Fight Clubs Are For Lawyers: Interview with Rebecca McDowell

Rebecca’s first story with Needle In The Hay is Birdcage, nominated for the long list on the MYSTERY OF THE CELLAR DOOR Award. She’s a lawyer by trade, so we checked our precedents before we threw a few questions her way.

First Up, What brought you to NITH?

I was searching for story contests, and I came across the Mystery of the Cellar Door. I loved the premise, so I looked around on the site and discovered that you’ve got something very creative going. I like that readers have the opportunity to provide feedback; I enjoy reading short stories. I’ve commented on a couple, and I look forward to reading the other entries in the Cellar Door contest and seeing what people did with the premise.I like the idea of the collaborations, although I don’t think I’m ready to jump into that yet. But I find your contests thought-provoking and fun.

Your story, Birdcage, intersperses traditional horror with some quirky, often funny characters. What influenced your choice there?

I tend to write what I like to read. I also tend to write characters who I might not mind knowing in person. I appreciate funny and interesting people, and I think as a reader, I tend to get more attached to them. Character development is very important to me as a reader and a writer, and doing it well in a short space can be difficult. Using humor and idiosyncrasies (subtle ones) can help with that.

What are your writing ambitions?

Ultimately, I’d like to write and publish stories; I’ve started dozens of novels over the past 30 years, and I have not finished any. I’d like to finish at least one, and I’d like people to enjoy it. I’m not out to rock anybody’s world; I just want people to be entertained by what I have to say.

How close do you feel you are to achieving your ambitions?

Ha. Ha. Ha.
Seriously, I feel like I actually have a chance at it based on where I am in my life, and it’s kind of exciting and kind of scary. As for proximity… I guess we’ll see. I’m a lawyer, but I only work part time right now, and I’d like to show myself that I have the maturity not to waste the opportunity provided by my schedule.

What’s on your TODO list?

1. Finish one novella/novel and publish it.
2. Write a couple more novellas/novels and publish them.
3. Establish readership and be happy with having a couple of fans.
4. Start a Fight Club (I can’t really talk about it).
5. Buy new bedsheets.

What, in your opinion, are the three most important things any writer should know?

1. Adjectives are like accessories; pile them on to try them out, but take most of them off before you leave the house. You don’t have to Hemingway it, but excessive description is distracting.
2. Grammar DOES matter.
3. Show, don’t tell.

Who are your inspirations?

I have many. Among them are Roger Ebert, Guillermo del Toro and Dean Koontz.

If you were stuck on a desert island what three things would you need to have with you?

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
2. A pot to boil water
3. A machete

One thought on “Fight Clubs Are For Lawyers: Interview with Rebecca McDowell

  1. Beckie *is* going to rock your world. Her humor is amazingly stark and funny and she can tell a mighty fine story. Very excited to see what’s to come.

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