Welcome to my guest page. Here, every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation, over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, if they are not driving, with a friend about their work in progress, or latest book release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Welcome to my guest page, Priscilla. I’m so pleased to have a chance to chat with you. I’ve put in an order for a coffee with no cream and no sugar. It looks as though we’ve picked the right time as clubhouse tearoom is quite quiet at moment. Here comes our drinks too…
As our friendship is quite new I have lots to ask you so may I start with when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
When I was a child, the horror novels I nipped from my parents’ study tied my guts in knots and gave me comfort, strange as that sounds. If you’re going through a tough time no matter your age, knowing that someone else went through something worse and survived helps you keep your chin up.
Tell us a little about your latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
I have a dual timeline haunted house novel that I’ve been working on for, holy cow, eighteen months:
It’s 1979, and thirty-one-year-old Bo Benett is fresh out of prison where he served time for murder. Bo doesn’t remember shooting his father at Tiny Skull, the Benett family’s historic manor house in Virginia. He only remembers a howling witch, pulsing walls, and a gray lizard. Bo’s mother disowns him and moves away. His bedridden aunt and his secretive twin cousins agree to take him in, but they dwell at Tiny Skull now, and the house remembers Bo.
My goal is to enter Witch of the Manor House in Pitmad on September 3rd.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter?
I am an outliner to the extreme. My last outline was over 10,000 words. I’ve got timelines in there, character goals, notes on the setting, everything. I wrote a Christmas horror story last year without outlining; ugh, it was a terrible, irredeemable story. (I deleted it.) The way I figure, the more I outline, the less I have to rewrite.
Choosing only five of your favourite authors, can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
Seriously, only five? That’s cruel.:-) Well, I’ll give it a go.
1. Andy Davidson for his lyrical prose that proves writing can be frightening and beautiful at the same time. When I grow up I want to be Andy Davidson!
2. Shirley Jackson because of her ability to draw readers deep into a character’s psyche. When I grow up I want to be her, too.
3. Ray Bradbury, if you can look past the popular style of writing for his time, you find prose with teeth; it’s evocative and sometimes it bites.
4. Countee Cullen because he and other poets remind me that the sound and meter of the words matter.
5. Brian Kirk for breaking rules and messing with readers’ brains in Will Haunt You. Scary stuff.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
I ain’t tellin’ because some of them are still alive.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
I do 20 pushups every day.
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your books and stories, whether that be a long forgotten memory, a positive experience, etc.?
I wrote a YA horror story (it’s out in an editor’s slush pile as I type this) that tapped into long-ago anger I didn’t know was still there. The writing process was cathartic. It felt good to revisit that time period and “let it all out.”
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
In the winter it’s easier to keep to a writing schedule because I get up early (4:50 a.m.) and write while it’s still dark and quiet. In the summer everything’s bright and noisy and scattered!
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Yes. Priscilla is a hard name to spell, and Bettis is not a common last name. But Priscilla Bettis is me, so I’m sticking with it.
How do you select the names of your characters, and do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I keep my eyes and ears out for cool names. I’ve used gravestone names, athlete names, historic names, and classmates from elementary school. I do know everything about my characters before I start. However, chunks of their personalities may get overhauled on the second draft if I think I can make the characters stronger.
This was fun, Paula. Thanks for having me!
It’s been lovely getting to know you, Priscilla. You must drop by again.
Priscilla blogs about her writing journey can be found here