This post kicks off the newest feature on my FINDING FRAN blog called “Short Takes: Interviews with Short Story Writers,” where I’ll introduce you to short story writers who will talk about writing in this literary form: the techniques, challenges and pleasures.
Today’s interview is with Annie Neugebauer—novelist, short story author and award-winning poet represented by Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency.
Annie’s work appears in over thirty venues, and her book of poetry Hope and Other Myths was given an honorable mention (top five overall) in the Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. She’s an active member of the Horror Writers Association and a columnist for Writer Unboxed.
Now on to Annie’s interview!
How long have you been writing fiction?
Like many writers, I’ve been writing fiction since I was able to write at all, but I’ve been pursuing it as a career since 2007, so about six years.
Where have you been published?
I’ve had fiction published at Horror D’ouevres by DarkFuse, Buzzy Mag, The Spirit of Poe, Underneath the Juniper Tree, So Long and Thanks For All the Brains: A Zombie Anthology, The Washington Pastime, and Six Sentences. I have a story accepted at a cool new professional magazine called Ares, too, if their Kickstarter succeeds. I’ve also had poems published in numerous venues. You can view the full list on my website on the “Published Works” page.
What type of short fiction do you write: Micro fiction (under 100), Flash fiction (under 1000), Short story (1000 to 7500), novellas?
Everything from micro fiction to short stories. I’ve never tried my hand at a true novella.
What triggers your story ideas: a character, a setting, plot or dialogue?
For me it’s usually either a question that leads to a speculative concept, or a very distinct moment that becomes a scene I build around. For example, my short story “Something You Don’t Want to Find” was triggered by a creepy moment I had when I was home by myself washing my face before bed. That gave me reason to write the entire story, and the feeling of that moment became the climax scene that everything else pushed towards.
You write both short fiction and novels. Is your process different when developing a longer format piece compared to a shorter one? Ultimately, who decides what format the piece will take: you-the-author or the story itself?
Yes, my process is absolutely different. The idea usually decides what length the piece will take. Some ideas are compelling enough, and solid enough, that I know right away I want to spend months exploring them in novel length. Others are so outrageous or outside my comfort zone that I know they’ll be more experimental, which is better suited to short-form works. I always plot or at least plan novels before I begin writing; for short stories I more often just sit down and write what comes out.
Do you feel that there are specific challenges in marketing and promoting short fiction compared to novel-writing? How do you promote your short stories?
I do find it challenging to promote my short fiction, but then I haven’t yet had the opportunity to promote a novel, so I can’t speak very well to the differences. All I know is that it’s difficult for me to convince myself that lots of promotion effort is worth it for a single short story. The shorter the piece, the stronger that feeling becomes.
On the other hand, many of my shorts are published where they can be read for free or very cheap, so I don’t feel too guilty asking people to read them. I usually just post the information and relevant links on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter. I’m not very pushy about these things. Promotion is a necessary evil, but at the end of the day I’ve always believed that strong work will speak for itself.
Who are three of your favorite short story writers, living or dead?
Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, and Shirley Jackson. They all have quality prose and wildly imaginative ideas wrought so vividly they feel real.
Why do you like to write fiction, and short fiction in particular—what does writing fiction bring into your life?
That’s a complicated question. I write fiction to explore my own beliefs and emotions, to entertain readers and make them think, to pose big questions, and because it fills me up as a creative. Short fiction in particular always feels like a powerful liaison to me, where I can be daring, experiment, and stretch myself without great risk. It’s a lovely thing, to write short fiction. I plan to keep doing it for a long time.
My thanks to Annie for sharing her experience on writing short fiction! Please visit her site and check out her work!