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.
I hit the streets of historic New Hope, PA to immerse myself in my characters’ world. You guys know I’m anal about the details. I sucked up the sounds and smells. I took lots of notes and pictures. I expected to see Ona walking to work or Antoni shooting by on his motorcycle. Going on location really got me back into the story. After a long period of burn out, I’m ready to get back to revising The Sculptor of New Hope.
More to come!
How do you research your location?
What kind of locations do you like to experience when reading a novel?
Have you ever read a book with inaccurate location descriptions?
Anyone want to go for a ride?
Seeking help in choosing a bike… (for my character) 😉
Sculptor, Antoni Azarov
I love to nag people for interviews, and annoying as I may be, some very famous people occasionally indulge me.
This was the case with world renowned sculptor, Antoni Azarov. Even though the press dub him, and I quote, an “asshole,” I’ve discovered once you get used to his intensity, he’s kind of funny in his own dry way.
Let me first tell you, I admire Azarov’s work with the gushing of a sixteen-year-old at a boyband concert. This man’s hands can make clay into a sculpture so striking that you feel uncomfortable being in the same room with it; as if it were a vessel that held a ghost, one that might want to escape its ceramic shell to jump into your living skin.
Not to say Azarov’s a realist. His sculptures are minutely distorted, just slightly exaggerated–preventing them from being exact human replicas. But the distortion is what gives the sculptures souls, their naked bodies adorned by the invisible cloth of their psyches.
Azarov arrived on his Ducati, a big, black machine whose vibrating engine shook my porte cochere, flooding my house with its throbbing sound. He wore dark, indigo jeans and a black racing jacket. His dark hair was overgrown, past his jaw, and blew in tangles around his face after he removed his helmet.
Buffin’ it up!
Hey, all! I know I haven’t been writing any ‘real’ posts. I’ve been trying to placate you with obscure cocktails and old videos, but that’s because I’m knee deep in the shiz right now.
Some of you may already know that I’m doing Janice Hardy’s amazing at-home workshop Revise Your Novel in Thirty Days. It’s the best revision advice ever. Not to say it isn’t hard work. Revision is hard, especially when fixing a NaNoWriMo catastrophe, but Janice’s detailed system is perfect for a methodical person like me and it’s going to revolutionize my beloved sculptor.
I wanted to get this book out for you guys a long time ago. (You’ll laugh if you watch the pilot book trailer for The Sculptor. The release date says 2014! HA!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAA….HAAA…HAAA!!!) But, I rather be late than half-assed or even three-quarters-assed. I want to be absolutely sure it’s a full-ass effort. So…
Dear Writer Buds
- If you’re lost in revisions, or suspect something is wrong with your book but don’t know what it is, be sure to visit Fiction University. There’s a wealth of info there. It’s priceless and it’s free!
- I’ve slacked off on Writers Roast and my monthly contest. They will also return… eventually.
- Also, I know I’ve been tagged in a few blog hops. Thanks so much. I will get to them as soon as I can.
- Please, forgive my minimal posts. I hope to get back to regularly scheduled blogging soon. I aim to provide you with the finest book I can possibly craft. I promise, it will be a dark, crazy, and sexy (and somewhat disturbing).
- In the meantime, The Wrong David has been getting some wonderful reviews. I’m so pleased that people are enjoying it. I’ll be doing a Free Kindle Promo in May for its 1 year publication anniversary! Stay tuned…
- Also, I have a very special guest interview coming soon! Guess who???
Ciao from Panama. Leave any notes for me below…
The Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino, 1753
Even Antonio Canova was envious of this sculpture. That’s saying a lot.
The Story Behind The Veiled Christ (from Museo Cappella Sansevero)
Placed at the centre of the nave of the Sansevero Chapel, the Veiled Christ is one of the most famous and impressive works of art in the world. It was the Prince’s wish that the statue be made by Antonio Corradini, who had already done Modesty for him. However, Corradini died in 1752 and only managed to make a terracotta scale model of the Christ, which is now preserved in the Museo di San Martino.
So Raimondo di Sangro appointed a young Neapolitan artist, Giuseppe Sanmartino, to make “a life-sized marble statue, representing Our Lord Jesus Christ dead, and covered in a transparent shroud carved from the same block as the statue”.
Front view. Notice his crown of thorns and the nails.
The sculpture was so unbelievable, they thought it was magic.
Legend of the Veil (from Wikipedia)
Over the centuries, the masterful depiction of the veil has acquired a legend, in which the original commissioner of the sculpture, the famous scientist and alchemist Raimondo di Sangro teaches the sculptor how to transform cloth into crystalline marble. For about three centuries, in fact, many visitors to the Cappella, amazed by the veiled sculpture, erroneously believed it to be the result of an alchemical “marblification” performed by the prince, who was meant to have laid a real veil on the sculpture and to have transformed this into marble over time by means of a chemical process.
In reality, a close analysis leaves no doubt that the work was entirely produced in marble and this is also confirmed by some letters written at the time of its production.
This is an example of the divine art that inspired The Sculptor series.
Could you find words to describe it?
Museo Capella Sansevero
My anti-hero is a disturbed sculptor whose art captivates the world. His story is very important to me and as an author I felt it my responsibility to make sure I created a believable character and an accurate portrayal of an artistic genius’ world.
A few months ago I announced that amazing artist, Kristine Poole, would be advising me for my first fiction series. I’ve begun the initial phases of revising (reading through quickly, chopping up ruthlessly, combating nauseating self-doubt) and I will be interviewing Kristine Poole for in-depth details in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, I wanted to share her video so you can see how she transforms a chunk of solid clay into a sculpture so lifelike that you can almost fancy it’s breathing. I learned a great deal just by watching the video and realize there will be much I have to change in my books. For starters…
- I had this vision that my sculptor would carve his pieces from the clay in the same way other sculptors chisel from marble. As you can see, this sculpture is made in a completely different way using coils and slabs.
- I thought the armature (support) would go inside, like a skeleton, but as you can see, Kristine uses outside supports.
- I had forgotten since my elementary school pottery class that ceramics must be hollow. Solid clay cannot be fired!
After realizing how mistaken my assumptions were, I know why it’s so important to do proper research for a novel. If a writer cares about their characters and their readers, they must take the time and effort to make sure the story they build could possibly take place in the real world.
I know nothing takes me out of a story faster than lack of credibility and disbelief.
Readers: Have you ever been turned off by a poorly researched book?
Writers: How do you find credible sources for your research?
Were you surprised by the sculpting method used in the video?
We’ve recovered from our hangovers. Get ready for some news, bitches.
I meant to get this news out in individual posts before New Years, but that never happened. I blame my tardiness partly on holiday preparations, but it was mostly the coma-like state induced by excessive eating and champagne consumption. So here’s a round-up of the latest news from my little place in this world.
New Reviews for The Wrong David
I was surprised to see two new reviews for The Wrong David. I still feel awed (and terrified) when I find out someone read my book. And I’m stupefied whenever I receive a review, especially 5 stars. I am both humbled and flattered because Max Tomlinson is a highly respected author of noir, dark fiction, thrillers, and Sue Archer runs one of my favorite blogs on writing and editing called Doorway Between Worlds. I thank these reviewers from the bottom of my heart. (These were unsolicited reviews)
New Victims for Writers Roast
I have two brave writers willing to be skewered for the Writers Roast. Amanda Mabry will be put over the hot coals first. She’s an “author and bibliophile, redeeming villains and scandalizing saints one chapter at a time…” She submitted a chapter from her fantasy WIP that I really enjoyed reading and you will too.
My next carne asada (as we call it here in Panama) will be Doug Stuber, “a visiting professor of English at Chonnam National University in Gwangju, South Korea.” He requested to be served “with a nice reduced glaze, a side of salt potatoes and pickelled garlic on the side.” I’ll see if I can manage that.
My winners will tell you…
coffee tastes better in a mug with a naked lunatic on it. This took place before Christmas, so I have no excuse for failing to announce my winners for the Mad Genius coffee mug contest. Please, accept my apologies. Congrats to Kim Whaley and Cecil Parsons!
Kim Whaley is my #1 fan on My Sweet Delirium’s Facebook page. She’s been there from the beginning and says she enjoys all the inspirational and funny posts and quotes. Thanks for your support, Kim!
When Cecil Parsons received his mug he tweeted, “I love it and it enhances my coffee flavor.” He also said he was fighting to keep the co-workers from stealing it. I was surprised to hear this, since blogger buddy/beta reader, Charlotta Amato, says my crazy naked man (whom I’ve named Figment) “scares the hell out of her.” I think I’ll take a poll to make sure he’s not frightening people away from my fanpage.
I have another really cool prize coming up this month, so stay tuned and make sure you like Sweet D’s fanpage to participate.
The Sculptor is Finished, Kind of…
I vowed to have my third full length novel done before Thanksgiving, but travel and business prevented me from keeping my promise to myself. I left my poor heroine, Ona, in an excruciating position and felt terribly guilty for abandoning her while I was off living real life.
Read 7 lines from the third book.
After a two-month hiatus, I finally sat down and wrote the ending. I considered it a present to myself on Christmas morning. Although it felt good to get it overwith, the final moment was sort of an anti-climax. After being away from my characters and story for so long, I didn’t feel like I did them justice.
This is not only the ending of the book, but the ending of the whole series, and I intended to build up everything to a such an emotional crescendo that I’d leave the reader bawling their eyes out. As of now, I think it faded out more like a hot fart, but oh, well. That’s part of writing.
At least I know I can write novels and finish them. Now it’s time to learn how to revise. I’m dreading this part. With three books in their crudest forms, where do I begin? Fellow writers, any help is greatly appreciated! I have no idea when I’ll be publishing these babies. Maybe by Christmas 2015? In the meantime, you will enjoy more posts involving Kristine Poole, my amazing sculpture consultant.
I know there was more stuff I forgot to tell you…
…but I can’t remember right now. Let me know if I left anything unresolved and share your New Year News below!
Also, please share any revision resources or tips. I have a huge mess to clean up here.
Kristine Poole with her sculpture “Bling and the Gleipnir Ribbon.”
Artist Kristine Poole will be helping me with my series-in-progress!
My series, under the working title The Sculptor of New Hope, was a spontaneous creation. I didn’t have time to do the proper research when I decided to attempt my first National Novel Writing Month. I blasted the books out, guessing and imagining what the process of sculpting was like, with no idea of the techniques and technical aspects of the art.
Fast forward two and half years.
I’m wrapping up the third and last book this month and am beginning to gorge on information before revisions so I can add realism and depth to the narrative. I love my characters and their story and I want to be diligent about incorporating all facts and details, leaving nothing to question. There were some major issues that needed to be addressed.
My first problem, which would have potentially derailed the whole concept the story, was if life-sized ceramic sculpture was even possible. I easily found documentation on marble, bronze, or smaller ceramic sculpture, but not the kind of work I imagined for my sculptor. I had a difficult time finding any detailed information on the web, until I came across the work of Kristine Poole.
“we remain in the experience of being bound, when in fact, the only restraint is wholly self-imposed.” K Poole
I felt immediately drawn to her sculpture. I poured over her whole website, and noticed that not only were the sculptures exquisite in form and beauty, they each had a message that resonated deeply with me.
Then I visited her blog page (she’s also an eloquent writer) and discovered that as an artist, she shares the same moments of fear and self-doubt a writer experiences. I jumped to subscribe to her blog, but I didn’t see a form or button to sign up. It was only because of that that I had the nerve to send her a contact form to ask to be added to her mailing list, and in the process, tell her a bit about my story.
I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was when she returned the email and offered to help me with my book. Not only will Kristine’s expertise give the story the dimension and credibility it deserves, it will give me the motivation to work tirelessly to realize the vision. With another artist investing her time and energy into my project, I must make my very best effort. I no longer have the luxury of entertaining doubt, and Kristine’s journey as an artist and her intention with her Bound Series inspires me. It gives me the courage to put myself out there and never give up.
Kristine Poole lives in Santa Fe with her husband, painter and sculptor, Colin Poole, with whom she frequently collaborates. Her current series will be debuted at Evoke Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe next spring, and one of Kristine and Colin Poole’s collaborative sculptures is featured as the Silver Award winner in the Dimensional Category in “Spectrum 21: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art,” released Nov. 11.
Read her full artist bio here.
I will be sharing my interviews with Kristine Poole in future posts.
In the meantime, have look at more of her fascinating and provocative artwork on kristinepoole.com and read her inspiring articles, Approaching the “Bound Series” Surfaces and Entering the Artist’s World.
View more incredible painting and sculpture on Colin Poole’s website at colinpoole.com.
Please leave your thoughts and comments for Kristine Poole and me below!