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Influenced to Write Horror by a Nun?

January 8, 2010

W. J. here, or call me Wendy.

I’ve been a writer most of my life and made a career of it, writing boring technical documents in the Air Force and the Information Technology industry. Yes that also makes me a geek. The technical writing paid the bills for years, but my ultimate goal is to become a published fiction author.

I’m also a pretty talented artist, which is where my creativity first blossomed as a child. But I live in my head, most of the time. I’m one of those people you can talk to one minute and wonder if I actually heard a word you’ve said, and driven and focused the next. Basically, if I were a kid today, I’d probably be on prescription meds for ADD. Anyways—I may have just had one of my outer limits moments—the pictures in my head would never stay still long enough for me to draw them. So, naturally, I progressed to writing the pictures down as stories. I don’t draw much these days, but in the back of my mind there’s a graphic novel just begging me to create it.

I’ve had some of the same influences as my fellow Wicked Writers, but I thought it might be fun to go way back to my childhood for my greatest influences. Drum roll please. And the award goes to my first grade teacher, a cruel nun named Sister Paul. She considered me a demon incarnate at the age of six because I wasn’t baptized. She also felt it was her mission to remind me, daily, I was not welcome in a classroom run by the Catholic Church, and that I should return to Hell where I most certainly belonged. Needless to say, my defense at such a young age was to get sick, a lot. I had a number of childhood diseases that year and missed over one hundred days of school. Now imagine having the imagination of a six year old, mixed with frequent fevers. Let’s just say I spent much of the first grade in a bizarre and horrific dream world. I still vividly remember every recurring nightmare I had that year. In fact, the second novel I wrote, still unpublished, is based on one of those dreams.

Don’t feel sorry for the adorable little flower girl pictured to the left. Sister Paul was partially right. I had a horrible side, mostly victimizing my sister, talking her into eating dog food and using her toothbrush to clean my fish bowl. Maybe my parents should have named me Denise the Menace. One time I purposely landed a rather large rock on a boy’s head, nearly knocking him out, just because I thought it would be fun. After he tattled to his mom, who immediately called my mother, I lied my way out of trouble. I got pretty good at weaving tales of deception to get myself out of trouble. Only worked about 1% of the time though, so I learned a lot of lessons the hard way. And who knows, if I hadn’t found a creative outlet in drawing and writing, I might be in prison or on Snapped.

Okay, on to my fiction writing accomplishments… I write fiction full time now, usually curled up on the couch with two beagles, nagging at my son who might finish online high school when he’s 20. Don’t tell him I said that because there’s no chance he’ll read this. I’ve completed two novels that still need serious editing. I also write short stories I release to the public through my website. I’m currently working on my third novel, The Courier, a dark mix of fantasy, horror and comedy. The story is about a guy named Barry, down on his luck and unable to keep a job. When he finds himself, yet again, unemployed, he jumps at the first position he’s offered, a courier for Hell. The Courier has been a hoot to write and has taught me that I have a natural talent for writing comedy. I started writing The Courier for fun on Twitter, and entered it in the Textnovel Online Fiction Contest. To my surprise, it was a co-winner last year. Check it out on Twitter @TheCourierNovel, if you like to read backwards, or at

I’m rather excited about contributing to this blog with the wicked gang. We have quite a diverse group of writers, and after reading everyone’s bios, we can each bring a unique perspective on the publishing industry. Thanks for asking me to join C.J.!!

25 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2010 9:06 am

    Great post, Wendy! You’re welcome and you make a fine addition to the team.

    • January 8, 2010 12:24 pm

      Thanks C.J.! I had so much fun writing this week’s post I can’t wait to write next week’s.

  2. January 8, 2010 10:13 am

    Very cool, Ms. Howard. Thanks for never throwing a rock at my head during any of our numerous lunch dates.

    • January 8, 2010 12:27 pm

      I just hope I don’t catch you flinching when I pick up a fork or knife at our next lunch date…speaking of which, aren’t we due?

      • Andrea permalink
        January 8, 2010 7:44 pm

        We are overdue, actually. By a long shot.

        I’m not ascared of you …

  3. January 8, 2010 10:27 am

    Wendy, you always make me laugh! Great post and I guess I’ll have to accept the demon in Nina, at least until it comes out in Book 5 of @TheCourierNovel!

    • January 8, 2010 12:33 pm

      I think that one of the best possible things you can do in life is make people laugh. Too bad we can’t fight wars with laughter. Everyone lives and the only injuries are a few pee’d in pants.

  4. Supriya Savkoor permalink
    January 8, 2010 10:46 am

    You made me laugh out loud, Wendy, but it’s nervous laughter cause you’re kinda scary. (Hope you’re sister survived childhood, btw.) 😉 You’re super talented though and I’m very excited about working together.

    • January 8, 2010 9:39 pm

      Thanks Supriya! We have quite a talented bunch of writers here and we’re guna to have some wicked fun.

  5. January 8, 2010 11:41 am

    Ride that bad side, Wendy. It’s what makes us fun and interesting (and, by the way, writers).

    Lots of interesting sides to you and your writing and I’m looking forward to getting to know more about both…

    • January 8, 2010 10:08 pm

      I agree Steve & I really look forward to working with ya, especially considering your experience! Also glad to see you experiment with comedy. It’s a challenging genre. Easy to torture and kill in print (at least for me), but making people laugh is another story. Have you read “The New Comedy Writing Step by Step” by Gene Perret? I’m half way through and love it. I never realized that writing comedy could be so…technical.

  6. January 8, 2010 5:55 pm

    Hi Wendy and All,
    I came by this fascinating website while perusing my Home Page on Facebook and was immediately intrigued by Wendy’s “Influenced To Write Horror By A Nun”. Having had a Roman Catholic upbringing myself, I know exactly what Wendy means but come on guys, wasn’t she a witch? I feel sure I used to date her back in 8th Grade, until I was felled by a mysterious rock from the skies.To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve always found nuns just that little bit creepy,especially the Carmalites who look like living shadows.
    I hope you don’t mind guys if I look in on you from time to time only this site looks like its going to be a loft of fun. It’s been great meeting you all, Love and Best Wishes,
    Your Servant,

    • January 8, 2010 10:18 pm

      LOL!! As always, Mr. Stone, a pleasure to see you here!! Please drop by often! We actually need guest bloggers and you are #1 on my list of guests!

      Oh, and, it be interesting to know the percentage of horror writers whom have had a Catholic upbringing.

      Say hello to Christine for me & take care of your lovely lady!

      • January 9, 2010 4:31 pm

        Hi Wendy, Christine was thrilled to hear from you and I want to say thank you for your kind comments. As always My Lady, you are too good to me. I wonder however, if I can impose? Could you give me maybe a suggestion or a title or maybe an opening line for a short story to post here on Wicked Writers? I’d love to blog but I’d like to do something special for you and your fellow members. I leave You and the other members here as always, with Lots of Love and Best Wishes.
        I remain your most humble and loyal servant,

  7. Michelle permalink
    January 8, 2010 9:28 pm

    Nice blogs this week folks, was a pleasure reading a little bit about all of you and the unique perspective you will bring to this website. I am an avid reader, not in the least bit interested in writing, and a good friend of C.J.’s… looking forward to following your adventures in publishing and thoughts that go along with the process. Congrats on the website, I like it!

    • January 8, 2010 10:22 pm

      Thanks so much for dropping by to read this week, Michelle! I’m sure I speak for all us wicked writers when I say we look forward to your contributions in commenting on our posts. The readers mean everything to us crazy writers!

  8. January 8, 2010 10:40 pm

    Blaming the Catholic Church? Sounds like utter nunsense to me.

    Still, this is a great blog (though I say that under threat of being hit in the head by a rock).

    Okay, seriously. Great blog. A lot of insight into your past life as the Bad Seed and the makings of a classic bestseller.

    Keep it up.

    • January 9, 2010 8:58 am

      LOL! Until I can figure out how to throw rocks over the Internet, you’re all safe. 😉

  9. Andrea permalink
    January 9, 2010 4:43 am

    Hey Wendy –

    Would you do me a favor and flip me one of your old story ideas? I feel a need to bleed something out and have some bones but need a reason for them to exist. IOW, if you could give me a reject from your pile of psychosis/psychoses, I could really use something to chew on, I’ve felt useless lately, I need to write and have never tried to grip into fiction or horror …

    Private mail is fine, of course. 🙂 You know where I live …

    • January 9, 2010 9:56 am

      I could do that, but you have a whole blog full of ideas over at Turn one of your posts into a bloody story. Heck, The Courier is based on evil corporate greed, all wrapped up in a package called Hell. By the way, great post on the 6th in

      Otherwise, the fun thing about ideas is that any writer can take it, run with it and create a completely different story. So, I challenge you to write a short 500-1000 word story about 2 teenagers who find an evil book in a thrift store. When they leave the store, what happens? This is certainly not a unique idea, but I’ll write a story too and we can trade it at the end of the month and read just for fun.

  10. Andrea permalink
    January 9, 2010 1:43 pm

    You’re on! Ha though – the biggest challenge for me will be keeping it under 1000 words. The post you linked to (thank you, by the way) is 1200 words!

  11. January 10, 2010 8:04 pm

    Is that constipated-looking creature in your post Sister Paul?

    • January 11, 2010 9:56 am

      Sister Paul was younger, thinner, and maybe a little less constipated in looks, but she sure made up for it in facial hair.


  1. Introducing the Wicked Writers « By W. J. Howard
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