The very first time I came across Pamila Payne's website was after I was double-featured with her AT-THE-BIJOU. I was so impressed with the immersive stories and gritty noir (not to mention it's set in Texas at a ghostly motel) I had to know more. Somehow, she didn't find me to be a crazy; we actually have quite a bit in common. So when she agreed to an interview hosted at Mindspeak, you can imagine how delighted I was.
Please, if you follow and enjoy my work, I can guarantee you will love hers.
After all, we write from the same vein. - Carrie
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? What was it like growing up for you?
Early, early childhood. I started sorting out how to read and write before I started school and pretended to write new parts for the bible to annoy my grampa. I developed a precocious sense of irreverence toward imposed religion. He was a minister and he read to me about god a lot. It was all up for debate as far as I was concerned. He also read me the newspapers and whatever was laying around because I would shut up and listen and not torment my gramma when he was reading to me. I was a typical maladjusted social retard right out of the gate. Other children were alien creatures, whose language and customs were indecipherable to me. I failed at assimilation. I turned to books for companionship and learning and never looked back. I started writing "serious" stories in high school when a sympathetic english teacher encouraged me.
Not to mention you have a famous brother. Can we mention him? (I'm a Nitzer Ebb fan)
He's a very private person. I will say that I adore him, he's an amazing artist and a very kind, loving brother to me. He's in Europe performing with the Ebb again right now.
I have to put off unnecessary things (like sleep) to get anything done for my stories. What is your work schedule like when you're writing? When you get really inspired what are your methods to capture those lines?
There is no rhyme or reason to my writing, I don't keep a schedule. Sometimes I write one sentence fragment at a time. Sometimes I'll stay home and binge write for hours and hours. If I don't have to go to work, I'll exist on tea and rye crackers spread with inappropriate condiments to avoid leaving the house. When the story is talking, I have to get it down wherever I am. This can be awkward at work. I've written parts of my novels and short stories on scratch paper, receipts, my arms. I've walked around muttering fragments under my breath over and over again to keep from forgetting them. Now I usually have my iPhone with me and can tap bits into that. It feels a little more civilized, but it still sucks when the inspiration is happening and I can't stop to just sit down and write properly.
Dealing with historical settings means accurate tidbits in your stories. How do you research for your writing?
I research like a dowser online. I look at vintage picture archives a lot. Pictures can really get me worked up. I watch old movies the way people turn on background music. I listen to radio theater and old radio shows. I really love recorded interviews and oral histories of real people so I can get a sense of how people spoke in the past. I read archived newspapers. I skip around doing keyword searches on google. I file everything away for future use. I'm a magpie.
Your writing is so well put-together. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
You're already doing a stellar job, far as I can see. Maybe I'd give you the same advice I keep telling myself - you know you can really write, it's not a hobby, it's who you are. So do whatever it takes to make it your career. The clock never stops ticking, but we do...
I'm a huge collector/avid reader of non-fic/reference books. What kinds of books do you own/read?
I own a fair amount of nonfiction research books that I covet, but don't honestly use as much as I use the internet to look stuff up. I cleared out a lot of books the last time I moved. I keep certain novels and photography books that have personal meaning or are references. I hardly ever read paper books anymore because of the time commitment, I started listening to audiobooks years ago and have become a voracious listener instead. Audiobooks, and reading aloud have had a huge impact on my development as a writer. That's why I'm pursuing a career in narrating as well as writing. Mostly, I'm drawn to crime stories, mysteries that have unusual elements, pulpy or noir detective, darker fiction... surprised? In the last year I've been making it a point to buy paper books and read them with my eyes when someone I like online gets published. I'm reading Eric Beetner's One Too Many Blows to the Head right now. (It was practically written for me to love it - destined to become a new noir classic.) Also, I'm a Dickens fanatic. I continue to be comforted and inspired by Dickens.
The colors and noir-look of your website really caught my eye right off. Who did that gorgeous site of yours?
Hah. My barely serviceable googlephobic site is homemade by me. Angrily. I've developed a sort of road rage at my website. I was just screaming at my poor computer this morning. It's not the computer's fault. It's the evil software. One of these days I'm going to sort it out and do it properly. I haven't figured out how to get comment fields embedded. There's an email address connected though, and I'd love to hear from my visitors.
I really love your style with everything you write. Where can I find more work you've done?
Most of my readable online work is published or linked on my website and my blog.
I haven't submitted to lit mags nearly as much as I ought to. I'll do something about that.
I really like this one, "She Got Hers" at The Journal.
Six Sentences is where I got my start. There are some rare non-Bella Vista pieces here.
I'm also one of the mysterious Harbinger*33 authors, I'll have a few new pieces in that when it comes out.
As to getting published and/or finding an agent, I find this too is a strange alien process. Just when I think I've got a handle on it, the whole thing goes sideways. I suspect I'd be published and successful by now if I'd have just followed Stephen King's advice from his book, On Writing, and found myself a loving, supportive wife when I was young. Too late for that. I'm studying the phrase books and trying to learn the language as best I can. I can kind of manage a sort of pigeon query-speak at the moment. But I'm a lot like Slappy. I'll figure it out. I figure everything out eventually.
Everyone please check out Pamila's stunning work and leave some love in the comments section. Thanks for dropping by and supporting excellent writers.