Meghan: It’s been awhile since we sat down together, Somer. What’s been going on since we last spoke?
Somer Canon: Oh boy, SO MUCH! I’ve had the release of my book, A Fresh Start, from Crossroads Press as well as a few anthologies. I also embarked on a co-writing journey with my friend and talented author, Wesley Southard. Our work is still in it’s nascent form, but it’s shaping up to be something pretty amazing.
Meghan: Who are you outside of writing?
Somer Canon: Suburban wife and mother of two sons. Minivan driving menace to aggressive drivers in BMWs and grill master extraordinaire.
Meghan: How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work?
Somer Canon: My two childhood best friends are NOT horror fans. Not even a little bit. They’ve read one of my works and were kind enough to ask me what was wrong with me, but I am very understanding of their abstaining from reading my stuff. I can’t really help it if my family reads my works and I try not to think about it too much for fear of censoring myself, to tell the truth. If I offend, I’m happy if they don’t tell me about it.
Meghan: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
Somer Canon: It’s a mixed bag, honestly. I think creatives are some of the most empathetic and wonderful people to know and I love being in their midst. By knowing them, I’ve learned to embrace the parts of myself, my creative self, that have for so long been hidden by me for fear of them being weird or off-putting by members of polite society, and not just because I am a horror writer, although that comes with its own cabinet of weird. We notice things some other people don’t, we’re sensitive and vain, and we tend to be frightened of putting to paper parts of the lush and colorful wilderness that is our imaginations. That place in our heads is where we do most of our living and sharing it is difficult, and yet most of us, myself included, are compelled to put it down and get it out. It’s freeing and wonderful, but also terrifying and loathsome.
Meghan: How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?
Somer Canon: Well, they certainly color ME, so they would have to bleed into the work that I wring out of myself, you know? My upbringing wasn’t a happy one, so I tend to not write child protagonists because I hated so much being a child…I don’t want to revisit that. Things that anger me make it into the books, things that scare and hurt me make it in. My weird preoccupation with snack cakes made it into my book Killer Chronicles! The things in my past and in my surroundings can’t help but be part of the creative process and I think it’s good for the final product. It makes it more relatable, I think.
Meghan: What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your books?
Somer Canon: Crime scene photos. I’ve had to describe some horrible things and in order to keep it grounded, or at least semi-grounded in reality, I had to get a good look at it. I’ve lost sleep over a few of those.
Meghan: Which do you find the hardest to write: the beginning, the middle, or the end?
Somer Canon: Endings are HARD. Not to say that beginnings and middles are easy (they’re SO not) but endings have a lot of responsibility towards the overall tone of the book. Where do you end it? How do you end it? What questions do you answer or leave hanging? How many of your readers do you want sending you angry emails? I consider books to be like thrill rides and they’re absolutely more about the journey than the destination, but if the destination is ill-fitted and all wrong, it certainly has influence over your impression of the overall experience.
Meghan: Do you outline?
Somer Canon: I might do a page-long idea of the overall story sometimes, but mostly I pants it.
Meghan: Do you start with characters or plot?
Somer Canon: Plot.
Meghan: Do you just sit down and start writing?
Somer Canon: It might look like that from the outside, I suppose, but my mind is totally bent on that current work in progress. Every waking moment is spent thinking on it.
Meghan: What works best for you?
Somer Canon: I need to do things that are quieting. By that I mean, my hands are busy, but my mind is in this really great, quiet, almost zen place and I get my best ideas when I’m quieting. I bake, work out, do yard work, or clean my kitchen cabinets. It helps a lot.
Meghan: What do you do when characters don’t follow the outline/plan?
Somer Canon: My characters start off as cardboard cutouts of the more well-rounded people they become in the process of writing the story. If they want to go off script, I’m okay with it.
Meghan: What do you do to motivate yourself to sit down and write?
Somer Canon: I want this. I’ve always wanted this. Hard work has never scared me off. Someone once said to me, “Just sit down and write the damn thing.” Reciting that like a mantra actually helps me a lot!
Meghan: Are you an avid reader?
Somer Canon: I try to be, I really do. I don’t read as much as I’d like.
Meghan: What kind of books do you absolutely love to read?
Somer Canon: I love haunted house books. I’ve never passed on one. I also love a good biography.
Meghan: How do you feel about movies based on books?
Somer Canon: I’m always dubious about it because so many movies change parts of the original story that… WHY. There was no need to change that, why did you do that? I watch plenty of movies based on books, but I’m usually left cold.
Meghan: Have you ever killed a main character?
Somer Canon: Yes.
Meghan: Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?
Somer Canon: It’s not that I get joy from it. There is something to learn from pain and there’s an opportunity to grow or learn something about yourself if you make it out of the suffering intact. It has to happen, but I don’t necessarily love it.
Meghan: What’s the weirdest character concept that you’ve ever come up with?
Somer Canon: I have my idea book where I jot down little ideas for stories or characters. I used to keep it by my bed so if I woke up with a thought I could jot it down. I stopped keeping it there after I found an entry with only two words and, for the life of me, I have no idea what I was thinking. Grandma Boobie is the entry. I just… HUH?
Meghan: What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received?
Somer Canon: I’ve been really lucky to work with editors that have helped me catch some annoying habits in my writing. I can’t imagine how tedious I must be to them. What’s the worst? I once had a fellow author tell me that I’ll never again hit the high of the experience of signing my first contract and it was all downhill from there. I disagree with that. Big time. Every time someone wants to publish one of my tales, every short story acceptance, every invite to do a blog tour or a convention… it all means so much to me and I let myself be humble and flabbergasted by all of it. I’m living my dream and I don’t want to let myself become numb to it.
Meghan: What do your fans mean to you?
Somer Canon: We have to hide how demoralizing this writing thing can be. Rejections happen, things go quiet and you’re forgotten, self-loathing is the grease that keeps my writing engine going and I’m very hard on myself. And then, in those darkest times, someone will message me and tell me that they liked my story, or send me an email asking when my next book will come out. I can float on those tiny nuggets of encouragement for a week at least. My fans startle me and lift me up and I really don’t know if I could handle the drudgeries without them.
Meghan: If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why?
Somer Canon: I would love Larry Underwood, from Stephen King’s The Stand. Larry is such a mess and I’d like to play with him in a timeline where I can continue his storyline and Captain Trips never happens. He’s a victim of good intentions swallowed by pride and vanity, until everything goes to hell and he has to lead with his better side. His better side is full of mistakes, but it perseveres.
Meghan: If you could write the next book in a series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about?
Somer Canon: I’d like to write another Southern Vampire Mystery book (True Blood was based on them). I love the character of Sookie Stackhouse as she was in the books (don’t make me talk about the show… I get loud) and I feel that Charlaine Harris got tired of writing in that world, which I understand. But as a fan I would geek out so hard.
Meghan: If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?
Somer Canon: I AM writing a collaboration with someone, the previously mentioned Wesley Southard! But fantasy-wise? I think it would be cool to write with one of my high-minded, intelligent friends like Mary SanGiovanni or Catherine Cavendish. They’re so much smarter and more eloquent than I am and it would be a real experience to live in their process.
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Somer Canon: I’m not stopping! I’m working on a novel right now that will be my homage to both Clive Barker and Tobe Hooper! After that, who knows?
Meghan: Where can we find you?
Somer Canon: I’m on Twitter and I’m on Instagram and I have a website.
Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview or the last?
Somer Canon: Thank you to anyone who has given any of my words even a cursory glance. It’s easy to feel lonely and alone and to every person who has ever interacted with me in even the smallest way, thank you so very much. And thank you, Meghan’s House of Books, for having me again! This interview was a doozy!
Somer Canon is a minivan revving suburban mother who avoids her neighbors for fear of being found out as a weirdo. When she’s not peering out of her windows, she’s consuming books, movies, and video games that sate her need for blood, gore, and things that disturb her mother.
Still hurting from her divorce, Melissa Caan makes a drastic life change for herself and her two young children by moving them out to a rural home.But the country life came with some extras that she wasn’t counting on. Doors are slamming, she and her children are violently attacked by unseen hands, and her elderly neighbor doesn’t like to talk about the murders that happened in the strangely named hollow all those years ago.Ghost hunters, witches, and a sassy cancer survivor come together to help Melissa fight for the safety of her children and herself.All she wanted was a fresh start, will she get it?
A NEW HOME
Dawna Temple let herself be moved from the familiarity of Pittsburgh to the wilds of West Virginia, all so her mentally exhausted husband, John, could heal from a breakdown. Struggling with the abrupt change of location, Dawna finds a friend in her neighbor, Suzanne Miller, known to the locals as The Hag Witch of Tripp Creek.
A NEW FRIEND
Dismissing it as hillbilly superstition, Dawna can’t believe the things she hears about her funny and empathetic friend. Suzanne has secrets—dark secrets—and eventually she reveals the truth behind the rumors that earned her the wicked nickname decades earlier.
Now in possession of the truth, Dawna has conflicting emotions about Suzanne’s past deeds, but when her husband’s well-being takes a downturn, she finds there is no one else to turn to. Will she shun her friend as others have done before? …or can she accept that an act of evil is sometimes necessary for the greater good?