Friday, May 27, 2016

AMONG THE STACKS: Kristin Dearborn


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Kristin.  Welcome to The Gal.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kristin Dearborn:
Where to begin?  You all know I'm a writer (if I wasn't, I wouldn't be here pushing my new novella, Woman in White).  In addition to reading and horror, I'm hugely into motorcycles, rock climbing, travel, and outdoorsy Vermonty stuff.  I have a BA in creative writing from the University of Miami (where Stephen King was my graduation speaker!!!), and my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction is from the amazing Seton Hill University.  By day I work for an emergency efficiency non-profit and am actively involved in saving the world.  My dog, Tali, is a 60lb cat in a Labrador body.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Kristin Dearborn:
I ghostwrite erotic romance to make extra cash.

My car has a turbocharger and upgraded exhaust and is really fast and I love it with all my heart.  It's a Ford Fiesta ST, 6 speed manual. *blows a kiss to car parked outside*

Every night before bed, I write down three things I'm thankful for that happened in my day.

I used to be a carnie.  (No, seriously.)

I strongly dislike Charlie Dickens' writing style.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Kristin Dearborn:
I have a clear memory of my dad reading to me from The Last of the Mohicans and a clear memory of my Aunt Jean reading Edgar Allan Poe's The Gold Bug to me.  Reading myself?  Bunnica was certainly an early one.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Kristin Dearborn:
Right now I'm aaaaalllmost done with the second book in Linda Nagata's Red trilogy, The Trials.  Military sci-fi, good stuff.  I'm also reading Rio Yours's novella Old Man Scratch.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Kristin Dearborn:
I've loved writing for forever.  I can remember dictating stories to my mom back before I could write.  Most of these involved flying, talking dogs.  In college, I got my BA in English, but it didn't occur to me that I could actually be a writer and publish books.  After I graduated, a friend told me her favorite author, Maria V. Snyder, got an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and it was a huge aha moment for me, that sometimes writers get paid to write, and maybe this could be more than a hobby.  I sought out the program, offered by Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA, applied, and got in.  The program gave me the tools and confidence to start selling my work.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Kristin Dearborn:
Not really, honestly.  I can write in a coffee shop, laundromat, my couch, my bed, my desk.  I have a favorite keyboard I really like to use.  I'm typing on it right now.  I prefer to write in the mornings, but that doesn't always work out.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Kristin Dearborn:
My writing is extremely efficient - I start with an image or a character in my head, one little kernel.  I roll my sleeves up and wade in, no idea where I'm going.  After I vomit out something that resembles a draft, I go back, make an outline from it, and start actually writing the book.  I really enjoy quantifying things, so word counts really motivate me.  I like to bust out at least 1000 words per day.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Kristin Dearborn:
Butt in chair is the hardest thing.  Between day job, being a single dog parent, and having a social life, it's hard to budget the time it takes to be successful at writing.  I look at writing as a job these days, not a hobby, and reframing that mindset has helped.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Kristin Dearborn:
I credit three authors for shaping me as an author.  When I was in elementary and middle school, I read everything I could get my hands on written by Dean Koontz.  I loved his stories and his monsters... then sometime in middle school I realized he was telling and re-telling the same story.  I got tired of his work, but loved him so much for so long.  I still think Watchers is one of the finest books ever written.
            The second author is Michael Crichton.  His early horror/sci fi stuff rocked my world: SphereThe Terminal ManThe Andromeda Strain.  It was Jurassic Park that introduced me to him.  I though that book was amazing.  I have a velociraptor tattooed on my ankle, I love it so much!
            The third author, and the love of my literary life, is one from my home state, the immortal Stephen King.  He writes about the real Maine, one I lived in for twenty five years.  His characters leap off the page to me, real human beings.  The BodyThe Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Christine are probably my favorites.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Kristin Dearborn:
The characters.  You can have a compelling story of interesting characters doing nothing (Seinfeld, anyone?) or a boring story of uninteresting characters doing what should be awesome stuff (anything Michael Bay has ever done, except The Rock, that was cool).  We need to care about the people we're reading about in order to have a meaningful connection with the work.  Which segues perfectly to our next question...

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Kristin Dearborn:
I need a character to have dimensions.  It can't feel like they only exist in the scope of the piece, they have to feel like they have their own lives.  This is what I think Stephen King does so well.  I'll never forget the mailman in his novel Cujo.  Basically the guy is cannon fodder, and in a lesser writer's hand he would have been completely forgettable.  35 year old spoilers: he wanders in to deliver the mail, and the dog kills him.  But King paints a picture of a man with stomach problems.  As he's delivering the mail, he's thinking about how he needs to see a doctor, but is scared of what the doctor will find.  And he's farting a whole lot.  When creating my own characters, I try to remember that each of them is a person, in their own mind, each of them is the star of their own novel.


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Kristin Dearborn:
Huh.  Interesting question.  I think I would say Lee from Woman in White... she's driven, she's tough, but she makes bad choices and beats herself up over them.  Then again, that might be because I've been working on final edits of that one this week.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Kristin Dearborn:
I think we all judge books by their covers to some extent.  A bad cover will absolutely turn me off.  If I hear really really great things about the book, I can forgive it, but I won't pick it up on my own.  I've had the pleasure of working with two artists - Daniele Serra (Trinity, the upcoming Raw Dog Screaming Press cover of Stolen Away, which I've seen and you haven't) and Zach McCain (Sacrifice IslandWoman in White, and the Thunderstorm Books cover of Stolen Away).  They are both fantastic artists , and their work blows me away every time.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Kristin Dearborn:
Where to begin on this one... I feel like I learn something new with every book I start, and learn a whole lot more with every book I finish.  Working with editors is always an eye opening process, and they each look for something different in the work, which I can learn and carry forward to the next process.  I've learned about my own process, and am starting to get an idea about when I should - and shouldn't - push myself creatively.  I feel like I do much better these days determining which part of writing to stress out about.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Kristin Dearborn:
I'm really conflicted on scenes of violence towards animals.  On the one hand, it's super overdone and when you see a dog in a horror movie/book, you pretty much know that thing is going to wind up disemboweled.  On the other hand, it's a pretty useful way to convey shit's getting real, and to raise the stakes.  The scene in Carpenter's The Thing with the huskies in a fantastic, tense, terrifying bit of cinema.  There's a dog in Stolen Away, and because she is a dog in a horror book, well, you can figure out that things don't go so well for her.  That scene was a big bummer to write, because I love dogs very much.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Kristin Dearborn:
I hope my characters are vivid enough to escalate my work, and make it stand out against the average book.  There's more leeway, in my opinion, with a weaver plot, if the characters are powerful enough.  I don't feel like I plot particularly well, and I feel like all of the ideas have been done multiple times.  The people populating stories are the places where they can stand out, and I'd like to think I accomplish this.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Kristin Dearborn:
I hate book titles.  I'm so bad at them.  Usually my files are noun exclamation point!  Trinity was Alien!  Woman in White's file name has a spoiler in it so I can't tell you about it, but there was an exclamation point.  Stolen Away's filename also had a spoiler...
            I usually leave the titles to other people.  My editor at DarkFuse titled Woman in White and Sacrifice Island for me, and my friend Ron titled Stolen Away.  I don't like naming books or stories or things.  After two years I'm still not convinced my dog Tali is really a Tali.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Kristin Dearborn:
I vastly prefer reading and writing novels.  I like to dig in for the long haul, getting comfortable (or uncomfortable, as the case may be) in the world and its inhabitants.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Kristin Dearborn:
The more I write, the more I tend to lean towards themes of violence towards women.  Domestic violence is such a prevalent issue in our society, I want to shite a light on it through the lens of horror.  I think monsters are fantastic, but I think they provide a brilliant foil for the human monsters who walk among us.  The statistics on domestic abuse - perpetrated towards both men and women - are staggering, and sadly, whether we realize it or not, we all know someone who's been a victim.  The more we talk about the problem and get it out into the open, the more we can help voices be heard.  I'd like readers to come away from my books thinking about these issues, and how they can better be listeners and advocates.
            Also?  I want people to think I write a kick ass monster story.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Kristin Dearborn:
Because I am a "pantser" and not a "plotter" a lot of my first draft is character development.  In a piece I'm working on now, I recently removed an entire character from the manuscript, as it turned out he didn't really serve the plot as much as I thought he did.  It was a bummer, because he was fun to write, but the book is better off without him.  I use the early drafts to suss out character development, have interactions between characters which help me figure out who they are, but don't move the plot forward.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Kristin Dearborn:
In my trunk is a pair of urban fantasy werewolf novels.  The heroine is a 1900s socialite whose world is shattered when she's changed into a werewolf.  In the first book, my heroine has to stop the man who hanger her from marrying (and changing) her best friend set in the backdrop of the summer season in Newport, RI.  In the second, she goes to San Francisco to start over and winds up associating with a werewolf brothel.  I've tried shopping the first one around a bunch, but haven't had any takers.  Will it ever see the light of day?  Only time will tell.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Kristin Dearborn:
More books!  I definitely don't have any plans to stop soon, and 2016 is going to be a big year for me in terms of releases.  Who knows what 2017 has in store for me and my words!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know, STaLKeR links.)

Kristin Dearborn:
My website, my Facebook, and occasionally I appear on Twitter.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Kristin Dearborn:
Goodness!  After 24 comprehensive questions, I don't think there's too much else to say.  Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Gal in the Blue Mask!


About the author:
If it screams, squelches, or bleeds, Kristin Dearborn has probably written about it.  She revels in comments like "But you look so normal... how do you come up with that stuff?"  A life-long New Englander, she aspires to the footsteps of the local masters, Messrs. King and Lovecraft.  When not writing or rotting her brain with cheesy horror flicks (preferably creature features!) she can be found scaling rock cliffs, zipping around Vermont on a motorcycle, or gallivanting around the globe.  Kristin is the author of two novels, Trinity and Stolen Away, two novellas, Sacrifice Island and Woman in White, and many short stories.  For a full list of publications and where to find them, visit her website

About the book:
Rocky Rhodes, Maine.

As a fierce snowstorm descends upon the sleepy little town, a Good Samaritan stops to help a catatonic woman sitting in the middle of the icy road, and is never seen or heard from again.  When the police find his car, it is splattered in more blood than the human body can hold.
            While the storm rages on, the wave of disappearances continue, the victims sharing only one commonality: they are all male.  Now it's up to three young women to figure out who or what is responsible: a forensic chemist, a waitress struggling with an abusive boyfriend, and a gamer coping with the loss of her lover.
            Their search will lead them on a journey filled with unspeakable horrors that are all connected to a mysterious Woman in White.

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