An Interview with Carlie St. George

Carlie St. George was kind enough to drop by my blog today to talk about writing, odd jobs, and her upcoming novelette series, soon to be published by The Book Smugglers. I’ll start things off, as usual, with an introduction that involves me shamelessly stealing an author bio…

Carlie St. George is a Clarion West graduate whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Shock Totem, and Shimmer. Her overly long and snarky movie reviews can be found at mygeekblasphemy.com.

Welcome, Carlie! First off, let’s talk a bit about the novelette series forthcoming from The Book Smugglers. If I understand correctly, they’re a mash-up of noir and fairy tales? How did these stories come about, and how did they ultimately find a home with The Book Smugglers? Are they an inter-connected series, or do they stand alone but share a sensibility and a world?

I had the idea for the first story, “The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper,” several months before I actually wrote it. I have a special fondness for Cinderella (apparently, Toddler Carlie learned how to use the VCR so she could watch it over and over again), and I loved the idea of retelling the fairy tale as a detective story from the Prince’s perspective. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to get past the first page, so when I went to Clarion West, I decided to use their one week deadline to force myself to write the story, or else suffer public humiliation and shame.

I submitted “The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper” to The Book Smugglers last year for their “Subversive Fairy Tales” call. Ana and Thea decided not to publish it then, but asked if I’d be interested in writing two sequels and publishing them all as a trilogy. Not being a crazy person, I said yes.

The stories are very much interconnected. Each mystery is a standalone, and I tried to make it so you could read the stories out of order without ever being confused . . . but I do think they’re probably best enjoyed in the order they’re being released. For clues, and whatnot. There are definitely things set up in the first story that don’t pay off until the second or third.

It sounds like a fabulous series. I can’t wait to read it! I’m also looking forward to seeing the art, given that The Book Smugglers is notorious for pairing their fiction with absolutely gorgeous pieces. Have you gotten a sneak peek at the work that will go with your stories yet? Did you get the chance to have any input on the piece, or is it all a lovely surprise when the art and the story go live?

I’ve seen the artwork for the first story, and it’s AWESOME. I’m so excited and so grateful to the artist—I’d like to credit them, except I’m not sure if I’m supposed to do that before the cover reveal. I was given the chance to have input, but there just really wasn’t any need.

After these three stories, do you foresee any additional stories using this setting? The idea of combining noir and fairy tales is a delicious one; I’d think it would be hard to stop writing in that world once you’d started.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s going to happen. I do think I’ll need a bit of a break – I had to set aside a few stories when the chance to do this series came up, and I’d like to get back to them – but I definitely have ideas for what else I’d like to do in this world. Like, a LOT of ideas. (Heh, now I feel like a losing contestant on Project Runway. “It’s not over. You haven’t seen the last of me!”)

Excellent! Now, let’s switch gears for a bit. There’s a question I promised I’d ask you, which I’m rather fond of including in the Unlikely Story author interviews. Since your Unlikely Story interview was entirely focused on clowns to go along with the Unlikely Coulrophobia mini-issue, and you missed out on the questions, I’ll make up for it now… Authors are notorious for working strange jobs, for example J.D. Salinger’s stint as the entertainment director on a luxury cruise line. What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had, and did it inspire any stories or teach you anything you’ve used in your writing?

The weirdest job I’ve ever had is actually my current one: I’m a unit assistant at a hospital, primarily working in ICU, Labor & Delivery, and Post-Partum/Pediatrics. It’s basically a desk job (answering phones, making up charts, transferring people in the computer), except that I work the graveyard shift, so there’s a lot less staff. I end up working several units at a time instead of just one, which means my function is primarily to be an errand girl . . . but errands in a hospital range from running a specimen down to the lab, to picking up yogurt for a patient, to picking up blood for a patient, to helping a nurse take a body down to the morgue.

My job directly influenced the first writing-related-thing I ever sold, a 100-word story called “Expiration Date,” which was made into a Weird Tales video. Otherwise, I don’t think my day job (of sorts) has made it into my writing too much yet, but I expect it will. It’s taught me a few things NOT to do. (Like have a character use a defibrillator on a patient without a heartbeat, or have a character have a couple of contractions and go running for the hospital, screaming, “Baby imminent! Baby imminent!”)

I’ve also always wanted to write a zombie outbreak story set at a hospital featuring employees that specifically aren’t doctors or nurses. Hollywood has a tendency to forget that jobs like unit assistants, nutrition aides, respiratory therapists, phlebotomists, x-ray techs, OB techs, admitting representatives, and PCTs (or CNAs) all exist.

Back to writing of another sort…You’ve been known to write the occasional movie and television reviews on your website. Many of said reviews are self-described as snarky. Personally, I love a good hate-watch. Are you ever disappointed when you end up liking a movie or episode more than you thought you would and there’s nothing to snark about? What is your favorite so-bad-it’s-good movie of all time? Is there a snarky review that stands out in your mind as the most fun to write?

Honestly, no, I’m not usually disappointed by that, partially because I find it kind of delightful to come across a good movie when I was expecting a bad one, and partially because I’m pretty adept at finding something to laugh at, no matter what the caliber of the movie. I love to poke fun, but I’m also ridiculously analytical, and my reviews are really more like long and seriously informal essays. A review that’s 3000 words of crushing, mean-spirited negativity just doesn’t interest me to write. I like trying to examine the bad and the good sides of everything.

That being said, I didn’t exactly have many (or any) positive things to say about Daredevil, Red Riding Hood, or Color of Night. I had a pretty fun time writing those reviews, and I’ll admit, they’re not always kind.

As far as a favorite so-bad-it’s-good movie of all time . . . man. The one that usually springs to mind first is this little known thriller called Mindhunters. It’s got Christian Slater, LL Cool J, Jonny Lee Miller, and Val Kilmer, and it’s one of the more ludicrously awful movies I’ve ever seen. I kind of adore it.

Fedoras: great hats, or the greatest hats? Discuss.

Oh, so hard. I do really like me a fedora (I’ve probably got about five of them), but I don’t know if I could call them the greatest hat. After all, I also like an occasional bowler or newsboy cap. Also, some of my favorites hats are also my most random hats, like my Maleficent hat. Or my Kermit hat. Or my weird yeti hat.

A hat for every occasion! To wrap things up, let’s turn back to fiction writing. What else are you working on, or do you have coming up that you want people to know about?

On deck: “The Elixir of the Not-So-Disgusting Death Smell” coming up in Mothership Zeta, possibly in January of 2016. And then I’m working on those two stories I mentioned before, the ones I had to temporarily set aside for the Spindle City series. One of the stories is a fantasy-western novelette centering around food magic; the other is a feminist meta-slasher story.

I look forward to reading all of them! Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for having me!

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