Have you ever come across a book that disturbed you so deeply you honestly didn’t know what to think of it? That was the case when I read Sick by Christa Wojciechowski. It was intense and disgusting. I gave it a 5* review because of how strongly it affected me, but I most assuredly did not like that book! I recommend it to everyone.
Photo courtesy of Christa Wojciechowski
Christa (Wojo) Wojciechowski is the author of The Wrong David, The Sick Series, and is working on a series called The Sculptor of New Hope. Her characters explore existential turmoil, mental illness, and the complexity of romantic love. She uses her stories to compare the dark, carnal nature of humanity with its higher qualities of creative expression and intellectualism.
Christa currently resides in the mountains of Panama with her husband and a house full of pets. She works as a freelance digital marketer and helps thought leaders, podcasters, and fellow writers develop their marketing platforms. Christa enjoys foreign movies, yoga, wine, and rambling around in the cloud forests near her home. Most of all, she’s passionate about books and writers, and loves discussing them on social media.
LOHF: How old were you when you wrote your first story? What was it about?
The first complete story I remember writing was an illustrated book about Keinchee (a unicorn) and The Three Fast Rabbits. I don’t remember what they were up to, but I distinctly remember producing the pages and stapling it all together in book form.
I’ve always documented my inner and outer life (I didn’t have a thriving social life as a kid). Every summer, my parents would drive us from Florida up to New Jersey to visit our family. During the long road trip, I’d keep detailed travel journals. When nothing worth noting was taking place, I would invent bizarre creatures I saw along the way.
During high school, I scribbled a lot of transgressive short stories, but then real-life kicked in. It was only when I started doing digital marketing for a self-published author that I realized becoming a writer was possible.
LOHF: What got you hooked on horror?
Funnily enough, I never even set out to write horror. I just wrote. I had no idea what it was, and then readers labelled it horror.
My mom didn’t allow me and my two sisters to watch scary horror movies when I was a kid. I remember school kids talking about Freddy and Pinhead and I felt out of the loop there. We were allowed to watch stuff like Gremlins, The Twilight Zone movie, and Tales from the Crypt. I guess my parents thought it was too silly to give us nightmares. Predator and Aliens was okay for some reason. I remember I didn’t want to be Sigourney Weaver. I wanted to be the Alien!
Human beings frighten me the most. The most horrific thing I encountered as a child was Anne Frank’s diary. I was only in 5th grade and I couldn’t make sense of the holocaust. It still baffles me, like I can’t really process that it happened. This is why most of my work is not about monsters and other worlds, but the dark, clawing parts of our nature, about how we destroy ourselves and each other.
LOHF: What kind of writer are you? The type the plots everything out ahead of time, the type that lets the story go as it goes, or something else?
I don’t plot anything, and I don’t usually have an end in mind either. I’ve been running on dreams and little flashes of insight. When I begin writing, there is an avalanche of story that has been percolating in my subconscious. My stories are all character driven, so I let them take the wheel and then try to structure the mess once they’ve had their way.
You have written a few books now. Do you feel like your writing style is still changing, or do you feel like you have found your groove?
I’m still experimenting. I love writing in first person. I can completely inhabit my character and live through them. The problem is it’s very limiting, so my latest story Conviction (to be published in the upcoming issue of Project 13Dark) is written in third person-present tense. That was a weird feeling, but it totally worked for the story.
I’m also exploring genres. My work-in-progress is a dark sci-fi novella. I have some more ideas for an Asian drama something like a very dark Memoirs of a Geisha, more transgressive stories, and even some non-fiction.
LOHF: Recently there’s been a bit of stupid fussing in the horror community regarding what types of horror we should all like. But there are no prizes given for reading the most disgusting works, and not everyone likes the same type of horror. So, what are your favorite types of horror as a reader?
I love being grossed out as much as the next horror fan (growing up with Garbage Pail Kids maybe is to blame?), but I can’t read anything that doesn’t have a deeper meaning. I love psychological horror or horror that’s believable. What makes horror scary is if it could really happen on any given day to anybody. If it’s too far-fetched, it will lose me right away. And I will not usually pick up anything with vampires, zombies, or werewolves.
LOHF: Are there any horror tropes you refuse to write about in your work?
I’m probably guilty of a few. I love classic, Gothic fiction. Three out of four of my stories will involve a mansion or estate of some sort, lol. Basically, I write what I love to read. I don’t consciously avoid tropes, and even if I am guilty of some clichés, I think my characters and stories are unique enough to make up for them. I never write a story unless I think it’s going to blow people’s minds a little bit.
LOHF: On top of being a writer, you are also a social media manager and a freelance digital marketer. It sounds like you keep very busy! How do you keep all your plates spinning when you’re deep into a story?
I work five days a week and set aside Saturdays for writing and working on book promotions, etc. I hate sitting in front of a computer, so writing only happens if I can stand it after all my work is done. I’m working on restructuring my business to change that now. I’m offering courses on how to become a digital marketer and how to build an author platform. I think teaching will free up my schedule so I can finally work on some full-length novels.
LOHF: I was introduced to you via the first book in your novella series, Sick. I recommend it to everyone even though I freely admit it deeply disturbed me. When did you first get the idea for the series, and how long did it take you to actually get the first book written?
Thanks for your support of the book. Your review is my all -time favorite. I really took it as a compliment that you were that disturbed. The idea that spawned Sick came from a nightmare. It was the eeriest feeling. I was the woman who would become my character, Susan. My husband was sick, lying there in his soiled bed. He was smiling at me, but there was this sinister glare in his eyes. I pulled back the sheet and shuddered. He was broken and bruised all over. At some point, I put together the pieces. I knew that he had done it to himself. I couldn’t shake the chill of that dream. I did some research and discovered that this mental disorder is real.
LOHF: Tell us a bit about your WIP, please!
I mentioned Conviction, which I’ve been working on for a year. It will be published in an exclusive crowdfunding project created by Joseph Sale called †3Dark. I’ll be featured along Richard Thomas (Gamut Magazine), Anthony Self (Storgy Magazine), and Andy Cashmore.
I’m really proud of it, and I think Sick fans will love it.
Conviction is about Michael, a teen suicide risk who meets a wealthy, beautiful young man named Sebastian. Seb inherited a large farm from his mysteriously deceased parents and lives there with a group of young people who share some extreme ideas about the food chain, humans included. Michael runs away from home to be indoctrinated into Seb’s cult. It’s the first time he’s felt like part of something and he becomes infatuated with Seb, blocking out his instincts that tell him something isn’t kosher about the farm.
Conviction is an LGBT story about how we consume living beings, and how love consumes us. That’s all I’ll give away! The Indiegogo campaign will be closed by the time this interview comes out, but issues should be available after publication at christawojo.com/13dark.
I’m also working on a transgressive scifi novella about a junkie who wakes up in a sewer gnawing on a dead man’s head without any recollection of how he got there. I’ll be pitching that out within the next few months to scifi publishers. It is by far the weirdest thing I ever wrote.
LOHF: What is the best horror movie you’ve seen in the past couple of years?
Raw impressed me. It was very artfully done. A few scenes were so horrific, they really took my breath away. I love European film, so it was two of my loves in one movie.
The Neon Demon is another one that stands out. In our society, we’re so desperate for beauty, we go to gruesome lengths to keep it. The older you get, the more you can relate to that fear of youth slipping away. Then that scene with Jena Malone! I thought, “Oh no, they’re not going to go there. They wouldn’t do that.” And they did! And I was like, damn, they have huge balls—the writer, director, and especially Jena Malone. I respect that. I like to push the same boundaries in my writing.
LOHF: What book by a female horror author do you feel needs to be adapted immediately?
Angela Carter’s The Lady of the House of Love directed by Neil Jordan or The Erl-King directed by Guillermo del Toro. I dream of The Sick Series directed by Lars Von Trier.
LOHF: Who are some up-and-coming ladies of horror fiction that we should be on the lookout for?
I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I’ve been stuck on the classics so long (Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Daphne du Maurier, Angela Carter, Mary Shelley) that I have little experience with up-and-coming ladies of horror.
I wonder if most of us female horror authors are lost to each other. I feel like many people think women cannot or should not write horror. “How could such a nice girl like you write something like that?” I get that all the time. So I’m eager for recommendations from your readers, and I can’t wait to see the other authors you will be featuring.
Thanks so much for having me and for putting the spotlight on Ladies of Horror Fiction! I invite my sisters in horror, scifi, speculative, and dark fiction to reach out to me. I would love to collaborate and support each other.
Sick: John Branch is a brilliant-minded aristocrat, bereft of his family’s wealth, ravaged by a terrible and as yet unidentified disease. Susan is a hard-working nurse at the end of her tether.
John’s illness has always baffled doctors, and there are times when she wishes that he would just slip away. But John’s mind is very much alive, and she can’t help but cling onto the dream he will recover.
As pressures mount, Susan resorts to one desperate act after another to keep John alive and manage his pain, all the while haunted by a creeping sense that something isn’t right with her world…
Sick is the first Novella in the three part Sick series and is available by clicking on the picture which will magically transport you to Christa’s page where you can purchase the entire series.