Ruschelle: Welcome to the Tree. We’ve grown a twisted branch especially for you. Speaking of twisted, give us a little taste of your horror writer’s mind. What is a line from your works you are most proud and frightened of?
There are several, but I’m going to go with a short line from my short story, “Meat Lover’s Special” in Boundless:
“Get out now! You may have less than 15 minutes after consumption, before…” the rep replied, breathing hard and stuttering into the phone receiver.”
Ruschelle: By day, you don your glasses, Ala Clark Kent and ‘voila,’ you’re a mild mannered Social Worker. Has any of your experiences in social work, bled into your writing?
In my book, Social Workers are the ones that wears the cape and are quite heroic.
Absolutely, Ruschelle. Over the years, I’ve worked in various fields—mental health (adults/teens), domestic violence (victims/survivors), hospice, and currently geriatrics. Some of my work experiences have bled over to formulate some story ideas, while past and present personal encounters continue to inspire other ideas.
Ruschelle: Where do you mine your creativity? Books, movies, real life?
My mom has been a huge part of my creativity. She introduced me to horror via an AM radio horror show that aired on Friday nights, when I was in the fifth grade. My mom also told me some interesting stories about growing up in Crawford, Texas, and her personal journeys. Many books, movies, and personal experiences from my elementary to college years, also fuel my creative juices.
Ruschelle: You dove into the novel world with book one in your series, Doll. What challenges did you face while creating a new world with fantastic characters growing through multiple books?
I believe replacing my fears with procrastination was the biggest challenge for me to write my first novel, Doll. My self-confidence was poor, and I fed myself a lot of negativity, such as, “No one will like this… might as well stop writing…” Then, one day, I figured that I’m going to finish this story inside of me, no matter what. If one person enjoyed it, then I’ve succeeded, but most of all, I conquered my fear by completing it.
Ruschelle: Doll, takes place in halls of Frost High. Did you base any characters from your own high school classmates and experiences? Well, maybe not the witches and mayhem…
Ruschelle, some of my high school experiences assisted me to build my story. As we all know, mean girls existed way back when and will always, whether in an educational institution or any workplace. Being teased in junior high and high school, myself, and seeing others impacted way more than I had to deal with ignited part of this story. I wanted the underdogs to win and beat the main antagonists. Did they? Just have to read the Doll Trilogy to find out… wink… wink.
Since I mentioned the Doll Trilogy, I wanted to share a little more about it. It’s a coming of age supernatural love story, which deals with outcasts, friendships, family, sacrifices, free-will, bullying, romance, grief, new identity struggles, betrayal, making healthy/unhealthy choices, revenge, racism, and teen domestic violence with some unexpected twists and turns. At the end of each book, I give my readers an unrelated bonus short story and a little surprise in Doll 3: The Hunting.
Be Careful What You Wish For…
Ruschelle: You won 2nd place in the Young Adult category for ‘Doll’ in the Purple Dragonfly Awards. Kudos! How did it feel to have your first novel written, recognized?
Thank you very much, Ruschelle. I was shocked and didn’t believe my little book stood a chance. I reviewed that email so many times, and once I received my certificate in the mail, I knew it was real. Ruschelle, it was and always will be an extreme honor to possess a Purple Dragonfly Award. It definitely boosted my self-confidence.
Ruschelle: You mention in your bio that the Cars song, Drive, was what helped inspire you to become a writer. This sounds like a great story, so please share.
Ruschelle, first of all, music is my natural therapy. I love listening to all kinds of music with the 80s—#StrangerThingsForever—being my favorite, especially love and soft rock songs, but I Iove everything! So, when I first heard Drive by the Cars, those lyrics really stuck with me. I wrote them down on a sheet of paper in my purple and white Trapper Keeper. This was probably the first time I really paid attention to how the words from a song told a story, and then boom, I started writing free-verse poems. This song led me off the dance floor to sit at a table with a typewriter, pen, paper, and a pocket dictionary.
Ruschelle: Love me some 70’s and early 80’s soft rock! You’re a girl after my own dark little heart.
As a horror writer who is a fan of the blood suckers of the night, aka. Vamps- if you could change anything from the vampire mythos, what would it be?
Ruschelle, this is a really hard question because vampires possess so many extraordinary abilities and powers. I’m a huge fan of many vampire stories/original movies, such as: “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” “Fright Night,” “From Dusk til Dawn,” “The Lost Boys” “Blade,” “Salem’s Lot,” “Vampire Diaries,” “The Originals,” and “The Strain”
At this time, I wouldn’t change anything. The vampire world continues to evolve, and I’m anticipating to watch, read, and/or write the next vampire story.
Ruschelle: We are in the upswing into Fall, which means many things to us Horror Writers but to those of us with a sweet tooth, it means CANDY! So what is the scariest candy you ever received in your bag on Halloween?
I attended trick or treating in the neighborhood, once when I was maybe seven-years old, according to stories my mom has shared with me. My mom checked the candy before I was ready to consume it. Luckily, she did, because she found a sewing needle inside a Snickers Bar. To this very day, I’ll check any soft candy before I eat it. Honestly, I inspect everything.
Ruschelle: Holy cats! I thought the ‘needle in the candy bar’ was just an urban legend. Wow!
Most writers seek out and find their niche, be it horror, romance, non-fiction, children’s books etc. What drew you to writing Young Adult books?
Ruschelle, I never imagined that I would write stories for young adults. When I rediscovered my passion to write a few years ago, my mind was focused on writing for adults. A promising publisher in the past told me that the majority of my stories would fall into the young adult arena. So, I thought about what he told me and realized that he was right. Therefore, young and new adult became my arenas of focus. Plus, I absolutely love to reflect back on my teen years/struggles and/or read, hear, watch teen stories, which is why I enjoy writing young adult books and short stories.
Ruschelle: You have been a panelist at comic conventions and book festivals as well as a guest speaker for schools and writing inspired events. What topics do you enjoy discussing the most as an author? Which are your least?
I enjoy talking about everything, especially the ideas behind my stories, and inspired playlists.
Ruschelle: Do you find that there are certain questions and requests for pieces of advice that come up over and over again?
I love talking about this and, it comes up sometimes: What would you tell your younger self, right now?
I also like to share, if applicable: “Never allow anyone to tell you that you cannot do something or you’re not good enough because guess what? You can. You’re awesomeness, so soar. BOOM!”
One of my favorite quotations about believing in yourself and realizing your sparkly magic:
“Just remember that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him.” ~Stephen King~
Ruschelle: Explain your ‘fan-girl’ status? DC? Marvel? Manga? Tell us more?
Marvel/DC/Horror/ComicCon Fan-Girl! I used to be a really shy person, especially in late elementary/junior high and high school. However, the Marvel/DC and horror universes allowed me to crawl out of my shyness cocoon, which helped me to develop my invisible confidence cape, it’s hot pink with silver and plum stars plastered all over.
Wonder Woman, Captain America, Blade, Squirrel Girl, Kevin Wendell Crumb, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers are a few of my faves! By the way, I love collecting T-shirts, mostly comic book related and horror. I also love to attend comic cons, when I can.
By the way, I love to watch all the cosplayers walk past me. I find their unique costumes, just mesmerizing and their energy, simply… magical. I believe people need to escape from their realities for a little bit and be whoever they desire to be. Comic cons allow them to do that.
I’ve seen this magic many times before with my sweet hubby, when he cosplays. It’s as if once the cosplayer takes on his or her character, then he or she can dwell in that extraordinary dimension and share it with others.
Plus, I think cosplaying boosts self-esteem for some, especially when others are watching that cosplayer and requesting to take selfies. Cosplayers are celebrities, and you never know who you may bump into!
Ruschelle: If you could be any superhero or gain fantastic superpowers to ‘save the day,’ who would you be or what powers would you have?
Definitely, the absorption of any super-power, as long as I desired, with incredible martial art skills to use for the good! My costume would be a fantastic mash-up of Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Blade gear.
Ruschelle: Blade gear? Awesome!
Of all your projects was there one that was a particular, dare I say, monster? Yep, I dared.
WereVamCabra—part werewolf, vampire, and chupacabra—a trio hybrid. You can find an interesting short story in Boundless called “Study Break” about this creature.
Ruschelle: Your newfound fans would love to hear about your next big projects. Could you, would you, share a little?
Of course, I’ll be attending a few exciting book related events in the fall. Please feel free to check out my website for locations and dates.
As for my current writing project, I’m working on my next Young Adult novel, Misties. I bet you’re wondering what in the heck is that about. I’ll give you a little hint—stake or not to stake…
Ruschelle: Tell us all how we can follow you and your works on the www.
Ruschelle, I want to take this time to thank you for seeking me out and interviewing me for The Horror Tree—very grateful for this opportunity and your precious time. Awesome questions!
I love hearing from my fantastic readers, who already know me, and new ones, too!
Facebook: Miracle Austin Author (black, crouching creature with wings is my symbol)
Thank you for reading…