Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sorts of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today, I’m chatting to the horror writer, Barrington Smith-Seetachitt. Barrington, like myself, is one of the writers featured in the Women of Horror Anthology, Vol 3 The One that Got Away published by Kandisha Press
Welcome to the tearoom, Barrington. My first question to all my guests is what would you like to drink?
Thanks so much for inviting me to your clubhouse tearoom! Could I have hot chocolate please? That seems the perfect drink for a cosy chat!
Now we have our refreshments may I start by asking you when you first began your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
Ahhhh! You’d think this would be an easy question, but I’ve had commitment issues with both genre and format. I attended a writing program that emphasized literary fiction, but once there, found I was also drawn to personal essays… and then screenwriting! It was after I began screenwriting that I began working with sci-fi, fantasy and horror, which then influenced my fiction. Recently I’ve discovered the term “speculative fiction,” which I embrace because it makes me sound more decisive than I am!
My story, “Shell,” in the anthology, is representative of my struggles, as it changed formats and genres. The first draft was actually a film treatment for a short film. Later, I wrote it as a story instead. My first submissions were to science fiction magazines. It was only when I saw the Kandisha Press call for submissions that it dawned on me that it might qualify as horror…
What writing elements do you think are your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I’ve been told that my ability to build out worlds and characters is a strong suit. If you say “the character is a rusty fork,” I can go to town imagining the rusty fork’s home in the junk box, the self esteem issues it’s been battling since the trauma of being cast out of the silverware drawer, etc. Something I wish I were better at is plot construction. Eventually I find my way, but the process is neither quick nor painless!
Tell us a little about your latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m toggling back and forth between a short story and a screenplay, with the effect that both are taking longer than if I focused on only one.🙄 The story is hard to describe without detailing the rules of a dystopian reality, but it’s an idea that spent several years sitting in purgatory on my computer. The screenplay is a more recent idea, involving a social media influencer who becomes the beta-tester for an injectable app in order to get more followers, and there are… repercussions.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Ohhhh… I think if I counted I might have a panic attack!
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? In writing short stories, do you plan your story, or let the characters lead you?
For screenwriting, I make an outline. For short fiction, I’m often happy to free write from a prompt without any real agenda, until something resonates. From there I play with the material, developing and shaping it until, a mere twenty-odd drafts later, it’s a story! Writing a novel is terrifying to contemplate, but maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to try it and figure out if I’m a pantser or a plotter.
When reading your work through, do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
Not as much for screenwriting, I think because it’s a continuing work with characters who already have their own voices. But for prose, I think my mood affects the voice of what emerges from my pen or keyboard.
Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
Less by any specific people than by the circumstance or psychology of people I’ve known. In “Shell,” the protagonist, Grace, has a number of things happening in her life that echo things that have happened to people that I know, but her personality and emotional reactions are imagined. When I see her in my mind, I don’t see anyone I know.
In writing your story, how much research did you do?
I often do a lot of research for projects, but this story didn’t require much. I was able to spend my research time doing fun stuff like moving one sentence back and forth multiple times before deciding to cut it altogether.
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your story?
I did. I don’t think I was aware, until I got into the weeds of the story, how much emotion I have surrounding growing older. I strive toward equanimity and acceptance in life, but if I were given the opportunity to do what Grace chooses to do in the story, I’ve realized I’d be more tempted than I would have thought.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? / How many hours in a day do you write?
It varies a lot, and also varies according to what one considers to be writing. I take jobs helping clients write various things, so I can spend an entire day on the computer—writing, revising and problem solving—without touching one of my own projects. Other days, I might only work on my own project. I’m constantly looking for balance. When I get a screenplay fully outlined sometimes I’ll have several weeks where I wake up and write scenes until around noon, and then do other work in the afternoon. I think that’s a pretty healthy split, but it’s not sustainable when I’m in other phases of writing.
Thank you for joining me in the tearoom, Barrington. To find out more about Barrington’s books and writing click on the links below:
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops, too.