Please introduce yourself and your fiction!
I’m Hailey Piper! I’m a writer of speculative fiction, being sometimes fantasy or sci-fi, but most often horror of a supernatural or darkly fantastical kind.
What are the real-life stories behind yours?
That depends on the story. Some stories are cobbled from little bits of observation so that there isn’t a key event behind them. Others are inspired by outrage at real-world events I’ve seen, like how living in D.C. inspired “The Joke” in Blood Bath Literary Zine, and sometimes they’re steeped in horrors I’ve experienced, such as the sense of social isolation in “Aggressive Mimicry” from Black Rainbow.
What inspires your creativity?
It could be anything at all. I think a writer needs to be open to spontaneous influence at any given time. The trick is to write those odd thoughts down, that little jumble of words that sounds interesting. At worst, it becomes nothing, but at least it’s kept in case. Sometimes it might end up a character’s dialogue someday. And when fortunate, what seemed small might become the seed for a whole story.
How do you deal with creative block?
By stepping away from the keyboard. So many issues with writing are solved by going off to do a chore, shower, make food, anything. Nine out of ten times, I’m back at the keyboard or my notebook in a few minutes, hurriedly jotting down notes for how to make things right.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in writing?
My biggest mistake is to not follow the advice on dealing with creative block. Obsessing over an idea that just isn’t working is my biggest weakness. Not that I want to give up on a difficult story, but it’s important to know when to step away, work on something else. Sometimes the solution pops in two hours later, but it might take weeks, even months.
Do you have tips on choosing titles?
My hope is always that the title comes easily. I have to go over the story several times before I consider it finished, and sometimes dialogue can mix with a phrase or common word. The easiest titles are nouns, but not every story functions that way. My best title advice is to not make the title sound like you’re dropping a wet sack on the floor. Let it be vibrant.
How has your creation process improved over time?
I would hope so! I have discipline now for how to approach stories that aren’t working, and more importantly, stories that are. The latter can be dangerous to themselves because it’s easy to get wrapped up in how well everything’s flowing, so charmed by it that you miss the mistakes. A paragraph that could be tightened here, an idea that could be expressed better there–these things matter even with a good story, and it takes discipline to tell that good story, “No, you can be better. You can be great.”
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
I think balance is most important. If the rough draft is the writer telling themselves the story, that still have to twist, mangle, and fix that into a version that communicates with the reader. Phrasing affects the reader’s takeaway.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
Everything. Emotion is complex, especially in horror where there’s a misconception that fear is the dominant feeling you want to work with. Horror can work from depression, anger–even glee can be horrifying. What a writer feels as they’re bringing these concepts to life will affect the shapes of those concepts and what the reader sees in them.
What are your plans for future stories?
Right now I’m working on a collection of feminist horror, the pieces of which are still being put together, so it’s a long ways off. I think around ten more stories are being published this year (I may have lost count) and then some are already slated for next year. As for lengthier projects, I have a novella coming out in 2020 that hasn’t been formally announced yet, and another I wrote in January that I really should get back to work on sometime.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I’m not sure what qualifies as quirky. People are often surprised that I’m a huge Godzilla fan, though I’m not sure why that’s strange. While of my reading is horror, I do enjoy sweet stories, though I’m often disappointing if there isn’t some speculative element. This isn’t always the case, but I like my fiction impossible most of the time. Oh, and don’t watch movies with me. I’ll probably cry at the end, usually for the silliest reasons.
Thank you, NFReads, for having me! If anyone wants to follow me on Twitter, I’m @HaileyPiperSays, or check out updates at haileypiper.com.