Vicki Hendricks is renowned for her noir novels—Miami Purity, Iguana Love, Voluntary Madness, Sky Blues, and Cruel Poetry. In Part I of this interview, she discussed the publication of Florida Gothic Stories, a collection of her short works (Kitsune Books of Tallahassee). Now let’s learn more about Vicki and what it takes to publish short stories today.
INTERVIEW WITH VICKI HENDRICKS (PART II)
Vicki, what inspires you?
I’m inspired by people I meet, incidents, stories in the news, other writers’ works, landscapes, and, oh yes, old boyfriends. I could probably tell you what inspired me for every story in my collection. For example, “Stormy” was inspired by my sister’s trip to swim with the dolphins in the Keys; “ReBecca” by conjoined twins who appeared on a talk show with half brown, half auburn hair; “Boozanne” by the story of a friend’s burglary in Jamaica where the thief was found to have entered through a hole under her bed; “Must Bite!” from a story I heard on NPR about vicious raccoons, combined with a visit to Mexico to play with spider monkeys in their cages. —I’ll hold back on the ones inspired by old boyfriends. The collection is something of a catalogue of my interests and memories, and although the inspiring kernels have been transformed and exaggerated in order to be of interest to readers, now that the stories are published together, I know I’ll be able to hold on to those moments forever.
Two words that describe your work, in general?
Ack! Two words only, other than noir and gothic. Hmm. It’s tough to keep from complimenting myself by saying something like delightfully disturbing. I’ll go with quirky and animalistic.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Lately, teaching online classes at Broward College, with all the preparation and grading involved, has been taking up all my time so that I have nearly stopped writing for the past year and haven’t done much else. However, skydiving has been a twelve-year passion of mine, and I also enjoy any kind of travel, especially if there’s a component of adventure or nature, or the combination. I’m doing some book events this summer and visiting family and also hope to finish my novel Fur People, an animal hoarder love story set in central Florida that I’ve been working on for three years. I’m hoping to retire from teaching in the next year or two and be able to spend most of my time writing and have time left over for further adventure.
For those following your steps, Vicki, how’s the short story market these days? And what advice would you give writers about getting short stories published today?
I know mostly about the crime area, and for a few years now, the market seems to be thriving with an abundance of short story collections. Akashic has covered all the major cities in the U.S. and beyond with noir collections, and there are other small press publishers taking up the cause. I just went to a reading for Delta Blues last week, Lynne Barrett and Les Standiford from F.I.U, reading their contributions to a collection of Southern short stories that are both noir and gothic. Interesting stuff. I see a lot of erotic and literary collections coming out as well. However, it’s not easy to get onboard. You have to make a name for yourself in order for people to ask you for stories. It takes a long time to build up a reputation and usually requires the publication of a novel. Of course, you can send out to literary magazines, and if you’re good, eventually rise to the top, I’ve heard. When I started writing there was no internet, and the process of submitting seemed so slow and unrewarding that I only sent out once. Now, there are many online venues, of course, so the chances for being published continue to multiply, but if you want to be paid, that’s a problem.
Vicki, your work is amazing! It’s such an honor to have this chat. So when’s the next book signing?
My next signing is in Houston at Murder by the Book on June 24th, then the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, and the Well Read Coyote in Sedona. Then I’ll be back home for Saturday Nite Alive, a reading for Well Read Bookstore, being held outside the Hilton on Ft. Lauderdale Beach, July 10.
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