In the mystical realm of creativity, where words weave spells and imagination reigns supreme, Tyler Wittkofsky embarks on a captivating interview with the enchanting Mariah Stillbrook. Known for her bewitching tales and mastery of the written craft, Mariah delves into the magical intricacies of her life as a writer, wand maker, and practitioner of the arcane arts.
As the conversation unfolds, Tyler uncovers the alchemy of Mariah’s creative process, from the mystical spark of inspiration to the enchanting finished product. Join them on this literary journey as they navigate through the seasons of preferences, the dark corners of horror, and the cozy depths of hoodies. Unveiling the secrets of her evolution as a writer, Mariah shares wisdom for aspiring creators, navigating the ever-changing landscapes of the writing community, and embracing the power of self-love in the face of criticism.
Step into the realm of ink and magic, where Mariah Stillbrook reigns supreme, and discover the threads that bind her to the world of storytelling and enchantment. With a touch of wit and a sprinkle of professionalism, Tyler Wittkofsky guides us through this mystical encounter with a writer whose words are spells, and whose stories are portals to realms beyond imagination.
TW: What are your hobbies?
MS: Writing, crafting magic, wand making, biking, hiking, reading, playing with my kiddo and pup, and working out.
TW: Do you prefer tea or coffee?
MS: Coffee, but I also love a good cup of tea.
TW: What is your favorite season?|
MS: Bah! I’m only supposed to pick one? I need summer but I’m definitely a fall witch.
TW: What is your favorite movie?
MS: The Lost Boys
TW: What is your favorite genre to read?
TW: Hoodie or sweater?
TW: What inspired your craft, and how did you get started?
MS: My mom is a writer. I grew up watching her journal and work on short stories. I wanted to be just like her. As I got older writing became a coping mechanism and eventually just part of my life. I came out of the broom closet in my early thirties and that’s when I realized my writing was missing something vital, magic. Now, whether it be horror or fantasy, there is always some element of magic in every story I write.
TW: How do you approach the creative process, from idea generation to finished product?
MS: I call myself a plantster. I have somewhat of a photographic memory and that’s where I keep my outline, but as far as organization, that’s about as far as I get (minus the loads of sticky notes hung all over our house). An idea usually finds me, I upload it into my weird little mind, then I turn up the music and go for a run. Bingo—storyline. I try to stick to writing about 10,000 words a week (though I have a 3-year-old, so there’s that), and I usually stop about every 20,000 words or so to read and edit. That’s my process and it works for me. Also, every book I write gets easier.
TW: What advice would you give to aspiring creators in your field who are just starting out?
MS: If you’re not already practicing self-love, start. A writer needs to believe in their work and be proud of it, because there will be rejection waiting to pounce from every direction. Yes, there are a lucky few who get picked up right out of the gate, but for most of us this is a very difficult journey. It took me about ten years to get picked up. And even then, not everyone will love what you write. It’s best to realize that there are some people who just won’t get your vibe while there are some who have been waiting a very long time to hear what you have to say.
Also, keep writing and reading. I didn’t stop writing just because I was querying. Now I have five books coming out over the next two years because after I signed for In the Pines, CJM (my publisher) ended up taking on my YA trilogy and my YA horror. Both written while I was waiting to get picked up.
TW: How do you handle creative slumps?
MS: I usually end up binge watching something on Netflix, but I do try to get outside and ground myself. That helps more than anything. Reading is a good way to reverse the blockage, but sometimes I just need a break from words altogether. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that it’s okay to take breaks.
TW: What are your favorite tools or resources, and why do you recommend them?
MS: When I was querying I found MSWL a great resource for finding agents. As far as small press, I did a bit of research, but I was just starting to investigate that world when CJM liked one of my pitches during a #pitdark event on Twitter. I used to tell people that the writing community on Twitter was like gold. I probably learned just as much, if not more, from other writers on there than the workshops I went to over the years. Unfortunately, the platform is kind of sinking. But I would still tell others to check out the writing communities all over social media. You can learn so much that way because these are the people who have had all the experiences—the people who didn’t give up and can tell you how they got to where they are.
TW: How has your craft evolved over time, and what factors have influenced this evolution?
MS: I’m a better writer. I didn’t find out I was dyslexic until my first year of college. I’m pretty good at working around it, but I have to read my work out loud and read it slow enough that I catch the moments where I’ve inverted some of my sentences. Having professional editing done on my work has helped as well.
TW: How do you handle criticism or negative feedback on your work, and what steps do you take to improve?
MS: Again, the self-love. It never feels good to find that someone didn’t absolutely fall in love with your work, but there is no way to please everyone. There’s plenty of books that I’ve had to put down because I just couldn’t get into them, and some of them were very well-known titles. I try to remind myself of that before screaming into a towel.
TW: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing those in your craft today, and how do you think it can be addressed?
MS: I’m a pansexual witch. There are quite a few humans who don’t like that. They don’t like what I am, what I stand for, and what my books are about. But that’s why I write what I write. I do believe that love is love, and magic is nothing more than the energy of love. All I can do is try to spread that message. My belief is this: take what you want and leave the rest. That’s what we learn when we’re trying to recover. It’s something everyone needs to learn because it applies to everything in this life, not just those of us recovering from something.
TW: Who are your favorite creators in your craft and why?
MS: Robert McCammon, because he is the master of horror. Neil Gaiman, because he is the master of storytelling. And Chuck Palanhniuk, because he’s mother-fing Chuck Palanhniuk.
TW: How do you stay motivated?
MS: It comes naturally. I’ve always had a strong will and I truly love writing.
TW: What is your favorite piece of work and why?
MS: Swan Song.
TW: Can you describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision about your craft?
MS: I put it on hold for about two years while I was pregnant and that first year with my babe. My husband and I had to go through IVF twice and when the third embryo stuck, we both decided it would be best for me to set aside the stress. However, I strongly believe this little beasty is my muse. I’ve received more story ideas than ever since she was born.
TW: What social media site has been the most beneficial for your craft?
MS: Three years ago, Twitter. As of right now, TikTok.
TW: What does the future hold for you?
MS: I will write until I die. Other than that, I don’t know, but I can’t wait to see!
TW: Where can my readers find you? (Social media, website, tours, business address, etc. links)
MS: Everything can be found here: https://linktr.ee/mariahstillbrook
TW: Anything else you would like to say?