Featured Author: Charlotte Platt – Terrors Unimagined

Charlotte Platt

Left Hand Publisher Featured Author: Charlotte PlattFeatured Author: Charlotte Platt is a young professional who writes horror and urban fantasy. Charlotte spent her teens on the Orkney Islands and studied for her profession in Glasgow before moving up to the north Highlands for her current job. She has taken inspiration from a wide variety of sources including haunted military buildings, sceptical horses and the creeping woods that line the Thurso River. She lives off sarcasm and tea and can often be found walking near cliffs and rivers, looking for sea glass. Charlotte was shortlisted for the Write to End Violence Against Women Award 2017, placed second in the British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition 2017, and has had short stories published in Unfading Daydream, Dissonance Magazine, Econoclash Review, and Twilight Madhouse Volume 3. Outside of writing, she enjoys music, dark comedy, and pugs, and can be reached on Twitter at @Chazzaroo.

Featured Author: Charlotte Platt Interview

LHP: How long have you been writing?

Charlotte Platt: I’ve been writing since I was a child, and particularly swung into it in my teens. I had a bit of a break towards the end of my studies but I jumped back into it after that. I’ve recently been re-reading some of the stories I wrote in my teens and they were predictably awful, though one I wrote when I was 19 was published in an anthology in December 2017 so I won’t throw them all onto the fire just yet!

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LHP: What genre do you prefer to write in?

Charlotte Platt: Horror and urban fantasy are my favourites, along with speculative fiction. Literary fiction is wonderful, but I have had a varied life and my day job takes me into a lot of unusual situations with people, so I enjoy getting to explore the wild side that speculative fiction lets me play with. Ghosts, ghouls, monsters of all sorts are great fun and there is a particular joy to making characters that match up to them.
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LHP: What/who inspired you to be a writer?

Terrors Unimagined, an anthology of horror by Left Hand PublishersCharlotte Platt: For the what, I had worlds inside my head and I wasn’t artistic enough to paint or draw them so I started writing them instead. Getting to explore these through writing is wonderful because it can be a surprise to me too, but that’s part of what keeps it interesting.

For the who, my really cheesy answer would be my parents. My mother worked as a Care in the Community assistant while studying part time for her degree (and eventually bachelor of science) while still writing and painting, and my father worked ten to twelve hour shifts but still wrote in the evenings. Creativity has been such an integral part of my family that it was natural for me to throw myself into it as well. My fiancé Deryck also played a large part as he encouraged me to go back to my writing after I took a break while finishing off my studies. Author wise, I would say Neil Gaiman, William Gibson (cyberpunk was my obsession for a large portion of my teens), Thomas Harris and Charlaine Harris.

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LHP: Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?

Charlotte Platt: I usually get a hook of a character and it grows from there, like a maze. Sometimes I will get a first line in my head and start pulling at the thread of it, but for the most part I’m character driven so it will be that someone pops into my mind and I start poking at why they’re there and the story runs off. I’m very much one of the ‘discovering as I go’ writers in that sense but I get immense satisfaction from that!

For shorter works (up to about 10k) I just write it and go with what comes, subject to heavy editing once I’m done with my first draft. I find it works best for me – if I try to plot smaller works then I feel like I’ve already told half the story and I lose momentum. For my first novel, which is still in the editing stages, I had to outline in so much as I needed at least a rough timeline so I didn’t run over time for the plot. I think I would do this again, as it did make the drafting tighter.

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LHP: What is your daily/weekly routine as a writer?

Charlotte Platt: I try to do some writing or editing every day, and I try to check competitions weekly to see if they spark any ideas off. I am a big fan of writing with music in the background and I have playlists that I like though a bit of anything is welcome. I usually manage to get an hour to myself each day during the week, and at the weekend I have Saturday afternoon to do as much as I can.

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LHP: Are there any software tools, resources, or websites you use often while writing?

Charlotte Platt: Pinterest actually – I have a sprawling writing board on it that I dip in and out of when I want a mental refresh. Other than that, I have an excellent book called The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook which is great to have handy for references.

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LHP: What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?

Terrors Unimagined, an anthology of horror by Left Hand Publishers

Charlotte Platt: Consistently applying my energy to writing – because I tend to write at the end of the day sometimes my brain is mush and staring at the screen burns my eyes. I have had to deliberately make myself find ways to work around that, be it with upbeat playlists or my ideas board or endless cups of tea.

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LHP: Do you have a set number of words per day you target? or do you set other goals to meet?

Charlotte Platt: I like to try for 1000 words a day, or to finish the story if it’s a flash piece. However this isn’t a hard and fast rule – I would much rather have a well written 750 words than a poorly done 1000.

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LHP: Do you prefer short stories or full length novels in your writing?

Charlotte Platt: I loved writing my first novel but I think there is something satisfying about how quick and clean short stories have to be. They’re more distilled down than a novel for me. However I do want to write more full length works soon and have three burning away in the back of my head.

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LHP: How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?

Charlotte Platt: That varies month to month for me. I am sad enough to have a database showing where I have submitted to, when, when I expect to hear back and if I was successful or not, and I check over that weekly. I also have a list of competitions divided by month so I can see which deadlines are coming up and if I want to submit for them. Quite often competition themes can be good inspiration, or you can find a spot for a story you haven’t had any luck with elsewhere.

In terms of marketing, I have quite an active social media presence through Twitter and I am very keen on promoting other writers and publishers. It is a small community really, and if I see something I think is good then I want to help them out by sharing that too. I have seen this reflected in others giving me shout outs and recommending my stories so I do feel like it’s much a mutual effort and people give back.

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LHP: Can you give some us some insight into your story?

Charlotte Platt: Blessing came to me as a comedic story initially – I loved the idea of someone in a high violence situation not really being worried about the violence but fretting about other things instead. I started to play around with why that would happen and Leon came to me out of that.

Blessing became the story of a young man who wishes to set right the sea of wrongs he sees around him, and play as dirty as those he sees hurting others. There’s a line of hypocrisy that runs through Leon’s willingness to thrust himself into the violence around him, because he has an advantage, but he is driven by a need to make things right. That’s a theme I come back to a lot in my writing and it is something I like to explore through many prisms.

I enjoyed writing the story, it came out in one long Saturday evening session which is my favourite way to get the flow of words going. I would like to explore the wider world the story is set in, possibly with a collection of short stories to go along with this one.

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LHP: What advice can you give other writers?

Charlotte Platt: Don’t give up: the longer you keep at writing the better you will get at it. It’s boring but it’s true.

That being said, recognise your own needs and don’t be afraid to give yourself a rest/treat/pep-talk as necessary, humans need that stuff to keep going and there is no harm in it.

Don’t be afraid of bad feedback – I have had some stonkingly bad responses that were downright rude but once you get past the initial spitting feathers you get a good eye for spotting what is valid and what is someone having a bad day. The valid is extremely useful as it helps you get better.

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Terrors Unimagined

Charlotte Platt recently authored “Blessing” for Terrors Unimagined on sale now.