Words from a Writer: Zofia

Zofia is a ubiquitous presence on the Defiant Scribe website, as well as behind the scenes: she’s both a staff writer and editor. Her stories are very recognizable, often featuring a dark, sharp-edged humor and even darker plots and characters. (“Murder, mayhem, devious characters—all the good stuff,” she says of what she likes to writes about.) She’s penned pieces for many of Defiant Scribe’s editions and seemed like a natural choice to kick off our “Words from a Writer” interview series, wherein we speak to our staff writers about their work in honor of Defiant Scribe’s last edition. Here’s what Zofia had to say.

Defiant Scribe: Do you have a favorite book and/or author?

Zofia: I’m one of those people who makes a conscious effort to not have a favorite. But I will admit that I read a lot of Stephen King, because honestly, how can you not?

DS: What’s one book or author that you think is overrated and/or lousy?

Z: I really didn’t like Girl on the Train at all. The twists weren’t that hard to predict. I saw the ending coming a mile away. Plus, the writing didn’t have much personality. It didn’t keep me engaged the way that Gone Girl did. I don’t know why people are always comparing the two. Girl on the Train isn’t even in the same league as Gone Girl.

DS: Fuck, marry, kill: typewriter, computer, notepad.

Z: This one’s easy. Marry my computer (I’m sorry, but you just can’t beat keyboards when it comes to writing easily!), fuck typewriters because they’re sexy, retro lil devils, and kill notepads because, while I do like jotting down story-related notes and sketching my characters in ‘em, my hands get sore so fast when I try to write by hand. That shit hurts.

DS: Is there anything (genre, topic, et cetera) you won’t write or won’t write about?

Z: For the most part, I take a “no cow too sacred for slaughter” approach when it comes to what I’ll write about. But I tend to avoid sweet, uplifting stories, and I prefer open-ended, dark or bittersweet endings to something happy and neatly tied up in a bow. Perfect endings are rare in real life, and so I think they should be rare in fiction, as well.

DS: Of the stories you’ve written for Defiant Scribe, which are you proudest of and why?

Z: I was pretty happy with Not Her. And it’s not a story, but I’ll forever be proud of my Disney: From Offensive to Progressive? article. I did a lot of research for it, and I think it raises good points. Plus, it’s funny!

DS: If you were going to recommend someone read your Defiant Scribe stories, which would you tell them to read first?

Z: Well, there’s a lot I’d tell them not to read, I know that. As for what to start with… you know, I think I’d say the twin flash fiction pieces I wrote for Defiant Scribe’s first-ever Halloween issue. They’re evocative and atmospheric, but what’s really great is that they’re short, which means even a non-reader should find them quick and (relatively) painless.

DS: What sucks the most about being a writer?

Z: The fact that you can’t really make a living off it. I mean, you can, but it’s hard. Especially now. Trying to get money from the clickbait hellscape that is the Internet? Not fun.

DS: What’s the hardest writing challenge you’ve faced?

Z: Any time I have to write about something I don’t care about. I can do it, but you can usually tell if it’s something I’m interested in versus something I’m just doing because I have to. The passion—or lack thereof—comes through, and it affects the quality of the finished product.

DS: What’s one piece of writing advice that you’d give to your younger self?

Z: Don’t let your identity be tied up in “being a writer.” That’s something I’d tell all writers, honestly. So many of us let this hobby/passion/talent dominate our identities, and the reason that’s bad is because then, whenever someone criticizes your writing, it feels like they’re criticizing you and your worth as a person. And that’s just unbearable. Plus, if you let your identity revolve around this one thing, you may not develop hobbies/passions/talents outside of it, and that’s fucking boring. For me, it was very important and beneficial to distance myself from the all-consuming identity of Writer, and to cultivate my other talents, interests, passions and hobbies.

DS: What is your favorite Defiant Scribe edition and/or Defiant Scribe story?

Z: I love all the Halloween editions, but the first one, in particular, will always hold a special place in my heart. Also the super-sized Friends & Enemies edition, for sure. The Love edition. The Antihero edition. The June ‘18 Into the Future issue, and June ’17 Vanity issue. Of course the final edition, too. God, there’s so many! As for individual stories… I’d say Grope by Ian Sims, The Fig Tree by Samantha Bloom, The Orwells by Becca Wittman, Bonds by Erin Carini, The Warmth of the Dead by Sean Sanford, Funhouse and We Can Plant a House by Andrew Feldman, Chesapeake by Larry Roszkowiak, No Love Lost by Zachary Amendt, The Haunting of Piedras Blancas by DC Diamondopolous, The Eggshell Floor by Maddie Adams, and everything that Aaron Elias wrote. There are others too, but if I listed them all, we’d be here all day.