Christi Nogle

Horror. Dark science fiction. Weird fiction. Literary realism. These are the realms author Christi Nogle travels. She’s published one novel, Beulah — set in a fictional small town in Idaho, loosely based on Buhl and Emmett.

Her short stories have appeared in over fifty publications including PseudoPod, Escape Pod, Vastarien, Nightscript, and Dark Matter Magazine

Beginning in early 2023, she’ll have three short story collections released: The Best of Our Past, the Worst of Our Future (horror), Promise (dark science fiction and futuristic fantasy), and One Eye Opened in That Other Place (weird fantasy).

[Ed.: Update 2023-02 – Bram Stoker Award® Nominee]

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I like to write in the evenings, usually in the living room with my dogs resting beside me. If it’s nice out, I also like to write on the patio with the dogs playing in the yard. There are a lot of writing-related tasks like submissions, editing, working on critiques for writers, and I usually do these in the morning in my home office.

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

Most of my rituals are about reducing distractions. I try to get through all the day’s obligations—exercising, cooking, cleaning, errands—before sitting down to write. Using a wifi-disabled device or plain old pen and paper also helps. 

What do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

If I feel blocked, I’ll consider that I might have taken a wrong direction with the piece. I’ll go back and try to rethink it, or I’ll abandon it (for now) and work on something else. 

Do you plan your book in advance (plotting and outlining) or are you a “discovery writer” (AKA “writing into the dark”)? Or are you somewhere in between?

I enjoy approaches that blend planning and discovery writing. Story Genius by Lisa Cron and Refuse to Be Done by Matt Bell both lay out systems by which a writer can fastwrite and brainstorm for a time and then plan for a time, and that works well for me. I’ll think about an idea for a while, dump all of those thoughts in a file, think about it a bit more to devise a structure, arrange what I have and fill in gaps, and so on. Sometimes I can write a very short piece without thinking about a plan at all, but for anything longer, it is a process of “pantsing” and then “planning, rinse and repeat”. 

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin. I didn’t go into it with any expectations, and I found it astonishing. 

What book or author do you find yourself recommending and why?

It really depends on who’s asking! If someone hasn’t read much contemporary horror, I might recommend Catriona Ward, Laird Barron, Grady Hendrix, or Tananarive Due. With my friends who already read those writers, I might recommend Lynda E. Rucker, L.S. Johnson, Lisa Tuttle, or Camilla Grudova. I would recommend these writers because I was surprised and delighted by their work, of course!

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

Way too many books to list! The “next up” books are currently Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap, The Adventurists by Richard Butner, and Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials by Reza Negarastani. 

What advice do you have for readers?

I suppose I’d let them know something I discovered when I was younger, which is that the more and the more widely you read, the more there is to read. You move from what’s right in front of you to the stranger treasures that you have to seek out, and you just keep finding more. It’s wonderful!

It’s also true of writing: you write as if to exhaust your ideas, but that only leads you to deeper and stranger ideas. 

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with? Why?

I wouldn’t choose any dead ones—too scary! I suppose I’d choose Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, or George Saunders because they all seem brilliant as well as nice to talk to. 

Do you have early memories of reading or writing you’d like to share?

My earliest memories of thinking of myself as a reader were when I devoured Beverly Cleary’s Ramona and Beezus novels and Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion series at home. My mom bought me those. In school I was exposed to Poe, Flannery O’Connor, and Ray Bradbury and then sought their books out at the library, so that was the first time I was really a self-directed reader. 

What books and/or authors have most influenced you as an author?

I’d say the breadth of my reading is the main influence, but if I have to pin it down, maybe Kelly Link, Shirley Jackson, and Ray Bradbury. Stephen King is also a huge influence, not because I necessarily write like he does but because loving his work exposed me to a lot of other writers. Richard Matheson and Shirley Jackson, for example, I first read because they were recommended by Stephen King.

What would you tell a new writer?

I work with newer writers a lot as a mentor and friend (and taught writing for twenty years), so I tell them a lot of different things. For practical advice for newer horror writers, see the “Getting Started” page of my website.

One thing that I tell people is to read a lot and to make friends with other writers. Another is to set goals that you can control. It’s great if you want to sell a story or a novel, but you aren’t in direct control of that, so set the goals to finish the piece, to edit it thoroughly, to send it to X number of places, etc. 

Where would we find you online?

If you look around the website, you can read a lot of my short fiction on the “Short Fiction” page. “Audio Fiction” has my podcasted stories (eighteen at last count, all but one available for free online). I also have a “Getting Started” guide for newer horror writers and a page of my doodles.