Hi, J.B. Thanks for talking with us. “Chop Shop” is your first short story publication. Congratulations! What was it like to make that first sale?
It was a great feeling. Didn’t see it coming.
This is a very visual and visceral story. Where did this story begin for you—with images, the plot, or the psychology behind them?
With the psychology, I think. The plot and everything else came after.
Can you share some details about how this story developed and what your writing process is?
I had a rough idea of what I wanted to write about, and once I started writing everything came out the way it did. I don’t have a set approach for writing short stories—some involve planning, some do not, and this fell more into the latter camp.
As I wrote, a more complete picture of the story came to me. It’d be about a woman who has some problems, I thought, and by the end it was clear that she might not quite get over them. Still, at least they’d be her problems, and hers alone.
This is an unusual horror story in that all of the brutality is invited or self-inflicted. Did you have trouble getting into your main character’s head or taking the story where it needed to go?
I didn’t have trouble going where I thought it needed to go. The doubts came after, when I wondered if the story might be better, or at least more tasteful, were it to avoid all the horrifying dismantling. In the end I decided to keep what I had, and to deal with whatever may come after.
Your story explores some interesting questions of identity, including anonymity and opportunities for escapism that come with our increasingly online world. In “Chop Shop,” this is an overall positive experience for the main character. Do you see the internet and social media as an overall positive force in people’s lives? What’s your relationship with the so-called digital life?
I think it’s mostly positive, but as is usually the case with anything, the potential for abuse is as great and varied as the number of people using it. As for myself and the “digital life,” I should probably use less of it.
Advanced technology enables your protagonist to have the experiences she craves without physical consequences. Do you consider yourself to be more of a science fiction writer or a horror writer?
SF, I suppose. I’d never thought about writing horror before, it being a genre I don’t read much, and this story began as an SF project. Don’t have any complaints about it being considered horror, though.