So this is the very start of “in-depth with the Author“, the series that will follow up every book review, bringing to you a closer look into the author’s personality and mindset.
After all, isn’t there anything sweeter than feeling like you know at least something about the person that wrote the book you read or will read?
No stupid questions, no filler liners, no filters: this is in-depth with the Author, and today’s protagonist is Raven Darkly, the fascinating mind behind “A String of Fate“.
1. Tell me a little more about yourself – who’s Raven Darkly? And how much does her differ from the person behind the pen name, if at all?
Raven Darkly’s origin was as a page I started on Facebook to post unusual and macabre stuff. It didn’t last long as with many of the projects I dream up on a whim, but I liked the name and decided to keep it once I really got serious about dabbling in writing fiction.
How does Raven differ from myself? The name is just that. A name. I think it matches what I write. Bold, strange, and oftentimes, dark… but she is still me. Every name I’ve ever used, feels like my real name. Including Eden 😉😉
2. Define yourself in a short sentence.
I am someone obsessed with the inner workings of the human mind and condition, and I write about the people who either are the most perplexing to me, or the most entertaining.
3. What inspired the “Hairdressers of Horror” series, and this book in particular?
In 2009, my hairdresser friend, Cherri, left an article at my station. It was a short story competition that was running in an Austin newspaper. Cherri was following a blog I was writing at the time, and loved my style. I told her I wasn’t interested in entering competitions for fictional writing. Back then, I thought if I was ever going to publish a book, it would be a memoir. I just didn’t think I had the writing skills or imagination for fiction beyond my poetry.
But she kept insisting, and to get her off my back, I told her if she gave me a great storyline that I couldn’t resist, not only would I enter the competition, I would name her for the MC. It took her maybe two seconds: “I’ve always thought it would be cool if someone were to write about a hairstylist who uses the hair of her clients to do voodoo,” she said!
“Done!” I told her. Who could resist a plot like that? It took me a few hours to write it out, and the original style came off like a Dr. Seuss story. It was very funny. My clients loved it! I didn’t win anything, but I was proud of it nonetheless. I showed myself I could write fiction, and it was a pleasant surprise.
But I tucked it away as a one-time thing. Took me many failed attempts at writing a memoir before I began to think I should try writing fiction again. Ten years later, after dipping my toes in a genre completely wrong for me, I stumbled on the copy of “A String of Fate” and read it to my husband. That’s when it hit me… This is what I’m meant to write! I’ve been a barber for a little over twenty years. It’s the world I know better than any other. And it was also in that instance that I thought a series was the best way to go. A horror series. “OH MY GOD! The Hairdressers of Horror!” Just like that.
4. How much do you know about witchcraft? Did you know anything about it before writing the book?
I do know a bit about witchcraft. I became intrigued with it after watching the 1990 movie “The Witches” with Anjelica Huston. She’s so wonderful in every role she takes on, and I fell in love with her instantly. If you have never seen this movie, I highly recommend it. “The Craft” was another film that is an all-time favorite as far as witchy movies go, but no matter my fascination- I have never had much desire to dabble in the craft in real life. However, I’m familiar enough with it because of extensive research and also having worked with several hairdressers who do practice, to write about it well.
5. How much of you can the reader find in Cherri’s character?
Cherri’s character is based solely on the real-life Cherri. We have known each other since 2007 and because I tend to dissect anyone who gets close enough to me, I’m able to write her with great ease. Naturally, since it’s fiction, I embellish! But I try to be as true to her real-life character as I can, and all of my muses, really.
6. How long did it take you to write the book?
I started writing the book in mid-2017. But had to put it away for a while. I was living in New Zealand, which wasn’t going well, and then in January of 2018, my eldest nephew died, and the overwhelming grief that came with that, along with the inevitability of needing to move back to the states, required me to take a long pause. I took the writing of it back up in mid-2018, but it seemed forced and there was something missing from it. I was still holding a lot of myself back. So anxious about the perception of my readers, and I didn’t even have any yet!
I’m glad I put it away twice though. Because when the spring of 2019 came around, I finally had the right clarity to give all of myself to the process. I decide to keep some elements of the first couple of attempts, but other than that, I rewrote the whole story. I wanted it to be darker and really display more of my twisted side. So if we’re talking about how long it took me to rewrite it, then I’d say it took me six months, including the editing.
7. What does your creative process look like?
That’s a little difficult to put into words. I’m autistic and lacking in executive functioning. So things get messy. I usually have books and papers strewn about my room and all over my bed!
I don’t bother with outlines. My brain just doesn’t like to go there. I work best when I am feeling free to run wild with it. The editing process is when I begin to organize what I’ve already put on the page, so to speak. If I get writer’s block, I take a short break and read some great horror shorts, and then start back up. I’ve come to accept I will never be that writer who does what most other writers do. I just feel lucky to have found a process that gets me to the finish line at all.
8. When did you start writing and why do you write?
I started writing poetry when I was 15, but had expressed an interest in writing a book when I was 12. My struggles with ADD made it really hard for me to focus on any project for long and I was a very poor student in school. Poetry seemed the better way to go because it was an outlet that didn’t require a lot of attention. It was always something I did in kind of an “impulse of the moment” kind of thing. I began to attempt writing a memoir in my twenties but I’d start having horrendous nightmares and just couldn’t follow through with it.
When social media became a thing, a friend of mine encouraged me to start writing a blog, as he felt that would be a right fit for me as an outlet for writing about my real-life experiences and opinions. But as soon as they would gather a following, I would get spooked and delete them. But I never quit writing. I just can’t. I write because it heals me. And if it can heal someone as broken as I am, I know it can heal others as well. Or at the very least… give them a moment of escape from everyday life, that adds value to it.
9. What’s the message you want people to get from your book
I write about the dangers of the ego and the dark places the desire to be beautiful and powerful can lead. I work in an industry that is all about image and vanity. One that I’ve been at odds with from the very beginning, because I’m not able to put on a big show for my clients the way many a manager, shop owner, or corporation has tried and failed, at teaching me to do. I see a lot of self-absorption growing stronger as social media begins to replace real life interactions, and the allure of being able to fake your whole life on the internet; becomes the fantasy version of yourself in a way you’re not able to physically, grows with it.
The stories I tell in my books are my way of trying to navigate what I see happening now and compare it to what has always been. The eternal battle of good versus evil has existed since the dawning of man. But what role does the cyber world play in its influencing one or the other? At the same time, I feel my hairdresser world is a unique setting for these battles to unfold. It’s a comic relief that not many might expect from the Horror genre.
People in the hair world deserve a chance to be under a different spotlight, and I’m giving that to them through this medium!
10. When’s part II coming out, and what can you tell me about it?
I’m hoping to have that out by the summer of 2020. It is called Hair for the Dead. I plan to introduce a little necromancy in this one, but it will be my own version of that, as with anything I write. There will be some new characters introduced, but will maintain the ones I’ve already carved out in the first. It’s a continuation of the first for sure, and will delve deeper into the the main elements I touched on before.
11. The day I’m giving you these questions I went to a haircut and found myself wishing they didn’t keep my hair, how do you feel about this?
I love the idea that my story may make clients shiver a bit then next time they visit their hairstylist or barber! Why not? Even in 2019, I feel like we don’t get the credit we deserve as artists and as people with any kind of brains. So OK… have a seat, relax. Let me entertain you and make you feel better about yourself. But you might want to ask for your hair to be scooped up in a to-go bag before you walk out, should you cross me in any way. 👹
12. Where can readers find you? Give us your social media so we can stan your work
Well, I’m just going to be honest and say you can find me on Twitter (@DarklyRaven) for now. I have no website put up and I don’t intend to continue with the writer’s page I made on Facebook. I won’t say that I’ll never have these things available. But for now, I am limited on time and energy, and my wellbeing comes first or there can be no writing to be read. But my blog is also available to the public, and I will gladly post book-related stuff there, should the occasion call for it in the future, or until I decide otherwise.
Read my review of “A String of Fate” here!
Follow Raven Darkly on Twitter: @DarklyRaven
Raven’s blog: The Opinionated Aspie