Welcome back roomies… it’s been awhile since we’ve let you out of a locus. Time to shake it off, take a breath and settle in as we prepare to talk with the next prisoner… *cough*… author in our season 3 line-up.
This week we sat down with author Tori Miller, to talk about the horrors that inspired their space age adventure “Take Over” as we kick off the 17th episode of the third season…. Jeez…17 already. Buckle in Roomies, and check all of your safety systems. ‘Take Over’ is sure to creep into your onboard systems, and leave you questioning the technology around you.
GR: Welcome to The Grey Rooms Tori. I repeat all the time about how nice it is seeing new authors join the ranks, though you feel like you’ve been with us forever creeping through our Discord channels. The listers have to know- How long have you been writing?
TM: My first memory of writing was when I was writing in highschool. While it was a hobby of mine, none of the stories I produced ever amounted to any success. This isn’t exactly a failure on my part but the necessary effort needed in order to be at the level I am today. When I went to college I only considered writing to be just a mere hobby, and dropped almost altogether. This was more of a deliberate choice so that I could focus on getting a degree in Information systems. What brought me back into writing however is a much different and frankly happier story.
GR: We don’t get many happy stories here at The Grey Rooms, so please don’t tease us- What was it that got you into writing?
TM: What honestly got me back into writing and horror in general was the Grey Rooms Podcast. Back in 2018, I was nearing the end of my college days and found my schedule free enough to start writing again. Due to me liking the podcast so much, I wanted to contribute something to it and leave my mark on the Grey Rooms. With my goal of getting a story to the Grey Rooms, I went to the metaphorical drawing board to come up with some ideas. With this show being my first entry into horror as a genre, I wasn’t exactly quite sure what would be a success. I created some stories, and submitted them only to be slightly embarrassed by how rusty the quality was. The ideas may have been scarry to me but now that I read them it makes me laugh out of embarrassment. However, that didn’t stop me from writing what I recently submitted and I’m quite pleased with the results. Even if I create another horror story that doesn’t quite work, I always know I can try again until I get it just right.
GR: Well well well… The Grey Rooms drags another author into its depths lol. I love that we were the inspiration that drove you back into writing. I think this story in particular is a great gateway for horror to follow. What would you say is your favorite kind of horror?
TM: I am going to answer the antonym of the question to point out what I don’t like in horror. This is mainly due to just being new to the genre and still open to horror as an experience. Here is a very short list of what I clearly don’t like: Cheap jump scares.
The kind of horror that really draws me in is the kind that makes me think and keeps me up at night. Some of the Grey Room stories do very well in that category and keep me on my toes when listening. Sometimes when a story really pushes me, I have to hit pause and analyze what happened and what great storytelling that the current story contains. In short, when I am learning something from horror, that in turn makes it a good story for me.
GR: I feel like you aren’t our first author to actually say that they aren’t really a fan of horror. It’s more about the storytelling aspect of it. How you challenge a character that brings the horror out in my opinion. (I’m also not a fan of jump scares.) How would you say your story ideas normally come to you?
TM: My story ideas mainly come from when I daydream from time to time. Chances are if I like the character and the setting enough, it might turn into a Grey Rooms idea. If it isn’t scary enough but fits into another project that I am working on, then it goes there. Sometimes I test out characters and scenes by acting it out in my head. If the idea passes evaluation then I see how I can turn this into a good Grey Rooms story. Some characters that I come up with I wouldn’t mind chatting with. Others I wouldn’t want to meet in broad daylight. Once all of the play-acting is settled, I then quickly type out an outline of the main events along with character evaluations. After that, the fun that is called writing begins.
GR: Being the super fan of the rooms yourself- What has it been like hearing your story produced as a podcast episode?
TM: I’m ecstatic! It just feels like a dream has just come true, but my brain just can’t process it for some reason. Personally, while I am a member of Pateron, I want to listen to it the day it goes public for all. It’s a nod to my original roots that I had to wait for two weeks per episode, and shivered a bit on the inside each time I pressed play. I do also have a small plan on how I am going to listen to it, along with telling all of my friends and coworkers about how awesome it is. I am just ecstatic to be working with everyone to make this story come to life!
GR: I’m glad we could bring that dream into reality for you! Even though you’re relatively new to the game, what do you think is your best piece of writing advice you’d give to other authors just starting out?
TM: Honestly, the best advice for writing comes from my partner Stephen who always told me this: “Omit needless words.” I learned after talking to him more about this, that it came from a book called “ The Elements of Style ” by William Strunk Jr. This is hard for me due to me remembering reading classical literature, and how they wrote back in the day. I always seemed to like flowery language in order to further express myself in writing, but ultimately phased that out so that I can get to the action needed to drive a modern story.
The last bit of advice that I can give to any author is this: “Plan well, the rest will follow.” Meaning that in order to get a story off the ground, you need to do some planning that isn’t too rigid but allows for the story to flow more consistently. For me I do a loose outline of the main events that are supposed to happen within a piece of work. If they are good enough events I write them down or improvise a situation to make it seem a bit more realistic within the story. Mainly you just got to find the workflow that is right for you and refine it after each project.
TM: And if you are writing to submit for The Grey Rooms, I’d say go for it! Even if your first story that you submit doesn’t get selected, by submitting it gives you a goal to work for and you will better yourself over time. I believe if I remember correctly, that this is my third submission to the Grey Rooms. Don’t let a ‘no’ ruin your writing career. Furthermore, if you are new to horror, then this is a perfect time to jump in and develop a story that can be truly unique within the Grey Rooms canon. Not only that, you could learn alot about horror through this podcast if you listen to it close enough. From that I learned what was well liked along with what could be a unique story that hasn’t been quite thought of just yet.
GR: Third time’s a charm right! Lol What projects are you working on now?
TM: I do have one major project to plug at the time of this writing. Currently I’m thinking of writing a novella that will be called The Ley Line Surveyor. It is in the planning stage so things here are subject to change. Here is a short synopsis of the story:
Synopsis: Terry Kelly, a refugee from a fractured America, escapes his way into Canada from a law that would allow state-sanctioned purging of those who are not human. Set in an alternate Canada in the year 2016 Terry finds employment at a magical museum and makes friends with two others as they find themselves far from home. With his friends Loki and Janet, they work within the museum while they navigate their day to day lives.
I hope to get this idea off of the ground soon and begin writing!
GR: That sounds like a really fun adventure! Thank you again Tori for taking the time to sit and chat with us. I know we’ve loved having you in the rooms, and bouncing around Discord!
I will be eagerly be keeping an eye out for more stories on the horizon as you continue this new venture into writing (and hopefully you’ll keep sending a few our way!)