McCarty Griffin lives in the Pacific Northwest, at the foot of the Cascades, with her husband, two children and several nonhuman family members. She is a transplanted hillbilly, born in Texas, but raised in the hollows and hills of West Virginia, where most of her works are set. She does not limit her creative efforts to any particular genre, although she does have a special love for horror, which she traces back to a childhood of Saturday nights eating Chef Boyardee pizza and watching Chiller Theatre with her mother. Before beginning her second life with her current husband, and settling in to raise her daughter and son, she served in the United States Army, went home to earn her undergraduate and law degrees, and then practiced criminal defense law for more than ten years. After half a lifetime spent doing everything but what she truly wanted to do, she finally just sat down and started writing, and she hasn’t stopped since.
LP: Good morning. Love your bio. Having spent quite a bit of time in criminal court as a court reporter, I think I totally understand your need to get away from that. But enough about me–let’s talk about you. Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live now and where you grew up?
MG: I grew up in West Virginia, which also happens to be the setting for most of my stories. I think of myself as an educated hillbilly, although, since I was actually born just outside of Dallas, Texas, I might have a little redneck, too. Right now, I’m living in the Pacific Northwest, at the edge of the Cascades in Washington. The first thing I see when I step outside my door is the sight of those gorgeous snow-capped mountains to the east. My family and I live in what might be considered a rural area, at least for this part of the country; we have a cattle farm on one side of us and a horse farm on the other. It’s a quiet life, which is the best kind for me.
LP: Well, I’m totally jealous of your setting. What I see when I step out my door is traffic (business behind me cut down the majority of trees along the line between us. UGH!)
Do you feel that the environment you were raised in has any effect on your choice of genre?
MG: While I don’t concentrate my writing in any one particular genre, I do think that growing up watching Chiller Theater, hosted by Chilly Billy Cardille, with my mother every Saturday night gave me my love for horror, hence the werewolf story I wrote called “Monster Story.” I prefer a good, old-fashioned monster story to the slasher-type movies which seem to be popular today. Give me a werewolf, a vampire, a mummy or a zombie any day over a Jason or Freddy.
LP: Interesting. I feel much the same way. I wonder if it’s because we sometimes saw the real Jason’s and Freddies when we went to work? I absolutely fell in love with Supernatural when it first came out. Still love it, but not as much. When and why did you begin writing?
MG: I wrote my first short story when I was six, as a birthday present for my cousin. Needless to say, being only six herself, she was less than thrilled with her present. Like most writers, I’ve always wanted to write, but I kept letting life get in my way. I took the scenic route to finally settling down to write, although some of the stories I have written and intend to write have been brewing in the back of my mind for years.
LP: What inspired your first book?
MG: Again, my childhood diet of scary movies heavily influenced my first book, Monster Story. I was going to say “my decision” to write a werewolf story, but the stories I write are never really decisions. The story is just there in my mind and I have to write it; it’s a compulsion. I suspect most writers feel that way about their stories.
LP: Is there a specific message in your novels that you’d like the reader to grasp?
MG: I don’t really write with any specific message in mind. However, I do like to keep the female characters strong, whether they are heroes, villains or something in-between. Few things annoy me more in a story than the cliché of the female lead whose first reaction to danger is to run away screaming in her high heels and tight skirt, only to fall down in a tangle of legs and broken shoe heels.
LP: *Laugh*. How true. If I find my female characters too weak it totally destroys the writing and/or reading process for me. So how much of your book is realistic or based on real life issues?
MG: I think every story I write is based on real life, because it originates somewhere in my mind or soul, or from wherever inside writers that their stories evolve, and is a product of my life experiences. However, if pressed, I would say that Half-Inch is based on real life issues and my real life experience as a practicing attorney for more than ten years in West Virginia. In Half-Inch, a woman named Pammy Hilts, abused and repressed for years by her drunken redneck husband, decides to kill him using the knowledge she has gleaned from watching true crime stories. I know a lot about both abused and abusers from my criminal defense practice and my volunteer work with one of the local women’s shelters.
LP: I think we’re kindred spirits here, McCarty. I have spent and still spend a lot of time working with young women who are trying to turn their lives around after years of drug abuse.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
MG: Honestly, when I published that first story on Smashwords and complete strangers read it for the first time. That’s a scary thing, setting your story loose in the world. Once you do that, you no longer control how it’s perceived. You just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best, kind of like putting your child on the school bus for their very first day of school.
LP: Do you have a specific writing style?
MG: I don’t know. I think that question would be better answered by an objective third-party.
LP: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
MG: Stephen King. In my opinion, his novel, ‘Salem’s Lot, is the best vampire story in print today.
LP: Mr. King is definitely a master of storytelling. I’m glad I don’t have his nightmares. What book are you reading now?
MG: I’m reading a biography of Stalin by Edvard Radzinsky. Before that, I read a Garfield book. I love that cat.
LP: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
MG: I’m slightly embarrassed to say, no. I’ve been so immersed in my own writing for the last few years that I’ve pretty much stuck with tried and true favorites for the few moments of down time I have at night. I think once I catch up with fine-tuning and publishing already written stories on Smashmouth, and get down to just writing again, I’ll get a little more adventurous about my own reading choices.
LP: Don’t be embarrassed, I think we all have that problem. I read an romantic suspense novel earlier this year and truly enjoyed it, but it brought out something I didn’t even realize–I’ve been a book snob most of my life sticking only to my favorite authors and genres. Not any more. So, if you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?
MG: No. I wrote and re-wrote, edited and re-edited. Eventually, the time comes when a writer–at least, this writer–simply has to stop and let the story stand as it is, imperfections and all. Otherwise, no one else would ever read it.
LP: Are you currently working on a new book, and if so, can you share some of it with us?’
MG: I’m doing the final edit on a young adult book called “The Tribe,” which is about a feral cat colony struggling to survive on an abandoned farm and the young couple who buys the property and ultimately saves them. The story alternates between the viewpoint of the cats and the humans. I was inspired to write this story by my own work with local shelters and rescue groups. And, I adore cats.
After I publish The Tribe, I will finish writing a futuristic sci-fi story call Sub, which is about a time when the government has decided that the best way to deal with crime in our society is to identify the sociopaths, and potential sociopaths, and eliminate them from the gene pool completely. They are termed subhumans, or “subs,” and are hunted by specialized teams known as “sub hunters.”
LP: That sounds like a fascinating line up you’re doing there. What is the most challenging part of writing your current work in progress?
MG: Finding the time to write. I bet just about every writer says that, don’t they? Right now I’m doing the stay-at-home mother thing, as I like to call it, and while it’s the most wonderful and satisfying thing I think any person can do with her or his life, it’s also exhausting, both physically and mentally. I have to make a real effort to save some of my energy for writing, because simply falling into bed at night is way too tempting most of the time.
LP: Time is definitely an issue for most of us. I often laugh when I hear the term “writer’s block”. The only writer’s block most of us have is trying to fit what we love into making a living and raising a family.
Did you design your own cover, and if so, what inspired you to use that image?
MG: I worked in conjunction with a wonderful artist by the name of Joleene Naylor. I sent her pictures and descriptions of what I had in mind, and she did the hard part of actually creating the cover. How she managed to create so perfectly the picture I had my mind, I will never know. She created the covers for Monster Story and Half-Inch, and she’s currently working on the cover for The Tribe. I will probably use her for every ebook I put on Smashwords, as long as she’s available. She is an extremely talented artist and I recommend her to anyone needing an ebook cover.
LP: I’ve seen Joleene’s work, and yes, she’s fantastic. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
MG: In all seriousness, no sarcasm intended, simply writing it was the hardest part. Just sitting down and getting those words out onto a blank screen is incredibly hard, as any writer would probably agree. Of course, I hate the slogging-through of editing, and making the corrections is true drudgery, but that very first draft, straight from the source, is the most grueling part of writing. However, it’s also the most fulfilling.
LP: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
MG: Through all the incarnations of Monster Story, I learned a lot about writing, naturally. I’m still learning. I also learned a lot about myself as a person, i. e. what I believe as a human being and how I feel about certain life issues. Writing can be an intense journey of self-discovery at times.
LP: Do you have any advice for other writers?
MG: Only for all the people who say, as I once said, “I want to be a writer someday.” Stop waiting for that magic day, when you’ll finally have the time, or the experience, or the right set of mind. Someday is now. Just sit down and do it.
LP: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
MG: Besides a plaintive request to read my stories? I guess the main thing I want to say is “thank you.” A writer can fill reams of paper with words, but until another human being reads those words, then the creative circle is incomplete. Writers need readers to fulfill their very purpose in life.
Thank you, McCarty for joining me today. Being a court reporter by profession I love finding attorneys or former attorneys who have turned to penning their dreams. So ladies and gentlemen are you ready to find out more? Download a sample? Or maybe just BUY NOW?
Monster Story: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/29077