For Halloween, I want to introduce you to one of my classmates in the Goddard College MFA program, Kristi Petersen Schoonover. Kristi is best known for her short stories—many of which are horror/ghost stories—and she is one of the most prolific authors I know. (Don’t take my word for it—see her intro for a link to her work, and you’ll find some Halloween-worthy chills in the process.)
Kristi, tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up on a lake that has a few sunken towns in its depths, and although all that’s down there are foundations, there are many personal effects—recently, someone even found a wedding ring. My preferred cocktail is the Mai Tai, and my favorite places to vacation (besides Walt Disney World) include Austin, Miami, Newport, and Baltimore. I love reading short stories and history books best. I just married occult specialist Nathan Schoonover of The Ghostman & Demon Hunter Show on September 15 up at a really cool attraction called Howe Caverns in upstate New York. Oh, yeah…and I still sleep with the lights on. Really. If you’d like to check out some of my work, I’m the author of Bad Apple—a thriller just out from Vagabondage Press Books—and Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole—Tales from Haunted Disney World (ghost stories for grown-ups set in Disney Parks). If you want to read a bunch of my work for free, there are loads of short stories available in e-zines. Just click here: http://kristipetersenschoonover.com/where-to-read-me/
You can check out my radio show, Scary Scribes, on the Paranormal, Eh? Radio Network in Canada (and listen to all the past episodes) here: www.scaryscribes.com. And you can find me at many events around New England with the New England Horror Writers and Broad Universe.
How do you take care of yourself and celebrate your successes?
The writing life is sedentary, but that doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym to get the exercise you need. I hit the pool at the Y a couple of times a week—not for laps, just to relax—and I vigorously clean something in my house a few times a week. Between that and practicing good food management—meaning, simply, do NOT eat if you’re NOT HUNGRY, and if you overdo it one day underdo it the next—I manage to stay in great shape, so that when I want to celebrate my success, yes, I overdo it. Usually with a few bottles of wine with my friends in Newport, RI.
What are your favorite ways to defeat procrastination?
I embrace procrastination, and other writers should, too—it’s your body telling you something, even if that’s just “slow down.” However, some procrastination activities can actually benefit you as a writer: read, listen to music, watch a favorite film or television show. These are activities that can inspire you or inform your future work. If you must procrastinate, choose one of these ways to do it.
Any tips for others not getting to their creative projects?
Give it some thought and you’ll find that lots of things you do besides writing involve creativity—sometimes, when you suffer a “block” on your writing, it’s just because your creativity is being channeled into something else. Like, for example, planning a wedding. I have two tips to offer on this: First? Calm down. Your writing will always be there; it’s not going away forever and it’ll be back when it’s ready. Second? Enjoy whatever else it is you’re doing and revel in the fact that for awhile you don’t have words running through your head 24/7. Embrace your mental vacation—it’ll be over soon enough!
When you started out, did your family/friends support you or try to stop you? What about now? How has that affected your work?
My parents weren’t supportive of anything that was going to help their children grow up and move away from them. Therefore, they treated my writing as a waste of time I could’ve been doing things for them and were quite mean about it. This absolutely benefitted me, however, A, because I learned how to function on very few hours’ sleep (they couldn’t say anything about what I was doing if they were sleeping while I was doing it, after all, and to this day I’m much more productive than the average person), and B, I looked for praise and support from others outside the immediate family: my friends, my Aunt and my cousin, and my teachers and professors at various levels of schooling. All of those people were incredibly supportive and were always eager to read my work. In essence, I was writing for an actual audience at a young age, and I learned how to please that audience. That’s a valuable skill. To this day, the fans I have are die-hard—and honestly, your Mom and Dad telling you your art is good just doesn’t count, so it’s not like I really missed anything. If you’ve got parents or spouses or other unsupportive people in your life, don’t feel bad about it. Just go out and find those who will support you.
That’s great advice. Thanks, Kristi!
You can find Kristi online via the following links: