A behind-the-scenes look at author Candy Korman

I promised you all a treat today so I’m stepping into the wings as freelance writer and author Candy Korman takes centre stage. Go Candy!

***

When Meeka asked me to share the back-story on Bram I was honored and then embarrassed. I was embarrassed because it means revealing my wacky process. You see, “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet” started with a violin player living next door. He’s very nice looking, but I only see him in the evenings and… No, my vampire Un-Romance is definitely not autobiographical. The genesis goes back to growing up with those old Bela Lugosi movies on TV. “I want to suck your blood,” was more funny than scary, but it was intriguing and I know I’m not alone in my romantic dance with the vampire image.

Back to the embarrassing back-story and my process, I often stumble on ideas, snippets of assorted ephemera, that roll around in my head for a while, mixing and mingling until they glom onto other bits & pieces to form the background, character or hook for a story. Meeka was among the participants in a blog conversation on my Candy’s Monsters blog: http://candysmonsters.com/ that led immediately to a new short story.

I had posted a short riff on the kind of vacations a monster might take. I imagined a lonely vampire living at an island resort and in no time I was asking for ideas about rum punch names and scribbling what became “Hurricane Castle.” That’s how I “make” a short story. Longer works of fiction take much more time, but the process of gathering and filtering and shuffling and playing, is pretty much the same.

Reading Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” knocked me off my feet. It was nothing like the long chain of movies that followed. In many ways, it’s the quintessential gothic novel — gloomy castle, mysterious characters and tons of atmospheric details. It’s an epistolary novel (written in letters, diary entries and other documents) a fiction format that was very popular at the time. The story unfolds slowly and with it a late 19th century erotic sensibility and fear of female sexuality.

Beware of young ladies who walk in their sleep!

I did not want to write an imitation of “Dracula,” so I took the epistolary form and updated it, mined “Dracula” for character names and subtle descriptive details and then let go of Bram Stoker’s story. Well, not exactly. I didn’t really let it go; it hovered. There is a great and terrible loneliness and sense of isolation in “Dracula.” That kind of isolation is a key element in “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet.” Willie is not visiting a faraway castle to get a mysterious stranger to sign some legal documents, but she is living a subway ride away from her usual haunts and her temporary home is a weird sanctuary, a place to hide, while she gets her act together.

Her strange castle is an apartment on Tompkins Square in the East Village in New York. If you know Manhattan, you’ll know that there are many important landmark “squares” including: Madison, Cooper, Union, Tompkins and Washington Square. I live near Union Square and lived in a dorm off Washington Square back in my college days at New York University. Even if you’ve never set foot in the city, Washington Square will ring a bell because it’s the name of the famous Henry James novella set on that square.

My original title for Bram was “Tompkins Square” in homage to the James masterpiece. My protagonist, Willie, is not at all like the good-hearted, yet unattractive heiress that Henry James created. But how the lovely Olivia de Haviland was cast in that role in the 1949 film (“The Heiress”) is something that Willie might ponder during one of her long walks with the dog.

That trek with the dog circles us back to the back-story/process that mixes and mingles various influences. While Willie is in her self-imposed isolation, recovering from a romantic disaster, her mind is a sponge absorbing — seemingly without a sensible filter — extraneous facts, images and ideas from everything and everyone around her, including Jerry Springer, Oscar Wilde, her horoscope in the newspaper, postcards from her former fiancé, email “fun quizzes”, voicemail messages from her mother, conversations with strangers, etc.

In some ways, Willie’s method for processing her grief and moving on with her life mimics my own process for writing a story and that’s pretty darned embarrassing!

Conceptually, the Candy’s Monsters ebook series offers me the opportunity to explore voices, styles and story-telling techniques in the relatively short format of a novella, as well as the chance for me to revisit the MONSTERS of my childhood in their original form — without the distortions of “Creature Features,” Roger Corman and Vincent Price. That’s how “The Mary Shelley Game” — my Frankenstein, became a Suspense/Mystery and “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet” became my Vampire/Un-Romance/Comedy.

I’m working on the third monster right now. It’s called POED — yes, I’m using Poe as a verb in the past tense. I want my readers to get Poed (alarmed, tickled, disturbed, frightened and swept away in Poe-like paranoia) by my contemporary story set in the Usher Clinic for the Criminally Insane.

I don’t know if other writers feel this way, but I’m always in love with my current project. I have zero objectivity until later when I see all the flaws. That’s when I feel dreadful and hate my work. If it’s actually good, I grow to like it again later. I hope to have POED done and ready to be e-published by the end of 2012. I’m already booked to do a reading from it at the semi-annual Poe Room night at NYU in December, so I’d better get cracking. A black cat, a purloined letter and a deadly pendulum await me!

Links:

Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet on Amazon:
http://bit.ly/bramssummersublet

The Mary Shelley Game on Amazon:
http://amzn.to/qB5ncq

The Candy’s Monster Blog:
http://candysmonsters.com/

Candy’s Monsters on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/candysmonsters

Candy Korman on Twitter: @CandyKorman

Short stories by Candy Korman are included in the Mardibooks Collection “Unexpected Tales from the Ends of the Earth” to be e-published in August 2012 http://www.mardibooks.com

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

16 responses to “A behind-the-scenes look at author Candy Korman

  • metan

    Thanks for this look behind the scenes Candy. I have Bram in my kindle at the moment but haven’t had a chance to read it yet 😦 I have so many exciting books there and just not enough reading hours in the day! Curse those children for actually needing attention! 😉

    Please tell me that your violin playing neighbour had a penchant for long flowing cloaks and theatrical exits!

    PS: Are you sure it isn’t the ‘Usher Clinic for the Criminally Egotistical’? 😉

    Like

    • 1cbkorman21

      Maybe the Criminally Egotistical is a good sequel?

      Like

    • acflory

      -grin- I was going to suggest you read Bram to the kids as a bed-time story but then I thought no… maybe not. They might start seeing vampires behind every bush and start sharpening your garden stakes.

      Like

      • metan

        God, that would be just what I needed!
        Reading it to the kids might be a mistake. There is enough horror stuff in our day to day conversations as it is!
        I was trying to explain a math-y thing to number 2 the other day to help with his homework and I ended up breaking it down in to zombie maths. You know the kind of thing; if there were 10 zombies and 1 arm fell off each of them, how many arms would be crawling along the ground to get you?

        Ahhh, I love having sons 🙂

        I am nearly up to Bram though. I would say I was slogging through the list, but that sounds like something unenjoyable. Having so many books I want to read is a joy!

        Like

        • acflory

          Zombies! That’ s brilliant! I’m still chuckling. I once tried to teach The Daughter and The Nephew fractions with pizza… was a bit of a disaster. 😀

          Like

        • metan

          Zombies are easy, everyone knows the bits fall off, and no-one wants to touch them. Pizza on the other hand would definitely be a disaster, hard to calculate when the sums are being consumed before your eyes 🙂

          Like

        • acflory

          Yes 😦 That was exactly what happened. I tried dried beans next but they were also a dead loss. The most success I had was with 1 and 2 cent coins! They got the kids interested all right. 🙂

          Like

  • jenniferscoullar

    A thoroughly interesting and entertaining post! Thanks for sharing your process Candy.

    Like

    • 1cbkorman21

      Hope you enjoy the book too! The process only gets me to the door. Please welcome Bram, and me, into your e-reading list.

      Like

      • acflory

        I think that is the one thing that’s possibly a negative about kindles etc – the reading list just gets longer and longer. I think I have about 6 books outstanding but I just can’t seem to stop myself from getting more 😀

        I know it’s a small detail but I think the thing about Willie’s situation that hit me the hardest was that in leaving everything behind she had only those two old print books to read!

        By the way Candy, I know you’re a cat person so where did you get all that lovely detail about the dog she was pet-sitting?

        I’ll have to read the answer in the morning coz it’s way past my bedtime. Goodnight all!

        Like

        • 1cbkorman21

          Yes, I am a cat person, but I’ve had the pleasure of walking a mutt around the city. He was a guy magnet! It was fun, but exhausting. I’m actually a bit afraid of large birds, so I did a lot of research on parrots — research from a safe distance and as I wrote Renfield became my favorite character.

          Like

        • acflory

          Ah hah! -laughs- I just knew there had to be a lovable mutt in your past somewhere! As for Renfield, yes, he became a firm favourite with me too. Not of the cuddly kind though. I’ve met quite a few white cockatoos here in Australia. They do talk but by and large they also tend to be rather… bad tempered. Not surprising I guess; I’d hate to be locked up in a cage too.

          Like

    • acflory

      So glad you enjoyed it Jennifer. I love these sneak peeks.

      Like

  • Carole M. Di Tosti (@mercedeskat45)

    Nice to meet you. Came over from Linked in thread and gave you a promote on my FB pg and my Twitter feed. Candy and I are both on the Linked in thread.

    Would love a return of favor by your liking my FB pg. I know you must be on FB. It’s where I promoted your post. It’s https://www.facebook.com/Writingdivine?ref=hl

    If you don’t have a FB pg., my blog is http://www.thefatandtheskinnyonwellness.com/
    Come on over for a snoop if you like and join other writers there to promote yourself via thumbnail pix which if clicked on, open to your blog.

    Take care,
    Ciao for now,
    Carole Di Tosti

    Like

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