The Spooky Six with Willow Croft and Tenacity Plys
After we got done dishing over our shared tea- and green apple obsessions, Tenacity Plys and I got down to the interview fun at hand!
Tenacity Plys lives in the forest of Prospect Park; there’s also an apartment in nearby Crown Heights where xe occasionally sleeps. Xe has major “former gifted kid energy,” as well as “current autistic energy.” Xe loves found-document fiction, mostly because as an inveterate Homestuck all xe wants to do is write dialogue in the form of instant messages.
Plys’s new book Family Curse has been called a “transgressive, scrappy debut,” a “delicious bite of a horror story,” and “a perfectly crafted novella.” Featuring a wide range of neurodivergent characters, Plys seeks to explore what it means to be neurodivergent, especially when undiagnosed. Xe dreams of a neurodivergent literary tradition that will make future versions of xir feel less alone.
Plys’s upcoming projects include a punk zine made by a baby AI 200 years in the future, an interactive murder mystery set on a cryptid fan forum, and a choose-your-own adventure about quantum mechanics that doubles as a tabletop roleplaying game. Xe describes xir work as inviting the reader to imagine themselves as part of the story’s world, using form as an interactive element even in more traditionally presented stories. Xe also loves to leave Easter eggs for sharp-eyed readers to find! As xe learns more about coding, xe hopes to expand xir experimentation into video games.
In xir spare time, Tenacity does all those twee activities people always put in their bios; xe is a “pickle enthusiast” and an “artist. actor. dreamer.” Lately, xe is also a part-time model. You can find xir around Brooklyn LARPing as a Secret History character, a Jane Austen character, or anyone who wears a peacoat. Follow xir on all platforms as @tenacity_plys, and review Family Curse on Goodreads pretty please!
Tenacity Plys is a nonbinary writer based in Brooklyn, with publications in Bullshit Lit, Alien Buddha, Word Gathering, and Defunkt. Xe has been nominated for a Pushcart and a Best of the Net. Xir first novella, Family Curse – Field Notebooks (1880 – 2020) is available now from Bottlecap Press. You can find more of xir work at tenacityplys.com!
Willow Croft: “Hey, look at that derelict Victorian mansion . . . let’s go explore it!” What’s the most unusual setting you’ve read about in a horror/thriller book, or included in your own creative works?
Tenacity Plys: One project I’m working on right now is about a cryptid message board, where the cryptid is secretly one of the most active users. The story is told through the posts on the board, so I guess the board is the setting (or the Internet is). I love epistolary/ found document fiction lately, maybe because I grew up in such a uniquely epistolary era. Anyway, the Internet and its freaky niches are more horrific than anything I could write, haha!
Willow Croft: “It was a dark and stormy night . . .” What are your go-to comfort foods, drinks, or other ways to wind down after a long day (or night) of writing?
Tenacity Plys: I’m obsessed with tea, and 100% addicted to chocolate. Especially when it’s cold out, I literally have a cup of tea or coffee next to me at all times. I love fruit too; I could eat mango all day, and I go through a big bag of green apples every week or so.
Willow Croft: “Did you hear that noise?” Everyone, even us horror writers, have our night terrors. What is it that frightens you the most?
Tenacity Plys: I live in New York, so if I’m feeling jumpy at night, I can just look around me and see basically my entire apartment from where I’m sitting. So then it’s like “nope, no serial killers here” and I can go back to my usual night terrors about artificial intelligence being abused by tech billionaires.
Willow Croft: “I’m sure it was nothing. But I’ll just go outside and check, anyway. Alone. With no weapons.” Have you ever gotten writers’ block? If so, how do you combat it? Do you have certain rituals or practices that help get you into the writing (or creating) mindset?
Tenacity Plys: Usually it helps if I switch to writing a different scene. And if I’m just trying to push through on a scene where I’m not sure how to proceed, I’ll often write down my thoughts about how I can solve whatever problem that part of the story poses to me. Like if I need to resolve a certain plot thread and I’m not sure how I’ll just go through possibilities on the page until I get to one that works for me.
Willow Croft: “Don’t go into the basement!” Are you an impulsive pantser or a plotter with outlines galore? What other writing/industry advice would you share with your fellow writers & creators?
Tenacity Plys: I used to be a pantser; in high school I would write 100% on the fly, usually while I wasn’t paying attention in math class. Actually, once the girl sitting next to me asked for my notes because she thought I’d been writing down every word our teacher said, and I had to tell her I literally hadn’t listened for a single second of the whole period. Lately though, I’ve been experimenting with really complicated structure and incorporating technology into my work (like text adventures, games, etc.), which really require you to premeditate. It’s for the best though—I think I should have pushed myself like this sooner. I just love finding out what happens as I write it though, lol.
Willow Croft: “Ring ring!” It’s the middle of the night and the phone mysteriously rings. Which notable writer, or person from history, would be on the other end of the line?
Tenacity Plys: I’m a sucker for Jane Austen. I’ve read all her books, and I watch every adaptation that comes out (I prefer the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma, and the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice. Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility goes without saying, considering Hugh Grant.). I’d like to ask her what it was like being single her whole life and writing book after book about people falling in love.
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“Bringer of Nightmares and Storms.” Horror writer Willow Croft is usually lurking deep in the shadows of her writer cave, surrounded by formerly feral (but still fierce!) cats for company. Visit her here: http://willowcroft.blog, or check out her other services here: https://kirsten-lee-barger.mailchimpsites.com/.