TweetCandy Korman is a professional freelance writer and an amateur Argentine Tango dancer, living and writing in New York City. She loves travel, mysteries, art, theater and cats. Fueled by coffee, she always has more than one work of fiction in progress. Her series of novellas inspired by horror classics is called—Candy’s Monsters. She posts two Monster Meditations each week on her blog and enjoys Twitter.
Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
No question here, I was born to write. My childhood memories are about stories and storytelling. I grew up in a house filled with books. My mom is a mystery reader and fabulous plot consultant. My father read bedtime stories when we were small and even much later on, when we traveled as a family in the pre-mobile entertainment world, he would read in our hotel rooms. Time and Again by Jack Finney was the book on one of our longer trips. Bedtime favorites were The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle.
What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?
I think the biggest misconception is that our books are riddled with typographical errors. Yes, they exist. But I keep finding them in ebooks put out by conventional publishers, so it’s not an indie-only problem. I think the other misconception is that we are basically fan-fiction writers. We’re not. Indie authors represent a deep well of creativity and talent.
How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?
The question of genre is at the heart of my Candy’s Monsters series of novellas. The first one in the series is a mystery in the familiar Agatha Christie format—a house party with a limited number of characters, and a murderer lurking in the woods. It’s inspired by Frankenstein and called THE MARY SHELLEY GAME.
After Frankenstein it was natural for me turn to Dracula and mine its rich veins of suspense, gothic horror, sublimated Victorian sexuality and sublime language. My response to the deep darkness of Bram Stoker’s masterpiece was to create a brokenhearted comedy. The original was written in diary entries, letters and news reports, so BRAM STOKER’S SUMMER SUBLET is written in journal jottings, sticky notes, voice mail, email, etc.
Next up is POED—yes, I’m using Poe as a verb in the past tense. As a kid I was a big Poe fan. I remember loving the subtle creepiness, the languid descriptions, and most of all the gothic menace in every word. POED is set in the ‘Usher Institute for the Study of Criminal Psychopathology’ —where killers too vile and crazy for the regular justice system live out their days amidst ghosts of the asylum’s mysterious past. It’s a contemporary gothic/psychological suspense tale.
The fourth is THE STRANGE CASE OF DR HYDE AND HER FRIENDS—my romantic suspense novella about a young, successful, doctor suffering from a bad case of ennui. She gets in too deep when she walks into a very dark corner of the dark side during a strange summer in New York. Her roommates from college come together to get her out of a very sticky situation involving crime and a hedonistic cult pushing personal boundaries.
The MONSTERS series became a boundary pushing experience for me as a writer. I’ve just begun a fifth book. The genre? Steampunk Mystery. My long answer to the short question of genre is… Mystery found me and went on a scavenger hunt for genres that expand my territory.
After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?
This is the story of my life! I’m always in love with my latest work-in-progress—and it’s the kind of love that cannot see faults or flaws beyond typos. I read Stephen King’s On Writing years ago and he talks about putting a manuscript draft away for an extended period of time. This ‘ cold storage’ method has always been difficult for me. I pine for the company of my characters.
I’m doing an experiment right now that I hope will give me both the distance (aka objectivity) I need, and some useful feedback. The completed first draft of a new mystery novel is in the hands of two friends. They are both slow readers. This is frustrating, but good for me. I’m a very fast writer—sometimes I write faster than I read—and I am not allowing myself to look at the manuscript until they return it with their responses.
How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?
What’s in a name? Oh so much! When naming characters, I use a combination of intuition and research. Since I often write characters from a variety of backgrounds, I use the Internet to find typical names from specific places, i.e. a region of Italy, or popular names from a particular period of time. Ethnicity, family heritage and age are important for naming characters in stories set in contemporary America—especially cities like New York that are full of immigrants and their descendants.
When I name a character I consider when and where they were born, as well as their parents’ naming objectives. Objectives? Yes. Must their firstborn son be named after Dad? Does a woman with a common name want her daughter to have a distinctive name? Is Dad a literature buff? Is Mom a political junkie?
Like many writers I’ve changed character names. Once it was because too many of the character names were similar, and I got feedback that I was confusing readers. But more often, it’s been because as the character developed the name felt flat.
My given name is Candida, after the play Candida, by George Bernard Shaw. Candida is a part of me, but most of the time I’m happy to be called Candy.
How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?
My characters surprise me all the time! They are often smarter, braver, and more talented that I am. They will take the dialog in a different direction or dare me, as the author, to venture where I’d never go in real life.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
I won’t say that I edit excessively, but I do edit throughout the process. I write quickly and then go back and read previous pages, before I go on. It’s a pattern of refinement and rethinking. I often pick up a thread from an early chapter later in the book and the back-and-forth helps me do this without dropping a stitch.
Have you ever wished that you could bring a character to life? If so, which one and why?
I love this question! As a mystery reader and writer, I’ve always been amused by the story of Dorothy Sayers and her fictional detective Lord Peter Wimsey. I was told that she fell in love with her creation and then created his perfect match—the mystery writer Harriet Vane—a character based on Sayers. It then took three books for Peter to win Harriet’s heart.
Right now, I’d love to meet the Vermeer expert/chief museum conservator from the novel in the hands of my alpha readers. In the novel, only part of his backstory is revealed. But now that I’m contemplating a second outing with this cast of characters, I’d love to sit down over a beer and pick his brain about art.
What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?
Friendship is very important to me and I’ve explored it in much of my fiction. The protagonist in BRAM STOKER’S SUMMER SUBLET is bereft and temporarily alone. This allows her vampire fantasies to take hold. We need our friends to keep us in balance.
I’m attracted to people who are intellectually challenging, friends with whom I can travel and share experiences, people willing take risks and check out obscure Off-Off-Off Broadway plays, people with passions and interests that they want to share with me. I’ve done, seen, tasted, and explored all sorts of things and places because of a friend’s desire to share what is important to them. I don’t need friends that mirror my image, ideas, experiences, and tastes. I need friends open to sharing their own.
The people that linger and become part of my life—smart, fun, unconventional and wise people—are also kind. Friendship makes us vulnerable and so kindness is essential. It’s not easy being friends with a writer. Sometimes I ‘disappear’ into my thoughts and I’m the first to admit that I’m a story vampire. Tell me a story and it may inspire my fiction.
If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
I would love being one of those brilliant people who pick up foreign languages with ease. I have many friends for whom English is a second (or third) language and I envy the way the slide from one to another. They are citizens of the world and I am just a visitor.
What music soothes your soul?
All sorts of music is both soothing and inspiring. I’ve been dancing Argentine Tango for many years and snatches of Tango songs dominate the “soundtrack” in my head, along with vintage R & B and cast albums from Broadway musicals. Music—all sorts of music, from classical, Latin jazz and blues to pop, rock and the American songbook—works its way into my fiction. I was listening to Paco Peña (the Flamenco guitar maestro) and all of a sudden the protagonist in my Monster-in-Progress has an encounter with a small Flamenco troupe. The music directed the story and gave the protagonist a new dimension.
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