Write Here, Write Now: Pareidolia by Conor Marko
In Season 2 of Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal Podcast, host Erica Wagner interviews winners of the Vocal+ Fiction Awards
"Pareidolia" is an intriguing tale that leans in paranoia and the paranormal. Conor Marko asks questions about the boundaries of obligation and addresses how we move forward from tragedy.
What was the impetus for your winning story? Walk us through your initial act of creation.
The human mind is such a fascinating and interesting place – after all, it’s where some of the best stories are born from, isn’t it? Everyone experiences life differently, and that experience depends on so many factors both in and out of our control. I wanted to write about the way that significant events – especially traumatic ones – influence someone, and I tried to put the reader directly in the shoes of someone going through that change. I think that recognizing our different experiences of life is the starting point for empathy and compassion, and I held that idea in mind as I was creating this piece.
What does it take for a story to grab you? How do you grab your audience?
For me, good worldbuilding is an instant hook. I like exploring different possibilities and opportunities in my head, and those 'what-if’ scenarios really inspire and motivate me when I write. In particular, I really enjoy stories that seem like they could take place in our reality, but with a few key details changed.
I’m also a big fan of ‘breadcrumb trails’ in writing. I try to do this as much as possible in my own work, because peppering those subtle, easy-to-miss hints into a story really engages people perceptive enough to pick up on them. It adds another layer to the story being told, and it’s a rewarding feeling when your internal hunches and guesses turn out to be right.
Who are your favorite writers and why? Do you have any favorite Vocal Creators?
I was a pre-teen when Rick Riordan’s *Percy Jackson* books were coming out, and that was the first (but definitely not the last) series I would become obsessed with. Like I mentioned, worldbuilding is a surefire way to grab my attention, and I loved how seamlessly he was able to integrate Greek mythology into the present day. I would also become a big fan of John Scalzi in high school, especially his *Old Man’s War* series.
In recent years, I’ve really been enjoying books that are more cerebral and understated. Works by Emily St. John Mandel and Cormac McCarthy all have permanent homes on my bookshelf, and I’m looking forward to the next novels they publish.
How has sharing your writing in life and on Vocal affected you as a Creator?
Writing – and really, art in general – is a tough thing to do. When I’m creating, I experience demotivation and self-doubt about as much as I experience the opposite. That said, I find that the best way to overcome and beat those feelings is to share my own work with other artists and creators, and to experience theirs as well. There are so many talented artists not just on Vocal, but everywhere, and seeing their work inspires me to create my own.
What advice do you have for other Creators?
I promise I’m not a Nike shill, but they have it right – just do it. Fear of failure almost kept me from submitting Pareidolia, but looking back on it, I’m so glad that I did. Even if I hadn’t won, just putting myself out there was worth it to me.
Another thing that’s just as important, support your local scene! I’m a musician as well as a writer, and the best support I’ve ever had came from other musicians that wrote and performed in the same circles as me. The same goes for writing – the creators around you are in the same boat, with similar goals and shared experiences. You look out for them, and they’ll look out for you.
Stay tuned for new episodes of Write Here, Write Now Season 2 launching weekly.
About the Creator
Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal Podcast
Sex, death, relationships, nature, families... If you like to stop, think and consider things a little differently, join host Erica Wagner as she introduces a new Vocal creator’s story each week.