One of the things I enjoy most about The White Vault is the variety
of characters. The fact that they’re all from diverse backgrounds adds a
level of realism to a research team. How did you go about coming up with this concept?
I didn’t feel as though I was creating something new when I decided upon the characters and their backgrounds. I created the characters required to tell the story and weave an intricate story of found-footage and missing information. Similarly to your statement, I feel it is far more fictional to believe a research team on Svalbard would be filled with nothing but broody Americans!
When I was doing my graduate research, the people in the lab and the fellow students next to me in seminars hailed from around the world. Research and scientific pursuits are not limited to English-speaking countries or single-minded academic Lonely Hearts with a dark romantic past.
I attempted to create the people I’ve met, worked with, befriended, and hated. Wonderful people all their own who would have a reason to go home, wherever that home may be.
Do you have a process for character creation? I personally use
Dungeons and Dragons character sheets, it’s a trick I stole from an
author friend (Charity Langley) and find it allows me to think of things
I normally wouldn’t.
Though I do play D&D and love the process of character creation there, I take a very different track for my writing pursuits. I have a booklet where each person is given a page, starting with simple information, and then I look at the same questions people are told to ask about their own lives.
-What are their goals?
-What are their favorite things?
-What do they want out of this stage of their life?
-What have they learned recently that will influence future choices?
I do leave some things unwritten, as I never know when I’ll need to weave in a new memory or reaction, and because I can never write down everything.
I love the sense of isolation and dread that the show evokes, the
episodes are always a perfect length and I usually have to stop working
(Sorry boss) when I’m listening to the episodes. Is isolation something
that personally scares you?
There are certain people I would never wish to be isolated from, and I feel less frightened of isolation than I do imprisonment. I’ve always enjoyed exploration, hiking, seeing the world, and I draw much of my inspiration from my travels. I don’t mind hiking through the woods with two or three other people, cutting us off from others and used to enjoy long solitary walks home through Swedish forests in the winter. What I fear is the bunker, the prison it creates in the storm. The idea that this may be the last place I’d ever get to see. That’s terrifying for me.
Do you have any special routines when you write? Certain music you
have to listen to? A special room?
Tea and quiet. A hot pot of tea on my desk or side table is the sign I’m about to sit down to write.
If I am going to work for hours at a time writing page after page, I only remember to get up and stretch when I go to pour another cup and nothing comes out.
I’m also a very heavy researcher, so I’ll try to have all my information up and ready before I begin. If I take a moment to Google a bit of information, I don’t know how long I’ll be stuck in the abyss of the Internet.
You also write for Liberty, which is a Science-Fiction podcast. Do you
have a preference between Sci-Fi and horror when it comes to writing?
I prefer writing horror, but I’ve written a few pieces in several genres. My preference for writing horror is why we started the Liberty: Tales from the Tower series, where I get to blend our sci-fi world with it’s own mythos of terror. Liberty: Critical Research has some scary elements here and there, but it is far more a tale of survival and understanding.
Writing horror feels more visceral. I want to wiggle my words under my listeners’ skin, have them thinking about it while cooking dinner or when they’re stepping out of the shower on a dark night. That’s a goal, and I’ll strive to reach it. Just as a comedian wants people to laugh.
What is your favorite genre to read?
To be a writer, you have to write.
To be a good writer, you have to read, write, and practice.
I read horrors, new and old, short stories to novels, and when I’m working or driving I’ll listen to horror audiobooks and horror podcasts. I’m a consumer storytelling.
But, when it dawns on me that I should take a break from horror, I tend to enjoy high fantasy.
Are there any tropes you actively look to avoid in your writing?
I try to avoid a collection of tropes I lump together as the ‘idiotic characters’.
It’s okay to create someone who is naïve, someone with a healthy amount of disbelief, but when faced with changes to their life they should react accordingly.
If your friend comes screaming down the hill saying something attacked her, she’s bleeding and wide-eyed, I don’t care if she’s drunk or high, you don’t wander into the woods looking for the thing. You drive her to a hospital, or lock yourself in the car until you are sober enough to drive.
When I’m writing and I think to myself ‘Why are they doing this? This is idiotic’, I have to assess if this is their only option. The circumstances have to reach extremes before intelligent adults make poor choices and I prefer to write intelligent characters.
Do you have any projects coming up we should be on the lookout for?
Yes and no. Season 2 of The White Vault is going to release in October of 2018. Also, we have a mini-series spin-off for The White Vault called ‘Artifact’ that will release to patrons and supporters in a few months.
As the writer for Fool and Scholar Productions, I can say that we are working on several new ideas, but they are still mysterious, lurking in the shadows until the time is right.
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