Interview: Author W.B. Welch
I have been wanting to incorporate interviewing into my routine for quite some time. I have always been fascinated with people. However, I have learned throughout my years in the radio business that normal people talking about something they are passionate about is exponentially more interesting than famous people who are bored with it all.
For my first interview I chose an author. W.B. Welch is an emerging horror author. Her story, and her take on the climate of publishing is fascinating. Her candor is also very refreshing. I sent questions to a few people I was curious about. A few responded. None of them, however, were as honest as W.B. Welch (and consequently, they will not be published because of it). I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.
First, thank you for allowing me to take a bit of your time. I appreciate your willingness to patronize my shitty little corner of the interweb. I am going to throw a ton of questions at you. Do not feel like you are obligated to answer all of them. Some will be the generic interview questions. Some will be tailored to you and things I think my readers will find interesting.
A little backstory. I joined Twitter right around the time you were leading up to the release of “Blood Drops.” I was researching blogging and reading a lot of blogs. Trying to find a niche that appealed to me. I clearly said fuck it and just decided to write/podcast about whatever was on my mind. But, I’ve never been a writer nor have I had any exposure to writing or the authoring process. Some of the questions I am going to throw at you today are born out of that ignorance. You have been warned.
But to the point.
I got to watch the buzz that surrounded you and your work. Honestly, it was contagious. I had to buy the book simply because I had watched all of the lead-up. I opened the book at the airport in Baltimore and finished the book about ten minutes before I landed in Germany. The pace of the book is feverish. The previous story left me wide-eyed and then the next story grabbed me while I was still reeling. Continuously grabbed, held, and dropped on my ass for ten hours. When you were assembling the book, did you arrange the stories in a particular way for effect? Did you have help? Take me through that process please.
Thank you for paying attention to the buzz around Blood Drops. Sometimes it still amazes me. I can remember the day I considered pulling stories together for an anthology. Never would I ever have imagined things going the way they have. That being said, I am a very spontaneous and intuition following person. A story anthology had been on my mind for some time, but I didn’t start planning it until about two weeks before I actually published the pre-order. I had a blog full of things that had barely been read and a community of people on Twitter I thought might be interested in those stories, so I pulled them together and started arranging them in Scrivener. I also had three stories that hadn’t been published anywhere yet, so I was able to clean them up and get them ready.
The order of the stories…some of it was very intentional, some of it was intuitive - I arranged them in a way that felt right. I wanted to start the book with “Her” because I wanted readers to know what they were getting into: a brutal and relentless book that unabashedly talks about life. I also intentionally ended the book with “Girl in the Pink Coat” because the ending to that story is one of my favorites ever, and I wanted to leave readers lingering on the thought. “Undo,” “The Look,” “Mall Food,” and, “Slipping,” were also arranged for effectiveness. The rest were laid in around those titles.
Her was some of the darkest shit I have ever read. Stephen King just looks and sounds like a dark and twisted dude. But, I don’t get that vibe from you. In preparing questions for this interview I watched three videos and read a couple of quickie interviews. You don’t have a creepy factor.
How many people do you kill in your head per day?
Hahahaha! Absolutely none. I am actually a yoga practicing, meditating, peace loving hippie that doesn’t even like to kill bugs.
How normal is WB Welch’s life? “Minivan and soccer mom” normal or “Only sacrificing on Wednesday” normal? Or somewhere in between?
It’s pretty normal. I have a sixteen-year-old who is learning how to drive. I cook families for dinner, I mean, I cook dinner for my family. My spare time is spent doing laundry and running errands, and I put frog’s eyeballs in my coffee just like the rest of the writing community. The rest of you guys do that too, right?
Authors on social media are constantly barking about their word count per day. How many words they have written that day versus what their goal is. Is that a real thing? Does the creative process actually work like that? What is your writing routine/agenda?
I romanticize the idea of writing every day, but I am not one of those people. I don’t have a word count. I love it when I reach at least 1,000, but that’s only to keep my eye on the prize, so to speak. I write when I can, and I don’t punish myself mentally when I can’t. That being said, I do try my hardest to make time for writing in the morning. I am always more creative in the morning. I save afternoons and night time for editing or other business related things.
Overall, I feel like committing yourself to an unrelenting schedule tends to often be counterproductive. Yes, you need to stay consistent to see a project through to the end, but if you’re bashing your head on the desk trying to get words out and nothing is happening, maybe it's time to concede and say, “It’s just not happening today.” The days I try to force the words, I usually end up writing entire scenes I’ll just delete later anyway.
I watched an interview you gave on YouTube about your book and how it came about. You mentioned that finding an audience on Twitter is fucking hard because of the sheer volume of bloggers using that platform for promotion. It seemed to me that what you were saying is that you grew frustrated with trying to break through the mire and get others to see the quality of your content. I have felt that frustration. I have watched bloggers literally beg for readers. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the only people who read blogs are other bloggers. What do you look for when deciding what and who to read?
That solely comes from connection. I don’t know how to tell you what makes me connect with someone’s writing style, but I always know instantly when it happens. Usually all it takes is a couple of sentences for me to say, “Yup, I like the way this person writes.”
As far as content goes, I don’t have really any qualifications. I enjoy fiction and non-fiction across many genres and topics. If I enjoy the writing, I’m down to read it.
There is a strong community of bloggers on Twitter. They support each other unconditionally. Which is great! But is it?
I think so! A lot of writers don’t have much support in real life. I have had people tell me I am literally the first person who has ever encouraged them. That further inspired me to want to help people. I had one of those moments, too. An editor once wrote an email to me which ultimately set me on this path. If he hadn’t taken the time to share his words, I don’t know how far I would have gone. I doubt he’ll ever know how much he changed my life, but that doesn’t make it any less real. If the encouragement that goes around Twitter can help someone feel positive about their dreams, then I absolutely think it’s wonderful.
Now that you are involved in projects with other authors, websites, and writing your own work, do you have time to read and follow any bloggers? If so, who and why does their content appeal to you? (there is no wrong answer btw)
Yes and no. I have chunks of down time where I try to find new things to read. I have lately been reading blogs and books from other authors I have connected with on Twitter. I haven’t kept up with any one blog in particular, because I try to read works from new people as I come across them, but as I said before, I don’t have a certain criteria that needs to be met when I am looking for something new to read. Ultimately, I enjoy reading things that don’t feel choppy or forced. If it has a good flow and pulls me in, I’m likely to read it through to the end.
Is blogging still a viable medium for an author? Was it ever?
Viable, as in, can it function? Yes. Profitable? Depends on the person. There are a lot of people out there making money from their blog. I’m not one of them. I have had my blog for about four years now. I don’t have one ad in place, and I don’t ever intend to place any. Blogging wasn’t ever about that for me. I just wanted a place to publish stories while I was writing and querying my novels.
I ask that question because I am not sure it is. I look at blogs and see three major types.
None of these genres are creativity driven. Two of these genres, and the internet is littered with them, are about product reviews, advertising revenue, and networking. The mental health/journaling genre seems to be about finding people going through the same shit and bonding. Or at the very least, seeking validation.
As someone who has broken the cycle of content generation via blog with limited consumption, and now that you have the perspective of successfully publishing your work, what advice do you have for people who are currently writing fiction, poetry...etc? Are creative writing bloggers wasting their time on a dying medium?
I don’t see it as a waste of time. I don’t see any attempt at forward momentum as a waste of time. If you are trying, you are learning. If I hadn’t ever started my blog, Blood Drops probably wouldn’t exist. That is enough for me to say it has all been worth it. Blogging may never bring about the results you are hoping to see, but that doesn’t mean it’s pointless. Blogging provides a very unique opportunity - if you can get readers, you can get feedback on your writing along the way. Each new post provides an opportunity to receive feedback on your writing and grammar and flow and setting and other writing techniques, and all of this in the short form. So you don’t have to wait until you’ve finished a whole book to figure out you might not be writing setting so well. If after three blog posts someone tells you they have a hard time orienting themselves in your world, you’ll know setting isn’t your strong suite, and that’s something you need to work on.
Or maybe a better way to phrase that question: Has the medium of blogging changed to become an environment inhospitable to people who create content rather than reviewing shoes?
I can’t comment on that because I don’t know how the medium used to be; I don’t know if there was ever a time blogs cultivated the creative genre. But who cares if it’s hospitable? It’s available…it’s a tool we can use. Even if you only have five readers, that’s five readers you wouldn’t have otherwise. If we give up on blogging as creatives, the tides will never turn in our favor. We have to keep trying.
I actually mention you and Blood Drops by name in a post I wrote about Indie Writing a while back. I had never heard of someone self-publishing, so I was a little shocked about the price point of your book. Did you have any say in how much Amazon charged for your work?
I did. I set my prices.
I ask because I opened the store app on my Kindle expecting to pay at least $10. And now having read the book, I feel like I owe you some more money. The book is also available on Kindle Unlimited. How do you get paid for people who choose to use Unlimited to read your work?
Haha, well thank you. I set the prices as I did because I am new, and it’s hard for new writers to get new readers. People have a hard time dropping money on a book from an author they don’t know, and I understand that. I am more concerned with getting it into readers hands than I am with how much I make from each copy.
On Kindle Unlimited, the author is paid per page that is read. I can’t remember what that number is exactly, and you do end up making less than you would from a sale, but I am happy to include it in other outlets; I would like to eventually donate copies to various libraries as well. I would hate for someone to really want to read Blood Drops and not be able to afford it.
Independent publishing. I have learned, through research, that there is a tremendous market for indie publishing. Did you shop your book around to traditional publishers before going the independent route?
Not with Blood Drops. I have a novel that I’m querying, but agents don’t typically take on clients who are looking for representation for an anthology.
Why, in your opinion, is there such a disconnect between traditional publishing houses and what consumers are buying? Or is there a disconnect? Are publishing houses out of touch with the new reader? Or are they simply allowing Independent Publishers to take the risk and picking up books that succeed?
I can’t speak too much on this topic. I know there are trends in the market, and publishing houses may sometimes focus on those trends to their own detriment. Publishing houses are big business, and, unfortunately, they have overhead to worry about; publishing a book covering a controversial or new topic is risky…it might mean losing money. I think we need to see a lot more diversity in publishing, but it’s not likely to happen overnight. There is a big shift happening right now, and I think it’s going to take a while for businesses to understand how to handle it. Imagine trying to plan dinner for your entire family, extended members included. Now pretend you can’t ask for any input ahead of time, you just have to put a menu together and go for it. You have no idea if some of these members may have new diet requirements, like keto or vegan. Now, let’s say you have to buy all the ingredients yourself and, if they are happy with the menu, they’ll pay you back for their plate, but if not, you don’t get a dime. Are you worried you’ll have to spend more than you’ll get back? That’s a small taste of what book publishers have to go through.
At this point, do you want to be picked up by a traditional publishing house? How much creative freedom does an author lose upon signing? I know in the recording industry, the artist has to eat a lot of shit once they sign. Is the writing business the same?
I’ll let you know when it happens.
Yes, I would still love to be picked up by a publishing house. I ultimately want to see my books on all kinds of shelves. Right now, traditional publishing is the way to make that happen. I’m not too worried about losing my creative freedoms. My tune may change once I find myself in the moment, but I figure if a ton of other authors have done it, it must not be that bad. I have my own creative vision, but I respect other artists’ ideas and would love to see what someone would conceptualize to accompany my work. I think how much ‘shit you have to eat’ is going to depend on who picks you up. Each publishing house will have their own way of doing things. How far their vision differs from yours is going to determine what kind of tension develops.
Wicca? That was your thing for a time in your life, correct? If I am remembering correctly, you are no longer a participant. What were the takeaways from alternate religious practice? Was it rewarding? Did practicing Wicca influence your creative process today? What, if any, parts and pieces of that religion did you keep when you left?
Yes, Wicca was something I actively practiced as a teenager. Absolutely, there are takeaways from everything we experience. I learned a lot about introspect and the power of the mind during those times. I am not a participant because I don’t actively participate in any religion anymore. That being said, I would still refer to myself as witchy and would probably most closely identify with ideals from the Wiccan and Buddhist religions.
I don’t know if Wicca has influenced my creative process, but the experience and knowledge are things that can be incorporated to encourage authenticity in a tale. Ultimately, I don’t shy away from life experience in really any setting, and I think that’s the important thing to take away from life in general: if you want to represent life in stories, you have to live life: observe, interact, and experiment. I’m not saying you have to go through everything you want to write about firsthand, but it helps to have a variety of experiences to pull from.
I was able to learn a lot about myself from Wicca, like how to trust my gut instinct and how to better understand my fellow human beings. Some of the aspects, such as chakra healing and meditations, I still actively utilize. I’m also a big fan of using herbs and crystal energy in certain scenarios.
You are an alumnus of Southern Methodist University. If you look at their Wikipedia page there is one hell of a lot of influential/famous people who graduated from there. Are you going to add your name to that list? I certainly would.
I hadn’t thought about that. That’s not a bad idea. Thank you.
Was the decision to make SMU your school due to the fact that it is local to Dallas or was there a specific program there that interested you?
It was location based. I was a single mom at the time and had already acquired some hours at a junior college. I was working and had a four-year-old I was caring for, so I couldn’t jet set across the country to another university. That being said, when I switched my major from biology to journalism, I was very happy with my choice. SMU has a wonderful journalism program.
What about a Wikipedia page? At what point do you add yourself to Wikipedia?
I don’t know. I guess I need to do a better job trying to get my name out there. I hadn’t even considered making a Wikipedia for myself.
Before getting one of those kickass FreeWrite thingys, what was your setup for writing?
To write, I require my shitty little Chromebook, Google Docs, my Smok vape, and cheap coffee.
I started writing via Microsoft Word on my Macbook. I am a big Apple fan, have been for years. I’ve only tried using a Widows laptop once since college. That lasted about a year before I was buying myself another Macbook Pro. Now, when I use my laptop, I always use Scrivener for my drafting.
Growing up. Are there any experiences in your past that made you decide that becoming a horror fiction writer is your calling? If so, please detail.
I’ve just always consumed horror. I saw my first scary movie when I was seven or eight. It was called Brainscan. I was terrified - and hooked. Some of my best memories are of my grandmother taking me to look for the latest in the Goosebumps series or of me browsing the horror movie shelves at Blockbuster. I actually never knew how well I would do writing horror until I just gave it a go one day.
What do you do to unwind? Writing has to be a little stressful
I read or watch movies. I’m not a big TV show binger, but I can marathon some movies like it’s nobody’s business. One of my fondest memories is of a LOTR Extended Edition marathon I was able to catch at the Richardson Alamo Drafthouse.
Do you cook? What is your signature dish? Feel free to leave recipe. I will return the favor.
I do. One of my favorite recipes is actually a soup I came up with when I was vegan for a time. I started with a vegan broccoli cheese soup recipe I found, then I modified it to include some root vegetables.
Vegan Broccoli, Root Veggie, and Cheese Soup
2 tsp - 1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 medium heads broccoli - chopped to small florets. Peel and chop any stalk used into small cubes
1 large or 2 small turnips - cubed
3 small or two large carrots - peeled and sliced
3 large kale leaves - chopped into bite sized pieces
2 cups unsalted, roasted cashews - soak covered 1 hour
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 small onion - minced
1 1/4 cups + 2 Tbsp almond milk
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Add oil to skillet. Once melted, add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add carrots, turnips, broccoli, stir occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth. Bring to boil, then turn to low heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Once carrots and turnips tender, add kale and simmer for 5 minutes before adding cashew cheese.
To make cashew cheese:
While broth and vegetables simmering, add cashews, almond milk, nutritional yeast, paprika, salt, and pepper to blender (I use a ninja blender). Blend until creamy and smooth. Add to simmering broth. Simmer for an additional three minutes while stirring frequently. Remove from heat and serve.
Career. Books by WB Welch. I believe you are currently working on a project. Care to tease that one a bit? And is there a tentative release date?
I have a couple of things going on actually. I am working on a zombie novella with Tory Hunter. I can’t tease too much because I don’t want to give away the surprise, but I can say that I haven’t ever seen a zombie book done quite like this before. I think our format has led to a natural co-author process, and I am in love with how it’s coming along.
I am also planning a second Blood Drops to come out later this year and am working on a second novel to start the query rounds.
At what point do you sit back and think you have arrived? At what point do/did you consider yourself to be a successful writer?
Psht, I’ll let you know if that ever happens. No, but on a serious note, sometime within the last month or two, I realized I was very happy with how far I’ve come. Six months ago, I still felt pretty alone in this whole endeavor and was still putting stories on my blog that were getting minimal views on their best days…now, a lot more people have read my stories. As far as I am concerned, I couldn’t have asked for this book release to have gone any better. It surpassed any expectations I originally had in place. But I have always felt like a ‘successful writer.’ To me, if you have a piece you want to create, and you are taking steps to see it come to fruition, you are a successful writer. I suppose that definition is going to vary from person to person though.
Are you able to work exclusively on writing and in writing? Or are you still doing the 9 to 5 somewhere?
I have been able to maintain a remote position and do some freelance editing for a while now, but I am actually about to start looking for a 9-5 again soon.
Are you a horror writer? Or is there a RomCom floating around in your head somewhere? Is horror writing your passion? Hell, is writing your passion?
Horror writing is my passion - I don’t know why, but I have always been drawn to the darkest side of our psyche. That being said. My novels are both speculative thriller, and my first book, Brenna’s Wing, was literary with a side of fantastical drama…so what I’m saying is I don’t know. I just put down whatever my muse tells me to.
Do writers become beholden to a genre because that is where their success is? Or do you see yourself going in a different direction at some point?
I see myself following wherever my inspiration leads. I don’t usually sit down with the intention of writing inside of a certain genre: I find a starting place and write what comes out.
What do you drive? Please be descriptive. For example: I drive a 2016 Kia Rio. I am 6’4” and 265 lbs. I jam myself in that fucking car because the gas mileage is awesome and I am too cheap to put gas in the gigantic truck I would like to have.
Hahaha! Well I am 5’3”, and I am sure no one is surprised when they see me getting out of my car. I have a 2018 Prius Four Touring edition, and I love the crap out of my car. I miss going fast, I used to have a Mazda RX8 and a Yamaha R1 motorcycle, but I am planning on building myself a cruiser style motorcycle soon.
Please promote your editing service, websites, and anything else you would like to plug.
Anyone who is looking to connect with me can always start at my website, wbwelch.com. I have links to all my other sites there. For anyone looking to buy a signed copy of Blood Drops or any Blood Drops merchandise (like a necklace or story charm), I have an online store, buywbwelch.com. Tory and I do have an editing service in which she provides critiques and I proofread, but we have both temporarily paused taking on new clients to make time for more creation.
Awesome right!?! Very grateful to W.B. for being so candid!