Karter Mycroft’s “Catch of the Day” is one of those enthralling, bemusing, entrancing pieces of flash fiction that distills a story down to its barest essence and uses that to deliver an emotional impact that lingers long after you turn the page. It was the sort of blend of weird fiction, horror, and hope that I was searching for in our submissions box to include in Coppice & Brake. Take a look at what they have to say about writing the story, and about writing in general, and then go give them a follow on social media (and maybe pick up a copy to read for yourself!)
Q: What do you write? How long have you been writing? What are your preferred genres and why?
A (Karter Mycroft): I write “weird fiction,” generally in the realm of urban fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. Every once in a while I dabble in realism. I have been writing short fiction for a few years and drafted a couple of not-very-good novels.
Q: What do you find the most challenging about the writing process, and how do you meet that challenge?
A: Discipline is my greatest challenge. I tend to only write when I feel inspired, so my “process” is mostly focused on trying to become as inspired as possible. Many of my friends who are better writers than me make a point to put in two hours a day, or to write 700 words a day, or something. I am trying to get better at that.
Q: What was the worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice? Why, and how did it affect your writing?
A: The best advice I ever received is “don’t write in a vacuum.” I would never have been able to consider doing this professionally were it not for my incredible critique group, and other friends who help to motivate and lovingly trash my drafts.
There is a lot of bad writing advice out there, and I’m far from an authority, but the ones that really irk me are the variations on “Write what you know,” “Stay in your lane,” etc. Research, critique, and sensitivity readers are all very important, of course, but I don’t think writers should focus so much on being careful. I think writers should try to be very brave.
Q: Of the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite, and why?
A: I am very fond of a character named Mike who appears in my story “Shark News,” which will be published later this year in the third volume of an anthology called Made in L.A. Mike is the host of a shortwave radio show about sharks, which he dedicates his every waking minute to despite having little to no audience. To me, he represents something that I think is very sad and important, which is unrequited passion, and also the ways in which modern technology tends to leave certain types of people behind, deservedly or otherwise.
Q: What draws you to the genre of horror/dark fiction? What do you find there that you don’t find anywhere else?
A: I am a long-time sufferer of several anxiety disorders and my thoughts are often preoccupied, against my will, with dark and bothersome intrusive thoughts. I find that dark and bothersome stories sometimes make me feel less alone. I also sometimes wonder if fear is a much stronger driver of people’s behavior than we like to acknowledge, and so I am often interested in stories about the things people are afraid of.
Q: If someone asked you to recommend books/stories similar to what you write, who/what titles would you be giving them? And, why?
A: Three books I would recommend off the top of my head which have influenced and inspired me are:
Dawn by Octavia Butler
Kraken by China Mieville
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
All of these stories feature characters who grapple with the unknown in strange, sad, and beautiful ways.
Q: What inspired your story in this anthology? Tell us the “story behind the story.”
A: I work as a contract scientist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, and so I have learned a lot of interesting things about fishing communities in California and elsewhere. I am fascinated with the relationship between humans and the ocean, from pre-history through the modern day. I recently took a trip to a couple of fish markets in San Pedro, near the Port of L.A., and… well, honestly I’m not really sure how all this culminated in a story about a girl who sees dead fish float in the air everywhere she goes, but it did somehow!
Q: Why horror? Why do you write it? What about the genre appeals to you as an author?
A: I think writing about fearful things is a good outlet for anyone who suffers from anxiety. I also am very interested in “the unknown,” especially lurking fear-type things like environmental collapse, sea monsters, unforeseen medical emergencies, institutions that do not operate in the best interests of the people they claim to serve… these are the things that keep me up at night and also for whatever reason inspire me to write.
Q: There are a number of subgenres/tropes/flavors of horror. Where does your story fit? What drew you to this particular category?
A: “Weird Fiction” or “Surrealism,” maybe? One of the things I really like about writing fiction is it gives me a chance to take ridiculous ideas very seriously. I would say we live in a pretty ridiculous and often terrifying world, and I like to approach that from a more imaginative and maybe playfully self-serious angle than a totally realistic one.
Q: What’s next in your writing journey?
A: I would really like to finish a novel draft that I don’t despise by the time I’m done with it. I’m just starting work on a story that I feel pretty excited about, and I hope I can sustain the inspiration beyond a spaghetti draft this time.
Q: Anything to add?
A: Only that I am very honored and excited to be included in Coppice & Brake, and I hope everyone supports Crone Girls Press and other indie pubs as much as they are able to!
Karter Mycroft is an author, editor, musician, and fisheries scientist who lives in Los Angeles. Their short fiction has been published or is forthcoming in The Colored Lens, Black Hare Press, Trembling With Fear, Lovecraftiana, and Made in L.A. Volume 3.
To read Karter Mycroft’s story, “Catch of the Day,” pick up a copy of Coppice & Brake. And if you’ve already gotten one, please consider leaving us a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Thanks for stopping by!