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.

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Today, I’m chatting to horror writer, Chris Bonner about her writing and books. Welcome to the tearoom, Chris. Let’s order our drinks.

Thank you for the invite, Paula. Please I could have a Chai Tea Latte, thank you.

 Now we have our refreshments let’s start with when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I have always loved a good sci-fi or fantasy novel.  I can’t say that I ever thought about what genre I wanted to write in because as soon as I put pen to paper, that’s where my brain goes.  The thing that surprised me the most when I started writing as a professional though, was that my writing took a decided turn to the horror genre.  I never anticipated writing darker stories, or horror, but a good portion of the short stories I’ve had published are horror.  Which is funny since I’m terrified of horror movies.  I can’t watch them!

Chris Bannor

What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better? 

I’ve always enjoyed really good world building and I think that comes through in my writing.  The act of creating new places and different cultures fascinates me.  Some stories need a very in-depth exploration, while in some short stories you only have a few words to get that world fleshed out.  I love that challenge.  As for what I would like to do better, plot.  Call me a pantser, or a gardener, or a discovery writer.  Whichever title you like, I love to discover my characters and their worlds as I go, but there are times when having an outline might be nice.  It’s an art I’m learning.    

Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?

 The novel I’m currently writing is an urban fantasy story.  I really enjoy this genre and there are so many fun ways to play with it.  My love of supernatural creatures and police procedurals wrapped themselves together on this one.  It’s about a group of supernatural creatures who work to protect a world where humans and non-humans co-exist.   This idea actually came about as I was trying to write a short story for a paranormal romance anthology.  The story was too long, but even as I was writing it, I kept thinking this would be a great novel.  My only question became whether to expand the short story and make it novel-length, or keep the short story as a prequel of sorts, and write a novel set in that world.  I had a ton of ideas come together for all of it, and in the end, I just may have possibly given myself enough plot for a sequel.  We’ll see how the first one goes before I make promises though!

How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Oh wow.  I … way too many.  I start every month with a pretty large list of things that I would like to write for.  Some stories don’t pan out.  Sometimes they aren’t hitting the right tone for the submission call that I’m writing for.  Sometimes I just run out of time and have to prioritize other projects.  I never throw anything away though.  At the beginning of each month, I start with that list of stories and see if there is anything I can pull out to complete that would fit something I want to submit to.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes the idea you had for two or three short stories play around in your brain until they become something else entirely different and that mash-up is so much more fun than the original ideas. 

Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? If you only write short stories, do you plan your story or let the characters lead you?

 Oh, I sit down at a blank page and just start typing.  There are times when I’ll have an idea or a theme in mind.  Sometimes, maybe a bit of dialogue will pop into my head.  When it comes to anthology calls, sometimes the cover art of the book will inspire me.  The characters most definitely lead me though.  Through the good and bad 😛

Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
I try not to do that too much, but I did write one story that featured my brother and me.  He’s always been very supportive of me, even if we have a rather strange sense of humor together.  There was a horror anthology about siblings, and I teased him that I was going to turn us into a sibling horror story.  It got published by Nocturnal Sirens, in their Scary Snippets: Sibling Edition.  When it came out, I bought a copy and signed it for him. He took it in good humor.

But now that I’ve said that, he was also a bit of my inspiration for my story “Piece of My Heart”, in Banned from Black Hare Press.  He and my mother both, though only in a very abstract way. 

Do you set yourself a daily word count?
I have a horrible habit of only writing when ‘the muse’ calls.  It’s something that as a new writer I could get away with, but the more time and energy I put into my career, I know that it’s just not feasible long term.  I’ve recently started a word count of 500 words or an hour of writing a day – for the days when the words just aren’t being kind.  It’s not a lot, but I’m working on the habit of daily writing, alongside my mad marathons of inspiration.

How many hours in a day do you write?
I’m working on that hour!  One of the things I struggle with as a writer is finding a way to balance my writing career along with my day job, along with being a single mother, and finding time for myself.  It’s a lot to tackle.  Some days I manage better than others.  But in the end, I am passionate about what I’m writing and even on my bad days where I can’t manage the words, the story ideas are still brimming in my head.

How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?

 In general, I just sit down and start writing.  Even the names are new to me as I type them out.  Whether it’s a common earth name, a fantasy realm, or an alien planet, I just make it up as I go.  Occasionally I will need a name to mean something and I might hit the baby name sites, but I generally just go with what feels right.  just go with what feels right. 

It’s actually very exciting for me because I know nothing about the characters when I start.  The story grows around my exploration of who they are, what problems they’re encountering, and what resources they have to face those. Now, that doesn’t mean those first pages always make it into my stories.  Quite often they are heavily edited or removed entirely, but the adventure of following them is one of the things I truly enjoy about writing.  Even when I try to plot things out and outline, I do it knowing full well that my story will never come out looking anything like the original plot!  

What was your hardest scene to write?
I was thrilled to have been a part of Black Hare Press’s anthology, Zero Hour 2113.  It was an author led anthology, pulled together by the amazing David Green.  I love steampunk and cyberpunk and getting to play in this cyberpunk world that David was creating was just amazing.  As it happens, the story was going along quite nicely, until it decided to take a turn sharply into body horror.  As I said before, I’m not a horror person.  I had no experience with that particular sub-genre, but the story went that way, and I was determined to follow.  I had to do quite a bit of research into body horror to make sure I could deliver on the promise I was making the readers.  It took some hand-holding and I was blessed with some very enthusiastic feedback, which got me through.  In the end, it was a great challenge, and I’m happy I took it. 

Thank you for join me in the tearoom, Chris. To find out more about Chris’ books on her website at https://www.chrisbannor.com/

If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.

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