20 Questions, 7 Answers is an interview series for writers of genre fiction. Each author receives the same batch of 20 questions, but they may only answer 7.
This week's guest is Stephanie M. Wytovich.
My latest poetry collection is titled The Apocalyptic Mannequin. I tend to write thematically and each of my books have their own persona. Over the years, I’ve worked with themes of hysteria, grief, religion, sexuality, and trauma, so with this book, I wanted to really challenge myself to go a different direction, which is why I leaned heavily into the apocalypse with a combination of science fiction and horror on its heels. Now this book still has everything that you would want and come to expect from my poetry, but there’s a different glow to it here, something almost uncanny bubbling underneath it all.
What really inspired me while I was writing—and even beforehand in the brainstorming stage--was our perception of the body and how it changes over the years in regard to how we define it. This book quickly became a Frankenstein-quilt of my personal fears mixed with post-apocalyptic scenery, and it pulls back the skin on who or what is left after everything has been taken away.
Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what? Is it different than what you listen to when you're not writing?
I do listen to music while I’m writing, but it’s strictly instrumental and it ranges from everything from classical, to pagan chants, to movie soundtracks, to drone/ambient noise. Lately, my two favorites who have been on repeat have been Phillip Glass and Johann Johannson.
I’ll sometimes still listen to that stuff even when I’m not writing, especially if I’m relaxing, reading, or meditating, but for the most part, I like alternative/punk/metal/rock.
What's the best movie, new or old, that you've seen for the first time in the past 3 months?
I’m completely 100% obsessed with Ari Aster’s Midsommar.
I have! I studied Renaissance Art in Italy (Florence, Rome, and Venice), and then I helped run a MFA program in Dublin, Ireland for a bit. I’ve also explored a little bit of Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.
There’s no end to places that I would love to travel to—I’d go everywhere if I could and I’d travel constantly—but the big ones of my list that I’m hoping to tackle in the next 10 years are: (1) Iceland, (2) Austria, Prague, and the Czech Republic, (3) London, and (4) another trip to Ireland.
What are your 3 favorite comic books (standalone novels or ongoing series) of all time?
This is a fun question for me because I’ve recently gotten really into horror comics and have been reading them pretty much non-stop for three years, ha! Right now, I’m really loving Baby Teeth by Donny Cates, Gideon Falls by Jeff Lemire, and then Saga by Brian K. Vaughan just completely took over my life. I have to give a hat-tip to Redneck by Donny Cates and Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire though, too. I really, really love/loved them as well.
What is your writing environment like? (Are you out in public or in seclusion? Is there noise? Is there coffee? Do you type on a laptop or write longhand on lined notebook paper?)
Lately my writing environment consists of either my office on campus or my office at home. I really hate writing around people/in public and I prefer to do it in a space that I’ve curated and feel comfortable and secluded in. I usually write with some light instrumental music on in the background—no headphones because I like to/need to read my work (especially my poetry) aloud. I used to be an absolute coffee addict, but these days, it’s either tea or water for me, maybe a glass of wine if I’m feeling especially dangerous, but I’m always writing on my laptop. I might outline or scribble ideas/phrases in a notebook while I’m away from my desk, but the actual writing always happens at the computer.
If you could share a beverage with any fictional character, who would it be, and what would you drink?
Fictional character…hmmm. I think I’m sharing a glass of red wine, invoking the spirit, and hanging out with Nancy Downs from The Craft.
Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Fantastic Tales of Terror, Year's Best Hardcore Horror: Volume 2, The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 8, as well as many others.
Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, an adjunct at Western Connecticut State University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Point Park University, and a mentor with Crystal Lake Publishing. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare, and most recently, The Apocalyptic Mannequin. Her debut novel, The Eighth, is published with Dark Regions Press.
Follow Wytovich on her blog at http://stephaniewytovich.blogspot.com/ and on twitter @SWytovich.