First, let me say that I’m not the type of writer that secludes herself inside a bubble plotting my next novel or creating character profiles. This is not to say I don’t do these activities, because I do, but I find that my writing is better when influenced by other artists. For this reason, I actively seek collaborations in mixed media and have worked in theatre as well as with musicians, illustrators, and even historians. One of my favorite experiences was creating scripts for a living history project at Oakland Cemetery for the Day in the Park event. Digging through census records and news articles from the late 1800s to 1950s, I was able to raise the dead and educate visitors about the people who were part of Atlanta’s early landscape. If you are unfamiliar with Day in the Park, I highly recommend it, but as for my part, I wrote the scripts for Oakland’s ghostly residents. Boo! Another favorite collaboration was when I worked with a musician while composing my short story, “The Gordy Hall Haunt.” While she was creating the score, which was subsequently performed by nine musicians during Reinhardt’s Contemporary Arts Festival at the Falany Performing Arts Center, I worked on the story to accompany the music. Think of it as a soundtrack. Finally, one of my favorite readings was when I read the prologue to The Righteous Room Killings with an American Sign Language interpreter.
You may have noticed in the prior paragraph the words haunt and killings. Yes, while I consider myself first and foremost a literary fiction writer, I have gravitated into the horror and magical realism genre. I still stick true to my form which is the short story, but I have discovered ways to expand my short story world by writing connected stories that include recurring characters, are based in the same town, follow a theme, or are unified by imagery. This method has been used by such authors as Elizabeth Stout and Alice Munroe and is typically referred to as a composite novel or a short story cycle.
I am a long time Atlanta resident and live with my husband, son, cat and two hounds in the Old Fourth Ward. Before moving Georgia, I lived in rural Missouri for seven years amongst horse farms and farmers. The town of Lawrenceton and the surrounding area was the inspiration for my composite novel, The Bystanders. I am actively seeking publication while I work on my second novel, A Dark Coincidence. With the second novel I have continued in the same structural thread as The Bystanders in that the novel is a composite novel, however, the difference is that now I have also woven in a frame story. This a literary horror novel with an extremely unreliable narrator and a mysterious tone.
I recently graduated with my MFA in creative writing and I am a member of the Atlanta Writer’s Club which permits me to continue to workshop my work with other authors and have other writing partners continuously edit my work. I am looking forward to converting my short story “Nativity” into a play. So many projects and not enough time! I have also branched out into short non-fictional prose or lyrical essay.
In fact, my piece “White Trash” just won the Driscoll Award for excellence in writing. I look forward to future collaborations and more publications.