Interview with Clay Waters

The Chamber Magazine is embarking on a new feature of conducting written interviews with authors whose work has been published on this website. Today’s interview is with Clay Waters, whose story “Frozen Dinners” was published on January 8.

Clay Waters has had short stories published in The Santa Barbara Review, The J.J. Outre Review, Morpheus Tales, Hello Horror, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye. His website is claywaters.org, featuring his self-published cozy mystery novel Death in the Eye. Clay lived in Florida until the age of four and recently returned to find it hasn’t changed a bit. Three of his six memories from that first stop involve the alphabet, which in retrospect was a bit of a tell.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

Probably my short story in The Santa Barbara Review, a “literary” literary magazine, in my early years of publishing.

Why do you write?

It’s a compulsion, an odd need to fill clean white paper (tip: yellow legal pads provide less pressure).

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

My mother is an excellent continuity checker for my fiction and has also guided me back onto the straight path when I get too obscure or haven’t properly explained something.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

A thriller-murder-mystery novel with some gothic-science-horror thrown in, set in a small retirement home in Central Florida — about 98% complete.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

They tend to ruin my whole day, but with patience and purposeful breathing I’ve gotten that down to 12 hours. 😊

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Once you get a promising idea, and have at least a vague sense of where you think it will end up, stop worrying about how to write it, and just get on with it. Write mindlessly, then clean it up later. Don’t wait for the perfect sentence to come, and certainly don’t try to write the perfect sentence. Find words you use too much and try to cut back (mine is “rather”). And keep in mind that your ending may not veer in the direction you originally envisioned. Don’t sweat it. If you’ve gotten that far, you’ll figure something out.

Also, people say “write what you know,” but that can be limiting. I know nothing about interstellar travel or being trapped in a closet with a giant spider, but I’ve written about those things. Some of my better short stories have been told from a female perspective (I am a man). I’d reverse it and say “Know what you write.” I write hard-science-fiction sometimes though I don’t have the brain for it, but I can do some Wikipedia-level research and at least fudge it sufficiently to convince over the space of a short story. No one comes to your story wanting a science lecture (unless you’re a reading Analog magazine, of course).

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

www.claywaters.org gathers my short story, poems, reviews, and academic writing in one handy spot, and will hopefully feature info on my new novel in the not-too-distant future.

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