I recently had the opportunity to chat with talented short story author Heather Ingemar. Heather writes paranormal short fiction that borders on horror in a beautiful style that is reminiscent of 19th-century horror authors. In this interview Heather talks about her inspiration for her stories, writing habits, style, and promotion.
What was your inspiration for your latest ghost story, "A Slip of Wormwood"?
Well actually, it started during a game my husband and I play, where the first person comes up with a sentence, and the other has to come up with a "story" around that sentence. My husband gave me a rather innocuous sentence about Frog skipping happily along, and I started to tell what I thought was an innocent children's story, but quickly spiraled into a tale of dark sibling rivalry and greed. My husband laughingly asked if he wanted to hear more, and I quickly came up with a sentence for him. The characters didn't leave, though. I finally had to write it down, and I did so in about four hours.
Tell us a bit about your other published stories. What was your inspiration for these stories? Which themes obsess you?
Well, to date I've only got four, two — "What's Really There" and "Memories" with the ezine The Gothic Revue — and two with Echelon Press, "Darkness Cornered" and "A Slip of Wormwood." Given that small sampling of my work, I'd have to say the supernatural, the abnormal was definitely a strong theme and inspiration for all of these works. I've always wondered about the things hiding in shadows, closets, and under beds. What kind of monsters hide in our world, and are they really "monsters" at all? I guess it's natural that would make a strong appearance in my work, since it's a concept that's always fascinated me.
What are your writing habits? Do you work on an outline before starting the actual story?
It really depends on the work. A lot of my short stories just come to me in the cliche "flash of inspiration," and so they generally don't need any outlining. With my longer works, my novellas, I like to keep a rough outline just so I can keep track of where I am in the story. I also do some outlining if I'm having trouble seeing what a character does, or why. But as for doing all that before writing, I'd have to say no. I start writing, and usually by the end of the first scene, I'll know if I need a roadmap or not.