Guest Author Feature – Sarah Brentyn – Hinting at Shadows

  Today’s featured guest is friend, author/blogger, Sarah Brentyn. I was thrilled when Sarah accepted my invitation to visit here because she reminds me of those reclusive movie stars who’d rather stay hidden behind her words, only I’ve noticed she’s stepped out and done a few interviews this year, and I’m glad that I’ve managed to snag her over here too. Sarah is known for her micro-fiction. She can tell a story using minimal words that have a tendency to linger long after you’ve read them. About Sarah: Sarah Brentyn is an introvert who believes anything can be made better with soy sauce and wasabi. She loves words and has been writing stories since she was nine years old. She talks to trees and apologizes to inanimate objects when she bumps into them. When she’s not writing, you can find her strolling through cemeteries or searching for fairies. She hopes to build a vacation home in Narnia someday. In the meantime, she lives with her family and a rainbow-colored, wooden cat who is secretly a Guardian.   Seriously Boring Stuff Have a master’s degree in writing. Taught at university and 6-8 grade levels. Been writing since I was 9 years old. I am a writer. That’s all there is to be said on the matter. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.   Coming Soon!     Get this Book on Amazon!       Blurb: No One Escapes Life Unscathed Delve into the deeper reaches of the human condition and the darkness that lives there.  A girl haunted by her sister’s drowning. A boy desperate for his father’s affection. A woman forced to make a devastating decision. A man trapped by his obsessions. Experience tales of love, loss, murder, and madness through this collection of flash and micro fiction. Take a peek behind the smile of a stranger. Get a glimpse inside the heart of a friend. Scratch the surface and discover what is hidden beneath. These stories will open your mind, tug at your thoughts, and allow you to explore the possibility that, even in the brightest moments, something is Hinting at Shadows. Each selection is approximately 100 words, with a bonus section of Microbursts in which each story is told in 50 words or less.   Now, let’s get to know a little bit more about Sarah and her writing!   Okay, I’m going to start with your blog – Lemon Shark Reef. I’d love to know what that title represents? Oh, yeah. First question and I already get to cheat. I’m loving this. I have a page on my blog explaining the name: Q: Why did you name your blog “Lemon Shark”? A: It was 1 AM. I was tired. For weeks, I’d been working on my new WordPress site: getting to know the dashboard, settings, tools, widgets, and whatnot. The time had come for me to get real. I was ready to release this beast into the world and I hadn’t yet decided on a header or a name. The final contenders were all open on my laptop and I flicked back and forth between them until I couldn’t stand looking any more. I got up, pulled my Webster’s New Explorer College Dictionary off the shelf, closed my eyes, opened the dictionary to a random page, and pointed. My finger landed on “lemon shark”. (It was this close to “lemmings”.) Q: It’s in the dictionary? You mean it’s a real thing? A: Why yes, it is indeed a real thing. I love learning new things and here is what I’ve learned: When I’m tired, I’m inclined to do radical, desperate things like grab a dictionary and open it to a random page to name my blog. A lemon shark is “a dangerous medium-sized shark of the warm Atlantic that is yellowish brown to gray above with yellow or greenish sides”.   I woke up the next morning feeling like I had consulted my Magic 8 Ball for advice. (Which I’ve totally done before so no big.) Anyway, the words “lemon” and “shark” started sounding pretty cool together. By breakfast, I loved it. And think of all those metaphors and analogies: navigating through the unknown with dangers lurking, treading water, drowning in responsibilities… Plus this pretty, yellow shark is remarkably smart, social, and fiercely protective of its family. Also, I’d have to say that in the vast sea of life, I’m definitely swimming with sharks. As far as my second blog, Lemon Shark Reef, it’s an offshoot of Lemon Shark. We are often (and by “we” I mean “me”) kind of obsessive about what we put on our blog and how it looks. I gave myself a break with Lemon Shark Reef. I created it as a place to play with fiction, have fun, and enjoy swimming around without worrying about my bathing suit top falling off. It’s a no-pressure, fun blog.   You call yourself a lover of chocolate, cheese, wine and words, no wonder we’re friends! ? I love your sense of humor. I know we can all steal time to eat and drink, but tell us how you’ve been stealing your writing time lately, as I know we like to commiserate together about there never seeming to be enough hours in a day. Professor McGonagall let me borrow the time-turner. Even though I’m a Ravenclaw, McGonagall is the go-to teacher for this kind of stuff. She’s totally cool—not at all the hard-ass she’d like people to believe she is. (She’d not like me spreading that around so…our secret. K?) Seriously, I get completely overwhelmed and go cry in a corner until I realize that took anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour. Then I think to myself, “That took anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour. What a waste of time. You could have been writing.” Then I write for five minutes. *shrugs* It adds up.   How are you managing your social media and writing time now? Have you found a magical rhythm you might share with us, or are you still feeling like me, as though you’re drowning? Social media. Well, I’m not on any, for starters. Okay, I have two. I made a rule that if I don’t use it, I lose it. So, basically, I’m on Twitter and G+. That’s pretty much it now. As far as managing it? Picture a lion-tamer at the circus. I’m always treading water. I don’t drown only because I use a life vest. Which makes it difficult to type but, wow, so worth it. Right? I have extra life vests I throw to passing bloggers. Because. I’m nice that way.   Okay, I’m curious, you say you’re an INFJ. What does that mean? Ah. Well, that’s a secret. If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you. It’s that kind of secret. Or a wicked public one that’s been around for, like, fifty years. Or more. I had a comment on my blog years ago asking if I knew what personality type I was. I did not. So, with all that extra time, I took this online test (which turned out to be pretty cool). It’s a real test. Not like “Which Disney Character Are You?” or “What Kind of Condiment Are You?” I’ve never taken those. Pfft. No, I have not. This one’s scientific and stuff. Research was done and everything. It’s pretty well-known. And accurate. Anyway, this test, the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, says I am an INFJ. It is the rarest of the 16 personality types and among the top career choices for an INFJ are: Writer, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Therapist, Educational Consultant, Teacher, Professor. Interesting that I’ve either worked in or studied all of these careers.   Was it your love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer that led to your passion for writing dark fiction? That question came out of left field. And hit me in the head. *glares* I hadn’t thought about my undying (get it? undying…undead…vampires…so fun) love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer influencing my writing in any way but, if it did (and now I’m wicked curious and won’t be able to stop thinking about it), it would be some sort of humor. It’s a witty, well-written, funny show. (In my twisted mind.) So what led to my passion for writing dark fiction? Hmm… I sit. I write. Words appear. Sometimes they’re funny (in a dry, needs-a-chaser kind of way) but mostly they’re dark. Even when I try to write something with unicorns and rainbows, it winds up with a ghost and a possessed fruit tree. It’s weird.   Your upcoming book – On the Edge of a Raindrop, when can we expect to see it published? What can we expect to read in that book? Late November. Yes. That would be this month. In a little over a week, actually. I’m not much for fanfare. No launch, no tour… Just a girl, standing in front of the online world, asking it to love her. Or her book. Or both of us. Whatever. On the Edge of a Raindrop is written in the same vein as my previous collection, Hinting at Shadows—short, dark, psychological fiction.   Can you share an excerpt with us? I write short fiction and this interview (ironically) is getting a bit lengthy. Snooze-fest. So I’ll include a few Microbursts (that’s the name I made up for my stories that are under 50 words—micro, haiku, 6-word stories…). I think these ones give a good idea of the flavor of On the Edge of a Raindrop.   We wake the same as we slept. Strangers. Dreams cling to our eyelashes as we sip coffee & pretend to believe the beautiful lies we tell. ~~~ Shame is a child’s bath toy. You push it under the water, hold it with all your strength, but it always slips from your grasp and resurfaces. ~~~ I fear I am slipping loose from reality like hair from its braid my mind comes undone   I know you’re also writing a novel now. This seems like a switch from your usual micro-fiction. Please give us a tiny hint about what that book will be about. A tiny hint? Since you asked so nicely. It’s not really much of a switch from my other writing. Yes, it’s longer, but it remains Brentynesque. The book will be dark, psychological fiction. The MC is a teenage girl I met a few years ago in a flash fiction piece I wrote. She intrigued me. (Read as “she wouldn’t leave me alone until I told her story”.)   I read, and thoroughly enjoyed your first book, Hinting at Shadows, and I was amazed at how your short fictional stories written in microbursts of only 50-100 words can paint a story leaving us readers to fill in the rest with our own imagination. Can you share your writing process with us about how you create this type of fiction? Do the stories start out bigger and get whittled down to minimal words? Aw, thank you. I love painting with words. And I love having readers engage, really engage, with a story. Get drawn in, wonder what’s going to happen, what could happen, what has happened… It’s a different kind of reading experience getting a glimpse, a sliver, but enough to set fire to the imagination. I never whittle my stories down. That’s not true. I rarely whittle. I mean, I have whittled but I naturally tend toward pithy writing. If anything, I have to try to increase the word count. Then I realize I’m adding unnecessary words and I whittle those nasty things out. (Now I’m just trying to see how many times I can fit the word “whittle” in this answer. It’s a cool word. Whittle. Six.)   It was a real treat having you over Sarah. Thank you for enlightening us all with your humor and sharing your writing secrets with us. You’ve explained the essence of microfiction succinctly here and I have to … Continue reading Guest Author Feature – Sarah Brentyn – Hinting at Shadows