Today’s Women in Horror Month Spotlight is none other than Margaret L. Colton! I’ve known Margie for a short while, but in that time I’ve determined two things: that she’s just awesome in general and that her writing reflects the twisted yet fun-loving voice that we’ve all grown to love. She’s written stories for the State of Horror series as well as the upcoming anthology from Charon Coin Press, Paying the Ferryman. She’s also pretty near and dear to my heart because she’s bringing edgy paranormal romance to CCP by co-editing the long-awaited Carpe Noctem: Truly, Madly, Deeply.
What influences your stories?
Story influences are all around me every day. They manifest themselves usually at the exact wrong time, but then worm their way into my psyche and grow into something that must then come out. Usually the biggest influences are emotions—the stronger the emotion, the better the story idea. Often times people who have irritated me or down right angered me make appearances in some form in the stories. I will see a news story and think wow that person really deserves badness, and then fictional justice is served in a heinous way. It is great to write horror sometimes! On the other hand, sometimes the setting is the influence. Traveling around, seeing amazing places, even tourist traps, really get my creativity going. What happened in that 100-year-old farmhouse or abandoned hotel? What is going on behind the scenes of the swanky resort? I love stories that combine the actual history of a place and twist it into a dark story—just on the edge enough to be plausible, yet fictitious and creative as possible. Sometimes I really enjoy taking a true history from somewhere and twisting it, placing it somewhere else.
I truly believe that if people just keep an open mind they find inspiration, a plethora of story ideas everywhere in people, places, just everywhere. Even just talking to people and joking around could lead to a great story idea. For me, once the inspiration hits, I usually have a scene or character in my head and then just have to let the characters take me where they want to go. It is like a brain dump obsession. Of course later editing becomes a nightmare, but once the idea strikes it needs to be lived with, developed and gotten out of my head.
How do you balance writing and the realities of life?
If I had the perfect answer to balancing writing and real life, I would write it, sell it, go on a speaking tour and be fabulously rich! There is no easy answer nor is there an answer that will work for everyone, and I would go as far as to say there is not an answer writers want to hear. The reality is that people have to eat, have shelter and all those necessities and creature comforts to do that we have to have income and therefore real jobs. It is a myth or dream people have of quitting their jobs, writing the best-selling novel and living off of royalties sipping cocktails in the sun—and really has anyone actually done that ever? Like so many other writers I get obsessed to write and complain constantly there is no time to write, while every day I get up and go to work, come home and make dinner and be a person. I love my family and friends and they are so important to me, they have to come first. I will stop writing to play with the baby or listen to the day my daughter had, or lend an ear to a friend in need. I’m a writer, but I’m a mom, grandma, and friend first. That being said, I cut out time nearly every day for writing or writing-related activities. I don’t know how balanced it is but I have to do both the family thing and the writing thing. I feel like it is important to take care of yourself so you can take care of others, which sounds great, but in reality I sacrifice myself more for others, and usually the sacrifice is sleep. No magic formula for balance, I just try to do the best I can every day.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing or what was the hardest part about writing your story?
The biggest challenge to my writing besides having time—which is a constant—is finding and keeping the voice of the characters. I am not really a plotter, so when the voices are there I have to get them down as soon as I can so I don’t lose them. I can write out of order, because usually there is a particular scene that calls to me. Once I have that the rest of the story fits around it—well that sounds much smoother than it is. Because of the way I write, editing is a must, and of course self-editing is a particular challenge. It is ironic that as an editor I always dread the editing process. Don’t we all just want someone to say “Perfection! Don’t change one marvelous word in your masterpiece!” Loll! I’m still waiting to hear that…
About Margaret L. Colton
Margaret L. Colton is an avid history buff, especially in the areas of Medieval Europe, Ancient Greece and American History, she loves all things history. She has been imparting her historical knowledge on her students for the past 12 years, teaching not only historical subjects but psychology as well. She teaches in the same district she graduated from. Even though she has two Master’s degrees in education, the writing community called to her.
Before beginning to write again after many years, she began editing and recently started ML Colton Editorial Services. Currently, she has a short story in State of Horror: New Jersey, North Carolina, Louisiana and others set to be published early next year. Besides dabbling with some short stories, she is the Editor-in-Chief at Charon Coin Press and has anthologies coming out early this year entitled Paying the Ferryman, and Carpe Noctem: Truly, Madly, Deeply.
She has two beautiful daughters and a granddaughter who share her love of books and fun and some amazing friends around her. Even though she lives in Missouri and is a rabid Cardinals fan, she loves to travel to some of her favorite places like New Orleans, Florida and Hawaii.
Margaret L Colton can be reached at: