I write fiction and poetry, often times with a speculative edge (horror, dark fantasy), and I also write essays and criticism on the horror genre itself. Specifically, my work tends to err on the side of psychological and body horror, and all of my poetry collections are composed thematically.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
To some degree, I think I always knew that I wanted to be a writer because for as long as I can remember, I’ve been telling stories. I do specifically remember announcing it to my class on career day when I was eight, though.
As for being a horror writer, that revelation came around middle school. I had a healthy habit of reading vampire fiction and supernatural romance, so for me, monsters had to be involved in whatever I was doing. At that point, it was a natural progression for them to start showing up in my stories.
What do you consider the most influential book you've ever read?
This is a tough one.
The most influential piece of fiction that I’ve ever read would have to be Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and I say this because first and foremost, it showed me how to write a story that spanned multiple genres. Depending on who you talk to, the book can be shelved in horror, science fiction, literary fiction, etc., and to me, that is astounding because it appeals to multiple audiences at once. I love that Shelley was able to include a number of speculative and literary elements in her work while never faltering away from the core of the story: the definition of monster and the complexities of man. Those motifs really made me think about how we classify villains and define monstrosity as a culture, and that grey area has shown up, and continues to show up, in my own work a lot.
However, when it comes to my sanity as a writer, Stephen King’s On Writing has kept me on track more than once, particularly in graduate school. Without reading that book, I’m not sure that I would have finished my MFA, let alone finished my first manuscript.
What other authors are you friends with, and how have they helped you become a better writer?
This list is far too long to answer this question with any amount of justice, but I will say that over my past six years working in the horror industry that I have made friendships and acquaintances with people from all around the world whom I have grown to love dearly. Joining the Horror Writers Association and attending their conferences has had a wonderful impact on my life in regard to networking, meeting other writers, and chatting with readers and publishers, and their energy, enthusiasm, and general love for the industry and genre is what keeps me writing.
What’s the best way you've found to market your books?
For me, the best way that I’ve found to market my books is to have an active presence on social media. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and my author blog/website to do a lot of networking and marketing, and my publishers and publicist have done a great job at connecting me with reviewers and opportunities as well.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I tend to do a ton of research before I jump into the writing process too much, and I’m constantly reading up on the subject while I’m working on the book as well, particularly for poetry. I like to be as immersive as I can with my subject matter because it helps keep the momentum going for me. When possible, I try to do on-site research, interviews, and photography, too, much like I did when writing Hysteria: A Collection of Madness when I went to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, West Virginia State Penitentiary, and Hill View Manor.
Let me tell you, nothing inspires you to write psychological horror like sitting in solitary confinement and writing about your fears and demons.
Any last thoughts for our readers?
Be true to yourself, write the stories you want to write, and don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. Oftentimes when we tackle our fear of the unknown, we find our calling as writers.
Links/promotional things (include any photos you would like)
RDSP Author Page: http://rawdogscreaming.com/authors/stephanie-wytovich/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-M.-Wytovich/e/B00DTKIN2K
Author Bio: Stephanie M. Wytovich is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her work has been showcased in numerous anthologies such as Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Shadows Over Main Street: An Anthology of Small-Town Lovecraftian Terror, Year's Best Hardcore Horror: Volume 2, The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 8, as well as many others.
Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, an adjunct at Western Connecticut State University and Point Park University, and a mentor with Crystal Lake Publishing. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, and An Exorcism of Angels. Her debut novel, The Eighth, is published with Dark Regions Press.
Her next poetry collection, Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare, is scheduled to be released late 2017 from Raw Dog Screaming Press.
Follow Wytovich at http://www.stephaniewytovich.com/ and on twitter @SWytovich