Storgy is a high-caliber literary site, lovingly edited by a staff of creatives who are passionate about art, film, and books. I can’t tell you how honored I am to be featured on Storgy among so many talented writers. I’m looking forward to having Storgy on the blog soon. In the meantime, check out my interview today and celebrate with a free copy of Sick (with its updated cover).
About Storgy Magazine
STORGY was founded in 2013 by Tomek Dzido and Anthony Self as a means by which to explore the short story form and engage with readers and artists alike. An online literary short story magazine consisting of a core group of dedicated writers, STORGY aims to inspire artistic collaboration and provide opportunities for creative minds to meet.
INTERVIEW: Christa Wojciechowski
So Christa, thank you for having this interview with us, we were interested to learn that you used to tame lions and chase storms; how did this come about and why?
When I lived in Florida, I managed a private animal sanctuary that was open to the public. I took care of nearly a hundred animals. We had tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, lynx, primates, canines, bears, macaws, a camel, llamas, deer, a horse, a donkey, an otter, raccoons, and a wallaby. There were also snakes, lizards, turtles, alligators, all the way down to scorpions and tarantulas.
The big cats were all fed by hand. I had to hack up eighty pounds of bloody horse meat each day for the carnivores. Then I’d chop up buckets of fruit and vegetables for the herbivores. We bred rats and mice to feed the snakes. There was lots of poop. Lots. It was a dirty, laborious, and dangerous job, but I loved each of those animals as if they were my own children.
A few years later, the animal sanctuary was forced to shut down because they were widening the highway in that area. That’s when I went to work with my dad at the power company. In 2004, we had a crazy series of hurricanes – Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. During emergencies, all the staff at the power company is called in for hurricane duty. This means you work about 16-20 hours a day in very dangerous conditions. My dad and I teamed up to go survey the power lines to see if there were any urgent situations and to tell the crews where the damage was. We also turned on some customers’ power while we were there. That was not protocol, but we did it anyway, and they were very grateful.
Your website says that you’re an Internet marketer which can be a full time job in itself, so when did you first discover your passion for writing? And how do you find the time with all the other things you seem to be doing?
I was a child when I first discovered my passion for writing, but I never committed to it until I moved to Panama. I couldn’t legally work here so I had a lot of free time and solitude. I decided to try writing a memoir about experiences I had in my new country. I’ll probably never publish it, but it broke the seal and helped me to realise that I had the ability to finish stories.
My job as an internet marketer came later. I used to just help family and friends with their websites and social media. It was a part-time gig for travel and Christmas money. Now it’s a full-time operation that continues to grow. I have had no time to write during the past six months and am a little grouchy because of that. You know what Kafka says about a non-writing writer, so I’m planning to turn my freelance operation into a firm and hire some people to join my team. I’m also in the process of developing some e-courses to generate passive income.
Your fiction, in particular the Sick series, demonstrates an incredibly subtle style of Horror-writing that arises from psychology and character. How did you come to develop this unique style?
This is a great question because I never consciously planned this story or the characters. I had a nightmare about this pale, sick man covered in bruises. I think he had a broken leg. I was his wife–not myself, but another woman entirely. The bedroom was disheveled and dirty. The scene was repulsive to all five senses, but the most frightening part about it was the way this woman I inhabited felt. Her husband was obviously very, very ill and yet he exuded this powerful menace. The uneasy feeling of the dream stuck with me, and after some months I decided to purge it by writing it as a story.
The psychological aspects of your writing are one of its greatest strengths. Where did your fascination with the human mind arise? Can you name a key event or moment in your life that triggered your interest and desire to explore further?
I’ve always rooted for the deranged characters in books and movies. I’m drawn to the troubled souls and insane villains, but I know I’m not alone in this. Everyone loves a good pyscho or they wouldn’t be so popular.
Some of my family members have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. I, too, went through times in my life where I felt like I might lose my mind (I’m really not quite sure if I haven’t). I’m mystified by how thoughts and emotions can break your sanity. Sure, some brain diseases can be seen in a scan, but most mental illness is in the intangible. You can look at the brain and it will be physiologically sound, but the person is incapable of functioning. It’s this invisible entity that is damaged. How does that happen? How does this ethereal organ break?
What makes it even more interesting is that the mind can repair itself through words. Therapy or writing can fix mental illness–words, which are nothing but a sound vibration. They are ink marks on paper. They’re black pixels on this screen, and they have the potential to destroy and heal. It’s all very spooky when you think about it.
An interview I did on Jeri WB’s blog about reading, writing, and marketing.
“According to the magic of Twitter’s advanced search feature, Christa Wojciechowski thanked me for a retweet in late February and asked about my weekend plans. My reply: “Scoping out the sleaziest bar in town with a friend for research purposes She said to bring pepper spray.” And thus another amazing social media connection was made. She also arranged the recent author interview here with Jason Smith.”
Official Bio: Christa (Wojo) Wojciechowski is the author of The Wrong David, SICK: A novella, and is working on a series called The Sculptor of New Hope. Her characters explore existential turmoil, mental illness, and the complexity of romantic love. She uses her stories to compare the dark, carnal nature of humanity with its higher qualities of creative expression and intellectualism.
Christa currently resides in Panama with her husband and a house full of pets. She works as a freelance digital marketer and loves to help fellow authors build their brands and platforms. Christa enjoys foreign movies, yoga, wine, and the outdoors. Most of all, she’s passionate about books and writers and loves discussing them on social media.
1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your book.
My latest novella, SICK, is a psychological suspense. Susan Branch’s life revolves around the care of her charming and inscrutable husband John, a man born into wealth and prestige who lost his family’s fortune when his mysterious chronic illnesses left him bedridden.
After years of devoting herself to John’s care, Susan is worn out and frustrated. Yet she is determined to scrape together whatever resources she can to keep John comfortable and happy. This includes stealing Demerol from the doctor’s office where she works to feed John’s ever-increasing need for pain medication.
John suffers a critical emergency, but he is saved and is soon released from the hospital. As his health begins to improve, Susan dreams of a normal life, but her hope for a miracle transforms into a nightmare one fateful afternoon when she discovers the true cause of John’s sickness.
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
Aside from all the reasons most writers write (emotional release, the rush of creativity, senseless compulsion) I kind of use my stories as mathematical proofs to test theories. I put X person in Y situation and add different variables to see what the outcome is. Sometimes I think I know the answer, but more often than not, my characters prove me completely wrong. That is one of the exhilarating parts of writing.
My work usually deals with a universal questions, and my main goal is to break people’s assumptions and make them see humanity in a different light. Evil and good, pleasure and pain are relative. I like to make people think about things they don’t want to think about–the things that everyone has lurking in their mind, but would never admit it to themselves, much less anyone else.
3. Writing aside, what passions drive your life?
I have a difficult time being a conscious individual who knows that she may die without ever knowing the mysteries of the universe. I lost my faith somewhere along the way from childhood to adulthood, and I know scientists are far from explaining everything. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and feel like my skull will crack open at the sheer incomprehensibility of existence, so my passions in life are either to seek explanations, find solace in beauty and nature, or simply to distract myself from thinking about those mammoth questions that may never be answered (this usually involves wine). I’ve lived in Panama for the past ten years, so I spend a lot of time hiking to secret waterfalls, bird watching, and water sports. Writing also helps relieve the uneasiness, and you’ll find that most of my characters are in the middle of some existential crisis just like their creator.
4. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?
I will say Crime and Punishment has been on my all-time favorite list longer than any other book. Dostoevsky forces us into the mind of tormented Raskolnikov. We join him in acting on his idea about the extraordinary man, and not only do we consider his warped logic, we sympathize with him. Crime and Punishment is like a proof. The character himself is testing his theory, and Dostoevsky forces you to think about questions you wouldn’t normally think about. I love that, and I always look for books that shatter our default beliefs about morality, humanity, and philosophy. We should not become complacent with our perspective. We should always ask questions, test our boundaries, and seek the truth.
5. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
My blog is called My Sweet Delirium. You can either visit mysweetdelirium.com or christawojo.com. I usually host discussions on creativity, art, life, existentialism, and the occasional story about Panama. I’m a freelance digital marketer who builds platforms for writers, so I do squeeze in the occasional book marketing post too.
6. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
I’m still an inexperienced writer, so my system isn’t well established yet. My first novella, The Wrong David, was written in one sleepless night on a wine inspired whim. Then I experimented with writing three full-length books, which were done for NaNoWriMo. I made a rough outline for the first book, but I pretty much winged it with the other two. Now those three books are such beautiful disasters, they’ve been stuck in revision mode indefinitely.
Sick was an experiment to see how quickly I could produce a quality book. I didn’t leave any room for procrastination, and so far it has been the best experience.
As far as my revising and editing process, I give my first draft to my gang of beta readers. After I get their feedback, I write another draft or two. Then I’ll work with critique partners to do a more thorough examination. After I implement their suggestions, I sent the manuscript to my editor. I do use professional editing services, and I strongly recommend that all writers do. Spend the money! No matter how meticulous of writer you are, a professional editor gives your book a noticeable polish that sets you apart from other indie authors.
7. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
I chose to self-pub. I already created a substantial network around my internet marketing business, and I didn’t feel I was ready to query agents yet. So far, I’ve done everything myself from start to finish. Graphic design, website management, content/social media marketing are part of my work, so I made my own covers and did my own formatting.
I really enjoy the process of publishing a book, especially when it comes to the print version. It’s so exciting to take an invisible idea in your head and make it into a physical object that anyone can pick up and experience.
I’m expanding my digital marketing services to include eBook and Createspace publishing. I believe the key to happiness is aligning one’s job with one’s passion, so this is my plan!
8. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
I would say to remember that quality is more important than quantity. When using social media or visiting blogs, take the time to really read and listen to those you engage with. People can tell when you’re leaving a rushed, canned comment and they really appreciate it when you make the effort to understand fully what they are trying to say and are grateful when you reciprocate with genuine value.
My most devoted fans are people I took the time to chat with or help in some way. Those types of fans not only will buy everything you publish, they become your cheerleaders and your reason to write on those difficult days.
9. What future projects can we look forward to?
The series of NaNo books I mentioned will be released eventually. Writing is the easy part. Revision is daunting. I published SICK in the meantime. I’ve been going through a challenging year and having an attainable side project kept me sane. SICK was a speed-publishing project where I wrote, revised, edited, formatted, and published on a strict time schedule. I’m always waiting till I have my manuscript perfect, but even years later I will see changes I want to make. It will never be perfect. I just wanted to do the best I could while limiting myself to a timeframe–to get it out there and let the readers deal with it, hahaha. So far, it’s a success. The reviews are amazing. People like it!
I’m writing the sequel to SICK right now. I believe all my writing is a mystical collaborative effort between me, the history of the world, biological evolution, technology, my first grade teacher, etc. I like to invite my readers to participate in my projects. I polled them about SICK and they said they wanted to see the story continue. Hopefully, it will be out early next year.
10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?
I’m so thrilled to be living in this new age of social media and self-publishing. I love to collaborate and co-promote with other authors and bloggers. I’m open to everyone, so if you have a marketing or publishing questions, don’t be afraid to ask me. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out for you, and I’ll be sure to mention you on my blog and profiles.