first slide on my KID LIT 101 Power Point.

Then, on Monday four of my fabulously creative friends and I held a panel discussion on writing and illustrating with a local 4-H Arts group in an amazing meeting room in a contemporary art gallery downtown.

 

4-H presentation

Thanks to Candice and Robina for the picture.

After a short introduction we fielded questions ranging from research to plotting. It was energetic and fun, just like the original work created by Steven Moore for the event: The Inscribables. (Can you guess which one is me?)

4H_postcard_front

Original art by Steven Moore. Find him at http://www.grimtrojan.com

The past several days have been a great transition for me in my roll change from writer to author. I can’t imagine more supportive people to start my journey with than these two welcoming groups and my friends.

Bonus: I’ve kept my writing cap on, managing to add well over seven thousand words to my current project, plus completing final line edits on Corroded, out April 12, 2016. March/Spring is definitely going great here—I hope it’s shiny for you as well.

 

Fortitude is Almost Here

A week and a half to go until Fortitude is out in the world. It’s an exciting, frightening, emotional time but being surrounded by encouraging family and supportive friends make it all easier. So does having a gorgeous cover and awesome professional team.

Fortitude cover

If you’re interested in a Kindle copy, Amazon has the pre-order link up. I’ll be sure to share other sources as they become available.

For now, have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend!

Decade in the Making

I’m halfway through the second round of content edits on Corroded (Surge Imprint from Anaiah Press, April 2016), which makes it at least the fiftieth revision. It’s been a learning curve, to be sure! Even though it’s coming out second, this is the oldest “book baby” of my adult life. My first born, but she had to stay in the ICU so that the second child, Fortitude, will be out in the world four months ahead of her.

Corroded has been through two different critique groups, a full manuscript critique by Laurie Halse Anderson, and a handful of beta readers. Not to mention that it went through two rounds of submissions—and rejections—in the past four years (when I thought she was mature enough) before she was accepted this year (on the “first” try.) I’ve swaddled and re-diapered this story more than anything else I’ve ever worked on. Early readers will recognize the story, but Corroded is now so much more than I thought possible when she was formed a decade ago.

In the beginning, I was too close to the main character. By separating myself from her, I was able to dig deeper. How is that? Probably the same way you can find yourself by losing yourself in service. I had to give up my own ideals to find the true complexities of the characters. And in doing that, I maneuvered through the layers of the story to find the heart. I journeyed so far that I ended up with two main characters and dual point-of-view novel.

Foritude-Corroded quote

Thought it all, I couldn’t give up on Corroded. The story needed extra nurturing and that took time off and on throughout my other projects. Even now, there’s work to be done, but I’m confident the book will be the best version of itself when it’s finally released from the nursery. Anaiah Press has given me a stellar editor to make sure that happens. It’s been a longtime coming and I’m grateful for each step of the journey.