Today I’m happy to introduce author Dionne Lister. I recently had the pleasure of reading her short story collection Dark Spaces. I’m always tantalized by that glimpse into the dark side, and Dionne offers some fascinating snapshots with this collection. Before we talk about the book, let’s meet the woman behind the words:
Dionne is an author of fantasy and thriller/suspense, editor, co-host of hilarious Tweep Nation podcast, co-host of Club Fantasci book club and is almost finished a creative writing degree. She loves sharing her stories but wishes they wouldn’t keep her awake at night.
You can find Dionne in the following places:
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DionneLister or @DionneLister.
Enter a world of 10,000 words, 9 short stories and flash fiction that will take you through intense fear, darkness, and indecision. I dare you to read this book and feel nothing. Oh, and there’s a psycho or two.
On to my chat with Dionne:
You describe Dark Spaces as ‘stories of survival, fear, suspense and emotion’. I think this is a perfect summation, and I love the title. When writing suspense, we often have to lose ourselves in those dark spaces. Was there a particular motivation for this group of stories? Do you need to be in a certain mood or mindset to write dark fiction?
There wasn’t specific motivation. When I wrote each of these stories my only direction was that they were to be short or flash. My mind went where it wanted to go and these stories were the unplanned result. Maybe I’ve read too much Stephen King and watched too much Law and Order. Two of the stories were written for themed competitions that didn’t specify genre. The theme for the Breathe In Autumn story was autumn. I also think fear and suspense are fun and easy to write because they are such strong emotions and my romance is crap because it’s too corny, so I stay on the other side.
Your answer made me laugh. My romance is crap, as well.
Do you have a favorite among this collection and/or one that means more to you personally?
I have a couple of favourites.
Outback lament has a strong atmosphere and I felt like I was in that place when I was writing it—I could smell the Australian bush and feel the sorrow of knowing someone was lost to their family, and themselves, forever. I also like Heart of an Angel, which I recently realised is based on someone I know. The realisation made me laugh, but I can’t reveal who it was or I might get sued (and no, I don’t know that they actually behave in a criminal, psychopathic fashion but I can imagine them doing it).
One that has stuck with me is An Awakening, in which an older woman contemplates the state of her marriage. Do you remember what inspired this story?
I just thought, out of the blue, that there are many unhappily married people and taking that to the extreme, what if you had stayed with your partner for a lifetime out of necessity, either financial or because of your kids or just out of weakness? What would that person do if they had the opportunity to be free?
You posted a flash fiction story called A Million Little Pieces on your blog. You wrote that the piece was inspired by the 30 Seconds to Mars song Search and Destroy (A Million Little Pieces). Is your writing often inspired by music and lyrics?
Thanks for reading that one . I always listen to music when I write, and so far that’s the first one that’s actually been inspired by song lyrics, but the music I listen to always adds atmosphere to my writing. After being inspired by that song, I’m thinking I would be happy for that inspiration to happen again so stay tuned.
You’ve also written a novel called Shadows of the Realm, which is fantasy. (And on my to-read list!) Most authors don’t cross the genre boundaries from realistic suspense to fantasy. What is the biggest challenge for you in moving from one genre to the other?
I can’t think of any challenges it brings. I naturally write differently for each genre and I have no idea why. All I can think of is that it comes from my subconscious where all the books I’ve ever read are lurking, steering me in one direction, then another. I tend to write what I feel like writing and never force it. I find fantasy an extremely hard genre to write in short story form whereas crime/thriller is easy, so maybe it’s just a cop-out on my part.
Do you prefer one genre over the other when you write? And do you have a favorite to read?
I love writing both. As for reading, I don’t actually read a lot of crime. I read a lot of fantasy or literary stuff. I’ve written five chapters of a crime novel and plan to read a lot more crime before I really get stuck into it. At the moment that book is on hold while I write the sequel to Shadows of the Realm.
You also do professional editing and copywriting. While editing another author’s work, do you ever find it difficult to rein in your own creativity, preferences and writing style?
Not at all. I hardly ever re-write anything as it’s important for the author to retain their voice. If a sentence is particularly awkward I will explain what I think they should do and give an example, and with more experienced writers I just tell them it’s awkward. They usually know what to do. I don’t know that you can ever block out what you prefer because that’s the instinct you use to know if something is working—whether the tension is right, the pacing is adequate and the characters well fleshed-out. It’s like reading in a way—you aren’t going to like everything you read because you have an innate taste, but at the same time, from a technical point of view, I can still point out what’s working or not working and explain to the author why. To me, it’s an important part of the process that the author learns from my editing so I explain every change in the margins.
What is your biggest fear?
Dying. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been scared to die. Logically I know I won’t know the difference, but I don’t want to go. It’s not fair. Whaaaaaa.
I’m not too thrilled with the prospect myself.
What one food will you never eat?
Would you rather spend a hot day on the beach or a cold day in the snowy mountains?
A cold day in the snowy mountains, preferably skiing.
Thanks so much for interviewing me, it’s been so much fun. Of course, who doesn’t like talking about themselves?
Thanks for being here, Dionne. You’re welcome to come back and talk about yourself anytime.
You can find Dionne’s books on Amazon:
I hope you’ll take the time to connect with Dionne and explore her fictional world.
Thanks for reading.
Tags: 30 Seconds to Mars, A Million Little Pieces, Dark Spaces, Dionne Lister, fantasy authors, Flash Fiction, Independent Editors, Search and Destroy, Shadows of the Realm, Short Fiction, short stories, Short Story Anthologies, Short Suspense, Suspense Authors, Tweep Nation