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.

 

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!

Liebster Blog Award

I was tagged/nominated by R.K. Grow, a fellow writer on Twitter @tolkien418, for a Liebster Award. Thank you!
Liebster Blog
The Liebster is awarded to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. The conditions that go with being nominated are:
1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you;
2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator and create 11 questions for your nominees;
3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserves to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen;
4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog.

My questions from R.K. Grow are:
1. Twizzlers or Red Vines?

Neither. Licorice isn’t my favorite and black licorice is even worse.
2. Do you have a current WIP? If so, tell us about it.
FORTITUDE: Dauphin Island, Alabama teen Claire O’Farrell and her best friend, Loretta Davis, get caught in the middle of the racial tensions of the Spanish-American War camps in Tampa, Florida during the summer of 1898.
3. What is your favorite punctuation mark?
The—em—dash.
4. If you could pick the songs for the soundtrack of your novel what would they be?
The soundtrack—complete with YouTube links—for CORRODED, the novel I’m currently querying, can be found here.
I’m only about one third of the way through the first draft of FORTITUDE so it doesn’t have a soundtrack, just a “Fortitude Groove” playlist on my iPod. It has 121 songs with the majority of flavors being Irish-Celtic, country/blue grass, and soundtrack instrumentals that evoke the emotions I hope to create in the reader. For now, I listen to it on shuffle when writing, researching, or just getting in the proper mood.
5. What are three words that describe how you feel about writing?
Vocation
Joy
Anxiety
6. What is your favorite genre to read and why?
Middle Grade, especially those books geared for readers ten years and older. It can be contemporary, historical, fantasy, whatever—I’m just in love with the coming-of-age theme that is prevalent in literature for late childhood and the teen years. Part of that is because I’m still searching for where I fit in. I haven’t found my social niche, but at least now I’m comfortable with myself—usually.
7. What music do you listen to when you write, if any?
Music plays a HUGE part in my writing, but which music I listen to when writing depends on the story. I have over eight days worth of music up/down loaded into my iTunes account from a wide variety of genres. I gather music to fit the mood I wish to create when writing, then I painstakingly chose a soundtrack to mesh with the scenes of the novel as it progresses. This is something I’ve done since I began writing over twenty years ago. See question #4 for a sample.
8. What is your writing goal this year?
My immediate goal is to finish the first draft of FORTITUDE by my birthday (May 3.)
I also hope to hear at least one positive response from my queries about CORRODED in the meantime.
9. Laptop or desktop?
Laptop, but I use it on a desk/table/counter top with a full size keyboard and mouse whenever possible.
10. How do you stay motivated?
MUSIC—I’ve noticed if I don’t take time to listen to my music (as opposed to my kids’ stuff or whatever is playing around me) I lose inspiration.
BOOKS—Reading books by people whom I admire and hearing about them getting recognition for their efforts is inspiring, too.
GENEROSITY—The humility and generosity of some of the authors and musicians I respect the most is incredibly motivating. (See my posts on Fantabutitus.) I want the chance to pay-it-forward so I need to be writing successfully to do that on a higher level.
11. What is the primary focus for your blog?
Literature: both my own and other peoples.
I usually blog about reading and writing, though I often take themes from my novels as blog topics.
Seldom, I’ll post about my family or homeschooling—without it dealing with books—and even rarer do I mention current events.

So, now for awarding the next generation of Liebster Bloggers, and please don’t take offense if you have more than 200 followers—not all the blog have those stats public. If you don’t know these bloggers, take a minute and check them out.

http://www.ihaveaspergers.webs.com/
http://onconservatism.blogspot.com/
http://leeannward.com/blog/
http://www.tamratorero.blogspot.com/
http://www.meleesaswann.com/
http://joycescarbrough.blogspot.com/
http://www.prestonnorton.com/
http://stephanielawton.com/
http://www.teacakesandwhiskey.com/blog/
http://israelparker.com/
http://wyzreads.wordpress.com/

And here are your questions—looking forward to reading the answers!

1. What gets you going in the morning?
2. Morning person or night owl?
3. If you could pick one, what book would you want the world to read?
4. Do you prefer TV shows or movies for entertainment?
5. Is your blog your main writing project? If not, tell us what else is in the works.
6. What is your favorite place to catch up on news—print, online, web, etc?
7. Peter Rabbit or the White Rabbit?
8. What’s on your desktop wallpaper right now?
9. Radio or your own personal music selection?
10. Best or worst concert experience.
11. Fiction or non-fiction?

2012: The Year of Firsts

It’s been an eventful year. High and low points abound but this time around, I’m thinking firsts. Several of my firsts happened while in New York City this spring including:

  • Taxi ride (No, I’d never been in a taxi cab!)
  • Train trip (Full size, not a Thomas the Tank Engine ride along.) 100_1034
  • Subway experience
  • Broadway show
  • Eating sashimi
  • Times Square and all other things New York City

My literary related experiences were memorable as well. Several of the events were the cumulative efforts of the previous year(s), but here they are:

  • Acting as a World Book Night giver (I handed out twenty copies of Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson to the Baker High School softball team on senior night.)100_0927
  • Being acknowledged in a novel as having helped with the writing process by the author (Want by Stephanie Lawton, my friend and Write Club confidant.)
  • Submitting a novel, CORRODED, to publishing companies (No news from any of the four, yet.)
  • Writing conference (Multi-day, not just a single workshop.)
  • Guest blog post on another website (Nerdy Book Club, for the win!)
  • Purchasing e-books (My first was Shayla Witherwood: A Half-Faerie Tale by Tamra Torero.)

Then there’s the most recent happening—the big finale happened this morning. Drum roll, please.

  • I joined a choir.

I can hear the snickering from here, folks! I come from a musical family but have always sung off key, or so I thought. Turns out I just couldn’t hit the normal notes. Tenor (back row, with the men—and two other ladies) is what I sang for the Christmas Cantanta during our chapel service. I wasn’t perfect, but I got most of the notes, but maybe not in the right spots… Well, I tried.

The End, again

Right about midnight, I finished my revision of Corroded,  just under four months shy of when I received my critique back from Laurie Halse Anderson. For those new readers, yes, that’s the Laurie Halse Anderson, award winning author and NYT bestseller. Be sure to check my other blog posts listed in the category menu on the right under topics such as her name, critique and major freak out.

My revision started slow. I rewrote the last 24,700 words since the beginning of June. In the three months before, I’d only written 16,200. At the end of May, I realized it would take me the rest of the year to finish my rewrite unless I made it a priority. So, with motivational help of my critique group friends (holla to Meleesa, Stephanie, and Israel—thanks for the late night chats) I pounded out over a thousand words most days in the past three weeks, concluding with 3,594 last night.

Now I’m tasked with reading through the last few weeks’ worth of writing before sending it out to my Write Club friends (the above, plus Joyce and Lee Ann) as well as a new beta reader. And I’m finally going to take the time to watch the complete series of Firefly as a reward!