E. F. Schraeder believes in ghosts, magic, and dogs, and writes poetry and fiction that’s almost always inspired by not quite real worlds. The author of Liar: Memoir of a Haunting (Omnium Gatherum, 2021) and the story collection Ghastly Tales of Gaiety and Greed (Omnium Gatherum, 2020), Schraeder is also the author of two poetry chapbooks. Recent creative work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. Schraeder’s nonfiction has appeared in Vastarien: A Literary Journal, Ginger Nuts of Horror, Fright Girl Summer, Radical Teacher, on the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom blog, and elsewhere.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
E.F.S: Believe it or not, grade school. My school librarian fed and watered me with a steady diet of Poe, Wells, and other fabulous books. In third grade I had an incredibly creative, fun teacher in the who gave me a little class time on Friday afternoons to share a weekly murder mystery. It was silly stuff of course, and I don’t recall much about the story (not that there was much to it) other than one at a time all the classmates were suspects and plenty of them were casualties. This wonderful teacher (on her first full time teaching job) got me absolutely hooked on two things: the joy of storytelling and how essential it is to make time for fun— especially on Friday afternoons. I’m a product of public schools, so I have nothing but love for those teachers out there (and fellow librarians) who turn young people into readers and writers every day.
2. What is your work schedule like when writing a book?
E.F.S: I usually set up an outline to start and work on one section at a time. If there is research to be done for anything historical or contextually relevant, I work on that while I’m developing the background story and character material. If I’m trying to hit a specific completion date, I set up mini deadlines for myself to stay productive. Once it’s drafted, I set it aside for while waiting for feedback (thank you early readers!), and then I go through several rounds of edits. The timelines vary from project to project, and I’m usually flexible with some of those goals, but that’s pretty much the routine. Add in a lot of espresso and loud music, and that’s about it.
3. Where do you get your ideas or information for your book?
E.F.S: Well, I lived in Vermont for a few years, so some of the setting in my latest book Liar was informed by direct experiences. I had a few frights out there, but I didn’t enter any other realms of existence while I was there (lol). I find ideas everywhere and keep a folder for possible future projects. The source materials can be almost anything— an old postcard, unusual antique, event in history, scientific article— a lot of different things have captured my attention and planted seeds that become stories or poems later on, often much later.
4. What do you do when you’re not writing?
E.F.S: I work part time at a public library in youth services, so I’m lucky enough to be reading stories and promoting passion for books a lot of the time. When I’m not at the library or writing, I love being outside: hiking in the woods, digging around in the garden. Inside, I love watching old horror movies (especially Vincent Price), playing music (I play a few instruments), or hanging out with my ridiculously cool rescued animal friends (two dogs and a cat).
5. What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your books?
E.F.S: That’s a fun question! Writers can definitely learn some weird stuff (it’s why I delete my browsing history). Probably the most surprising thing I learned was while working on the story collection Ghastly Tales of Gaiety and Greed: Unauthorized and Haunted Cedar Point. There have been an incredible number of shipwrecks in Lake Erie, just hundreds and hundreds of them— it’s like the Bermuda Triangle of the Midwest. Documentation of the wrecks varies over history, but it’s a striking element that added to the allure of the area as a locale for supernatural events. I could not have made up a better setting.
6. How many books have you written?
E.F.S: Since 2013, I’ve written four books, including my first two poetry chapbooks. My more recent books have both been fiction. My first full length book was a story collection Ghastly Tales of Gaiety and Greed (Omnium Gatherum, 2020) which was told in vignettes that follow four families through 150 years of hauntings at an amusement park. In 2021, Omnium Gatherum released my debut novella, Liar: Memoir of a Haunting. I’m also honored to have contributed work to some truly amazing anthologies over the years with a variety of wonderful small presses and fantastic editors.
7. Any tips/suggestions on getting started?
E.F.S: I still feel like I’m getting started, but I try to read broadly, inside and outside the genres I write. Reading is a nonstop education on writing: style, voice, thematic treatments, technique — it’s all there, and for me it’s a crucial and ongoing part of developing my skills. I also try to connect with folks… that said, I’m 100% introverted and super shy so that one is challenging. Writing can feel like an isolating activity, but I’ve found the horror, spec writing community, and other groups I’m involved with to be incredibly welcoming and kind. Joining reading groups (online and in the real world) is another great way to connect. The learning never stops when you’re engaged, and it’s a wonderful way to celebrate the genres I love while honing writing skills. I also try to write every day— even if it’s just a little bit.
8. What do you think makes a good story?
E.F.S: From a writing perspective, probably patience and ruthless editing. As a reader? I’m a fan of quirky, character-driven tales with supernatural leanings and events that dance up to the edge of the unknown.
Omnium Gatherum: https://omniumgatherumedia.com/efschraeder