We’re joined today by one of the author’s of ONCE… McKenzie Richardson. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for us!
When did the writing bug first bite?
I have always been writing in one form or another. As a kid, I wrote a lot of unfinished short stories. As a teen, I wrote endless song lyrics. After college, I wrote a few novels and now while I’m in grad school, I have been focusing on short fiction and poetry. I love writing in all forms and I am so glad it is something that I am always turning to throughout my life.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I really love creating something new. I have always been a total book nerd and the thing I love about books is that there are always stories to tell. Different events, different characters, different combinations, different perspectives. While stories may come from the same basic elements, it is so amazing to me how many variations there are. I enjoy constantly coming up with and experiencing more ways of putting those elements together.
What do you like most about Speculative Fiction?
I love the freedom of it. The magic, the monsters, the fantastical science. In more realistic writing/reading, there are a certain number of ways a scene could reasonably go. Speculative fiction is so fun because it doesn’t have those boundaries. You never know when angels will fall, monsters will rise, or a princess will get lost in the forest. Speculative fiction is such a large genre and it is so fun to play around with the boundaries of it and the different ways fantasy, horror, and science fiction can overlap.
Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Neil Gaiman and I think (hope) some of his style is rubbing off on me. I absolutely love Shirley Jackson, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, and Isaac Asimov. I am also very inspired visually so Katie O’Neill and Jen Wang have been great influences. I like to read widely and it is always an amazing feeling when a book just hits you and you think, “I want to be able to write like that someday.”
Have you ever used a word or said a word aloud so many times it’s lost all meaning?
Oddly enough, when I first starting trying to writing horror stories, I stumbled talking about them because the pronunciation of the word “horror” always sounded off to me. Something about those middle r’s and ending on “er” or “or” always threw me off. I’d keep repeating it until it didn’t even sound like a word anymore. My husband still teases me about my weird pronunciation. Thankfully my horror writing has gotten better, although my pronunciation has not.
Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?
In general, I try to finish every book I start reading because even if I don’t like it, I hope that I can learn something from it, even if that something is what doesn’t work. There was one book that I had to completely abandon. It was very self-indulgent and just not for me. I wasn’t getting anything out of it and eventually passed it along through the Little Free Library where it found a new home.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?
Keep writing, keep reading. Even when you don’t feel like writing, just write something. It doesn’t have to be good, but the practice and discipline will help. Also, push yourself to write outside your comfort zone. When I first started, I was terrible at horror, but getting rejected taught me what worked and what didn’t. While I’m still learning, I think some of my strongest stories have been horror stories.
And just for fun. Who is your favourite fairytale Princess?
I write a lot of retellings about Snow White and Sleeping Beauty (Once is no exception) because I want to give them the opportunity to do more in their stories. But my favorite princess, and one I’d like to write a retelling for one day, is Princess Elisa from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans”. I love that she has an active role in her story. She demonstrates her bravery and dedication, saving her brothers from an evil spell. She really stands out to me among other more popular princesses.
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