20 Questions with Christa Wojciechowski
Christa Wojciechowski is an American dark fiction writer who lives in Panama. She is the author of The SICK Series (Raven Tale Publishing) and the founder of the Writers Mastermind virtual writing community.
Christa’s novella “Popsicle” was a semi-finalist in Coverfly’s Cinematic Short Story Competition and will be published by Bloodshot Books in 2022. Her short stories have appeared in various publications and anthologies, most recently “Blood Sisters” in the Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas (Hex Publishers), “Observer Dependent Universe” in the upcoming Chiral Mad 5 anthology (Written Backwards), and “The Oasis” selected for the Chromophobia anthology (Strangehouse Books).
Christa Wojciechowski is a member of the Horror Writers Association. She loves to play Chopin (badly) and sip Hendrick’s gin. When she is not reading or writing, she can be found rambling through the Panamanian wilderness with her mastiff, Jack Daniels, or traveling with her dashing husband, Marco.
Her debut novel, Oblivion Black, is now available on Amazon.
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What was your life like growing up?
I was born in New Jersey and raised in Florida. My childhood was spent in St. Petersburg, full of MTV, hot summers, pools, and barbecues. My sisters and I are very close, and we had a blast playing together, creating huge sagas with our My Little Ponies and Barbie dolls. Later, we moved to a rural area of Central Florida, which was boring for us teenagers. As soon as I could, I escaped to Orlando where I met my husband. We moved to Panama in 2006 and have lived here ever since.
Did you always want to be a writer? If you also work, what do you do / did you do?
I always wrote stories and fantasized about becoming a novelist. It was a farfetched dream until the internet opened the whole world to us. Aspiring writers have easier access to education, agents, and publishers. If we don’t get through the pearly gates of the traditional publishing world, we can publish ourselves and find our own audience. So now my writing dream is very much a reality.
I’ve lived many lives, among them are taking care of big cats and other exotics, working for the power company (including hurricane duty). I’ve travelled through China and Southeast Asia, as well as Central and South America helping my husband with his seafood import business. Currently, I work as a digital marketing manager for podcasters. I began writing seriously about ten years ago, but I still have to keep a day job. I also run the Writers’ Mastermind, a platform for authors. We host classes, meet for co-writing sessions on Zoom, and plan other activities to help people become the writers they were meant to be.
Tell us about your most recently published work in a sentence.
Oblivion Black: When a recovering heroin addict becomes a famous sculptor's muse, she is forced compete with his demons as well as the dangerous woman who is determined to come between them.
What are you working on right now?
I’m polishing up the second book in The Sculptor series, Hierarchy of Needs. I’m rewriting the third book, called The Darklands. I’m also in the middle of a few short stories and have been dipping my toes into screenwriting.
Do you have a writing routine, and if so what is it?
I write on Saturdays. The work week is done, and my husband is out playing golf, so I have a big chunk of quiet time to immerse myself in my stories.
Where do you write – always in the same space, or different places? Can you write ‘on the move’?
I am always on the move, so I write where I can. We have two locations, about 5 hours' drive apart, so I’m either in one of my two offices or sometimes writing in the car.
What advice do you have for other authors who are starting out? What is the best advice you’ve heard?
My best advice is to keep learning. Many writers think that they are supposed to create a perfect novel on the first try. When it doesn’t do well, they feel they don’t have the gift, and give up. Though writing is a mysterious and intuitive creative process, you need to know the right tools to execute it. I’m always reading books and taking classes, and each year, I see the quality of my work improve. I feel more confident and it’s easier to write. Load up on knowledge so that when the muses visit, you’ll be ready to transcribe their whisperings in a badass way.
Do you enjoy doing live readings or are they a necessary evil – or somewhere in between?
I’ve never done a live in-person reading, but, as you know, we do live readings in the Writers’ Mastermind on Zoom. I don’t like reading my own work, but I love reading other writers’ works. I expect I’ll enjoy it’s something you grow to enjoy the more you do it.
Are there recurring themes in your work? Where do you feel these emanate from if so?
My characters are usually trying to discover or forced to confront the truth about themselves, their lives, or the world. they have to learn to accept this truth and grow from it. I take poor, tortured people, put them through hell, and watch them evolve into stronger versions of themselves.
Should writers have a moral purpose? What is the purpose of a writer in today’s society?
Yes, writers do have a moral purpose. I just wrote an article about the great responsibility fiction writers have. We shape the collective psyche. Writers must remember that.
Do you write between genres or not?
I don’t think any of my work fits neatly into a genre. It has been a challenge when it comes to marketing to the right audience. I swerve between literary, horror, thriller, and suspense. Many of my stories have a good dose of humor. And no matter how dark or disturbing, almost all of my stories are love stories at the core.
Which living writers do you most admire?
Andre Aciman for desire. Alissa Nutting for outrageousness. Joseph Sale for grotesque beauty and mindbending dimensions. Mary Gaitskill for character description. Jerry Stahl for being painfully witty and heartbreaking.
Which dead writers do you most admire?
I love the Russian masters—mostly Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. Marguerite Duras for desire. Emily and Charlotte Bronte for mood. Anne Rice for decadence. Bukowski for rawness, wit and heart. Quentin Tarantino for style. You will see a strange mix of all of these in my stories.
What’s the book you wish you’d written?
I’m reading A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summer right now. It’s about a female sociopath/food critic, and it’s delicious (pun intended).
What other external influences do you have: nature/place, music etc?
Nature is where I restore myself. I am lucky to live in an extraordinarily beautiful country. We split our time between the Pacific Coast and the mountains, and every morning and evening I walk with my dog and soak up the beauty.
Do you suffer from ‘writer’s block’ and how do you overcome it if so?
I do suffer from writers’ block. My best way to overcome it is not to think too hard. Just keep typing until you tap into the muse and then run with it. The secret is to keep going no matter what that nasty voice in your head says about what you’re writing.
What’s been your favourite reaction to your writing?
I always have mixed reactions. One reader was so disturbed by my book, Sick, that they couldn’t read the next books in the series. They said this as a compliment, though. Many people say my stories are not something they’re supposed to like, but they do. I think this is because all my characters have serious issues. They are dark and deviant but are also so relatable. You see a glint of them in yourself, which is unsettling. But that is the aim of my work, to make a more compassionate and understanding world. We all have our dark sides, and it’s by getting to know them that we find ourselves.
How do your family and friends feel about your writing?
My family and friends have been wonderful support. My writing group is hugely important in keeping me going. Only other writers understand the difficulties of the journey.
Do you have a favourite bookshop?
I strictly buy from Amazon, and mostly eBooks since I travel so much. I prefer paperbacks, but this way, I can take my entire library with me.
How do you see the future of writing? Will we become more or less dependent on Amazon?
I am grateful for Amazon and have stuck exclusively with KDP for its ease of use and reach. As a consumer, it’s like magic. Yesterday, I sent a paperback to a friend. It was printed and on her doorstep in less than 24 hours. How amazing is that? So, I don’t foresee anyone stepping into their space in that regard. However, in this future of NFTs and digital ownership, I believe they will have to expand their platform to accommodate such things. I’m really excited about what this means for writers and their fans.