Write Here, Write Now: The Not-Deer by Chelsea Catherine
In Season 2 of Write Here, Write Now: A Vocal Podcast, host Erica Wagner interviews winners of the Vocal+ Fiction Awards
A remote destination to call your own...but what if you aren't really alone? Idyllic woods can quickly become the stuff of nightmares when fear takes over. Chelsea Catherine's "The Not-Deer" ushers us into a world that may be closer than you think.
What was the impetus for your winning story? Walk us through your initial act of creation.
I joined Vocal for fun – I love the challenge prompts and thought they would be helpful for me to remember how to write for the joy of it and not for anything else. When this specific challenge came up, I’d been reading a lot about cryptids, which are mythical animals that some people believe in, but most don’t. The “not deer” phenomena is one of the most interesting stories I read. Most of the sightings take place in Appalachia.
It reminded me of a trip I took to the Blood Mountain Wilderness many years ago, and the two ideas melded together pretty quickly after that. I wanted to explore what it would’ve felt like to be up there in the mountains and run into something so normal, but also not. It started with an image of the deer’s eyes shining in the darkness and went from there.
What does it take for a story to grab you? How do you grab your audience?
For me, a story must have a good emotional plotline. Otherwise, I can’t get invested. I also have to find the character interesting – but they don’t necessarily need to be likeable or good. Most of my favorite characters (the real reason I read) are those who are not well liked in popular culture, but who tie me to them with some sort of relatable emotional struggle and/or triumph.
To grab my audience, I try to use setting to create tension. That’s because I love when writers use setting to exacerbate the sense of terror in horror stories. It’s such a quiet, yet effective way to scare readers. I’m so into it, that the topic was actually my focus for my graduate thesis.
Who are your favorite writers and why? Do you have any favorite Vocal Creators?
My current favorite writers are mostly nonfiction writers – this changes year over year, though. I adore Roxane Gay. Her story, “Baby Arm” is one of my favorite short stories of all time. It’s so weird and uncomfortable and real. She just does not shy away from anything, and I love that about her. I love Kiese Laymon for the same reason. And Terese Marie Mailhot. All three of them have this realness to them. They are not sugarcoating anything. As a reader, I want to read honest fiction and non-fiction and they are three of very few who I feel are not trying to trick me with words that don’t really mean anything. Everything they write has such a deeper meaning.
For Vocal, I loved reading the other challenge winners! I haven’t been on the site long enough to get a favorite yet, though.
How has sharing your writing in life and on Vocal affected you as a Creator?
Really what I’ve used Vocal for is to relearn how to write. I wanted to go off prompts and challenges where I would have an external deadline to help me sink back into short stories. And that’s what the site has done. I wrote The Not-Deer literally just for fun with no expectations. It’s been so refreshing to do that with some of these challenges and prompts.
What advice do you have for other Creators?
Don’t listen to other writers when they talk about your work unless what they are saying resonates with you. I’ve spent so many years listening to people who just did not understand what I’m trying to do that I dug myself into a hole of people-pleasing in my writing. And when you do that, you lose the authenticity that makes you unique and great. It’s okay if not everyone gets your work. Some people will if you stay true to your voice, and that’s the most important thing.
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.
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Great content for me as a fresher! Keep it on the path... Also, check out my self-journey! https://vocal.media/motivation/journey-through-words