Solange Hommel’s short story, “Mouths to Feed,” starts one way and, a few hundred words later, ends in a very different place. Read on to learn more about Solange and her writing…
Q (Crone Girls Press): What do you write? How long have you been writing? What are your preferred genres and why?
A (Solange Hommel): I’ve always dabbled, but on Jan. 1, 2018, I promised myself I would stop being afraid of what would happen if I really TRIED to be a writer. I’ve spent time working toward that goal every day except one since then.
I write whatever thoughts float through my brain, but I have been most successful with flash fiction horror pieces. I am a hard-core pantser, unearthing my stories one word at a time, so I never know what I’m going to end up with until I feel that gut-punch that tells me I’ve reached the end. I have no loyalty to any specific genre, but as an avid reader of speculative fiction, I tend to be more comfortable in those waters.
Q: What inspired your story in this anthology? Tell us the “story behind the story.”
A: I get together with writing friends for “speed writing” a couple times a month. A prompt is given, we write furiously for a set amount of time, and when the timer goes off we share what we’ve written, in all its glorious first-draft painfulness. The first few paragraphs of “Mouths to Feed” came, almost exactly as is, from one of those prompts. I had to find out where it went.
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 write a lot of horror and realistic fiction about family traumas because I believe there are important things to learn from observing how emotional pressure impacts different people. I’m a sucker for authenticity, and there’s nothing like terror and anguish to strip away the facade and show you what people are hiding.
Reading is an escape for me. Sometimes, when life gets overwhelming, it helps to go somewhere truly horrific and explore things that make my every day frustrations seem unimportant.
Q: Of the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite, and why?
A: I’m in the process of writing a novella-length story about a young mother named Jane. Through the story, she is forced to dig deep within herself to find the strength, courage, and confidence she needs to protect herself and her daughter, and in the process, frees herself from a toxic, controlling relationship with her parents. Although our lives are very different, Jane’s struggles with paralyzing self-doubt and her need to trust herself over the judgments of others are very familiar. Writing her success gives me hope for my own.
Q: What do you find the most challenging about the writing process, and how do you meet that challenge?
A: I am not one of those people who has full-on stories pouring into my brain faster than I can handle. My muse tends to be pretty shy. If I’m not careful, she spooks and disappears into the shadows with the end of my story. I have to work a little bit every day, slow and steady, so she’s used to seeing me around. I’ve also learned to appreciate the value of false-starts.
Q: What was the worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice? Why, and how did it affect your writing?
A: In “On Writing”, Stephen King talks about sticking his rejection letters on a spike on the wall of his writing space. This helped me think of rejection letters as something to collect, something to represent the time and effort I’d put into my craft. In the digital age, I don’t have a spike, but I do have a special folder in my email for all my “no, thank you” notes. Rejection still stings a little, but seeing it as a form of success instead of failure makes it easier to wade into the next round of submission calls and try again.
I love hearing what other writers do, but I roll my eyes hard at any writing advice that says “all writers” should do something. It’s taking me years of trial and error to figure out which things work for me (time goals, writing prompts, dedicated writing space, stickers!) and which don’t (word count goals, static schedule, plotting in advance), and it would be foolish to think anyone else would work exactly the same why I do.
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: Comparing myself to other writers is so awkward! I guess I can say I have a fairly straight-forward-while-still-surprising way of unfolding a story similar to that of Ray Bradbury’s “Illustrated Man”, and my character development has been strongly influenced by Stephen King. Not the most unique comparisons, I know.
Q: What’s next in your writing journey?
A: More writing! I have a lot to learn still, which means I have a lot of practice to do. As with any creative pursuit, the only thing I can control is whether I do it or not. So, I will keep making words hit the page and I will keep sending those words out into the world. Beyond that … I can’t wait to find out!
Solange Hommel is a former elementary school teacher turned author. She and her husband split their time between Texas and Minnesota, depending on the season. She most enjoys creating very short horror but will ultimately write whatever her characters demand. When not agonizing over comma placement, Solange likes to play board games or work on one of her many unfinished cross-stitch projects.
To read “Mouths to Feed” by Solange Hommel, pick up a copy of Stories We Tell After Midnight 2. And, once you are finished, please think about leaving us a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Reviews make our cold, dark little heart so happy…