My special guest today is short story writer Sean Fesko. We’re chatting about The Raven Bride (historical fiction) and The Metamorphosis of Marc Sullivan (science fiction).
Sean can’t remember a time when he wasn’t telling stories. When he was little, he’d pen simple, thirty page “novels” about spies and superheroes, and although his works have gotten longer and more complex in the years since, he’s just as enamored with the written word as he was then. He currently works in marketing for SAP PRESS while pursuing his own publishing startup on the side, Red Finch Publishing. It is through the latter that he’s published two short stories and a self-help guide for college students.
Welcome, Sean. What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
I like that they’re manageable. Writing a novel is fun and all (I’ve done it once and started who knows how many more), but they take so long to write. With a short story, you can take a few weeks to draft, another few weeks to edit, and then you’re set to publish. But that doesn’t mean that the stories are any less interesting than if it were a novel. You can dig into a situation and tell just as good a story via shorter form writing. Plus, I don’t write as well if there are no deadlines, so knowing the story isn’t novel length self-motivates me to get the job done.
Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
I only have two right now, and each is dear to me for different reasons. The Raven Bride was born out of the requirements of a college course I took. I already had the idea of exploring the Salem Witch Trials and this was the perfect excuse to dive into that world. I hadn’t shared my work with many people up until that point, and the reaction that I got from my peers and my college professor was so positive that it validated for me that perhaps I could do this for the rest of my life.
The Metamorphosis of Marc Sullivan is close to my heart because it explores the issue of social anxiety, which is something that I’ve dealt with off and on since high school. The writing process for that was more therapeutic than anything else, but the final draft was solid enough that I figured “why not put it out there?” The reactions to that one have been positive too.
Excerpt from The Raven Bride:
“Victoria!” she whispered. I could feel her pushing me with as much strength as she could muster. “Victoria!” Abigail repeated emphatically, continuing to shake me with her little hands. I mumbled and before I could ask her what was wrong, three reverberating knocks bounced off the door. It sounded like a thunderclap and I opened my eyes and found my sister huddling next to me on the floor beside her cot. Between the dim light of the room and my sleepiness I could barely make out her face, but her eyes were wide enough that I instinctively pulled her in.
“Open up!” an authoritative voice commanded from the other side of the door. I looked towards the door and saw the window beside it was filled with the oranges and yellows of many lanterns. Abigail asked me if we were going to be okay, and without turning my head back to her, I assured her we would. But would we be? All I knew was my heart had gone from beating peacefully to racing in a matter of seconds. I knew nothing but fear.
What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
I try not to hold myself to any one genre. I’ve done historical and science fiction, and have drafts of other stories that would be considered young adult contemporary and even the superhero genre. It’s more a matter of me wondering what would make a good story and then writing in whatever genre that it happens to fall in.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a novel-length sequel to The Raven Bride, and have a nearly-edited novel finished that I hope to put out in the next six months.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been writing since late elementary school. Back then, I was really into spies and so my stories were putting me into these cool situations where I had to save the day. The Spy Kids franchise played a big role in that, I think.
How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
That’s something I’m still working on figuring out. It’s a lot of hustle, a lot of cold-emailing and Google searches to find the right avenues to promote and be reviewed. I’d suggest starting with friends and family and go from there. Would I suggest writing for a market just because it’s hot? Not at all. You need to be passionate about your words, and if you’re writing to make a buck then you’re likely to be disappointed. There’s not a ton of money to be made in writing, especially as you start out and even more so if you self-publish, so write what you want to write about. There’s
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can’t be interrupted, at all. If I have a free hour but know someone is going to need something or I’m going to get a phone call, I rarely bother trying to write because it takes me long enough to get into the process that once I’m in I don’t want to stop. And if I do have to stop, the process of getting focused starts all over. So I write a lot late at night when there are fewer distractions.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The typical boyhood dreams: firefighter, race car driver, etc. Around high school, though, I decided I needed to work with the written word, so that’s what I’ve done.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
You can find both of my short stories on Amazon, Kobo, and Nook.
Thanks for being here today, Sean!