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The Scariest Part: Gwendolyn N. Nix Talks About I HAVE ASKED TO BE WHERE NO STORMS COME

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is author Gwendolyn N. Nix, whose latest novel is I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms ComeHere is the publisher’s description:

The facts of Domino Bluepoint’s afterlife are simple: he’s a half-breed witch from a people without a name, and no one wants to be stuck in Hell with witch blood. When a demon bounty-hunter comes calling, Domino pairs up with his mother, who died too young and carries the witch lineage in her veins, to survive. Soon the two of them are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid running from whatever torture awaits them and whoever wants to harvest their magic. Yet, Domino doesn’t know that his brother, Wicasah, is behind this and is desperate to resurrect Domino out of long-lasting guilt and a sensation of belonging to no place and no one.

As Wicasah dives deeper into darker magic that ends in an ill-made deal, Domino must overcome addiction, depression, and hone his own brand of witch-magic to help save his brother — and the world — from an ancient god of lighting and thunder.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Gwendolyn N. Nix:

If you’re a magpie creator… don’t be.

“Come again?” you might ask.

What I mean to say is this: are you a creator who thrives on experience? Who has a cache of conversation snippets that are remembered like dialogue, song lyrics and oral stories that make you shiver, books that make your heart sing, and direct experiences emblazoned in your brain? Are you someone who lets these pieces of shiny rest in your creative nest, primed for when the perfect inspiration hits you like a train?

If you are, take note. Blowing the dust off these pieces of shiny can be the scariest part of the creative process.

When I started writing I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come, my expansive magpie nest had a mountain of shinies all labeled “Inspiration About Home” all ready to go. It was a collection of decades, with a foundation going all the way back to when I was a young girl. The top of this mountain had a group of new pretties, collected during my explorations of the West and while revisiting old stomping grounds. When I stood before this mountain, I knew I was on a quest to discover the magic and beauty of the American West, the sorcery housed in the mountains, the creatures slumbering in the lakes, and the ancient gods racing across the plains. I was not daunted by this mountain of creativity. I was eager to brush off the dust and create something marvelous.

However, as I sat with my collection curated over the years, and the words poured out onto the page like a rushing waterfall, a sense of deep uncertainty overwhelmed me. I had shinies describing Lakota, Hopi, and Blackfeet lore. I had shinies of historical events. I had names of beloved places that I didn’t know the direct origin of, but were linked with tales of which I was unsure if they were actual myths or something I’d made up. I had experiences of romping around Glacier National Park and hearing someone tell me that the line of the mountains made a spine of a deadly ancient being. I had a memory of going to the Badlands National Park and hearing a story about the fossils being magical and dinosaurs being more than giant creatures that roamed the earth. As these shinies continued being funneled through my creative muse – crushing them from the mist of memory into hard diamonds of words, images and god forbid, plot and character arc — I was struck by a terrible, awful fear.

Did I have the right to use these stories for my own?

It didn’t feel right. So, how should I go about tracking down the origins of these shinies? Could I even justify speaking about these shinies? Could I apply my personal experiences to these shinies? Would my approach negatively enhance a history of terrible power dynamics that are embedded in the American West? Would I just be perpetuating cliches? And, since I clearly knew the story was going to be a dark fantasy western horror, did that make things even worse?

I was suddenly swimming in deep, dark waters where my knowledge and education seemed too shallow to continue. I started to doubt the veracity of my own creative process — something terrifying for a writer! With deep regret and fear, I benched the story for years, pondering how I could ever navigate these issues effectively, and yet still put my own heart and soul into the story. And, after a long time learning and listening, I finally felt I could tread water. I pulled the story out and faced the scariest part.

I didn’t have to give up. But, I also didn’t have to directly use the myths and stories that weren’t mine to tell. I took the newest of my magpie shinies — this personal journey writing this novel — and put those feelings of frustration, fear, enlightenment, and understanding into the characters, setting…and one really bad villain. The shinies that had originally influenced and inspired me became part of the story, but in an intended honorable way, placed to be a shiny for readers to pick up and learn more. By facing this scariest part, it helped me create a far more nuanced approach to writing about my home while still acknowledging the history within it, a tactic I felt produced a tale deeper and more meaningful than anything I set out to create in the beginning.

I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell’s / Bookshop / Crystal Lake Publishing

Gwendolyn N. Nix: Website / Twitter / Instagram

Gwendolyn N. Nix is a professional editor with Aconyte Books and author, penning the Celestial Scripts series (The Falling Dawn and Seams of Shadow), Sharks of the Wasteland (Cataclysm Cycle), and her new release, I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come from Crystal Lake Publishing. She is also the editor of the Marvel Xavier’s Institute: School of X anthology. A member of SFWA and Horror Writer’s Association, her short fiction has appeared in a variety of anthologies, such as Pileaus Symphony No. 1, Where the Veil Is Thin, and Apex: Worlds of Dinosaurs. She lives in Montana with her partner, young son, and wild gray Labrador.

My Heart Is a Chainsaw

My Heart Is a Chainsaw (The Lake Witch Trilogy, #1)My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A love letter to slasher movies in novel form, MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW follows Jade, a small-town Idaho teenager as obsessed with slasher movies as author Stephen Graham Jones surely is. She’s got an encyclopedic knowledge of the slasher subgenre (she’s seen movies even I, a longtime horror movie aficionado, am not familiar with!), so when she starts to notice signs that a “slasher cycle” is about to begin in her hometown, she’d more excited than scared. She hates it here and would happily see everyone dead. That attitude changes when things become a little too real and blood starts to flow. With the help of her slasher obsession, she sets out to determine who the killer is, and to her credit she gets much of it right — but there’s a twist. (Of course there is. It wouldn’t be a slasher movie without a twist!)

Jones’s effortless ability to create lasting, indelible characters is the motor that makes MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW run. Jade is not someone you’ll soon forget, and to Jones’s credit, the same can be said about many of the side characters as well, from Letha Mondragon, the perfect new girl at school, to Sheriff Hardy, who keeps trying to do the right thing even when his own personal tragedies try to sink him. My only complaint about the novel is that we are so deep in Jade’s head throughout that there were times when I was itching for something to happen outside of her. There are long stretches where we’re only in her thoughts, and as fascinating a character as she is, the novel only felt unputdownable to me when Jade was doing, not just thinking.

One thing Jones gets right in all his fiction, and that so many other horror authors don’t, is that he knows how to nail an ending. The final image in MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW is so breathtakingly beautiful I had to read it several times over because I didn’t want to let go of it. A beautifully written novel about ugly deeds, MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW is challenging, especially for readers hoping for something more action-driven than contemplative, but it’s well worthy of the praise it’s received.

View all my reviews

Scares That Care Charity Weekend VIII

This weekend, I will be returning to the Scares That Care Charity Weekend in Williamsburg, VA for the first time since I was a Writer Guest of Honor back in 2019! I’m just going as a regular vendor this time and will have copies of The Hungry Earth100 Fathoms BelowChasing the DragonIn the Shadow of the Axe, and Still Life: Nine Stories on hand. I’m sharing a table with talented author and good friend John C. Foster.

I will also be doing a reading with fellow author John Urbancik on Saturday, July 30th at 12:45 PM in Room A/B. Come on by!

You can see the entire roster of readings and other program events here.

Hope to see you there!

My Necon 40 Schedule

I will be at Necon 40 this weekend, my first in-person convention since February, 2020! Here is where you can find me:

Friday, July 22nd, 8 PM: Meet the Authors Party

I will be there with copies of THE HUNGRY EARTH and 100 FATHOMS BELOW to sell. I might also bring a small number of copies of CHASING THE DRAGON and IN THE SHADOW OF THE AXE.

Saturday, July 23rd. 9 AM: Crossing Literary Streams, or the Blending of Genres

Dianna Catt, Gerald Coleman, Sephera Giron, Carol Gyzander, Chris Irvin, Nicholas Kaufmann, Errick Nunnally (Moderator)

More and more authors, and their work, are simply defying simple genre classification. A group of authors whose books could belong on any number of shelves in Barnes & Noble discussing embracing and appealing to multiple niche audiences at the same time.

Saturday, July 23rd, 9:30 PM: Camp Necon Honors Jack Haringa

Hosted by Mike Myers and featuring a panel of dignitaries. An intimate interview and discussion honoring Jack’s wide-ranging contributions to the horror community.

Sunday, July 24th, 11 AM: Necon Town Meeting

Come tell us how much you loved and/or hated the program this year! What could we improve upon? What would you like to see next year? How did you like the new venue, etc.?

Hope to see you there!