“Ruminations” is a story of intimate horrors. Can you share what inspired the tale?
It began with the owner/editor of Written Backwards, Michael Bailey, who focuses a lot of his themes on chirality, which I’d never given much direct thought to. That got me ruminating (no pun intended) ideas and I started writing. The primary root of the story comes from the adage: What have you done with your life? There’s a fear many people have, including myself, that they may not accomplish anything significant in their lifetime; leave some kind of a mark behind to be remembered by. Then I aimed to write a story that focused on the primary root with a duality of extremes that also ran parallel.
What struck me about the opening of “Ruminations” were the mundane doubts and fears of Luisa’s life and how they heighten the similarities between Luisa and Ottaya. Yes, the unknown is terrifying, but so is the reality of losing her job and ending up homeless on the street. Such personal fears forge a connection between reader and character, drawing the reader further into the story. How conscious are you of establishing such a connection early in a story? Is it a deliberate effort, or one that you allow to flow naturally from the narrative?
When running through story ideas, I do make a conscious effort to establish some kind of a connection a reader might relate to early on, although it doesn’t always turn out that way. It’s meant to be deliberate but when that doesn’t work, I end up looking for an opening that will get readers to keep reading, hoping they’ll connect in some way at some point if they continue. Once I get the beginning I’m looking for, I tend to let the rest of the story flow naturally.
Luisa and Ottaya are not heroes; they are survivors, each with their own personal struggles. What is it about the stories of ordinary people trapped in extraordinary circumstances that speaks to you as a writer?
As a reader, these are my favorite types of stories. It’s why I read and what drives my own writing. I can relate much more to an everyday character who has to react to a situation or situations that is/are out of their control. Whether they’re fantastical instances or extreme real life ones aren’t necessarily that important to me. It’s the people, the characters, and how they handle these “wingers” (an attacking player in soccer), as I like to call them, that makes a more gripping and relatable story in my opinion.
You have an impressive bibliography and often explore some of the more modern facets of horror in your writing. When you sit down to write, how much of Rena Mason ends up on the page?
Thank you. A lot of me actually ends up in my writing in one way or another. I can’t help it. Writing is an outlet where I can experience things I’ve only dreamed/dream of and retrace and relay experiences I’ve had into stories, in the hope of entertaining others. Which I think is absolutely cool.
The horror genre is more accepting of women writers than other genres, yet women continue to struggle for acceptance and the recognition of their works. How do you feel writers’ organizations such as the HWA, SFWA, and International Thriller Writers can better support the voices and careers of women writers?
One way is to highlight them and their works. Whether it’s through posting an interview like this one, book reviews, or promoting their new releases or upcoming ones—or even their blogs on organizational websites then promoting those through social media outlets; it all helps. I think offering writing scholarships like the HWA’s Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship are also extremely helpful, supportive, and encouraging.
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