First of all, how are you doing these days? The world’s gone to hell the last year and a half, what are you doing to maintain a healthy state of mind?

Thanks for asking… if I could take a hard pass on that question…? It has certainly been a challenging time. Staying connected and trying to read, learn, make, and do things has been my approach. Getting offline a bit has been necessary and yet not always easy to accomplish.

When writing a short story, novella, or novel, what are some things you think you have to achieve to write something that will stand the test of time?

I try to look at the piece as a whole, mapping the characters, what makes their world tick, what problems they face, and what insights might come into focus as a result. If those elements are lining up, I think I’m getting close to where I want to go.

Who are some contemporary writers every writer today should be reading (and why)?

A little bit this question reminds me of Toni Morrison’s advice to aspiring writers, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it” because part of the equation is being aware of what’s out there, and building the time to become a voracious reader. I love this question, so I’m going to ramble (feel free to edit). There are so many wonderful contemporary writers, incredible indie presses, and story niches that it’s tough to narrow that down to a manageable list. I’m a fan of deep dives, so I tend to binge on topics and authors; I think that’s a great way to explore contemporary trends. I generally resist ‘shoulds’ since many works and styles appeal to people differently, and there’s so much brilliant variation out there to explore. Reading contemporary work on themes you’re interested in and by writers you admire (whoever they are) is essential. I think finding those writers who speak to you is fabulous process of discovery. For me, Kaaron Warren is definitely on that list of contemporary writers not to be missed— she has an incredible speculative range from horror (Slights, Into Bones Like Oil) and deeply unsettling and strange work (The Grief Hole, Tide of Stone) to fantasy (Walking the Tree), and other works— all distinctive and utterly unpredictable. I adore the quirky supernatural worlds in Camille DeAngelis’ work for YA and adult audiences from the chilling (Bones & All), surprising (Mary Modern, Petty Magic) to the more hopeful speculative realms (Boy from Tomorrow). I can’t wait to see what’s next from Eden Royce— I got totally hooked by her Southern Gothic story collections (Spook Lights) and absolutely loved her new release, the MG/YA-friendly Root Magic. When it comes to graphic work and multi-genre authors, I’m a huge fan of Emil Ferris, Emily Carroll, G. Willow Wilson, and Maryse Meijer. I always seek out new work by these authors (and others) because no matter the intended audience or length, I know I’m going to be transported by the reliable potent brilliance of their sometimes scary, often strange, and always surprising work.

If you had to make a list of the three most important rules when it comes to writing, what would those rules be (and why)?

There are no rules is actually my first rule, so that may put me in a bit of a pickle. I bear that in mind whenever I’m working on a project because I need to remind myself to stay flexible. I try to set reasonable goals, whether it’s word count goals, or deadlines for completion, or whatever because I like to work with guideposts that move projects toward completion. Third, edit hard.

It’s been said print media is dead. What is your response to those who claim audiences in the future will have no need for books, short stories, etc. (i.e., visual media will take over all modes of storytelling)?

There’s definitely something for everyone. Digital, visual, and print media increase access to storytelling in different formats, and that’s terrific. I work in youth services in a public library, so my perspective is that while we have lots of digital media available, I’m interacting with young folks on a regular basis actively looking for print media in various formats. From that vantage point, it doesn’t seem like an either or so much as a both and situation.

Who is an historical figure you’d like to sit down and have a drink and conversation with (and why?)?

Once again, sot hard to pick just one! I would not be able to resist a conversation over coffee with Anne Sexton. She’s one of my favorite poets, and I think it’d be like talking to a wildfire to discuss her work and process. To unpack even a few poems out of Transformations? That would be mind-bending.

What can we expect from you in the near future?

I’m working mostly on novella length works right now, with a few stories are in the pipeline. There’s a monster, a supernatural mystery, some poems … a few different things in the works I’m pretty excited about.

E.F. Schraeder is the author of Liar: Memoir of a Haunting (Omnium Gatherum, 2021), the story collection Ghastly Tales of Gaiety and Greed (Omnium Gatherum, 2020), and two poetry chapbooks. Recent work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Mystery Weekly Magazine, Lavender Review, and other journals and anthologies. Schraeder’s nonfiction has appeared in Vastarien, Radical Teacher, the Intellectual Freedom blog, and other places. Awarded first place in Crystal Lake Publishing’s 2021 Poetry Contest, Schraeder was also semi-finalist in Headmistress Press’ 2019 Charlotte Mew Contest. Schraeder believes in ghosts, magic, and dogs and writes about not quite real worlds.