Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Monday, 27 July 2015

The Lowdown with... S.P. Miskowski

I've decided that this little blog of mine needs to be about more than just me harping on about myself and my works, so there's going to be a lot more cool stuff on it. One of them will be The Lowdown - a series of mini-interviews with authors you really ought to be reading.

First up is S.P. Miskowski, author of the Skillute Cycle, the first book of which, KNOCK KNOCK, was published shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award. S.P.'s short stories have been published by Supernatural Tales, Horror Bound Magazine, Identity Theory, Other Voices, The Absent Willow Review, and in the anthology Detritus. Her home town is Decatur, Georgia where she began writing stories and poems as a child. She now lives in California with her husband, the novelist and game design writer Cory J. Herndon.

1. Tell us three things about yourself.

My family is matriarchal. I don’t fully understand systems in which women don’t play important

If I’d had the aptitude for structural engineering instead of fiction, I’d be on a construction site right now. At least, that’s my fantasy. I tend to see my stories in structural terms. I visualize their shape, the parallels and juxtapositions, the connecting themes and recurring images or colors. The stories I like to read are those in which the ideas or philosophy are embedded in the structure rather than resting on the surface.

I worked full-time for 35 years, at everything from editing a newspaper to transcribing data to managing a photocopy center to caring for children to working on a product assembly line. I never run out of material.

2. What was the first thing you had published?

A poem, in a high school newspaper.

3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of?

I’m pleased with my short story, “Strange is the Night,” in the anthology Cassilda’s Song, edited by
Joseph S. Pulver Sr. This story was waiting for its moment. I wrote the first two pages a few years ago and set them aside. All I had was the beginning of a portrait of a theatre critic, a man on a mission to discourage artists he found unworthy.

When Joe Pulver invited me to submit a story connected to the King in Yellow mythos, I discovered those first pages in my archive and something clicked. There is an obsession with artistic ambition woven into Robert Chambers’ KiY tales. The critic in “Strange is the Night” is an exclusionist, a privileged person. The girl he excludes is someone who embraces all experiences. Her openness is disgusting to the critic, and he sets out to crush her spirit. I hope the resulting story is explicit yet mysterious.

4. …and which makes you cringe?

Hm. I had a couple of stories published in literary magazines years ago. And I wish I could revise those.
5. What’s a normal writing day like?

Take vitamins. Drink coffee. Sit at my desk surrounded by walls of research and reference books. Go
back to the last page I wrote yesterday. Read that page and try to go forward. Resist the urge to watch “Masters of Sex.” Resist the urge to visit Facebook, where I will undoubtedly feel overwhelmed by the great accomplishments of friends and acquaintances, and guilty about not keeping up with all the wonderful books they’re writing and publishing. Stay focused and write until I get hungry. Eat and return to writing.

6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first?

Probably my novel, Knock Knock, which is the first book in the Skillute Cycle.

7. What are you working on now?

A novel, a murder mystery set in the recent past. It’s a bit noir and a bit supernatural. The protagonist
is a young woman who steals a friend’s writing in order to get a job. I think it’s fairly nasty. It’s also funny, and dark. Liberating, after all the time I spent in the world of Skillute (where my first novel and three novellas were set). The challenge is to move forward with every chapter. I tend to follow the characters on side adventures. A dangerous habit, at times.

S.P. on Goodreads
S.P. on Amazon UK and
S.P. on Twitter

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