In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you right up front that this week’s Woman Writer Wednesday interviewee is one of my favorite people in the world, in addition to being the book “dealer” I go to when I need a hit of awesome. Chandra Rooney is the author of The Tarot Cafe: The Wild Hunt and all sorts of lovely things at her blog Dreaming In Red.
1. What/who inspired you to become a writer?
Stories were always important—they’ve always been my way to process the world around me, to try to understand and cope. But I do have a distinct recollection of reading The Sandman—and I should note after several people told me I needed to read it—and going that’s it, that’s it right there. How we interact with the abstract—with ideas, with beliefs, with wishes—is the beating heart of most of what I write.
2. What do you like most about the genre[s] you write in?
Well, I’m going to pull a Margaret Atwood here and say I write “Speculative.” I like writing about the world I live in as seen in a warped mirror; I love how what’s reflected is filled with true things disguised as things that couldn’t possibly be real.
3. What’s the best piece of writing-related advice you’ve received?
I promised my friend Hillary Monahan that the next time I was asked this question I would reply she gave me the best advice when she told me “don’t kill strangers on the bus.”
4. Is there any type of writing you would like to try that you haven’t already?
I’d love to write comics. When I wrote The Tarot Cafe Novel for TOKYOPOP I translated something visual into straight prose, so I’d like the opportunity to take straight prose and translate it into something visual.
5. You’ve participated in the Labor Day 3-Day Novel Contest; could you share a little about your experiences?
I can’t commit to a draft without a playlist for it, so I’m going to say that music is a definite influence. Often writers will talk about listening to loud music or soundtracks while writing, but for me… the entire song has to work. Lyrics are very important, because they’re the words entering my brain while I work.
Working in social media means the internet has had a profound impact on what I write. I have pinboards, and I find it fascinating that many of these images come from other people’s collections. These people I’ve never met who may be passing along images from people they’ve never met are influencing and inspiring me to create.
Speaking of visuals: TV shows are another influences because they convey so much through gestures and dialogue. It helps me block out scenes and keep my characters moving. Plus, there are multiple character dynamics and you never know when a throwaway concept or plot point is going to spark something. Shows I know I’ve been influenced by include The Vampire Diaries, Chuck, Pushing Daises, The Mentalist, Fringe, Sherlock. I don’t watch as much TV as I used to. Doctor Who was a go-to for inspiration for a long time—week to week an entire worlds got created, used up, and left behind—but I’m noticing lately that I’m more interested in the cinematography of the show than the stories.
Although my exposure to has greatly decreased over the years, I’m still incredibly influenced by anime/manga—the tropes, the genres, the character archetypes—and when I have a chance to watch a new series, I always get something from it.
For a sample of Chandra’s work, have a listen to her reading of an excerpt from her novel The Tale of Ariake: