Today, Hartford Books Examiner celebrates Halloween with Stacey Longo, who puts the “boo” in books.
The author of the recently released Secret Things: 12 Tales to Terrify (Books & Boos Press, $9.95), Longo is a native of Connecticut and co-owner and co-founder, along with husband Jason Harris, of Books & Boos in Colchester. Her short fiction has appeared in more than a dozen anthologies and magazines, and she writes a weekly humor blog at www.staceylongo.com. She also spent six years as a humor columnist for the Block Island Times and published articles in the Island Crier and The Works magazine during that period. Longo is available for copy editing and proofreading services; email firstname.lastname@example.org for rates and references. A voracious reader, she also enjoys relaxing with her husband and their two cats, Wednesday and Pugsley.
Rob Watts, author of Huldufolk and Crabapples, has professed, “Stacey Longo terrifies me.” We’ll withhold judgment (for now), but readers are encouraged to visit her web site, where two trailers for Secret Things can be viewed. While there, cast a vote for your favorite—there will be a random drawing on 11/15/13 among the respondents, and one lucky person will win a free copy of the book!
From the publisher:
A new collection of unapologetic chillers from Hiram Award-winning author Stacey Longo. Francine Campbell looks like a sweet little old lady, but looks can be deceiving. Victor and Holly Shaw seem to have the perfect marriage . . . until one of them starts considering murder. Denny Fitzsimmons thinks he’s doing the right thing by saving a life. He couldn’t be more wrong. This collection of wickedly entertaining stories will compel you to lock the doors, keep the lights on, and ponder what it might be like to embrace the darker side of human nature. Everybody has secrets. Sometimes they can kill you.
Now, Stacey Longo leaves readers bewitched, bothered, and bewildered (but only in the best possible way, we assure you) …
1) What inspired you to publish SECRET THINGS: 12 TALES TO TERRIFY – and how did you select which stories would be collected within?
It was high time I got together a collection of my own. I’ve been published in so many anthologies and magazines, and instead of asking my fans to buy all of these different anthologies, I figured it would be nice to have them all together in one place.
I knew of a couple of stories early on that I absolutely wanted in the collection. They seemed to have a theme–keeping secrets, being quietly devious–so I looked at others I’d written with a similar thread, and pulled them all together.
2) The short story is a unique beast. What are the challenges of writing within this framework – and how do you find the process to compare to that of composing longer fiction?
Of course, the hardest part about short stories is that you have to grab the reader, develop your character, create a narrative of action, and draw a satisfying conclusion in an alarmingly small number of pages. I was a humor columnist for many years, which helped me to craft the art of getting my point across in as few words as possible. When I wrote my first novel, the challenge for me was to add more content, character development, and description. It was hard, and I trunked my first book without bothering to shop it around. It was more of an exercise for me to adjust to a different writing style. I’ve written two novels since then, and now prefer writing that way, but I still occasionally get requests for short stories, and it makes my brain spastic to try and switch back to that way of thinking.
I think I just went on way too long. “Short stories are hard because I can’t seem to shut up.”
3) The tales themselves are quite eclectic, and yet the underlying theme seems to be that human nature is inevitably dark and somewhat disturbing. What do you have to say for yourself? And what do you think that this says about us collectively?
I’m a bad person and we’re all going to hell.
Though I was raised in a fairly normal household, we did have a few boogeymen in our family tree, so I’m sure that influenced me. Plus, I have a tendency to think that everyone I meet is an inherently kind and decent human being, and when they disappoint me, I take it pretty hard. I don’t think that’s the best way to be, but I don’t want to become miserable and cynical. So I write stories about these horrible people instead.
4) You released this project through Books & Boos Press. In your opinion, what are the advantages of self-publishing – and how is this alternative changing the literary landscape?
My husband and I had toyed around with the idea of creating our own small press for awhile. It’s unbelievably hard to get a collection of short stories published (unless you’re Stephen King or Joe Hill). So we decided to debut our press with this collection. The top benefit is, of course, price. It’s really inexpensive to self-publish. Another great benefit is that authors who haven’t been published by a traditional house can now reach readers when they couldn’t before. For some authors, like Vincent O’Neil (who self-published Interlands,), this is great. He’s a wonderful storyteller and should be picked up by a major publisher. The downside is that there’s a lot more garbage out there. Flip through a self-published book before you buy it, folks: you should be able to tell pretty quickly whether or not it’s worth reading.
5) As co-owner of Books & Boos, tell us what you see as being the role of the bookstore within its community. Also, why should readers support their local independent booksellers?
Please, PLEASE support your local independent bookseller! We’re trying to serve as both a place to get great books for less, but also a community gathering place and hangout. We have tables for reading and working, free wifi, free coffee, events every weekend, we host a writers’ group, and are always trying to think of ways to grow and benefit the reading and writing community. It can be a struggle sometimes, though.
6) Leave us with a little teaser: what comes next?
My Years as a Runway Model: A Memoir by Stacey Longo.
Not really. I have a novella I’m shopping around right now, Ordinary Boy, and I’m currently working on a mystery involving two sisters, one of whom is a zombie. My sister and I are very close, and I’ve been drawing on our relationship quite a bit for that book. I should clarify, however, that she is NOT a zombie.
I would also like to take a moment to note that John Valeri is the wind beneath my wings. :)
With thanks to Stacey Longo for her generosity of time and thought.