13 Questions with Angela Caravan

Coffin Bell: Introduce yourself.

Angela Caravan: I live in Vancouver, BC, with my partner and stepson and I have a degree in English/Humanities and a Master’s Degree in Publishing. I work in arts marketing for a professional theatre company and in my free time I write poetry and fiction. My work has appeared in Pulp Literature, Sad Mag, Cascadia Rising Review, Sad Girl Review, and more.

CB: When you write, do you start with a plan and move from there, or do you generally go where the writing takes you?

AC: I start with a vague plan but I usually don’t know where the ending is going to go. I never write out notes about a story, but just hold a rough idea of it in my head, working it around every once and a while when I’m on the bus or otherwise absently occupied. When I finally sit down to write, I usually just let it all out in one or two sessions. I like letting the characters and the setting guide the specifics of the story.

CB: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

AC: Share your work with others and read your work aloud. I recently joined a writing group to push myself to do this more consistently. A good writing group is amazingly supportive. The process of giving other people feedback can also build perspective on your own process for writing and editing.

CB: What advice can you give on editing and revising?

AC: Push to edit your work more than you think you need to. I find it very hard to edit my own work a lot of the time. I get really attached to certain things. But I’m learning to let go.

CB: What publishing advice can you give?

AC: Don’t let rejection get you down. So often, it’s just the case that you’re not the right fit for the magazine at that time. I’ve received some very kind rejections over the years, and even if the story never finds a home, hearing from someone on the other side is a nice connection. I have this one story that I’ve been submitting for a few years now and it still hasn’t found a home. I reached the point of giving up on it when a reader privately messaged me to say that they championed for my story and really loved it, despite the magazine rejecting it. That made me realize that a “no” isn’t always what it seems. Go back to it. Edit it. Send it out again.

CB: Who are your influences?

AC: I read a huge range of things. Right now I’m reading Erin Wunker’s Notes from a Feminist Killjoy and last week I was reading Annihilation. Whenever someone asks me who my favourite author is, I usually conclude that I don’t really have one. How could I with so many great books out there?

CB: What’s one thing you wish every journal editor knew?

AC: Many writers love getting edits. I am thrilled when a magazine chooses to publish my work, but then comes back to me with a series of edits. It shows me that they’re as dedicated to making it something great as I am.

CB: Taphophobia is the fear of being buried alive. Tell us about your fears.

AC: I’m terrified of heights. A couple of weeks ago, I was at an outdoor music festival and you had to cross a bridge to get to one of the stages. At night. With dozens of other people. The bridge was swaying uncontrollably. No turning back. It was my worst nightmare.

CB: What draws you to dark fiction?

AC: I like stories that are just a little bit subversive. That take you to one place, then turn a bit and take you somewhere completely unexpected. Dark stories are a great place for the unexpected.

CB: How does the darkness in your piece enhance the work?

AC: My story has a bit of a sad ending, and I think that gives it some heft. But there’s also some lightness to it, too. I think that darkness is an interesting contrast to levity or humour, and there’s a lot of that in there too.

CB: How important are your surroundings when you write?

AC: I can and do write almost anywhere. On the bus, on my couch, at a coffee shop. The only thing I don’t like is when someone else reads what I’m writing before I’m ready to share.

CB: Do you use any sources for your material aside from experience?

AC: I think I’m pretty heavily influenced by what I’m reading at the time. It’s hard not to read something you love and create something like it. Usually, I’m interested in this for the style of the writing though, not the content.

CB: Where can we find more of your work?

AC: I don’t have a website, but you can find stuff at the magazines listed in my bio. I also have a poetry microchapbook with post ghost press. When I have something new out, I’ll post about it on my Twitter: @a_caravan.