According to her own bio, Mehitobel Wilson has worked at many different jobs and lived in various places, but she’s quite obviously most at home in her writing. She has a natural way of cutting through the bullshit that we think will make you like her as much as we do, so without further ado: Mehitobel Wilson, in her own words.
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced in your bid to build a successful career?
Doing the work. I know a lot of successful, prolific authors who have mentally exhausting day jobs, and they come home and do whatever chores and crap that needs doing to keep the city from giving them blight tickets, and then they somehow find the headspace to be creative and knuckle down. I have a hell of a time managing that. I pretty much only write when on vacation, and vacations are rare. Nights are for chores and sedatives, and weekends are for catching up on sleep.
What does the label “horror” mean to you?
This is happening, you can not stop it, it will damage you forever, and there is no clear way out. It’s exactly the same as what “parking lot” means to me, though, so I guess I’m easy to horrify.
If you had it all to do over again, what would you do differently?
For one thing, I’d rent, so someone else could be responsible for the physical upkeep of my living area, because I never really grasped just how much stuff in a house could break. It sucks to feel guilty about even thinking about writing because you know you really need to research the parts you’ll need to repair the fridge.
I’d also have taken a less-demanding job, one that ended when the office closed (I’m on call 24 hours a day.) In other words, I would choose to be less responsible and much lazier in the “real world” so I could play around in my own head more readily. But there’s still time to do all of that, right, but still keep the insights and really good side effects of the shitty life choices.
What advice would you give to others who want to achieve the level of success that you have?
If you want to achieve the level of success I have achieved, don’t write very often, and try not to promote yourself in any way. I kid!! Honestly, I’ve done everything exactly wrong, because the “right” things are not pleasant for me.
I am very private, I don’t network, I don’t do readings, and I don’t have an accessible Facebook presence. I guide all conversations with industry professionals away from writing and toward swapping tales about the best tacos you ever ate. There’s this place in Kentucky that makes a brisket taco that’ll make you weep with pleasure, it’s unreal.
So, my advice is simply to go for it, and try not to be a jackass.
What do you feel are the benefits of short fiction?
I love long, long story experiences. I wait until an entire series of books, TV shows, or movies is complete and then gobble it whole in one gluttonous marathon. When browsing at Audible, I often sort by book length, longest first. But short stories–the ones I love reading the most–cut to the chase. They’re impolite, disinterested in small talk.
Readers don’t get to immerse themselves entirely in the world on the page, because there’s not time; they can’t get comfortable with the character or the events that led to the focal point of the story. So we, as readers, are always going to be a little uneasy, unsettled, and more open to a shift in perspective and expectation.
As a writer, to be blunt, I have so much fun writing shorts and messing with that off-balance dynamic that I don’t know yet if I can train myself to write in long form.
Where do your ideas for horror stories come from?
I get a mental flash of a random character doing something, and use the “what’s up with that?” method: “That woman stole a brick off the back of that truck; what’s up with that?” I get curious, and then I follow them home. Sometimes they’re just boring–maybe that woman just wanted to put the brick in her flower bed–and I leave, but sometimes I’ll catch one doing something a little more interesting. If something awful happens, I’ll tell you about it.
Mehitobel is the second spotlight writer that we have announced for our Deep Cuts anthology, and we are so happy to have her on the project. She will be one of the three authors, including Yvonne Navarro and our secret final writer (who will be announced soon), who will be signing books and sending personalized thank you cards to those of you who pledge to our Kickstarter at the appropriate levels.