Molly Thynes is a writer who lives with her fiancé and pets in St. Paul, Minnesota in a cozy neighborhood where you can walk to ice cream and poke (what more do you need?). By day, she’s a mental health professional. By night, she is a queen of the horror genre and has published multiple short stories in several anthologies. She is looking forward to finishing her up in coming novel and her wedding in June.
I’ll admit that I’m starting with Molly because she is my best friend. She and I have been writing together since our teen years (which are an ancient history we try to forget). Despite that I nearly gave up on writing in the trenches of graduate school, she never stopped encouraging me to write. She is a wonderful human being, and I’m excited for all of you to get to know her.
First question: When did your writing journey begin? What inspired you?
That's difficult to say. If you ask my mother, she will say I was a writer before I even knew how to write. She has multiple stories of me dictating stories for her to write down when I was as young as three. And once I learned to write a complete sentence, writing consumed my whole life. But since I started so young, a lot of the books from my childhood inspired my journey: A Little Princess, A Wrinkle in Time, and of course, the Harry Potter books
Another source of inspiration, for my horror stories specifically, was being a young child and being baby-sat at my grandmother's house. My grandmother was the sort of caretaker who didn't care what I did as long as I was quiet. And whenever my parents weren't around, I had a habit of sneaking around and watching horror movies on basic cable. One day, when I was seven, my grandmother caught me watching Child's Play 2, but she never told on me. So every time my grandmother would watch me, I would go to her massive wood-box TV in living room and watch my horror moves. She would even give me cake to have while I watched them.
What are your current writing projects?
I always have a couple short stories on the back burner. One I'm working on now is a near-future sci-fi/horror piece about a sex robot repair tech who teaches the AIs about feminism and inadvertently causes the rise of the machines.
But my main project that I am working on—and have been for several years—is a post-apocalyptic YA pseudo-western. It involves a future America where society has collapsed, existing only in isolated city-states who offer trade supplies to those living outside the borders and, when their debt becomes too great to forgive, take their children to serve as slaves in the cities.
In one village in the mountains of New Mexico, there has sprouted a religion where young girls serve as priestesses and commune with the spirits by smoking hallucinogenic poppies. Rhode Monteiro, one of the priestesses, is content to live the rest of her likely short life this way, until she returns to the temple with two parishioners to find the caretakers all killed, her fellow priestesses all kidnapped, and an ominous warning to the villagers to never rebuild the temple.
Unable to return to the village or her life before becoming a priestess, Rhode instead leaves the village with the two parishioners, teenage lovebirds Holt and Julia, in an attempt to learn why her life as a priestess was taken and to save her stolen sisters.
That novel sounds incredible. Where are you in terms of completing it?
I'm finishing up the first round of edits (but let's be honest, I rewrote the whole thing). I'm thinking one more round of edits and a proofread, and I'll be ready to show it to agents.
That’s exciting. Good luck to you. In terms of writing, what does your usual writing process look like?
I have never had an actual writing 'space' per se, and I have always had a profound dislike of desks. So wherever I live, I always pick one spot in the house that is my writing space (a chair, a spot on the couch). I have a huge pair of bulky headphones that I always wear, even if I'm not listening to anything. I don't listen to a lot of music when I write; usually I have a documentary playing in the background. And I always have candles burning whenever I write. I try to aim for about 1000 words a day. Whether I am successful or not is a completely different matter.
Where do you find inspiration, particularly if you’re struggling with writer’s block?
I have my favorite books that I keep on a special shelf when I need inspiration (I love Laurie Halse Anderson for style and Margaret Atwood for content). My fiance is also a huge film buff and is constantly having us watch movies that he thinks will inspire me. But for me, at least, the best inspiration comes when I don't go looking for it or don't force it. Random stories in the news, overheard conversations in the grocery store, nightmares after watching the Joe Bob Briggs marathon. This is where my absolute best story ideas have come from. My inspiration for my current novel actual came from an offhand comment from one of my RAs in college, that I must of been an Oracle of Delphi in another life.
Do you have any favorite writing tools?
If there is one 'writing tool' I can recommend without a doubt, it's the Emotional Thesaurus series. I'm on the autism spectrum (what they used to call Asperger's), and while I can name emotions, I have lot of trouble recognizing them and knowing how I can show them in my work. This series of books has been a lifesaver for me. The authors have also written books in the series about settings, character traits, and all sorts if useful tidbits for writers.
Those books are amazing. I use them all the time, and I’ll put the links below so that readers can easily find it as well. Is there anyone who has had particularly influence on your writing? If so, who?
In my childhood, I would say J.K Rowling and Madeleine L'Engle. In high school, I worshiped Laurie Halse Anderson and I red Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale obsessively. I'm actually reading The Testaments right now. For horror, I'm actually a little embarrassed to say I have been more inspired by films than by any particular author. As an adult, I still love Margaret Atwood, but I'm a horrible fangirl in that I don't have a lot of particular authors that I worship anymore. These days, it's much easier to draw me in with a topic that interests me than with the name of the author on the front cover.
What is your biggest strength in writing?
I would have to say that I put an insane amount of detail into my world building. I have a stack of notebooks where I plotted out the most minuscule details of the worlds I have created and the people who live in them. I would also say that, ASD aside, I'm very good at seeing into my characters' heads. One example from the other day: My character doesn't know what furniture polish is. How would she describe the smell? Like lemons? Wait, does she even know what a lemon is?
What do you struggle with the most in your writing?
I would say I definitely struggle with writing a story in a linear fashion. I usually start writing at three different points somewhere in the middle and write the rest of the story around that. I actually have several short stories right now that are collecting dust in folders, because I can't come up with an ending or a second act.
If you could only choose one book to be stuck with on an island, what would it be?
The Emotional Thesaurus. With my favorite writing tool at my hands, I can create endless stories of my own.
Besides writing, what do you like to do with your time?
I'm an introvert, as most writers are. I love reading, but also drawing and painting, sewing and knitting. I love going to restaurants I've never heard of. In Minnesota, there is a fair or a festival every weekend, so I attend a lot of those. I also enjoy traveling. I'll be going to Scotland and England for my honeymoon this summer.
Congratulations on your wedding! I might be just a little excited.
I would hope my maid of honor would be excited for me!
You have no idea how much I am.
Two more questions. First, what is one random fact about you?
I'm a first-generation American. My family is from Malta. But the only Maltese words I know show to say are hello, I love, and none of your business. That and a few swear words
Last but not least: If you had to give one advice to new writers, what would it be?
Never go with you first draft. Your first draft sucks, and that's okay.