Q&A With KC Grifant
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Q&A With KC Grifant
Mickey Mikkelson who is the publicist for New York Times Bestselling author Tosca Lee, has connected me with many authors these past few days. One of these many authors is KC Grifant. KC Grifant writes internationally published horror, fantasy, science fiction and weird stories for podcasts, magazines and anthologies. Last month KC had her debut supernatural western novel Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger being published.
Q: On your website it says Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger is for fans of The Witcher, Supernatural and Bonnie & Clyde. Would you tell myself and the readers of the blog a little bit about your book?
A: I’d be happy to. My debut supernatural western novel, Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger, released in February 2023 from Brigids Gate Press. It features a re-imagined Old West full of monsters, diverse characters and gunslinging adventure.
The story centers around stoic sharpshooter Melinda West, who, with her easy-going boyfriend, Lance, exterminates monsters for desperate towns. During one of their jobs, they accidentally release a demon that steals their friend’s soul, setting them on a quest across treacherous lands to pursue a dangerous outlaw and battle a menagerie of otherworldly creatures—all before an army of soul-devouring demons descend on Earth.
The book has been well-received so far, with reviewers calling it “a fun, fast-paced, monster-filled joy ride,” “fascinating and irresistible,” and a “massive crowd-pleaser.” (More details here: https://scifiwri.com/publications/melinda-west-monster-gunslinger/)
Q: What is it about writing horror, fantasy and science fiction that you enjoy so much?
A: I’ve always loved “speculative” fiction – which includes pretty much all those genres that you mention, where something happens outside of regular reality. Real life can be ordinary enough, so why not get immersed in fiction that contains something magical or fantastical? These genres help impart a sense of wonder (or, in the case of horror, dread), that I find inspiring and invigorating.
Q: What other genres would you explore writing in the future that aren’t horror, science fiction and fantasy and why?
A: I have been very immersed in the “weird west” genre recently, which is a story set in the Old West (or one that has Old West aesthetics), but crosses over into other genres, like sci-fi, fantasy or horror. Examples include Cowboys vs. Aliens, The Wild Wild West and Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. This subgenre is a fascinating way to explore an iconic and pivotal time period in history.
Otherwise, if I ever did write a story outside of speculative fiction, I might try the noir/mystery genre or experimental literary fiction.
Q: What’s your advice to anyone on writing great horror, science fiction, & fantasy?
A: For all these genres, the first thing I’d recommend is to consider how to make your story unique. There are lots of stereotypes and archetypes in sci-fi, fantasy and horror, so it’s important to think outside of the box. One way to come up with a compelling idea is to experiment with combining genres or brainstorm tactics for subverting expectations. Writing a story beyond a rehashed trope entails consciously trying to break out of the unexpected—but ideally in a way that makes sense for the story and doesn’t feel arbitrary. This might require some introspection as to why you want to write and how your unique experience as a person can inform the story at hand.
A second tip involves cutting down explanations, especially in the beginning of the story. Excessive details related to world-building and backstory are prevalent in science fiction and fantasy. If not done thoughtfully, this exposition can interfere with the story itself. Look for that “sweet spot” of world-building information, where it’s not too much to bore the reader, but not so little as to cause confusion. Staying character-focused and making sure their motivations drive the story can also help guard against too many explanations.
Lastly, it’s important to tend to your mindset: in particular, being aware of—and fortifying yourself—against imposter syndrome. Feelings of not belonging or inadequacy that plague most creative people can waste valuable time and, in worse cases, be debilitating to your art. Find ways to ignore that nagging voice of doubt and stay focused on constantly improving your craft and growing as a writer.
Q: If you’re writing something new now, can you spoil a little about it?
A: I have several short stories coming out this year in anthologies and podcasts (mostly horror and weird westerns). I am also in the middle of drafting the next book featuring Melinda West. It has raised stakes, more outrageous monsters and some surprising twists and turns.
Q: What’s your advice for anyone wanting to submit their writing to anthologies, podcasts and magazines?
A: Anthologies, podcasts and magazines are typically a short story market. As someone who has edited and written many short stories (and has had many rejections when starting), I have three beginning pieces of advice for short stories:
1- Create an irresistible beginning by introducing intrigue or a question in the reader’s mind. Don’t open with over-used cliches, like someone dreaming, waking up, or finding themselves in a mysterious room.
2- Ensure every word counts in the limited space of a short story – you must be merciless in cutting what doesn’t help drive the story forward in some way. Practicing writing a 100-word or 500-word story can be a good exercise.
3- Make sure something happens in the story. Many short stories are unintentionally vignettes—showcasing a moment in time but not meaningful character development. Particularly in a genre short story, something should happen: we should witness how the character rises (or fails to rise) to the central challenge. (More tips on writing short stories are available on my website: https://scifiwri.com/how-to-write-and-sell-a-short-story-tips-and-resources-for-creative-writers/.)