Saturday, October 10, 2009

Zombie Cookbook writer Carla Girtman

Next up in The Zombie Cookbook Virtual Tour is Carla Girtman. I am privileged to know Carla from the Muse Spec Flash Fiction Group. She is well-versed in speculative fiction and is a master, as she is in "Brain Food," of the twist ending. Her work touches on the trials of day-trading cockroaches, the superiority of cats in space, and of course Zombie scientists. Here's her bio:

"Carla lives in Central Florida with her family and two cats. When she isn't working undercover at an international airport or teaching online, she manages to write speculative flash fiction and poetry. She has successfully participated in National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) for three years. Her work has been published in Clockwise Cat, Flashshots, Demonic Tome, Flashes in the Dark and a poem will appear in the soon to be released anthology Poems of the Dead. Carla is currently working on "Wordscapes" a collection of her published and unpublished work. (Her cats claim they write better than she does and want their work included.) She hopes to have her website up and running by the end of the year. "

Her publishing credits can be seen here. Welcome Carla!


How long have you been writing?

CG: I’ve been writing since sixth grade.


What drew you to the Zombie Cookbook?

CG: This story started off as a prompt from the Speculative Flash Fiction writing group. Then my friend Linda (also published in TZC!) sent me the call for submissions for Zombie fiction and well, the Zombie muse said "Hey, you got one. Submit that one!" Of course there's nothing like waiting until the night when submissions close. I am frantically editing using the critiques I got from the group and trying to meet deadline that is just seconds away. The Zombie muse breathing down my neck, "It's fine! Just submit the d*** story!!!" Less than fifteen minutes later, my story was accepted! It was just as exciting as getting my Master’s!


What was your inspiration for your piece?

CG: Sometimes I just take dictation from the Muse and edit after she’s done. The Zombie muse likes stories that relate to real life kind of like Philip K. Dick’s stories.


What's your writing day like?

CG: On a good day I get to write. Here lately, dealing two online classes takes a huge chunk of time daily – 3-4 hours. Sometimes at work when I’m handling phone calls for the airport authority, I’ll work on something. Believe it or not, being interrupted has been helpful to me in writing short fiction..

Often the way I write is I get a good idea and let it simmer for a few days, then the Muse will dictate a story and bada-boom I have a story.


Are you a pantser or a plotter?

CG: Oh definitely a pantser. There’s nothing like a looming deadline to get the creative juices flowing!


How do you deal with writer's block, if you have it?

CG: If I’m working my novel, and get stuck, I’ll just write another section of the story.


What about that novel?

CG: My novel (I've been working on since Tallahassee over 20 years ago) was put aside for school and I haven't got back to it. It's pretty dusty. It's titled "Between Light and Shadow" has 3 main (Aria, Seth & Logan) characters who journey to renew the magic of Threadesh (planet). I've worked on it in writing classes and made a screen play out of it for a class. The best thing about the screenwriting class was one of my characters became more fully developed! There's also a romantic element between two of the characters. Each of the characters have to learn to "let go" of something that's been holding them back in life. It's all about relationships.

I've learned a lot more about writing and character development since I've started that project and hope someday that I can get it finished as a full fledged novel.


What are you currently working on/have coming out?

CG: I’m working on a type of noir zombie story for submission. Deadline is November with a minimum of 2500 words. And of course Nanowrimo is coming up. Oh yeah - my idea for my next Nano novel is tentatively titled "The Many Deaths of Mary Jones."


What is the genre that speaks to you?

CG: I’m very fond of fantasy and science fiction. These genres allow you to explore life themes in a different way than regular fiction.


What themes do you return to over and over?

CG: Relationships. And if you read any kind of fiction--science fiction, literature, fantasy—it’s all about relationships with people, the world, and yourself.


You have a background in tech writing. How have you found it helping your fiction writing?

CG: Tech writing has the same qualities as flash. Every word counts and you can’t waste the time of your reader.


You also teach online. How do you get it all done?

CG: Oh sometimes you just can’t. You have to prioritize, meet deadlines, write at lunch time and sometimes the dishes just don’t get done.


You know TZC writer Lin Neiswender in the real world. How do you and Lin support each other as writers?

CG: Lin and I brainstorm on questions. We meet once a month and work on prompts we get from "The Writer's Book of Matches: 1001 Prompts To Ignite Your Fiction." Or we make up our own. Sometimes we use tarot cards. We write prompts then read them aloud and comment on them about how we'd expand the story, make it better, maybe develop the characters more.


Who are your favorite writers?

CG: Robert Jordan, Piers Anthony, Anne McCaffrey, Greg Bear, Terry Brooks, Joan Vinge, David Brin, Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker to name a few.


What's the scariest book you ever read?

CG: 1984 was a scary book – almost prophetic in some ways. It's interesting how many of its concepts, words, and ideas have permeated society.

I also read intense books like Fahrenheit 451, The Thief of Always, and Kiln People are on my top ten of favorite books.


Here's one from the Proust questionnaire: What are your favorite qualities in a zombie?

CG: I like my zombies to be smarter than what the world gives them credit for. Sure, they may have not have the best communication skills and be obsessive compulsive about what their next meal is, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be intelligent.

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5 comments:

Lin52 said...

Great interview Carla and Valerie! Always like another take on the world of zombies.

Penny Ehrenkranz said...

Hi Valerie,
Excellent interview questions. I learned some things I didn't know about your guests.

Nancy Famolari said...

Great interview! Glad to see you still with the zombies, Carla!

Valerie K said...

Thanks all for reading. And thank you, Carla, for the peek at your creative process!

Lisa Haselton said...

More fun stuff...I love knowing I'm not the only pantster. :)