Monthly Issue: August
Conducted by Aurianna
The Epy Awards Team would like to congratulate Michelle, one of the many talented winners of the October Writing Contest. Her story ‘All Hallows: The Curfew’ was a truly outstanding, well-written piece and we could not be happier to see her receive recognition by the Episode Team themselves. Check out this interview with the talented author, whose winning entry is in a class of it’s own.
When did you join the Episode community and when did you start writing on Episode?
I joined the episode community gradually. I was reading on the app for a few months before I finally decided that “Hey, I could write a story too!”. So, I created an account, logged onto the portal, realized I had to figure out how the coding and I gave up. It wasn’t long before I realized I had a story to tell, and gave it another shot, which was sometime around May 2015. I officially joined the Instagram and forums community in late fall 2015/early winter 2016.
What was the first story you wrote and what/who inspired you to write it?
Oh my goodness, my first story was the worst! I was reading the same romance stories over and over again, and decided that I wanted to write one too! It was inspired by my relationship with my high school boyfriend. In all honesty, the story was really my own life story and I had used ALL of the classic clichés: song choices, project partners, even a pregnancy (spoiler!). Sometime in March 2016, I released the first three episodes of the story I actually wanted to tell: Hideout.
What stories have you written so far and which of them is your favourite / the most that you are proud of?
So far, other than my first story (which we won’t speak of), I have published Hideout, Summer Fling: A Stab at Love, and All Hallows: The Curfew. I love all of my stories, but Hideout will always be my baby.
Is there a particular genre that you feel you write best and are more inclined to read?
You know what, I don’t know if there is. I guess drama suits me because it can really encompass a lot of different plots, and my writing often doesn’t fit cleanly into one genre or another but my version of drama (as in, Hideout) is pretty different from the stories that are trending in the drama section! I’ll read basically anything.
What are 3 of your favourite stories to read on Episode?
I remember coming across Solidus: Unity by Kay Elle on the forums, and it completely blew my mind. I had also started reading Dripping Mascara (DM) shortly after returning home from a two-month graduation trip, and it gave me an anchor during a big time of change. If DM was Gen’s best gift to me, her recommendation for Ross’s World On a String was a close second.
What about novels? What/who are your all-time favourite books/author?
I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, and that makes me sad. I grew up on Harry Potter though. My mother read me the first three books before I even knew how to read, and then we used to go to the release parties together to get the new books. She’d let me read first, then I would give it to her. For Deathly Hallows, we actually bought two copies so she wouldn’t have to wait the 12 hours it took me to finish! And for the record, Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite.
What was your inspiration for the storyline of your All Hallows entry - The Curfew ?
There were a few things that inspired me. I was trying to think of ‘scary’ things, and realized that the scariest story is actually real-life stories of sexual violence. When I’m walking alone at night, I’m not afraid of witches, I’m afraid of predators. I also wanted to go into myth, and set the story somewhere I was familiar with. I wanted to put a lot of myself and my own experiences in, and I wanted to experiment with tackling one BIG topic through a fictional narrative. It all just kind of came together into the plot.
Would you say that your love for learning history influenced the plot?
Not consciously, but I think my love for history will always manifest in what I do. When I talk about politics (my second love) I often delve into Cold War rhetoric. I just can’t help it. I have some Irish ancestry and was in Ireland last fall, so that contributed. I think in very early versions, I had thought about setting the whole plot in the 19th century, but later decided to move to the present and only include a short backstory for the ‘three brothers’.
Your stories often have elements of societal issues. Do you consciously try to include them from the start or were they more like afterthought additions to your story?
Hideout was definitely a conscious effort. For The Curfew, I had intended the societal issues to be more hidden. I have always loved allegory and I wanted to see if I could pull that off. As it turns out, I can’t. Ha! I wanted the women’s issues to be much subtler than they actually turned out, but I just couldn’t help it. After live streaming with some readers on YouNow, I did find out that some of my attempt at allegory did stay subtle, such as the meaning behind Naomi and Mara. Maybe too subtle… no one got it!
Out of all of the characters that you’ve created, whom do you identify with the most and why?
I purposely created Patricia to be very similar to myself, albeit a younger version of myself. Cael is based off of my own best friend (which I never told him. Oops). I also connect with Louise from Hideout. Both characters are women who gravitate more towards friendships with men than that with women, and often have a hard time situating themselves both in a male and a female sphere. Both women see the appeal of female friends, even crave it sometimes, but ultimately feel most comfortable around men. Patricia joining Beatrice’s group (I named them the Harpies in my play-throughs) and figuring out her voice within the group, is very similar to my own struggle with identifying as a feminist (which I am).
What are your hobbies besides writing and reading?
I am a bit of a travel fanatic. It’s a big joke in my family, I’m not home much longer than a month before I’m off again somewhere. Sometimes it’s another Canadian city, sometimes it’s a different country, sometimes a different continent. I went to Ireland for a weekend last year, it was amazing. I’d do it again. Other than that, I absolutely love hiking. Last year I got to hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, a four-day hike through the Peruvian Andes. It was amazing
If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Haha, I swear I didn’t read this before answering the last question. My next trip will be to Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. My favourite countries I’ve visited so far are Costa Rica, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Ireland, France, and Italy. Someday I will go back to Europe and visit the eastern countries (Hungary!) and also Scandinavia. Also, I am absolutely DYING to go to Australia but it’s so far away!
Have you ever thought of writing your own story before Episode?
Hideout, which I am still very slowly working on, was actually meant to be a Wattpad story. I was having such a hard time sitting down and sorting out the plot that I decided to adapt it for Episode first. Once I’ve finished it, I hope I’m motivated enough to transfer it onto Wattpad.
If you could go back in time to your teenage self, what advice would you give yourself?
Teen Michelle, CHILL OUT. Oh my goodness I just thought everything was AWFUL. I have met so many amazing friends (best friends!) since I was an angsty teen. I had an absolute blast doing my undergraduate degree in Montreal; I was involved in so many amazing projects and had so many incredible experiences that teenage me would not have ever imagined. Just goes to show, life is unexpected.
What advice would you like to give to new writers who aspire to write horror/thriller stories with such depth and originality as yours?
Something I struggled with in The Curfew, and also in Hideout, was not being too “preachy”. There is a difference between sharing your opinion through a creative outlet, and trying to indoctrinate people to your way of thinking. I don’t even know how well I’ve managed to do this but it is something to be aware of. As with other kinds of stories, keep a sense of realism, and make your characters flawed! Symbolism is so cool, especially when it is incorporated in horrors/thrillers because you can pretty easily disguise societal problems as physical manifestations, such as a monster or a particularly nasty antagonist.
Epy Wired is a monthly publication, initiated by the Epy Awards Management Team and Magazine Team of 2017.