The Best of the Best: Interview with Rose Blackthorn

For this week’s author interview, I’m thrilled to present Rose Blackthorn. Rose is an incredible writer. Her amazing fiction has appeared in many of the top horror and fantasy publications, and as if that’s not enough, she’s a huge supporter of her fellow authors and one of the most approachable writers out there.

Recently, Rose and I discussed her favorite authors, her approach to the craft of writing, and the best way to deal with rejection.

Rose BlackthornA couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

I have been writing since my early teens, and in my twenties I actually wrote several (really bad) novels that I submitted to resounding and universal rejection. So, I guess I can say that I’ve wanted to be a writer for most of my life. But I didn’t start writing short fiction, and getting published, until 2009.

There are so many writers whose work I love. To list just a few (in no particular order) – Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Charles DeLint, Patricia McKillip, Anne McCaffrey, Vonda McIntyre, Jo Clayton, Barbara Hambly, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Nancy Springer, David Eddings, P C Hodgell, Robert Jordan, Ursula LeGuin, and Anne Rice.

What is your typical approach to writing? Do you have a set number of hours you write each day, or do you only write when inspired?

I am a dedicated ‘pantser’. I rarely have more than a basic idea of where a story is going, and I think I’ve outlined maybe two things, ever. I usually start out with either a particular character, or a specific background/place, and build on them.

I do not have set hours to write. I made a goal to write every day during NaNoWriMo, which I was able to accomplish, but I don’t always do so. I guess that means I write when I’m inspired – but luckily, that seems to be fairly often. I write to entertain myself, and so most of the time I really enjoy the time I spend at it.

Since you’ve been in the industry for a number of years, you’ve probably faced some rejections along the line. How do you deal with hearing no, and do you have any advice on coping with rejection for those writers who are just starting out?

I am a very emotional person – I have been known to cry at commercials. So in the beginning, every rejection was personal and a deep wound. In fact, I gave up submitting entirely for several years because of rejections I had received. This was back when I was younger, before I had friends who were authors or editors, and before I realized that rejection is just a part of the business of writing and submitting. I have finally gotten to the point in my life where (most of the time) I am able to simply take rejections in stride. There are still those that really sting, if it’s a story I strongly believe in or a market that I’m dying to break into. But for the most part, I pout for a minute, and then start looking for the next place to submit.

The best advice I could give anyone as far as coping with rejection is this: As hard as it is, try not to take it personally. Taste is subjective, and what one editor or publisher doesn’t like, another might love. If you believe in your writing enough to send it out once, then you can do it again. Make sure you’re researching the market, and be sure you’re sending them something they are actually looking for. If someone says “No”, then find someone else to send it to. If you need to, make edits or revisions to improve the story before you send it back out. But don’t let any one “No” stop you from being a success.

Shock TotemIn addition to your incredible fiction, you also write equally fantastic poetry. How is your process different (or similar) for each?

I write fiction with a place, or a character, that I’m drawn to or am curious about. What would this person do in this particular situation? What drives them? What is their goal, and how will they get from point A to point B?

Poetry, however, is always about emotion to me. Regardless of subject matter or style, my poetry always comes from the heart. If I’m feeling happy, or sad, or nostalgic, that’s what goes into a poem. Because of that, I only write poetry when I am really feeling inspired, because it isn’t anything I can force. It comes when it wants to.

Out of your published pieces, do you have a personal favorite?

Hmmm… That’s hard, because really I am quite fond of most of the things I’ve published! If I had to choose, I would narrow it down to these three: “The Olwen of the Wynne,” which was my first fantasy story published in 2010, and includes some of my favorite characters; “Bacon Rapt,” which is a zombie flash piece published in 2012 that I conceived, wrote, and submitted in less than an hour – and which was accepted that same day; and last “Through the Ghostlands” published in 2014 by Grey Matter Press, which I am actually working on expanding into a novella or novel.

You’re consistently releasing such remarkable work. Any upcoming publications we should be looking for?

I have two poems “Arbitration” and “Prescience” appearing in Chiral Mad 3 from Written Backwards which will be released in the spring. My story “Promises, Bliss and Lies” will be in the Fright Mare anthology edited by Billie Sue Mosiman, which will also be coming out in the spring.
“The Bani Protocols” is my first attempt at military/sci fi, and will be included in SNAFU: Hunters coming out from Cohesion Press at the beginning of next year. I am also absolutely thrilled that “Through the Ghostlands” was chosen by fans of Grey Matter Press to appear in DREAD: The Best of Grey Matter Press Vol. 1, which should be released in March 2016.

Big thanks to Rose Blackthorn for being part of this week’s interview. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, and be sure to check out her main site as well as her Amazon Author Page!

Happy reading!