Language of the Soul Podcast

Indie Publishing with Author and Literary Editor Elizabeth Suggs

March 08, 2024 Dominick Domingo Season 2024 Episode 5
Indie Publishing with Author and Literary Editor Elizabeth Suggs
Language of the Soul Podcast
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Language of the Soul Podcast
Indie Publishing with Author and Literary Editor Elizabeth Suggs
Mar 08, 2024 Season 2024 Episode 5
Dominick Domingo

Join us as we chat with Elizabeth Suggs of Collective Tales Publishing and Editing Mee. Her literary prowess in Speculative Fiction, among other genres,  is as inspiring as it is eye-opening. We discuss the written word from the perspective of both writer and publisher, hats Elizabeth wears equally well. Our conversation ventures from the driving force  behind the human compulsion to tell stories, through quieting  voices of doubt in order to take command of an author's voice, to the delicate dance of preserving that unique voice throughout the editorial process.

As someone who once lost and fervently reclaimed her love for writing, Elizabeth understands the trials creatives endure. An intimate knowledge of the ever-evolving publishing world equally informs her work as both editor and publisher. We discuss Collective Tales' mission to nurture both the greener and more seasoned authors  with whom they partner. In exploring the sometimes delicate relationship between author and editor, we arrive at the notion that respectful partnerships can be the alchemy that turns rough drafts into literary gold.

Wrapping up, we delve into the more contentious aspects of storytelling—censorship, representation, and the impact of cultural shifts on what is deemed acceptable within the pages of a book. We grapple with the complexities of accurate and respectful representation, especially in character portrayals that might evoke stereotypes or clichés. And for those with a keen eye for symbolism, we unravel the multilayered themes that give depth to narratives, exploring how they reflect the human condition and wrestle with the questions that have haunted us since time immemorial. So, lend us your ears and embark on this exploration of literature's power to define, challenge, and shape our existence.

Guest Bio:  Elizabeth Suggs is the co-owner of the indie publisher Collective Tales Publishing, owner of Editing Mee, and is the author of a growing number of award-winning published stories, one of which was part of an Amazon Bestseller collection. She is also a book reviewer, popular bookstagramer, and cosplayer. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s playing video and board games or making cookies.

Learn more about Elizabeth Suggs

We would love to hear from you! Sent US a text message.

Support the Show.

If you would like to make a one-time donation, CLICK HERE, or you can click the support button for other monthly support options.

To learn more and order Language of the Soul: www.dominickdomingo.com/theseeker

Think you would be a great guest for our podcast; please submit a request at LOTS Podcast Guest Pitch Form.

Now more than ever, it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and surrender to futility in the face of global strife. Storytellers know we must renew hope daily. We are being called upon to embrace our interconnectivity, transform paradigms, and trust the ripple effect will play its part. In the words of Lion King producer Don Hahn (Episode 8), “Telling stories is one of the most important professions out there right now.” We here at Language of the Soul Podcast could not agree more.

This podcast is a labor of love. You can help us spread the word about the power of story to transform. Your donation, however big or small, will help us build our platform and thereby get the word out. Together, we can change the world…one heart at a time!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us as we chat with Elizabeth Suggs of Collective Tales Publishing and Editing Mee. Her literary prowess in Speculative Fiction, among other genres,  is as inspiring as it is eye-opening. We discuss the written word from the perspective of both writer and publisher, hats Elizabeth wears equally well. Our conversation ventures from the driving force  behind the human compulsion to tell stories, through quieting  voices of doubt in order to take command of an author's voice, to the delicate dance of preserving that unique voice throughout the editorial process.

As someone who once lost and fervently reclaimed her love for writing, Elizabeth understands the trials creatives endure. An intimate knowledge of the ever-evolving publishing world equally informs her work as both editor and publisher. We discuss Collective Tales' mission to nurture both the greener and more seasoned authors  with whom they partner. In exploring the sometimes delicate relationship between author and editor, we arrive at the notion that respectful partnerships can be the alchemy that turns rough drafts into literary gold.

Wrapping up, we delve into the more contentious aspects of storytelling—censorship, representation, and the impact of cultural shifts on what is deemed acceptable within the pages of a book. We grapple with the complexities of accurate and respectful representation, especially in character portrayals that might evoke stereotypes or clichés. And for those with a keen eye for symbolism, we unravel the multilayered themes that give depth to narratives, exploring how they reflect the human condition and wrestle with the questions that have haunted us since time immemorial. So, lend us your ears and embark on this exploration of literature's power to define, challenge, and shape our existence.

Guest Bio:  Elizabeth Suggs is the co-owner of the indie publisher Collective Tales Publishing, owner of Editing Mee, and is the author of a growing number of award-winning published stories, one of which was part of an Amazon Bestseller collection. She is also a book reviewer, popular bookstagramer, and cosplayer. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s playing video and board games or making cookies.

Learn more about Elizabeth Suggs

We would love to hear from you! Sent US a text message.

Support the Show.

If you would like to make a one-time donation, CLICK HERE, or you can click the support button for other monthly support options.

To learn more and order Language of the Soul: www.dominickdomingo.com/theseeker

Think you would be a great guest for our podcast; please submit a request at LOTS Podcast Guest Pitch Form.

Now more than ever, it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and surrender to futility in the face of global strife. Storytellers know we must renew hope daily. We are being called upon to embrace our interconnectivity, transform paradigms, and trust the ripple effect will play its part. In the words of Lion King producer Don Hahn (Episode 8), “Telling stories is one of the most important professions out there right now.” We here at Language of the Soul Podcast could not agree more.

This podcast is a labor of love. You can help us spread the word about the power of story to transform. Your donation, however big or small, will help us build our platform and thereby get the word out. Together, we can change the world…one heart at a time!

Speaker 1:

Hi guys, and welcome to Language of the Soul podcast, where life is a story. I'd like to first introduce our producer, extraordinaire, renaissance woman and recent. What title can we give you, since you completed your weekend? I forget what you called it. What was your big weekend that you just completed?

Speaker 2:

I guess you could say residency survivalist.

Speaker 1:

That's all you need a t-shirt. I survived. What residency you called it?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so in the medical field you do residencies when you're, you know, doing your skill set, so you have like residency in practicum and, of course, internships. So I just had a residency week and it's funny you mentioned the t-shirt, because I'm actually wearing my Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals Counseling Program t-shirt today.

Speaker 1:

Okay, is there an acronym for that? That was like a novel, that was like war and peace. It is.

Speaker 2:

It's really long. So that's like the whole school's name. They call it RME or Rocky Mountain.

Speaker 1:

There you go. Yeah, I like that better. It's on a t-shirt.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I am actually wearing that t-shirt.

Speaker 1:

Right on, all right. So you're a residency survivalist.

Speaker 2:

Yes it was three intensive, intensive days.

Speaker 1:

Wow, yeah, I mean, a residency in the medical field can be years, right, it's not just a weekend shebang.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean we have multiple throughout the counseling program for each cohort and it's from my husband, lausette, but he's like a cohort, he's like that's like a military term. He was in the medical term too.

Speaker 3:

He's in the medical field.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, so we basically had five PhDs or PSYDs depending on you know which doctor they have that were overseen at all, and then there was 24 of counselors there working on our skill sets based off the different types of counseling that you're involved in. But it was all. Obviously, mental health was the main focus, but yeah, right.

Speaker 1:

Well, we definitely on the mental health, because story right is so vast and that's the premise of our podcast, and life is largely you know, I'm gently suggesting life is largely about the stories we tell ourselves. I would love to do we're going to do a couple episodes, by the way for our listeners. Virginia and I have a lot to talk about and we don't often get to indulge our tangents, so we've got two episodes lined up where we're just going to. Really, I hate the word deep dive. I'm sounding like an AI bot at the moment, but we're going to take a deep dive into a couple topics, so hopefully some of that will come up. I would love to hear about that weekend.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, woohoo.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so today, before I introduce our guest, who I'm very excited about I say that every week, but I'm always earnest about that. So I was just saying in our pre interview I was fortunate enough to read some of her work. So she's so much more than an author and we'll get into that when I read her bio but her work is just really. It's haunting me, it's living with me, it's sitting with me is, as just my opinion, all good literature should do. So I'm excited to discuss the piece that I read last night, but in general, I'm just very impressed with all of her accomplishments. So I want to take a little bit of time on the bio to make sure I hit everything and then hopefully we'll have time to come back and get into more detail on some of it. Before I read her bio, I want to remind all of our listeners to please subscribe or follow us on whatever your preferred podcast platform is, because, as you guys all probably know, this is a labor of love and something we're very passionate about sharing. But the only way we can do that is to build our platform and we're relying on you to do that. So if you subscribe or follow, then you will be alerted whenever a new episode drops and we've had some real doozies lately, so I want to make sure nothing gets overlooked. Be sure to subscribe or like us. It's languageofthesoulbuzzsproutcom. All right, without further ado.

Speaker 1:

Elizabeth Suggs is the co-owner of the indie publisher Collective Tales Publishing, owner of Editing Me and we're going to talk about those in a minute and she's the author of a growing number of award-winning published stories, one of which was part of an Amazon bestseller collection. She's also a book reviewer, editingmecom popular books to grammar and cosplayer. When she's not writing or reading, she's playing video and board games or making cookies. All right, again, this is the part I want to make sure I don't skip over. I'm going to tell you a little bit about Collective Tales Publishing. The About Us section on the website says we started Collective Tales Publishing as an independent publication featuring new and uphoming authors in speculative fiction genres. I want to really pick your brain about genre in a minute too, because I think for our listeners it's important, but I actually could use some clarification on the crossover between certain genres. So speculative fiction seemingly our first book, collective Darkness, a horror anthology, was the Amazon number one bestseller for new horror anthologies. We have a follow-up called Little Darkness, and More Books on the Way. Now the titles that I saw. I believe there are five. Tell me if I'm wrong when I introduce you and bring you in from the green room. I have Collective Darkness, a horror anthology, collective Fantasy, collective Chaos, collective Visions and Collective Humanity. Now the part I'm confused about. I think there was a follow-up on Collective Darkness, because I have the titles the Darkness Between, little Darkness and Deluxe Darkness. Anyway, there are some titles for you. Please check them out. And then.

Speaker 1:

Editing Me is a service that offers a publishing package marketing, editing and formatting. Founded in 2015, it has since expanded from just editing books to working one-on-one with authors through the whole publication process. The mission behind Editing Me is to help young and seasoned writers learn the ropes with editing and publishing. Whether you want a chance to be in our anthology or have a story of your own, I'll help you every step of the way. Also fun fact the Me and Editing Me was inspired by my siblings. I used the first letters for my brother, her sisters and my name to create Me. I love that. All right, welcome. And again, please set me straight If I botched anything. Welcome, elizabeth Suggs.

Speaker 3:

Hi, thank you so much for having me. Did not botch anything, just to give you some clarity. So there are the five books that you had said, but we also do companion copies, so usually we'll give those out for gifts or if you subscribe to our newsletter. We do different sales or different things that way. So those companion copies will be Little Darkness, which will have more stories from the authors who are in the collective darkness and then Little Fantasy from collective fantasy.

Speaker 3:

And we're actually going to have a new book called Collective Chaos soon, and Collective Humanity is not out yet, but it's our only nonprofit book. All net proceeds are going to be going to a local nonprofit here in Utah, and so we essentially anyone who contributes to that. We usually suggest, if you want to contribute, like five bucks, we're just putting that into both the book and the book and then we're going to put that into both the publishing and also the just. You know, once we get to the very end, once the publishing costs are, you know, once we have all that, like you know, break even, then we just send it over to the nonprofit. And so it's we're. We were going to do one nonprofit, but it looks like we want to do something more focused on, you know, youth, homeless youth specifically, and so we're just trying to find like a really good one for that, but that one's coming out in June and then Collective Chaos is coming out in the fall. I think we said the tentative date for that is September, so nice.

Speaker 1:

Well, they're really quality books. I really love the comment.

Speaker 1:

I'm a graphic designer and an illustrator, so I love the covers and they're just very appealing to look at, and I also love the idea of these companion pieces because I feel like a great indie publisher. I don't know the industry too well, but indie, above all, you know, should support authors and work with them repeatedly. I've often had a piece published in an anthology or a collection but then I kind of never hear from them again and I'm not that great at following up and maintaining the relationship. So I love that. From what I understood, your companion pieces also highlight other stories from a given author that appears in your collection. Is that right?

Speaker 3:

That is and that's in your exactly right. Like I have submitted to other anthologies, like if you go onto my Amazon, you'll see I have way more books than just what I said and that's right, right, of course.

Speaker 3:

You know I've either submitted to things or have helped other authors publish their books. But I've noticed that, like with anthologies, most of the time and I know it's I'm not trying to say it's a bad process, or, you know, I'm not trying to say whether it's good or bad, but it is kind of, if you don't, if you're not like pushing that relationship, and even if you're trying, sometimes you will just fall away because the anthology is going to. You know they're going to be doing something new, they're moving on to another marketing strategy and I get that. But I think it's really important to nurture authors because especially new and emerging authors yeah, like especially the new ones.

Speaker 3:

they don't know, they don't know how to navigate that and I just it's. There are times there needs to be momentum sort of. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

And yeah, I think the best way to build that momentum, so that it's not kind of a one off every time, the best way to build that momentum is to maintain those relationships and just in the creative process I'm just a big fan of you know, I love filmmakers that tend to work with the same talent, whether it's the DP or the actors and actresses, because you just have that synergy. And so when I click with an editor and it is a complicated relationship, right, I think finding an editor that you really respect their opinion and anyway I've built relationships with editors on entire, you know, 300 page novels and then I kind of have abandonment issues if I can't work with them again. So I feel like once you find people you work well with, why not?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, exactly, and you know, and we also want to. It's like a, you know, it's a nurturing process on both sides because if the authors are willing to not only work with us because there are sometimes we've had authors who they're not really, they're kind of disrespectful or they just don't like we don't want to take anyone's voice away, but we've had horror stories where they're just because our horror is more like, you know, adult themes, scary stories to tell the dark, you know, but it's also like I feel, like middle school, high school, adults, we can all enjoy it, like some more than you know, like I think there are some stories that are really adult and not, but like we don't have, like we don't have necrophilia, you know we don't have like things like that, and we've had to tell authors that we just don't accept certain things or just because it's not that it's their writing, it's just a blanket statement and there have been authors who have not liked that and I well, is there a principle at stake Like do they feel?

Speaker 1:

like freedom of expression, or yeah. Yeah, I feel like we're all big boys and girls. If you read on the website, we don't accept A, b, c and D. That's all you need to know. You know I nobody wants to step on anyone else's toes or squelch their voice, but I think if you know upfront, then you know there's no conversation there.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah. So we've just had that. But like you know, when, when people are willing to work with us, or if they're really, you know, they're really like excited to do marketing to, that's even better. And so we're just like, yeah, and so there's like this nice relationship with that too. And and we do offer, like if authors want to sell author, you know, if they want to have an, an author copy of a book, where it's because we give a book to our authors, but if they want to have more than that, we give them a kind of the cost rate.

Speaker 1:

And benefits everybody, doesn't? It's a reciprocal relationship, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, so they can sell them, and then they they can actually make money off that, and then that's giving us a name because we're getting more out there. So there's like a nice. We really like to work with our authors.

Speaker 1:

It's beautiful. Yeah, it comes across. I mean, I watched the video and you guys have a really great vibe, so you know it can feel like a family and everybody's mutually benefiting. So I love it. I love the spirit of your publishing company and editing me, and we'll get into that more in a minute. But if you don't mind, I want to. I want to back up, since our podcast is all about story and I hate general questions, but I kind of would love to just ask you to tell us what you've been doing on the planet, yeah, For the past couple decades, and then how that led you specifically not to your current ventures, but really when did you identify as an author and what makes you an author?

Speaker 3:

Well, there's, that's, there's so much I could say let's see if I can pack it.

Speaker 1:

One story I joke like there's a million ways I could tell my life story. Do you want the comedy version? Do you want the tragic version? But you know, pick a lens. But really, just what makes you a writer is what I would love to know.

Speaker 3:

Okay, well, so I started writing when I was five, the very like when the kindergarten teacher finally like taught us how to write. I remember I was like this is really fun, and from there I like wrote, and then a lot of times I would have to ask my mom to help me. But I just kind of grew that way and when I was a teenager I actually kind of fell out of books. I kind of got into some, you know, got a little too heavy into the partying and I met a lot of bad people and it just kind of like I kind of lost my identity for a little bit. And and I actually and it's so sad like there was this one book that I had cherished as a child and I just like got rid of it. And it was really weird why.

Speaker 3:

But like one day when I was 17, I just like was like I have to change, I just have to do like.

Speaker 3:

It was just weird, dawned on, like if I want to be better, like I just have to change. So I just like went back and I was not a good writer because I had not been, you know, writing very much, and so I just tried so hard and I worked at it and it was really because I have ADHD and I wasn't medicated at the time, so it was super hard to cope with, like not focusing and writing, but like somehow I just kept working and eventually I got to a point where I'm like, wow, I'm like now, you know, because I'm 31 now. So like after all these, this time I'm like, wow, this actually I actually got somewhere and I feel like, even though, being a teenager, I did, like you know, there were some good times and bad times and stuff but I feel like that fueled a lot of of my writing now which is really interesting to see that because they always say I think, who was it?

Speaker 3:

There was this one author I saw and he said that you don't, you can't be a writer Like I mean you, anyone can be a writer, but you need to like explore the world and you need to explore yourself to really like have a robust story.

Speaker 1:

Well, to have to have something to say, I would think yeah exactly yeah so I kind of yeah.

Speaker 1:

Sorry to jump in. Well, you're kind of telling the story of Seth, my protagonist in my not to make it about me, but my nameless prince trilogy. I just saw a parallel, so I'm not going to remember exactly, but I would if you thought of your craft. You know your love affair with writing as a child. Why? I mean, adolescence is tough. All bets are off when you're a teenager. Right, we all are just trying to survive and I think there's a lot of jadedness and disillusionment that can come into the equation. And my novel is actually about how do you come out the other end when you're disillusioned by the world and it's not the place you thought it was. So anyway, in his case, I have a, I have a hunch about it, but I want to ask you if you think of your love affair with your writing or your craft as something you abandoned in adolescence. Why? Why? Because you came around, you came back to it, but that's exactly what Seth did. He abandoned it for certain reasons.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I abandoned it because it was a part of me that I couldn't accept. I really think, like I had loved books as a kid I would read an entire book in one day, you know but then, like, when I became like 15, 16, I just I got rid of everything and I like because I was trying to shed this part of me that I just couldn't accept. I think, and when I finally realized like, yeah, it's part of me, I can't get rid of that.

Speaker 1:

But what was the shame around that aspect of you? I'm not putting words in your mouth.

Speaker 3:

I hear that a little bit.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I don't. I think it was just, I don't know. I wonder if it like because a lot of my party friends, so I would go. I went to raves and stuff. You know, like those they were. They were very different than book people, right, and and I wanted more than anything, I just wanted to fit in and I think there was just this anger around books, maybe because I had been like because so before partying I didn't, I like had lost these one friends because girl, no friends. I'm not trying to stereotype, but girls can be mean in middle school.

Speaker 1:

And I think there's a whole movie called mean girls that became a musical. That became a movie again. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I lost those friends and then suddenly I like get into this bad crowd, and this bad crowd is nothing like those other friends or like how my past self was, and so the only way to fit in was to just take away like I couldn't be me it makes sense.

Speaker 1:

But I think a lot of creatives, regardless of your craft, a lot of creatives need to work through voices of doubt or you need to feel validated and encouraged, right? I'm not really into in your pursuits, and so I not that it's your dime a dozen, but I think we all relate to a degree.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, exactly. No, it's exactly. And I I do think that people who were in my position, who were not not writers, but just the partiers I see a lot of those people, because I'm not really friends with any of them anymore, but I see them on Facebook and I'll be like you're just, you didn't grow.

Speaker 1:

I could have been that same way too, and it's just like I call in Burbank.

Speaker 1:

I grew up next door to Hollywood but it was very provincial. Burbank is literally over the hill from Hollywood, but it might as well be right in the middle of a cornfield and it's grown up a little bit, but it was just very provincial and I it sounds horrible. But yeah, you kind of look back and we call them Wakinbakes, like a lot of the people I grew up with, just roll over and take a bong, hit to face the world still, and I'm 55. So exposure, exposure, you know.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, no, that's exactly it. So I'm, I'm just so happy. I don't know what it was. I just it was just one day. I was just like I have to change. I don't know what happened. I think maybe this, the part I was like bearing, was finally like no, you have to see me again, right?

Speaker 1:

Well, a whole chapter of Language of the Soul. Again, the book is based. The podcast is based on a book. A whole chapter is devoted to finding your voice and we're all different, but there are milestones, you know, and I think it's. It is permission to a degree, but it's also just digging in your heels and saying I'm going to own this part of me right and share my gift with the world. It's about owning your gifts at some point.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, it really is honestly so that's now. I'm a writer.

Speaker 1:

I love it. My parents gave me a typewriter seven, by the way, so you said five for you.

Speaker 3:

Wow, yeah, it was just handwriting. I didn't. I didn't use the computer for a long time.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, Computers didn't exist that's how old I am. But it was a manual typewriter. They told me it should last me through college. Sorry, Virginia, I've told that story before. They said it should last you through college and of course the E popped off right away and definitely didn't last through high school, that's for sure. But I remember when I was little. I mean, I think we're always just wanting to be part of if we had books and I grew up on Roald Dahl and CS Lewis and Silverstein and you just want to be a part of that. But I remember my earliest writings were like I love dinosaurs, so I would write. And then I had seen what is it? A thousand years BC, 2000 years BC.

Speaker 3:

Right, oh, it's a long neck or something, or with rock, rockwell, welch and the for bikini.

Speaker 1:

You know what I mean.

Speaker 3:

Oh, I don't know. No, I don't know she gets.

Speaker 1:

She gets abducted by a pterodactyl. So you know I do a lot of mimicking, and but you know, it was good for good for me. I remember I wrote a whole like I guess you'd call it a novella, a seven year old version of a new Well, and I illustrated it. But that's how you, you know, develop your love for the craft, I guess.

Speaker 3:

Yes, exactly.

Speaker 1:

And I had the first things you wrote out of curiosity.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I was. My very first thing was this little girl named Sparkle teeth. She was sixth grader, so she was a big, really old person and I just like she would do these adventures, but then at the very end she had to make sure that her teeth were cleaned so that they would sparkle. It was I still have all of them, but there was this whole series that I had, and then he did one later about Tara the fish, and it was based off Flounder from the mermaid and I would do these just like series and stuff, but oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

I love that, virginia. Out of curiosity, how, when did you first start writing?

Speaker 2:

Um, I probably didn't really start writing until my freshman year of high school because I, you know, going back to the fact that you know how we didn't have computers yet.

Speaker 3:

So it was a little typewriter.

Speaker 2:

I was in my typing class but I would finish pretty quickly the assignment in class and so I kind of first started just typing up, like you know, random rhyming poems that were just nonsensical, and then from there I kind of found that I liked, which is funny because I've never published poetry.

Speaker 2:

But in high school I kind of would write Um various versions of poetry based off my emotional status at the time and that's kind of when I realized that it was very cathartic way of understanding myself and be very intros, introspective with what I was going through as a high school student.

Speaker 1:

Wow, you recognize that in the moment. Yeah interesting yeah.

Speaker 2:

Wow.

Speaker 1:

It's pretty lucid. I had a. I remember we had to do it. I'm horrible at poetry. I joke like I just can't finish a poem to save my life.

Speaker 1:

I've done a couple recently that I'm pretty happy with, but it's just not. You know I haven't learned, you know I haven't explored it enough, but I do remember we had to keep a poetry notebook in high school and Mrs Rossoff, who might is still alive and I see her at the credit union that's you can't go there on a bad hair day. It's the Burbank Unified School District credit union. And yeah, mrs Rossoff is still kicking.

Speaker 1:

And but I remember she said and this was 1984 or five and she said I've been teaching for many decades and for some reason, like the Cold War was not quite over yet, right, I mean that didn't happen until the early nineties. But she said I'm seeing more Like nuclear themes than ever, like the threat of nuclear war was in our subconscious somehow. And I thought that was interesting, what she must see, looking at, right, poetry of 15 year olds all day, every day. I think we are, you know we are. I didn't recognize it like that. I was processing anything back then, but of course it's. You know, you're expressing, I think, all your fears and apprehensions and, yeah, but it's unexamined largely, usually you're an obduck, virginia the fact that you recognized how it was serving you at such a young age.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and you know not to get into my background, because obviously this is so, it's about Elizabeth, but it was just because you know. My parents are divorced and I was getting new step parents on both sides through my mom yeah so.

Speaker 2:

I think that, and I was an only child at the time, why I didn't have my siblings. So it, yeah, I kind of I I'm oh, I guess because I was very much, because I'm only told know this. You grew up in a very adult world, so you kind of mature a little bit faster and these are worse into the mix and right, yeah, yeah, interesting.

Speaker 1:

Well, if I could steer it back to the main story, how did that early experience this is for you, elizabeth that early experience of realizing I'm a writer and then re embracing you, not to put words in your mouth, but re embracing your gift? How did that lead you to starting your own publishing company and editing business?

Speaker 3:

Well, it really like first, once I started to feel very confident about writing and in my editing skills. So I then went to the one of the university down here and I did communications with, like an emphasis in journalism and and I started working a lot with the newspaper there as well, and so I started to feel pretty confident in my skills. And that's kind of where I mean I didn't really start editing me until 25, like until after I had graduated the school, but I think I graduated, I think I started in 2011. So I think, yeah, I had to have graduated in 2015.

Speaker 3:

So it was just right after I graduated and it was just at that point wanting to really just just see, like because I was doing a lot of journalism and I was doing a lot of that, but I also wanted to get into like more of the fiction sort of world too. So it was kind of hard in the beginning finding clients, because it's not, you know, you have to the very beginning, you have to really start finding people. But I would get clients here and there and then it started to really roll and and now it's so nice, like it's like I feel like I have repeat people, which kind of goes into what you're saying, where it's like you know you have a person you have, you know you're, you know you know you work together and you feel like this attachment, like this, and so it's really helpful and I really like especially seeing my like the repeat people, because you see their progression.

Speaker 1:

Their growth.

Speaker 3:

yes, yeah, you see this and it's really.

Speaker 1:

Not every artist can collaborate either. You know, I worked at Disney for 11 years on some of the people you mentioned. What was the fish you mentioned?

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah, flounder.

Speaker 1:

Strangely, little mermaid during my internship we're bringing it all 360 here my internship at Disney. I learned in-betweening it's called using aerial. So I was working with Ruben Aquino who was the lead animator for Ursula, but anyway they had just finished Little Mermaid so I was surrounded by it, even though I think Beauty and the Beast was in development and Rescuers Down Under was in production. I was kind of working on some aerial scenes as my training. But anyway, why did I bring all the Disney thing?

Speaker 1:

Like you know, I worked there for 11 years and then in the 20 years since leaving Disney I've worked pretty much only for big companies. I guess it's good for my resume, right? Only well-oiled machines. And whenever I work for a little startup company I want to jump out the window or tear my hair out for both. You know I'm spoiled. It's a very well-oiled machine. Disney kind of started this animal, so but anyway, it's very clear not everybody can work on collaborative projects. I call it directing by committee. So I tend to love singer-songwriters that are a singular entity with something to say, not something that was cobbled together by the A&R person at a record company, you know. So I agree with you, it's called collaboration, and if you find somebody that can grow because of your objective eyeballs on their work, that's magic, you know. And especially if they respect you and grow as a result of those eyeballs, if that makes sense.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it does because, like you know, because one thing I do a lot with editing is that, yes, I edit their work and you know, you know I do the suggestions, the comments, that sort of thing. But I'm also happy to talk with them about things, because sometimes they need a little more editing and maybe that's a little shocking or you know where they're, just like oh, I thought this plot worked, but I had a whole plot hole, and so I'm happy.

Speaker 1:

Like so many red lines. So many red lines, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Well, because if they get overwhelmed, you know, especially if it's their like first or second time getting an edit, they're not going to, even if they don't have a lot of editing. Even if I'm like, oh, this is pretty good, there's just, like you know, some errors here and that Like sometimes they can kind of they need a little bit more of like hey, can we talk this through? And stuff. Well, I'm always happy to do that.

Speaker 1:

Exactly. I love that because it can be a standoff. It's almost not worth discussing sometimes.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and.

Speaker 1:

I think since we got into it I didn't expect it to go this direction, but I had a healthy fear of editors before I was published, of course. Right, sure, and I know, because I was at a party with a friend and I met an editor and she said, oh yeah, and I edit my husband and I met him and I must have, really, I think I was on the cusp of being published. So I was worried about the editing process and I said very sincerely well, how do you know when you're squelching voice, like if it's not purely technical, if it's not grammatical and it's not structural? How do you know when you're squelching voice and she goes, oh, I think I know, and her husband's behind her going nope, nope, she doesn't. So in my learning curve in the beginning I said, yeah, of course I have a love hate relationship with editors, but thankfully they always said take the suggestions or not. And then I feel like, if, tell me, if this is true, how about this? Because now I've been edited many times I usually have two editors on a given manuscript, especially if it's a novel. I'll have two separate, two rounds of editing. So you're getting different opinions and eyeballs and anyway, I love that I have the option of approving. You know taking them and I try to take 70 to 80%, right, but I also feel like they want me to dig my heels in and find my conviction about sort of the artistic license right.

Speaker 1:

Language is is a figurative by nature. Here's an example. One editor said I use a hyperbole Like it exploded with the power of a thousand sons. Right, I'm sitting here hoping my voice is mature enough that it's clear that's hyperbole and it is what it is. The comment was something like really a thousand sons? Did it really explode with the power of a thousand sons? And I realized my voice is mature. She's not trying to make me insecure about my voice. She's actually trying to get me to be more convicting about my choices or to shift perspective and see it her way. Does that make sense? Yes, it's your opportunity to say no, I meant that and I'm going to stick to it. Or you know what she's right and it's. I'm going to relinquish my pride and it's no sweat off my back to make this change.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, no, exactly, because I feel like, because the last thing I want to do is take someone's voice away. That's not why you edit, and that's and it's a really important thing. There are a lot of editors out there now who they don't really know the art of editing. They know how, the art of rewriting, and so maybe they're a really good writer, but then they just eviscerate the entire document and they just completely take out the person's voice, and that is not what you want to do.

Speaker 1:

In any creative process. It's not I would or you could, or should, could have, should have woulda. It's not projecting what you might have done. It's trying to wrap your brain around their intention and support them in best right and best executing that intention, I would think.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, and so what I do is I'll pose questions, just like what your editor did, and just because you need to make sure that they this is actually what their, this is their intention. This because it's like well, this section comes across as you know, doing X, Y, Z. Is that your intention, Right?

Speaker 3:

Or this was kind of confusing. One thing, though, I do point out is like, when I look at what their potential audience, who their potential audiences? Because sometimes, like I had one author, who she was she sometimes was a little, you know, like one of her characters was a little racist, and that's fine If you wanted I'm not saying it's fine, but you know, it's like that's your author voice, you should do what you want. But her story was kind of it was trying to target people who may be of that race, people who may be of that sex, and so it's like, well, if you do this, you've completely cut out that entire readership.

Speaker 3:

You're not going to like, yes, this is a well-written paragraph, but you have to look at it now in the marketing. And that's kind of where I have these other skills now that I can kind of incorporate into the editing, and I think it's really helpful, because it's like, yes, we're editing now, but now I'm also going, hey, are you going to be able to publish this successfully? Because if you do, if you write this thing, you're not going to be as successful as you hope. And you know, I give my reasons, obviously, but it's. It is kind of like with that eye too. It's like hey, you know, marketing also really matters.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, and they may not have that perspective right.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's awesome, especially, I think, because our world views are what they are and if we're appropriating and don't even realize it, somebody needs to tell us right. Yeah, I like to think a great writer has access to all different races, ethnicities. Yeah, exactly, actual orientations. However, right, you sometimes need that objectivity to say, yeah, you may be out of your wheelhouse at this point, and this is how it might impact the reader.

Speaker 3:

Yes, exactly.

Speaker 1:

I love it. And, by the way, I do want to say I think you have the right idea as an editor and it's not every editor. I think it's a lot of projection of what an editor would have done without an appreciation of the intention or the voice. But anyway, I love editing. Now I no longer have any apprehensions at all, and I used to have. Maybe you've encountered authors like this where I guess I have a romantic notion that I've internalized, that you know what, if it came off the pen really feeling inspired and feeling intuitive and nonlinear and all those happy accidents came into play, how can you mess with that? Why would you mess with that? Now, I love nothing more than rewriting. It only gets more polished and closer to my intention yeah.

Speaker 3:

Exactly Because what if your intention is completely lost on the reader? I've read things where it's like, yes, it sounds really pretty, but I have no idea what you're saying, and so it's just. If you want me to understand. If you want to bring this thing across, you need to rewrite it and hone it in.

Speaker 1:

And who are you trying to speak to?

Speaker 3:

Exactly who's your readership?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Anyway, I guess was that a tangent, or I think that was good stuff.

Speaker 2:

Well, I just wanted to ask a question too, elizabeth, because you know, when it comes to editing because obviously Donald was talking about how he felt about editing Are you finding now with writers, because of how things are shifting, you know, just relatively within the world and just perspectives and stuff, our author's been a little bit more open to the editing, understanding that they need that? Because I know like back when I first was writing in the early 2000s and publishing in children's books and stuff, there were so many writers are like well, I'm, which is why the self publishing boom happened.

Speaker 2:

So you know yeah, I'm not lead was because we're like well, I know better. So are you still seeing that pushback?

Speaker 3:

So I don't really see it with my editing stuff usually, because nowadays a lot of times they're either repeat or they're coming to me. But I do see that sometimes with collective tales publishing because, like, for instance, one of our recent I guess, darkness 101. Like Darkness 101 was our most recent book published. It had 101 stories and they were all written as 101 words and so we didn't really need to edit those too much, I mean. So we did edit it in the sense of like if it was a hundred it had to be 101 words by Microsoft word count and and you know we had all these guidelines and when people submitted they knew that theoretically they knew all these because you know I was in the summary.

Speaker 3:

But usually we didn't really get a pushback with those. Sometimes I would get this like annoyance because they'd be like it really has to be 101 words and it's like, yeah, that's the whole. You know that's the whole thing of it. So that wasn't so bad. But there have been other anthologies who where we have gotten really really good, you know, really easy to work with authors, but then some authors, they just they, and again it kind of goes back to that thing of like, well, they didn't. They didn't like our guidelines, but they submitted to these things.

Speaker 1:

I know I get ready.

Speaker 3:

Well, you know, I understand how you're feeling and I usually I really do try and maybe this helps a lot, but I really do try to like communicate why we're changing something or why we're doing something in a certain way, and they again, they don't have to accept it, but if it's, if it's against our guidelines, we can't publish it. And so we have had people sometimes when we go like, well, we just can't publish it this way, because it's going against that, they usually will go okay, we'll find, well, you can publish it still. But usually if they push back enough and they're like no, and actually that did happen with the Darkness 101 story, but they were like, no, I really like it, I want this to be my voice. And it was like well, okay, you know it was not a respect.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 3:

Like it didn't have any. It wasn't against the guidelines, it was just, you know we, you know we had like our thoughts, but you know they, they pushed back and that was fine.

Speaker 1:

So just for humor on. I want to go back to your question, virginia, because I heard something in it that I want to pursue. But just for humor, you mentioned you know they went ahead and chose to submit despite the guidelines. Right, it's kind of the opposite. I think it was a parallel or maybe the flip side of that.

Speaker 1:

I had a, you know, when you're on, my first, the Nameless Prince, my young adult fantasy, I guess it was urban fantasy. I learned novel. You know, I was working with a publicist and I was new to all of it and we were trying to get those reviews and she chose to submit to somebody that, straight out the gate, said you know, I am a hardcore. I think she was Mormon. Actually, I think she was Mormon or just a hardcore Christian, one of those which to me is not problematic at all. My content is kind of like CS Lewis. If you chose to see it through that lens, it absolutely had Christian overtones. If you don't get hung up on you know what I mean, if you don't split hairs, I guess. And but she, um, I guess it was the closest thing to a bad review I ever got.

Speaker 1:

I was pretty lucky. I feel like maybe I got some lukewarm ones. But this was like if I could stick toothpicks in my eyes a long enough to keep them open, like it was really mean. She was like if I could have hung in there long enough to put toothpicks in my eyeballs, or something like that. And I kind of said to the publicist, like we knew that was going to happen, why did you choose to give it to her anyway? When she said I kind of don't want to read this because it goes against my beliefs. Oh, you know we got what we asked for.

Speaker 3:

That's too bad, though I'm sorry.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, you just can't. Oh, I feel very lucky. That was the one. And actually she took it down, and I mean I did not that we had the right to ask her to take it down, but she realized she overstepped some bounds and her personal biases got in the way, right, objectively reviewing the material. But anyway, virginia, like when you say pushback, I thought I heard pushback against sort of a maybe political I know you can't say politically correct anymore but pushback against the new rules. Is that what you meant?

Speaker 2:

I mean I just I know at least, cause obviously I haven't been actively writing in the last decade, but not that I don't write, I just don't write and publish. In the last decade I just I've seen a shift, at least in my opinion. Like I remember when I first got into writing, back in in literally in 2000, where I was actually learning to write and to edit cause I worked on a children's magazine and was an editor there. So was learning that. You know I'd taken courses to learn those skills and I just and of course I was during the big boom where a lot of people were starting to buy about, you know, 2005, 2006, we're getting into self publishing, and so I did some freelance work as an editor for some self published people.

Speaker 2:

I just remember everybody's like, oh, and I not that I disagree with this Everybody has a story. I mean everybody, which is what our podcast is about. Like everybody has a story within them. But you know, kind of just listening to the conversation, I just think back to those days and always thinking that even though somebody has a story within them, not always are they the best person to tell their story because they don't have all those skill sets. But sometimes people got at least what I saw back then would get kind of up in arms and were like, well, you know, hey, let's assign a ghost writer or let's have you work a little bit closer with this, you know, with this editor, because, yes, you've got a good story, but they're going to help you know where it will be more of a published, you know pristine piece of work, without changing their voice of course.

Speaker 2:

And so I just was wondering if that's still kind of something that that you're seeing, because it's like, yeah, I think a lot of people have value in storing their lives, but not, you know like, I can't proof you know like, does it mean?

Speaker 2:

my house doesn't need a roof. But should I be the one doing it? You know, and that's kind of what was going through my mind is just wondering if you know, just with how things are now, and I mean, as a writer I mean I remember teaching writing classes and kind of just doing the whole you know you have to have a thick skin. I mean you really do have to have a thick skin to be a published writer, because you get a lot of criticism, not just from readers, but from publishers, from editors, you know, from other writers, like it's not, it's it's a very sensitive area because you're very artistic, but at the same time you have to be thick skin because you get beat up a lot too, yeah, and so I was just kind of wondering if that's still something that's out there, because you know I would hate to see people give up, you know to tell their stories.

Speaker 1:

That's actually one of your prompts, elizabeth. Is, you know, encouraging writers? That you know. I think you said you would hope to impart that if writers hang in there right, there are rewards to sticking it out.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

I mean I thought you were hinting at changes over time, or maybe trends in the publishing industry, back to that censorship idea. What, virginia, has changed when you say you know, back then dot, dot, dot and you wonder if it's still happening. What is the pushback against? I still didn't quite catch that.

Speaker 2:

Um, you know, being told, being told no, or having your voice squelched, or I think it goes hand in hand and of course the whitewashing, you know, because obviously that's what I thought, okay.

Speaker 2:

There are some publishers, you know, who will like I'm not going to. You know, not not to. You know, I understand, like you know you're trying to help them understand, like, hey, like you can kind of say this in your voice, but maybe the way you say it sounds so racist. But you know, that's my point. Some people see that. And then, of course, the flip side is is there are some publishers are like we're just not going to publish it because you know, yeah, doom gloom on you. You're, you're not, you know telling the line of what you know we think should only be published. And then at the same time, I think authors can kind of get, you know, I've been there where my I get bristled up, like what do you mean? I can't say that this is artistic creativity, you know. So yeah, I saw, there's both and I'm just wondering if that's if you're seeing more of that now or if it's the same.

Speaker 3:

I don't. Well, I feel like it's kind of the same. But also I do think that it depends on the and you know it's a lot of times this kind of the age of the writer. I've noticed that generationally what is okay to say or what is okay like is accepted, really depends on the like, the age and also the readership. So I have had some and you know it's also been like my, you know, like in the 30s and the 20s who've who have had like that kind of pushback.

Speaker 3:

But I've had more pushback from older generation and usually it's just because and I usually only point out these things because the readers who like would be reading their work, who would want to accept it, are going to be the people who would need it to be written slightly like, without taking away their voice.

Speaker 3:

It it needs to kind of go towards that reader.

Speaker 3:

So, like like kind of what I mentioned earlier with one of my authors who she wrote a slightly racist scene and it wasn't as if that scene was bad, needed to be cut out, it just needed to be altered slightly just so she didn't like ostracize herself from an entire group.

Speaker 3:

But I and it's complicated because again it kind of goes back to like I don't want to stop them from saying what they need to say, if that's what they need to say to get their message across. But I also have to look at it in the lens of a publisher and a marketer, and so usually if I ever say those like if I pointed out, it's because I'm like you know what you know, it is like something you have to think about when you're publishing. So I have had that. I don't, I don't know if it's I don't, I wouldn't say it's more. Now I mean, I guess it's kind of hard to say because it's from you know, from 2015 to now there has been a lot of changes, but I feel like there always is someone who I'm just like you're saying things that are gonna make it, so you're not gonna have any readers, and so you have to look at the consequences.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you don't wanna alienate unintentionally. I think it's fine to think of readership and a lot of my writings. I'm like I'm not trying to speak to all the people all the time. Yes, this is an elite readership I'm going for, but if you're unintentionally alienating a subsection of your potential readership, that's problematic. I wanna give one example, because this could have gone right. We could take this in any direction and I hope you're okay with this being more of a conversation, elizabeth, because I think it's gonna be real value to writers. I really didn't think of this episode as being a writer-centric episode, but it's going that direction. So, just for fun, I mean the changes I've seen over time and lately, virginia, all our episodes are turning into the episode we need to do, which is about the whitewashing and the revisionist history and the walking on eggshells that sometimes can compromise artistic integrity or literary value. So we keep having, we keep scurrying around this issue. We need to do that episode. So to take this in a slightly different direction. That's counterintuitive.

Speaker 1:

I started dabbling in children's books long before my own adult novel. So at Art Center I took Marla Frazies and Deborah Latimore's classes. They're both pretty well-respected writers, slash illustrators of children's books I was doing covers for Harcourt HPJ it was called at the time right and Penguin Putnam Random House. I did book covers and sometimes interiors, so I got to know the art directors and then sometimes the literary editors, and then of course I was pitching my own little book dummies and back then there was a real conservative slant in children's books, if that makes sense. Now education is very left-wing, very liberal, right, but back then it was pretty conservative and I would go to Society of Children's Bookwriters every year and kind of see what they were putting out and what each imprint was putting out. And I'm gonna give you one example that Marla Frazies used in her class. She said I had a book as an.

Speaker 1:

I don't think she wrote the manuscript, I think she was just illustrating it but she put a wine bottle on the table and this was a 32-page picture book for children. Oh my God, you can't have alcohol. So she was forced to. After she had done it. It was in watercolor, right, this is long before Photoshop. So she had to redo the illustration, which was a lot of work when it's watercolor, with line work. So she took the bottle out. But her point was like they're overlooking the fact that the entire manuscript is sending a pretty skewed message. It was about revenge. It was about a groundhog who was tied up so that he could delay spring by not seeing his shadow, if that makes sense. So there's a groundhog being tied up, kind of glorifying vendetta, and yet they focused on the wine bottle on the table. It's a little bit absurd and backwards. So now I think maybe people respond more to what's gonna trigger people right or cause a lawsuit.

Speaker 3:

frankly, yeah, and yeah, I know you will have your own episode on all of this too, and I do wanna say that I think it's important to look at these issues and see why people are constantly having them and why people need to read them or don't wanna write or don't wanna read them. But it's also, I never would want to whitewash someone, I don't wanna steal someone's voice. But yeah, it kinda goes back into like what's the intention behind it and like why?

Speaker 1:

do you think it's so important? Yeah, and how can you best express that without losing readers?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

I wanna give one more example, and this is the other episode Virginia and I plan to do, by the way, is I guess it's under the guise of tolerance and diversity and representation right the normalization that can happen through story. That's what they bought, right? Images and words together. So in my book, a whole chapter is devoted to how we can forge change through proper representation, right? So, being a member of the gay community, the LGBTQ2 plus community, I wanna give one really vivid example.

Speaker 1:

My sister, god lover. She's an amazing writer and I really hope one day we can get past this because I feel horrible. But she ran a manuscript by me that had two gay carers, a love story between two characters, and we both love Annie Prue, we loved the short story Brokeback Mountain, like we're on the same page. So she ran this love story by me about these two gay male characters. It was part of a collection. I'll give it a shout out Sex to Let. It's just a really beautiful collection of love stories, unexpected relationships, things you wouldn't expect, and they're so authentic and just really resonant because they're true stories. And anyway, one of them was based on a gay couple she knows. So you know we just came out of. I don't know if you saw Power of the Dog and, of course, brokeback.

Speaker 1:

I've watched the celluloid closet. I've had my eye on representation the entire 56 years. I keep saying I've been on the planet so I'm invested in. Virginia loves when I say I have a horse in the race right, so I've been keeping my eye on it. So at a moment where I was just it was really on my radar. She shared the story with me. Again. I feel horrible. I hope we can get past it. But I said, renee, you know I hate to say it and I really meant it and I said it in the kindest way. But I said your other stories are so powerful. I wish this one had the resonance that's the best way I could put it. The relationship and my projection is a gay man. You know, with these views, that relationships aren't taken as seriously. Gay relation, you know it takes people. There's a learning curve for people to understand. Love is just as profound, right when you don't have children or you don't fit this one mold and I just, for whatever reason, it wasn't as powerful to me.

Speaker 1:

So I didn't accuse her of appropriation, I didn't accuse her of not knowing, because I am the guy who will say Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights by dipping into this reservoir of archetypes that we all have access to. Right, I'm the first guy to say pick the best actor. It doesn't need to be a gay actor, right, pick the best performance at the audition. I'm all about that. And still I really.

Speaker 1:

I'm sure I heard her feelings. I just said, hmm, it's not ringing true to me. There's a lot of tropes in there that I find not offensive but I find problematic and I wish we could just get past these tropes. And she said but I based it on long interviews with my friend, you know, and it was the true story. What I realized is those two people, her two friends, are the kind of gay men that I've spent my life resisting, if that makes sense, like as a gay man trying to be spoon fed an agenda from the gay community. I have a knee jerk reaction to people that fulfill the stereotype and become the clown right and become the gesture that society is much more comfortable with them being. So. That was the more nuanced conversation, but I thought how ironic that she. It was a form of appropriation in a way, and she didn't realize it. So she sincerely wanted my help, but my resistance was my own right Backlash to. They call it the agenda of the gay community. Does any of that make sense?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Speaker 1:

It's complicated, it's complicated, it's very complicated.

Speaker 3:

Well, and it's interesting too, because I feel like and I think people should be able to write any character if they have the right they've done enough research, but there is, I feel like there is more of a knee jerk reaction when it's. I mean because I don't want to put words in your mouth, but maybe you would have accepted the story more if she was a gay man, you know.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, yeah, Unfortunately, that is a reality. Yeah, it might. It was largely my projection on it, but I think it was just. The two characters were walking cliches. If I met them at a party, I'd go. You're a walking cliche? Yeah, that was the irony.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and those people who fit certain stereotypes do exist. I mean that's why the stereotypes stay and cling on for so long. But it is like because it's the same thing, like sometimes I see tropes about white women and it's like, oh okay, very funny.

Speaker 1:

Karen's like.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, and it's like yeah, sometimes we maybe I've done something cliche, and but it's kind of you see it written down and you're like, of course, like.

Speaker 1:

And I think I would have accepted the story more where it, not in the context of these other really powerful stories, if that makes sense. If I read it in isolation, I probably would have loved it Right.

Speaker 2:

Anyway, I agree with you, you've got to do enough research.

Speaker 1:

If you're not from the tribe you're writing about, you get to do it right. You get to do the research.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, but I like that she shared it with you because that's a really it's really important to see all these different sides of this community. You're trying to write like. You know who you're trying to write up Like. If you don't do that, research.

Speaker 1:

It is a form of exactly, it's a form of research, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah you just have to do that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I've been the authority. Not only that's good. Systematically, most of my here's welcome to my world. Systematically, most of my high school friends have come to me when their child comes out.

Speaker 2:

Oh, wow.

Speaker 1:

Anyway, to steer it back, I want to ask you this because it did go toward the direction of.

Speaker 1:

I love it because you straddle, being a writer who understands, I would think, the creative process and what drives you as a writer, but also you have the other era of goggles, right From the editor's perspective. But as a writer, I would ask you what. I have read one story and I loved it. It was a horror. I'll tell you the name in a minute. But what does, if there's any one thing and the creative process can differ? One story could be inspired by juxtaposition of images you see during your day, and one of them could be something that's been living inside of you for 20 years. What prompts you? What inspires you to tell a story?

Speaker 3:

Well, I want to tell like I want to get something out Like I want to. It's usually something that's living within me, but it's also I like to ask philosophical questions Like so you'll notice that I have a lot of short stories out of my own stuff. I don't have any novels of my own stuff and that's because I'm a very it takes me a very long time because I'm a little bit of a perfectionist, because the editor gets that side of me also.

Speaker 1:

gets a good and bad thing Wow yeah, you got to keep the editor in the back seat until you're done right, then go back with the editors. Hat on.

Speaker 3:

I know Well no. So I'm almost done with this one story. It's a dystopian romance, but it's asking the question is art necessary? And because you know we can survive, we can have all these other things, but do we need the art? My answer is yes. You need it to thrive. You need to.

Speaker 3:

That's the reason for life right, you do these other things to survive, but there needs to be a reason to survive, and so that's the whole basis of that story, and so usually I'll ask a question like a very subtle question, but a lot of times also, it's just something that's just been inside me and I need to let out. So that's why I thrive on the horror. But I love romance too and I usually add romance into a lot of stories. But I'm part of this nonprofit romance writers in Utah. They're not the RFWA, it's not that. It's just a local nonprofit in Utah called the League of Utah Writers and we're a sub-chapter called the League of Utah Writers Romance Chapter, and so I do a lot of romance writing there and I help them, I volunteer my skills of publishing to get their stories out.

Speaker 1:

But yeah, so it's interesting as a writer. A lot of my stories are constructed around what I have to say and it can be a philosophy or a worldview and I often just plug in the setting and the characters that best express that. But it sounds like your horror is a little more visceral, like you're just getting out your existential terror in a less linear way. Really interesting.

Speaker 3:

That's exactly.

Speaker 1:

So maybe that's a good segue to the story I read, by the way, was Into the Dark.

Speaker 2:

Oh, okay.

Speaker 1:

Do you remember writing that?

Speaker 3:

one. Yes, oh, I do.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that was really kind of a visceral experience, right? Did that one come about because of just expressing some kind of dread and then later realizing what you were getting out? Or can cuteness be a verb Cutharsising?

Speaker 3:

Well, yeah, exactly. So in the story there's this darkness that kind of follows the main character and not to get too much away, but kind of going in sort of an intention without I know people say you're not supposed to describe your story or whatever, but it's about this darkness that follows people and it follows an evil guy, right?

Speaker 1:

But Is evil in quotes or not?

Speaker 3:

Well, yeah, I mean, I guess, if you want to, he's a troubled man and so I guess evil would be wrong to say I don't know, I just I don't know why I asked that question.

Speaker 1:

I guess, because it's not really in my vocabulary, but I get the idea Right.

Speaker 3:

No, I understand, but it's just like this whole darkness that lives within all of us in a sense. Well, there you go, but it's following him.

Speaker 1:

Right. Well, he made choices, right, I mean.

Speaker 3:

He did make choices, he did.

Speaker 1:

So we all have the potential maybe for evil, but he made it free will. He used free will to make a choice. Anyway, keep going, because I actually I don't want to tell you what I got out of it. That's it right. Okay, I know I'm going to go down, but I wanted to hear. I feel like I cut you off. No, no, I got your intention for writing it.

Speaker 3:

So, yeah, I was my intention for writing. It was just saying essentially that there is this evil within all of us and it's just right around the corner. And, yes, there's that T, so I love T.

Speaker 2:

So of course I.

Speaker 3:

There's a lot of stories that I kind of chuckle Like. I noticed that I add T in it and I don't know why.

Speaker 1:

In this case. I know you don't want to give away too much, but in this case did it just happen Because you have a lot of motifs right. So there's the light and dark motif that recurs as it should. There's the T as, and I have my opinion about what it might mean. But if it recurs in a lot of your stories, I would ask in this context do you know what it means or is it open to projection?

Speaker 3:

The T- I want it to slightly be open to projection, but it's almost this, it's this idea of just giving in and enjoying the pleasures. But I do want that to be more open. Oh and one thing too. I don't know if you caught this, but when he starts going to these episodes it kind of goes into a poetic style.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely.

Speaker 3:

Because his brain is breaking Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

I loved the format, I guess is the word right. I loved the format. Yeah, you're a master and I think this is a good one to talk about in terms of a writer's process. Right, because we all have a different creative process or way of approaching and executing an inspired concept, but I often just write from the gut. I'm a freak for structure, so I do my three by five. If it's a novel especially, I do the want and the need and the right. I build the story arc and I've got my three by five cards, but of course happy accidents happen, right, and I've got a lot of like a butterfly will land.

Speaker 1:

I've used that example before and I don't really analyze it and I don't question it. I just know I'm going to foreshadow it before and then bring it back later so that it has some kind of resonance, and then later I figure out what the F it means, right, and then I can strengthen it. So I just wonder what you stumbled into and what was kind of part of the concept from the get go, because I didn't tell me if I'm wrong, but it feels like an allegory for me and everything in it is loaded Like we could talk about the T, we could talk about the teeth motif that's on the key and on the beast, and so light and dark and upstairs and downstairs and the garage being a dungeon or a prison, and really masterful in terms of the recurring motifs. And then, yeah, the format. When you launched into a less linear format, it was really awesome. But I guess would you agree, it's an allegory about the human condition. Is that fair to say?

Speaker 3:

Oh, yeah, yeah, I love that.

Speaker 1:

Did it occur to you as you were writing it that there's a micro and a macro, or were you concerned just with this man's subjective experience and choices, if that makes sense?

Speaker 3:

Well, so I was thinking about a macro implication for all of us. In other words, so I think in the beginning with that was definitely more of a subconscious idea, so you'll see that. So when I first wrote the story, there actually wasn't, I didn't have the reporter, and so that's another thing. So I added those two in because that's when I started to make it more about not just this guy or the man who he met. It was about everyone being capable of having this happen.

Speaker 1:

So does she have an arc? Is she a passive narrator or does she have an arc? Yeah, the reporter.

Speaker 3:

I feel like she's more of a well, she does have an arc, yeah, and she's like, she talks, she finds this guy and theoretically she's just a neutral character and then you know, later you kind of talk about like, oh well, like she was talking about her grandma and the pancakes and so loaded. Yeah. And then, and then she has, you know, her tea, and then you know she's oh my God, Okay, real quick.

Speaker 1:

So I love that you're indulging me on this. I love that you're indulging me because it's a really good one to talk about and I took like I didn't plan to, but I took a page as of notes because I wanted to get to the bottom of it. It was really haunting me and living with me and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. So, since we're deep into this, what can you tell listeners? Can you give us a? I know you don't like to or I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it seems like you're not supposed to. But can you give us a quick synopsis, Like if we were on a talk show and you brought a clip of your movie? What can you tell us without any spoilers? Synopsis, wise.

Speaker 3:

Right. So there's a guy who so I have not done a synopsis with this, so I'm going to a little botched a little bit, but there's this there's a guy who he kills his wife and from that moment he because there were moments before that kind of were hitting him, but it was like that moment of killing it that just destroyed him and while he thought he would find it's kind of like Edgar on Pose, the telltale heart.

Speaker 1:

Oh my God, that was one of my notes. I was going to ask you is he an influence?

Speaker 3:

of course, yes, yeah, I love it. That's actually one of my favorite horror stories.

Speaker 1:

Well, what I wrote down is this is about the human condition, but it's also the mechanics of guilt, which is the Raven.

Speaker 3:

Yes, oh, no the telltale heart sorry. Yeah, yeah, with the heart.

Speaker 1:

Are you influenced by Neil Gaiman at all, or Gaiman oh?

Speaker 3:

yeah, gaiman, yeah, I love Neil Gaiman as well. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And Mary Barthes and the Grey Girl. You're right up there, Stephen King.

Speaker 3:

I'm not. I don't love him as much.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I saw mainly as an influence. I felt like you got to love Neil Gaiman and absolutely made the comparison with the telltale heart, just in terms of the mechanics of guilt and how it f's with you over time.

Speaker 3:

right, Well, right, because it's like this I want it to be. I mean, one thing I really love is like that psychological trauma or torture, and without getting overly grotesque, right. So you have all these things happen to him, and is it? You know, you don't know if he's just completely off his rocker and maybe not like why is he in this, like asylum? You know, you see that. And so it's like did he just completely like is he an unreliable narrator, right? Is any of this happening? Or was he taken in immediately and the police took him away and none?

Speaker 1:

of that happened Exactly.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think it's about the subtext in life, like I mean, I probably should be in an asylum myself, but we artists largely see the subtext. So we would tell a given story according to how the molecules of the universe were conspiring right where somebody would else just go with the empirical evidence that consensus confirms. So right, call him crazy if you want, but actually that might be the true reality in a way, what drove him? That's invisible to everybody else. I think that's what you're gently suggesting, right? Is it just as valid?

Speaker 3:

Right. Well, and so to give you kind of like a one liner, right for this, Give us the elevator pitch, yeah. Yeah, what happens when you let your like, when you just give in completely, is it? Are you going to actually, you know, does everything just fall into place or do you just fall apart? Right Like, why are you giving it in? Why are you giving it? And so, yeah, it just bases on the guilt.

Speaker 1:

So he surrendered to what His base drives. What did he surrender to?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, he surrendered to his base drives One, and you know how his wife was just this silent being and he's just like you know, in the same way where Edgar Allen Poe is, just like I think it was the eye that was watching in Telltale Heart, and so it's just. It has nothing to do with the character, but they kind of just twist it in their own mind and so they're just like. The only way I'm going to get any kind of just just relaxing or I'm going to like any calm sense of calm or serenity is by destroying this thing. That is just destroying me, right, but actually by killing her or by by Edgar Allen Poe, you know, killing his I guess it was his roommate. It's been a while since I read it, yeah.

Speaker 2:

I don't remember.

Speaker 3:

Whoever he was living with. But because of that, like they gave in to like this, like the carnal aspect, Exactly, and so it just Well is that it? Has to deal with it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, now OK, so that's the elevator pitch. But to get into more nuance, you mentioned and the word chaos was used a couple of times I highlighted it, right, so I think it's fascinating that I'm not going to remember their names. Clyde is the keeper of the keys, right, that name literally means the keeper of the keys, but Rolf, that is. Yeah, right, that's the maybe. I guess. I'm asking is that the more not the chaotic part of the human condition, but the base drives, the wild part of the human condition?

Speaker 3:

Well, yeah, exactly, because he's just, he's allowing the sky to come in and live in his basement or not his basement, his garage, but he's teaching them the mechanics of how this is going to work like. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

You can't get in without the key right and the beast will never come into the light. You have power over the beast. So in that lens, if you want to indulge me like it almost seems like the passive narrator, although she has an arc. That's more like you're holding the reader's hand and saying come on this journey with me, have a little arc, but really maybe the story is Clyde's right, and then you've got to wonder. So it just seems like micro and macro, where and I have a question for you too so like if, if, rolf is the human condition itself and he's sort of telling the rules to the subjective experience of an individual named Clyde right, and then it's being presented to us through the passive narrator. It just seems like a micro and a macro way of expressing how life works, how this all works.

Speaker 1:

But I'm fascinated by, you know, only in the T do the memories come back. So there's a child, there's a grandmother and there's a wife, yeah, right. And so can you hint at, like, the significance of the T? Or I have a feeling about what the grandmother, the child and the wife represent. There seem to be archetypes, really strong archetypes, but there's also more nuanced symbolism to some of this stuff? Did you honor existing archetypes or did you think of the? You know what I mean the specific symbolism within this context.

Speaker 3:

I want to say that I did all of this, like with the grandmother and the child and the mother or the wife, but you just to describe something I was not thinking about.

Speaker 1:

Well, think about it because if you look at, yeah, that's what I was. I just am sharing, I guess, my take, because if you think of the wife as the archetype of love.

Speaker 1:

Well, she was pretty jaded and checked out, and so that's almost like lost love, right, or disillusionment or jadedness, whatever. So he actually had to do away with this lost love to redeem himself and go back into the light, right? But that wasn't the solution. It actually put him in this prison that we're all living. It's not like some kind of matrix, you know, but I didn't know.

Speaker 1:

I guess at one point I thought maybe the grandmother who was killed I don't want to give any spoilers, but they are there. I think it's fascinating that they could be seen in the T. And so maybe the child is innocence, that was that character killed innocence, meaning it's almost like the Garden of Eden idea, right, Original sin that lives in all of us. So if Rolf killed, innocence, right. And then the woman is remembering her grandma, who is not dead yet. That's legacy and future. And like I felt like the narrator had a new paradigm. She's like she didn't buy it when he said oh, I was driven to drink by my demons. That's what I got out of his words. Like she's, like, no, I'm in the new generation. That's an excuse. I'm not buying it. But I felt like the T was a conduit in a way. It was a kind of an aesthetic, Like you can live this prison sentence out only if you have an elixir right or yes, no, and I definitely.

Speaker 3:

That definitely was an intention too. It was. It was, in a way, it was like a mind-numbing sensation.

Speaker 2:

It was, and apparently he's drinking.

Speaker 3:

Exactly, and so, while I love the, the, the examples that you had about the wife being of love, what I had, and the grandma, the. What I had, though, was it was a sense of showing past, present and future Exactly, and so it was like hinting at that. And so it's. You will lose these things, especially when you give in to these desires. And so, yeah, I love your examples too.

Speaker 3:

But that was, that was. I would say that those are also the meanings behind it what you had created with the wife and the love, and but the wife and the love, that it was more for him, that he was losing a piece of himself, right, and he was he. He lost the only thing that had ground him.

Speaker 1:

But I guess I was trying to look at each character as an aspect of our psyche as the reader. Yeah, yeah, exactly, and I love that analysis yeah.

Speaker 1:

Beautiful. It's really strong work and I haven't gotten to the bottom of it. I think I know what I have. I actually wrote Old man, young man, beast, garage House Tea. I did this later as it was occurring to me. Wow, this is. They're all so loaded and I I came to some conclusions about redemption and damnation and light and dark and the key to getting upstairs into the light versus remaining in the prison. But anyway, I just think it's projection. That's the beauty of art. Right, you have your intention and I like that my projections can live under your intention.

Speaker 3:

I love them. I love them as well, like well, because they're not completely different from what I had intended. You would, you, I feel like you expanded more on on its projection, because I look at the world a certain way.

Speaker 1:

So my meta view I actually thought of the tea a little bit and I guess I'm just bouncing this off of you.

Speaker 1:

I thought of the tea at one point as being, yeah, your mind numbing anesthetic that allows you to write out your prison sentence, like a lot of us do you know, there's a lot of people numbing their pain through drinking or whatever but I also saw it as a culture medium, if that makes sense, like blood.

Speaker 1:

So when I when I thought of Rolf as sort of the base drives, a human nature, and then I thought of Clyde as all of us right and our choices and our free will, and then the narrator just being a passive narrator telling the story, really, then I decided again, with the grandmother and the child and the wife each being different things we can give up on in life, right, the tea seemed like a culture medium, almost like blood. So when you look at epigenetics, like she had a new paradigm, she's not going to pass on this original sin bullshit. Now I'm really projecting, but at one point I was, I was 100 percent sure that tea was like the culture medium and the way we pass on this shit through maybe social conditioning or the status quo in a way.

Speaker 3:

But they are passing it down, though you know that that is like that is. You are getting to where the story is intending, because he's so. Rolf gives the tea to Clyde, and Clyde gives the tea to the reporter, and I just feel like that's she's going to you know later, too, she's going to give it to someone else, because it is something that we're all drinking from the same Kool-Aid.

Speaker 1:

Right, exactly, the status quo is the Kool-Aid he actually says. Rolf says something like I had to take it with me, right, yeah, the beast said I had to take it with me or they can't live without it, something like that, yeah, yeah, that's how the tea followed him into the insane asylum. I mean, in other words, okay, the readers haven't read it. I mean the listeners haven't read it, so thank you for indulging me. Did that make any sense for Gynia not having read it? Are you intrigued? Do you want to pick it up?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely want to pick it up and I was just wondering, because we are getting to the top of our show Is there anything based off, you know kind of from after listening to Dalmatist perspective, from you know reading your work and everything that you want to kind of leave the listeners with?

Speaker 3:

Yes. So if anyone is interested in reading Collective Darkness or Deluxe Darkness, which has that, the Deluxe Darkness is an expanded, it has Deluxe Darkness, darkness Between Little Darkness. It has all these books combined into the one book. Those are available along with everything else on my Amazon or on my website. So Amazon, you could just look up Elizabeth Suggs. Author. You could also look up ctpfictioncom. Another thing too is I have audiobooks out. We have audiobooks on Collective Tales. So Collective Darkness and Collective Fantasy are both out on Audible and iTunes and Spotify all those different places.

Speaker 1:

Awesome, and your links will be in the episode description. Okay, perfect.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

You're easy to find. By the way, in my research it's not every guest. I'll Google some people and I'm like, wait a minute, are they living in? Like you know what I mean? The forest, yeah, Forest somewhere. Yeah, You're easy to find. You're easy to find so.

Speaker 3:

Oh, that's good and bad.

Speaker 1:

Exactly. Hopefully you don't have any skeletons in the club. Don't rob any banks this afternoon.

Speaker 3:

Okay, dang, that's what I was planning to do, damn it Sorry. It's okay, Tomorrow I'll try tomorrow Right.

Speaker 1:

It's Super Bowl Sunday. The banks are closed, so no dang.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's right. Well, this was a blast.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for indulging me and telling me a little more about the story.

Speaker 3:

I was really intrigued, so yeah, I really enjoyed this conversation with both of you. Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Well, I've said this to many guests we can do a part B. I think there's always more to dive into.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, I'm. I would love to talk about. You know, I can talk more about the publishing side, more, more author stuff, more anthology stuff, you know. So I have lots of options. I'd be happy to come back.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Yeah, this was pretty author oriented, so maybe next time you can put on the publisher hat and we'll talk more about the trends in publishing. It's important for authors to know too. Each publisher has its own right, its own identity, but there are trends that come and go, so it would be really helpful for some listeners to hear that from the horse's mouth.

Speaker 3:

Yes, yeah, I'd be. I'd be happy to Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Awesome, and I didn't just call you a horse, if you thought it's okay.

Speaker 3:

I called you. Okay, I'm a great steed, don't worry Okay.

Speaker 1:

Well, thank you so much.

Speaker 2:

This is for Kibirad, all right, thanks, virginia.

Speaker 1:

All right. And to our listeners remember life is story and we can get our hands in the clay individually and collectively. We can write our own story. See you next time.

Elizabeth Suggs and Collective Tales Publishing
Journey of Rediscovering Writing Passion
Exploring Writing and Editing Collaboration
Editing and Voice in Writing
Editing Challenges and Writing Pushback
Censorship Challenges in Publishing
Complex Gay Representation in Writing
Exploring the Themes and Symbolism
Themes and Interpretations in a Book
Publishing Trends and Advice for Authors