This week, I’m excited to feature author Jamie Wargo. Jamie is the scribe of numerous short stories as well as a first reader as part of Sanitarium Magazine’s Faculty.
Jamie and I recently discussed her inspiration as an author as well as what writing plans are in store for her burgeoning career.
A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
I think I’ve always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until the last few years that I actually started writing. I remember my second grade teacher handing out blank books and instructing the class to write a short story, my classmates grumbled but I couldn’t wait to get started.
As far as my favorite authors, I would have to say Stephen King has always been at the top of my list, as well as Anne Rice, HP Lovecraft, HG Wells, Poe, and way too many short fiction authors, yourself included, to list. By the way, “All the Hippies Are Dying” is great!
You’re a slush pile reader at Sanitarium Magazine. When you’re reading a story, are there certain things you’re looking for that help you determine whether you will say yes or no, or is it more of a feeling that a story inspires in you?
I guess it would be the feeling that a story inspires in me. When I’m reviewing a submission, I look for that “wow” factor. If it make me think the rest of the team really needs to see it, it’s definitely getting sent over for further review. It’s a team effort at Sanitarium but the final decision comes down to our Editor in Chief, Barry Skelhorn.
You’re currently based in my beloved home state of Ohio. Do any local landmarks or even the general Rust Belt aesthetic of the area ever creep its way into your work?
Definitely! A couple of the stories I’ve written are based on a friend’s property in Noble County, it’s in southeastern Ohio so it’s more rural than Rust Belt. I actually wrote “Residual Haunting” while on a camping trip there.The story is fictional but the house is real, and it sits on the property where we camp. I looked at the old house one night and thought, “there is a creepy ghost story in there somewhere.” I spent the next day writing on a cabin porch, thirty feet away from the actual house.
I also have a story I’m finishing up called “Coyote Ridge.” It’s another one based on that property. We found a coyote den not far from the camp site and my writer brain went “what if they aren’t normal coyotes?”
If forced to choose, which is your favorite part of the writing process: developing characters, crafting dialogue, or creating atmosphere or setting?
I would say I like to create setting. In “Residual Haunting,” the setting was a real house but I added some fictional elements and changed the layout to make it work for the atmosphere I needed. In another project, I played with the landscape, adding a dry creek bed that becomes a hazard for a character, and a forest line the characters need to get to, but it’s too far away. Throw in a cloudy night and an explosion, and you end up with a very intense scene.
What upcoming projects can we expect from you?
I am currently working on a couple of novellas, but I think they want to be novels so I am just along for the ride at this point. I hope to have them finished before the end of the year. I have a few short stories I’m getting ready to send out and with a little luck something will be published soon.
Where would you like to see your writing career in five years?
I would like to be writing full time, from my own lake house.. A girl can dream, can’t she? In case that doesn’t happen, I would be happy to see my work on a bookshelf, even if only a shelf in my office.