Here is a writer who can write anything in the horror genre and pull it off. Diverse would be the perfect word to describe Yvonne Navarro’s writing. Her work can come at you and hit hard, like her novel Mirror Me, or leave you feeling that everyone deserves a chance at redemption, even the most evil of creatures, as in her Dark Redemption series. Whether she’s writing for adults or young adults, Yvonne proves her mettle by crafting stories that appease both ages. A difficult feat, indeed.
So, without further ado, we asked Yvonne some questions and she graciously answered them for us. We hope you enjoy learning more about her. She is fabulous!
DC: What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced in your bid to build a successful career?
YN: I think that has been managing a full time job, a family, and my writing. For all but two years of my writing career—including now—I’ve held a full time job. In earlier years, it was easier to balance work and writing: I worked, I wrote during the commute to and from the office, I got home and most of the time ate a microwaved dinner, and I wrote until midnight nearly every night.
Having a family and kids (or big dogs!) and a house makes incredible demands on your time. It becomes a matter of priorities, of trying to constantly choose what you can let slide and what has to be done no matter what. It’s an ongoing struggle, and unfortunately, I still haven’t found the ideal solution.
DC: If you had it all to do over again, what would you do differently?
YN: Without a doubt, I would interact more with my agent, ask to see what had or hadn’t been sent out. I had the same agent for the first ten years of my novel-publishing career, and I was always a bit star-struck (i.e., timid) around him. I didn’t really know what he was doing for me, and toward the end, it turned out that wasn’t much. We parted ways when I discovered he’d lied to me about submitting a novel I’d given him.
Bottom line is that the agent works for you. If you can’t coalesce on what you should be doing with your writing career or, God forbid, he doesn’t actually like your writing, cut the ties and find someone else. This is a prime instance where you really are better off without one than with a bad one.
DC: What advice would you give to others who want to achieve the level of success that you have?
YN: First, I’d say be a lot more disciplined than I was (and am, even now). It took me over ten years to get to where I would write every day. My husband says very accurately that writing is like a muscle; the more you do it, the stronger you get. When you start to slack off, it’s like letting go of that exercise program that’s kept you in shape for all those years. It gets harder and harder to write, and pretty soon you barely do it at all.
Secondly, I’ve always told everyone, novice and pro alike, to read everything out loud. My second draft of novels has always been the out-loud version. Don’t read it to someone else, just to yourself. Read it like it’s happening, like you’re the best actor or actress in the world. You know that old musical Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode: “Once More, With Feeling.”
This is where you find all those grammar errors, the ridiculous and incorrect punctuation, and the sentences that would suffocate you before you make it to the period. When you read silently, your brain fills in what it knows should be there, and you don’t catch the typos or even missing words. Aloud is like a miracle self-edit.
DC: What do you feel are the benefits of short fiction?
YN: Short fiction teaches you a lot—how to be succinct, how to edit yourself, and how to tell a sharp, fast, and complete story in a compact space. In the beginning of my writing efforts, of course I wanted to write a novel. So I started hammering away at it, and maybe I didn’t do that badly. I was maybe seven chapters in when I realized I had no clue what I was doing, how to make a plot, how to pace, how to anything. So I stopped that novel (and never picked it back up) and decided it was better to hone my skills by working on shorter fiction. I think it was one of the best things I ever did.
DC: Have you ever written anything that surprised you by how disturbing it was?
YN: Not really. I’ve been surprised by how some of the stories went off in directions I hadn’t planned, or characters sort of “came to life” on their own to do their own thing.
In Final Impact, I created a character specifically as “fodder,” someone meant to die in a specific action scene. As it turned out, Lily was determined not to do any such thing. Not only did she survive that scene, she went on to become a major character in that book and its follow-up, Red Shadows.
DC: Where do your ideas for horror stories come from?
YN: I’m a big “what if” person, and being inclined toward the dark side, every “what if” that I formulate tends to also go to the dark side. We were at the Phoenix ComiCon in 2012 and I was asked the same thing, and I responded, “Well, what if the doors to this room were suddenly locked and one of the people in here turned out to be a zombie? He’d bite someone, and you all know where that’s going, right?”
Next thing I know, three or four people are sidling toward the doors to get the heck out—ha! The world is full of what ifs, and a lot of them deal with someone doing something uncontrollable, unexpected, and evil. And I truly believe that nothing I could ever come up with in a supernatural world could equal the evil things that man does to man in the real world.
I don’t think I’m overstating the situation when I say that Yvonne Navarro is one of the women writers in the Horror industry that other writers look up to the most. She has long been an inspiration to us, both as a media tie-in writer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, and others), and as a novelist in her own worlds. She is amazingly prolific and well-respected in all corners of the industry.
In 1984, Yvonne was paid $1.50 for her first published Horror short story. We certainly hope she makes more than that these days for her hard work, decades spent honing her craft, and deep thinking. With Deep Cuts, all our authors receive the same payment, but we’re hoping to raise the bar with our Kickstarter.