20 Minutes with Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest
Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest is a true Storyteller.  She’s an author (of course) who has blazed her own trail through so many genres of SpecFic – Steampunk, Horror, Alternate History, Southern Gothic, and Urban Fantasy – and has received professional accolades for her fiction (her novel “Boneshaker” has even been optioned as a motion picture). Beyond that, she is a singular personality who defies convention at every turn. Our conversation with her was not only delightful but glitters brightly with literary gold. (and be sure to stay tuned for her exceptional Workshop Episode airing August 28th!)

PROMO: The FlashPulp Podcast

Showcase Episode: 20 Minutes with Cherie Priest

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

Listen to this episode on iTunes

Episode Breakdown

00:45 – Cherie’s “No Really, It’s True” intro


05:25 – How do you ensure a character’s inner story is aligned to the larger plot?

  • 06:10 – Make sure characters are symptomatic of the world setting
  • 07:25 – Setting has always been very important to me… the setting is a character of its own
  • 07:45 – Who would live in your setting and why?
  • 08:05 – You need to give a reason for people to be there monetarily


08:40 – How do you translate an actual person’s qualities into a fictional character

  • 09:10 – Narrative convenience. I just ignore what I don’t like and take what I do like
  • 09:20 – Drawing on actual historical figures, evaluating their experiences and then aligning them with your world
  • 12:25 – Things that have actually happened are so much weirder than anything I could make up


13:10 – When you meet someone, do you often find yourself evaluating them as a possible character?

  • 13:15 – Sometimes. More often than not my characters come from the setting
  • 13:20 – I’m fortunate that I know a lot of interesting people and I’ve moved around a lot
  • 15:15 – If I do, I usually veil it so it’s not obvious


15:30 – Can you describe the importance of backstory and the “why” of a character’s development?

  • 16:00 – There needs to be a sense that things happen to characters before you meet them on the page
  • 16:50 – Nobody just IS bad or IS good. Nothing drives me more crazy than motiveless monsters
  • 18:05 – Over-explaining can also ruin the mythos and mystique


19:00 – PROMO: The FlashPulp Podcast


20:10 – Do you ever find while you’re writing that you’ve demystified or unromanced something?

  • 20:20 – Sure… that’s what drafts are for
  • 21:25 – I find it much more fun to subvert readers expectations of my characters


22:05 – What’s your opinion of the Shared World format? What challenges and delights are there?

  • 22:30 – In 6 months with George RR Martin I learned more about writing than a 4 year degree and a Master’s program in English
  • 26:55 – It was crazy pants, exhausting and impossible, but he taught me how to write a murder mystery
  • 27:05 – At the end of it I felt like I could take over the world because GRRM thought I didn’t suck
  • 28:30 – If you don’t have a strong central figure or clear hierarchy it can be problematic


29:55 – Beyond entertainment or escapism, can SpecFic be of value to society and culture?

  • 31:05 – I grew up in terror of reglion and horror was cathartic for me
  • 33:20 – Public catharsis is a pressure release for society… you come out the other side and feel better

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