Tuesday 2 June 2015

Sherry Decker Interview by David Kempf

Sherry's short fiction has appeared in publications such as Alfred
Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Cemetery Dance, Black Gate, Dark Wisdom and
the anthology, Best of Dark Wisdom. Her novelette, Hook House has been
selected to appear in The Best of Cemetery Dance 2. Sherry won first place
in the North Texas Professional Writers Association's fiction contest,
year-end Finalist and Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future, and
four-time finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association genre
fiction contest. She is an Active member in both the Science Fiction
Writers of America and Horror Writers of America. Sherry lives in
Sammamish Washington with her husband, Richard. Hypershot is her first
novel (Eldritch Press). Her next, Fallow Fields is a horror tale. That
story takes place on the Olympic Peninsula near her home town. Sherry is
halfway through her third novel and considering doing something she never
planned to do - write a sequel to Hypershot titled Undercity.

Tell us how you became involved in writing fiction.

I've been a book lover since second grade, and was fortunate to have
a teacher who encouraged us to write short bits and then stand up in front
of class and read them. My high school Literature/Composition teacher gave
me extra credit for my short fiction, and I placed two stories in the
school's yearly creative magazine. I began my writing education trying to
write for children, but eventually decided my stories were too dark. My
real education came by taking Advanced Creative Writing from two wonderful
teachers at the University of Washington in Seattle - evening classes.
Those two teachers are Jack Remick and Robert Ray. Their classes were
tough. They had high expectations and little patience for students who
didn't take instruction. For instance, for the first two quarters in that
class we were allowed to use NO adverbs. None. It was difficult. Adverbs
flow easily and naturally from the pen of amateurs. Amateurs depend on
adverbs because they are easy shortcuts. Eventually, I learned how
powerful a strong verb can be, and that if your verb is powerful enough,
you don't need adverbs. Now days, about the only time I ever use an adverb
in my fiction is in dialogue, because characters use adverbs when they
talk. We all do.

 It was after those first two quarters in that class that I received my
first acceptance for a short story.

 I highly recommend Jack Remick's novel, Blood.It's about a hit man,
convicted of stealing women's underwear and sent to prison. You need to
read it to understand what it's really about. It's dark and violent.

How many books have you written?

Three so far. The first was my short fiction collection, Hook House and
Other Horrors (Damnation Books). Most of the stories in the collection
were previously published in professional markets such as Alfred
Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Cemetery Dance, Black Gate, Dark Wisdom,
etc. One story was chosen for The Best of Dark Wisdom (anthology) and
another for The Best of Cemetery Dance 2. In order of publication, the
books are Hook House and Other Horrors, Rusty the Robot's Holiday
Adventures (a children's book co-written with Michael McCarty - Pie Plate
Publishing), Hypershot (Eldritch Press) Fallow Fields a horror novel
(Eldritch). Fallow Fields takes place on a farm on the Olympic Peninsula
in Washington State. It may be the darkest story in my repertoire to-date.
I'm now working on my fourth novel titled, Salvage. It's another dark
science fiction story.

Tell us about your new book.

Hypershot is a futuristic earth adventure, dystopian, with an
abundance of dark fantasy and horror elements.

Nancy Kilpatrick said: Lovers of dystopian novels need to check out
Hypershot by Sherry Decker. The prose is excellent and the plot tightly
under the author's control. Decker weaves into this world an engaging
protagonist, a female hero who overcomes extreme obstacles to always
travel that extra mile. It's a real good read!

What I say: Dark, dystopian and dangerous, Undercity is a place no one
would choose to live. Two thirds of its population are slave labor and
hundreds risk their lives to escape through a treacherous three mile
route to the surface. Seldom, does anyone succeed. As a mid-rank member
in Undercity's military, it's Krea's job to stop them, until she loses
everything and everyone she cares about.

Do you enjoy creating horror fiction in particular?

Yes. I've always had a fascination with the dark elements in fiction. And
monsters. And the impossible. As a small child I watched Frankenstein on
television, which gave me nightmares and later I read Dracula and was
hooked. I started imagining what it would be like to write such stories.
As a young adult I read Stephen King; Carrie. The Shining. The Stand.
Salem's Lot . . . I'm an avid fan of his earlier works.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as an artist so far?

 Perseverance. I first began writing Hypershot over twenty years ago when
I first met my most influential teacher, Jack Remick. To enter his class
I had to submit thirty pages of something that I was currently working
on. I didn't know that Hypershot would become a full length novel. I also
didn't know how awful my writing was at that time. But Jack saw something
in my writing that made him think, there's hope for her.

During those twenty-plus years, Hypershot was set aside numerous times
out of frustration, self doubt, lack of ideas, etc. So, I wrote more short
fiction. I also edited and published Indigenous Fiction ~ wondrously
weird and offbeat,² a short fiction magazine. Indigenous Fiction
flourished for five years before I found out I needed surgery to remove a
benign tumor pressing against my spine. Long-story-short I'll never have a
good back again. After a second back surgery I'm left with nerve damage
down my left leg which prevents me from doing many of the things I used to
take for granted. I love gardening but must limit that to an hour and a
half or I'm in pain for the rest of the day.

As far as my best writing, I'd say Hypershot contains strong material,
mixed with paragraphs that remind me I still have some self doubt. The
same goes for the next book, Fallow Fields and also, Salvage. Maybe
that will always be the case for me. Some lingering self doubt.

The first time I felt genuine success was when, Hicklebickle Rock was
accepted for publication in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Later,
when The Clan was published by Hitchcock and was illustrated on the
cover, I was astounded. Now, having my first novel published by Eldritch
Press, I feel thrilled.

Name some of your favorite horror books.

I touched on some of them before: Carrie, The Shining, The Stand, Salem's
Lot (King), Prince of Tides (Conroy), Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon
(Harris), Dandelion Wine (Bradbury) The Other (Tryon), The Ocean at the
End of the Lane (Gaiman). There are many, many more but I'll stop there.
The list would be near-endless.

Name some of your favorite horror films.

Alien, (all of them), Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, the original Time
Machine, Dracula, The Thing, Riddick, Prometheus (I know, I know)
Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, A Clockwork Orange, The Omega Man, Silent
Running (not exactly horror) The Blob, The Andromeda Strain. Again, there
are tons more but these are the ones that come to mind at this moment.

Why do you think old school horror fiction remains popular?

Horror fiction doesn't attract everyone but for those of us who are fans,
we can't get enough. I have my favorite types of horror, but chainsaws
don't appeal to me, although vampires and zombies and other blood thirsty
creatures do. I've never figured out why, exactly. We have to admire the
imagination and the attempt to display such stories onscreen, and while
some of them had special effects that seem silly by today's standards,
they still manage to give us shivers and force us to consider, what if?
I love that old movie about the giant ants in the desert, Them!
Whenever it's on television, I sit down and watch it.

What are your latest projects?

Trying to come up with ideas to keep writing, Salvage. It's an
off-world adventure about a woman tricked and abandoned on a penal
satellite, struggling to survive against the harsh elements and desperate

Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work.

I'm a wife, a mother, a grandmother who loves stories. I don't stick 100%
to fantasy, dark fantasy, or horror. I enjoy a bit of everything, even
romance on occasion. As a young teenager I was a Victoria Holt fan. But I
won't read Fifty Shades of Gray. One must draw the line at poorly
written trash. That's my opinion. Personally, I'd love to write something
that shocks, entertains and makes readers think. I love an unreliable
narrator or protagonist. The protagonist in Hypershot, Krea-D is like
that. She's a bit of a Mad Max character. She insists everyone else follow
the rules, but breaks them herself. The big eleven  publishers turned
down Hypershot, saying Krea wasn't 'sympathetic' enough. To me, that means
she wasn't predictable enough for them. They did say to my agent, Richard
Curtis, ³send us her next book, but since Eldritch Press loved my rebel
protagonist, they get my second book, probably my third book too. Seems
only fair.

I hope people will buy Hypershot and give it a chance. I'd love to get
feedback from readers, even if they have criticims. I actually will
consider their opinions. I want to know what they like and what they
dislike about the story and the characters.

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