Storgy is a high-caliber literary site, lovingly edited by a staff of creatives who are passionate about art, film, and books. I can’t tell you how honored I am to be featured on Storgy among so many talented writers. I’m looking forward to having Storgy on the blog soon. In the meantime, check out my interview today and celebrate with a free copy of Sick (with its updated cover).
About Storgy Magazine
STORGY was founded in 2013 by Tomek Dzido and Anthony Self as a means by which to explore the short story form and engage with readers and artists alike. An online literary short story magazine consisting of a core group of dedicated writers, STORGY aims to inspire artistic collaboration and provide opportunities for creative minds to meet.
INTERVIEW: Christa Wojciechowski
So Christa, thank you for having this interview with us, we were interested to learn that you used to tame lions and chase storms; how did this come about and why?
When I lived in Florida, I managed a private animal sanctuary that was open to the public. I took care of nearly a hundred animals. We had tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, lynx, primates, canines, bears, macaws, a camel, llamas, deer, a horse, a donkey, an otter, raccoons, and a wallaby. There were also snakes, lizards, turtles, alligators, all the way down to scorpions and tarantulas.
The big cats were all fed by hand. I had to hack up eighty pounds of bloody horse meat each day for the carnivores. Then I’d chop up buckets of fruit and vegetables for the herbivores. We bred rats and mice to feed the snakes. There was lots of poop. Lots. It was a dirty, laborious, and dangerous job, but I loved each of those animals as if they were my own children.
A few years later, the animal sanctuary was forced to shut down because they were widening the highway in that area. That’s when I went to work with my dad at the power company. In 2004, we had a crazy series of hurricanes – Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. During emergencies, all the staff at the power company is called in for hurricane duty. This means you work about 16-20 hours a day in very dangerous conditions. My dad and I teamed up to go survey the power lines to see if there were any urgent situations and to tell the crews where the damage was. We also turned on some customers’ power while we were there. That was not protocol, but we did it anyway, and they were very grateful.
Your website says that you’re an Internet marketer which can be a full time job in itself, so when did you first discover your passion for writing? And how do you find the time with all the other things you seem to be doing?
I was a child when I first discovered my passion for writing, but I never committed to it until I moved to Panama. I couldn’t legally work here so I had a lot of free time and solitude. I decided to try writing a memoir about experiences I had in my new country. I’ll probably never publish it, but it broke the seal and helped me to realise that I had the ability to finish stories.
My job as an internet marketer came later. I used to just help family and friends with their websites and social media. It was a part-time gig for travel and Christmas money. Now it’s a full-time operation that continues to grow. I have had no time to write during the past six months and am a little grouchy because of that. You know what Kafka says about a non-writing writer, so I’m planning to turn my freelance operation into a firm and hire some people to join my team. I’m also in the process of developing some e-courses to generate passive income.
Your fiction, in particular the Sick series, demonstrates an incredibly subtle style of Horror-writing that arises from psychology and character. How did you come to develop this unique style?
This is a great question because I never consciously planned this story or the characters. I had a nightmare about this pale, sick man covered in bruises. I think he had a broken leg. I was his wife–not myself, but another woman entirely. The bedroom was disheveled and dirty. The scene was repulsive to all five senses, but the most frightening part about it was the way this woman I inhabited felt. Her husband was obviously very, very ill and yet he exuded this powerful menace. The uneasy feeling of the dream stuck with me, and after some months I decided to purge it by writing it as a story.
The psychological aspects of your writing are one of its greatest strengths. Where did your fascination with the human mind arise? Can you name a key event or moment in your life that triggered your interest and desire to explore further?
I’ve always rooted for the deranged characters in books and movies. I’m drawn to the troubled souls and insane villains, but I know I’m not alone in this. Everyone loves a good pyscho or they wouldn’t be so popular.
Some of my family members have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. I, too, went through times in my life where I felt like I might lose my mind (I’m really not quite sure if I haven’t). I’m mystified by how thoughts and emotions can break your sanity. Sure, some brain diseases can be seen in a scan, but most mental illness is in the intangible. You can look at the brain and it will be physiologically sound, but the person is incapable of functioning. It’s this invisible entity that is damaged. How does that happen? How does this ethereal organ break?
What makes it even more interesting is that the mind can repair itself through words. Therapy or writing can fix mental illness–words, which are nothing but a sound vibration. They are ink marks on paper. They’re black pixels on this screen, and they have the potential to destroy and heal. It’s all very spooky when you think about it.
Originally Published on https://josephsale.wordpress.com
We live in a world of big brands, big names and celebrities, as is so wryly satirised in Ben Elton’s most recent comedy gold: Upstart Crow. In some ways, we have always had this culture. The gladiators of ancient Rome were much like the Olympic athletes we worship today. The Forum philosophers were no different to the TV personalities we watch now, offering advice on everything from sex to home-improvement.
But, the difference between our world and the ancient one (even going back only a hundred years or so) is saturation. There are simply so many more people than there used to be.
How then, can we find the gold, when everyone has a blog, everyone has a self-published book or song or film, and everyone is crying out to have their voices heard? It’s not easy, but one way is through simple recommendation. Who is being recommended and who isn’t? And who are people being recommended by?
This last part is so key. Many people I know blindly will buy anything which makes the Man Booker longlist, but really, only certain types of novel ever make it to that list, and often, they are books which are current with a particularly pertinent political or sociological theme. I’m not knocking that, but for me, timeless insight into humanity (I’m quoting Ben Elton again) is always preferable to a clever current opinion.
So, we all know who the big names are, but who are the smaller voices, no less valuable, no less insightful, but perhaps not as public as they might have been where they born 200 years earlier?
Here’s my list of 3 AWESOME independent authors, writing in a variety of genres, who I believe are worth your time and money and commitment. Please, take my recommendation and check out their stuff. Most of it is beyond reasonable in price – and all of it is excellent.
(in no particular order)
Recommended Title: Remnant (Book 2 of Crucible Series)
I became aware of Moira Katson’s work after discovering she had worked on City of the Shroud, a strategic video-game set in a fantasy universe. Her narrative was intriguing, complex and felt fresh, especially in a genre in which story is often put to one side. It was then I discovered her range of novels; I picked up Remnant (she recommended it for me) and was simply blown away by the pathos of it. She writes with a sure hand, offering immense insight into the emotional worlds of her characters. Always psychologically real, always exciting and focused, her narratives explode (sometimes literally) with surprises. Full of twists and sensitive prose which slowly seeps into your heart, she is one for anyone who loves SCI-FI or FANTASY with real human dimensions to it.
Recommended Title: Sick (Book 1 of the SICK Series)
Christa’s Sick series is incredible, and showcases her amazing feeling for character voice. Never a line out of place, an action out of sync, or an erroneous thought to be found. Like a method actor, she seemingly becomes her characters, rendering their voices in methodical prose which ensnares you. Her feeling for voice and character soliloquy never detracts from her sense of pace, however; her novels are dynamic and full of action. What’s more, she knows how to build and turn a twist, and even better, to impart the reader with Shakespearean dramatic irony. For anyone who likes PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR in the vein of King’s Misery and Finder’s Keepers, then Christa is the one for you!
Recommended Title: At the Edge of Night
I first became aware of Michael Bray when my story appeared alongside his in Dark Hall Press’s Technological Horror Anthology. I quickly realised that the energy and feeling of his prose set him apart, as well as his certain exploration of extreme human emotions: fear, desperation, suicidal depression, feverish madness, longing. Rather than coming across as cartoonish or exaggerated, as they often do in the hands of amateurs, these states are presented with subtlety and depth and speak to true human experience. This is, perhaps, Michael’s greatest strength and why his novels are becoming more and more widely read.
Mesmerising prose, fantastic characterisation and intriguing explorations of humanity’s underbelly: all good reasons to go for Michael Bray. I’m a particular fan of his short fiction, and hence, have recommended his 28 story collection At the Edge of Night.
I hope you all enjoyed this list. Please, let me know if there is anyone you would add to it. Let’s build a network of people, all sharing awesome innovative new fiction. It’s not about being hipster, it’s about finding what we like in a world where it’s hard to do that (because there is so much to find). I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above list and your own favourite independents.
As always, you can follow me @josephwordsmith, where I’m pretty chatty, and tweet aLOT about 2000AD.
Have a great week peeps!
Originally posted on ScifiandScary.com
Christa Wojciechowski is just an awesome person. There’s no other word for it. She might write stories that utterly disturb me, but she’s great. She is, to date, the only author I actually correspond with on a semi regular basis. That says a lot. She’s written Sick, which I’ve reviewed here, and Sicker which I hosted a giveaway for. She’s got a talent for getting under your skin, and was the perfect person to write this piece on Why Psychological Thrillers Terrify Us. I hope you enjoy reading it, and high recommend you check out her books!
The Horror of Being Human: Why Psychological Thrillers Terrify Us
by Christa Wojciechowski
Horror books are scary because they trigger human beings’ most basic survival instincts: fear of creatures that might eat us, fear of the unknown, fear of the bogeyman, and fear of other nasty possibilities such as disembowelment or possession. It’s easier to face our fears by inventing monstrous archetypes because it’s “just pretend.” But the most terrifying monsters lurk within each one of us as life twists and shapes us by our experiences.
I’ve been told my psychological thriller series, SICK, is disturbing. I didn’t necessarily set out to frighten and disgust anyone. My goal was to tell the story of John and Susan Branch. I see their relationship as an exaggerated version of any marriage dynamic. Beneath the “honey-dos and sweetie pies” is a constant power struggle and insatiable craving for the beloved’s attention. At the heart of SICK is a romance that shows how two terribly f*cked-up people are trying to survive with their mental health issues.
The reasons behind their freakish behavior are desires we all share: safety, acceptance, unconditional love. I think that’s why readers understand John and Susan even when they hate to admit it to themselves.
One of my readers, a mother, felt uneasy when she associated John’s clutching neediness with her relationship with her toddler. Several readers identified with Susan’s resentments and frustrations about caregiving and the conflicting emotions between wanting a sick person to live and wishing they would die.
We all have a shadow side, and depending on what school of psychology you ascribe to, this side can be slightly different things, but what’s agreed on is that this darker side is lurking in our unconscious mind. We are either unaware of it, or we blot it out and ignore it.
Another reason I write about psychologically disturbed characters is because mental illness is present in my family, and losing my mind is one of my greatest fears. As a writer, I’m always analyzing and observing people. I pick up little clues in their body language and in their speech. They’ll flash their shadow side, exposing some selfish or childish trait or pattern that I recognize in myself. I wonder how easily I could end up like them. Are they aware of how crazy they sound? Will I know it if I’ve lost my mind?
That’s why it’s important for me as a writer to explore this shadow side through my characters. We must be vigilant of our true motivations, fears, and desires so they don’t consume us.
The reason books like SICK may affect readers on a deeper level than a traditional horror novel is because they expose this desperately hidden dark side. Underneath the bright and ordinary exterior of everyday life, people like my characters DO exist. We see parts of ourselves in each of them, and facing the inky void of our shadow side is the most frightening confrontation our conscious selves can imagine.
About Scifi and Scary:
SciFi and Scary is run by Lilyn G., a female with a serious love of horror and “hard” science fiction. I also have an almost obscene love for bad puns. Since the beginning of the year, including about 30 short stories, I have read 120 books according to my Goodreads Challenge for 2016. Pagewise, that comes out to 24,174 pages as of 11:39 p.m. on 4/8/2106.
So, you could say: I Read. A Lot.
Visit the site!
What do you think is scarier? Zombies, vampires, or your own inner demons?
Did you read SICK ?
Get a free copy of SICK for a limited time.
Care to delve into Novella 2?
and enter to win one of two paperback copies up for grabs!
I apologize for the lack of meaty posts lately. Work has been unbelievably busy, and I’ve neglected my blogging duties except for posting the bare minimum. I hope to return to a regular schedule soon. In the meantime, here’s what’s going on in my little corner of the web.
SICKER Paperback Release
Sicker: Psychological Thriller Series Novella 2 is available in paperback on Amazon.
SICKER Paperback Giveaway Starts May 31st
Beginning tomorrow, Tuesday May 31st, SciFi and Scary will be hosting my book spotlight and
giving away two of the new paperback copies of SICKER.
Hint: SICK free on Kindle for May 31st so that all entrants for the Scifi and Scary giveaway can read Part I before possibly winning Part II.
Visit ScifiandScary.com to enter.
Guest Post on Konn Lavery
Konn Lavery is a talented graphic artist, web designer, and author of the Mental Damnation series. I’ll be on his blog talking about the process of writing and book marketing in the very near future. Stay tuned for post date.
Guest Post on Scifi and Scary
I’ll be returning to Scifi and Scary on June 19th as a guest to talk about why Psychological Thriller/Suspense novels like SICK might creep us out more than traditional Horror.
I’ll be sure to reblog that here so you don’t miss it.
Christa Wojo’s Client Spotlights
I’ll be periodically hosting interviews with my wonderful clients so they can tell you about their projects, their challenges, and their plans for the future.
Also, I’ll be heading back to Ecuador sometime soon. Get ready for a continuation of the Ecuadorian pig-out and hopefully some cool photos too.
Please leave your thoughts below.
Would you like for me to stop by your blog?
I’m available for features and guest posts. Let me know!
SICK is free today on Kindle.
Originally posted on jeremydyson.com.
I’m honored and thrilled to have the support of so many amazing reviewers and bloggers. This latest review was published by Jeremy Dyson yesterday. Here’s what he had to say about SICK.
“John Branch is a sick, sick man. Born into a wealthy family, John has since fallen on hard times. As the family fortune disappears and his health fails, John is taken care of by his faithful wife. Susan struggles with the burden of supporting her husband emotionally, physically and financially.
This story is really about the struggles of an “unhealthy” relationship. One partner of the marriage is forced to bear most of the burdens of life, whether that be earning a living or stealing painkillers to ease the pain of her ailing spouse. Tragically, there is nothing Susan won’t give to their marriage, even if it means giving up her life to make John happy.
Sick is a wonderfully twisted read. It brings to life the struggles of marriage through a realistic relationship of characters. This story is well-written and crafted by a very talented writer, reminiscent in style to works by Chekhov or Dostoyevsky. Will definitely check out the sequel.”
Jeremy Dyson is the author of zombie novels with a literary flair. Follow Jeremy Dyson’s blog and learn more about his work here.
Sick By Shel Silverstein
Kind of creepy how much this favorite childhood poem reminds me of young John Branch.
“I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more--that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!”
Here’s a new review of SICK I missed on AJOOBACATS BLOG. She enjoys “good psychological and literary thrillers that show a depth of understanding of human nature.” Be sure to subscribe to her reviews, and read what she has to say about SICK!
Celebrating the Release of SICKER
I’m giving away SICK for the next two days. Here are the latest reviews:
“Disturbing yet gripping at the same time!”
“SICK is a story that you can’t shrug off easily.”
“Dark and clever.”
Get free copy of SICK
Everyone has a breaking point.
Part I. Is this marriage based on unconditional love or a unhealthy obsession?
Susan Branch’s life revolves around the care of her charming and inscrutable husband John, a man born into wealth and prestige who lost his family’s fortune when his mysterious chronic illnesses left him bedridden. Together they live a decrepit existence beholden to the current owners of his family’s former estate.
After years of devoting herself to John’s care, Susan is worn out and frustrated. Yet she is determined to scrape together whatever resources she can to keep John comfortable and happy. This includes stealing Demerol from the doctor’s office where she works to feed John’s ever-increasing need for pain medication.
As John’s condition continues to puzzle doctors, Susan begins to notice strange objects appearing around her house. Ever wary of creepy Old Pete, the groundskeeper, Susan decides to confront the elderly man and put an end to his snooping for good.
John suffers a critical emergency, but he is saved and is soon released from the hospital. His health begins to improve, and Susan dreams of a normal life, but her hope for a miracle transforms into a nightmare one fateful afternoon when she discovers
the true cause of John’s sickness.
How did John Branch get so sick?
Part II. The gruesome psychological suspense series continues.
John Branch’s sickness has dominated the lives of all those around him, consuming all it can from well-intentioned doctors, compassionate strangers, and trusting loved ones. His chronic illness also bonds him intimately to his wife Susan, trapping them in relationship of unhealthy psychological attachment.
But John’s disease isn’t the only blight in the Branch family.
Injured and loaded with Demerol, John Branch tells his life story from his filthy sickbed. He confesses the horrific secrets of the past. Most disturbing of all, he reveals the philosophy he’s constructed around his condition and tries to indoctrinate Susan. Will she stay with him now that she finally nows the truth, or will she put and end to the madness?
Book III coming soon…
Book II of the SICK series is three days away. Preorder here.