Interview with Speculative Fiction Writer, Tawny Kipphorn

Photo: Tawny Kipphorn

Photo: Tawny Kipphorn

Brief Biography:

Tawny Kipphorn is a speculative fiction author with a passion for poetry and short stories. She has been writing for nearly ten years, and is inspired by authors from the 1800’s Romanticism period. She describes her poetic style as Edgar Allan Poe meets Dr. Seuss. She has been published in Tales From the Shadow Realm, Inner Sins, Sanitarium, and A Shadow of Autumn Halloween Anthology.

Geosi Gyasi: You’ve been writing for nearly ten years. What circumstances led you to start writing?

Tawny Kipphorn: It was a combination of things. As a kid I had an affinity for language and literature, I was an avid reader, and was always drawn to macabre things. It also helped that I’ve always been very pensive and inquisitive about people and life in general. I eventually reached a moment in which it became a deep passion to create scenarios similar to those that enraptured me my whole life.

 Geosi Gyasi: What was the nature of your first published work?

Tawny Kipphorn: It was a short story called “The Hellequin of Volterrum” and it was published in Tales From the Shadow Realm. It was a tale of an elderly man suffering from schizophrenia who had ended up overdosing on his anti-hallucinatory medication and in doing so, he ended up facing his biggest fear, himself. The “Hellequin” I made to be a twisted and maniacal jester, the polar opposite of what a jester is considered to be, and I felt that really reflected the old man’s inner psyche.

Geosi Gyasi: What challenges do you face as a writer?

Tawny Kipphorn: The biggest challenge for me is trying to remember that whatever I create, it is most important that I am the one who likes it. As I began to have success with publishing, I began to feel as though I needed to cater to the desires of others, and where I do believe that is important to a degree, I feel as though staying true to myself in my work is key. As long as I can relate to my work, at the end of the day I know that somewhere out there, someone else will too. I feel with any type of talent or art, you must stick to what you feel over what others want, that’s the best way to keep the passion burning.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you specialise solely in supernatural and psychological suspense?

Tawny Kipphorn: Yes. I have dabbled in other genres such as romance and every now and then I’ll try my hand at science-fiction (which kind of fits into supernatural), but I mostly write those for my own entertainment. However when it comes to sending my work into the public, I like to stick with the supernatural and psychological suspense because when I imagine trying to make it as an author, I can only see myself being associated within the field of Horror.

Geosi Gyasi: Which writers did you read as a child?

Tawny Kipphorn: Edgar Allan Poe, Dr. Suess, and R.L. Stine. Those three were absolutely pivotal in my becoming an author. As a teenager I got more into Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson, and they were just as important as their stories took my lexicon and elevated it, which enabled my passion to really grow.

Geosi Gyasi: Where do you get the names of characters for your stories?

Tawny Kipphorn: I usually have an image of a character in my mind and with that I just think on it for a while. The name always just comes to me and it just feels right. As for non-human characters, I’ll imagine their characteristics of personality and do some digging into the vocabulary that best describes them and then I’ll put some sort of spin on it. For example, the Hellequin. I had the image of a court jester in my mind, so I thought on the fact that they are sometimes referred to as Harlequin’s, and since he’s evil I put a spin on it and called it Hellequin.

Geosi Gyasi: I am wondering whether you have a specific audience for your stories?

Tawny Kipphorn: I feel as though a lot of my writing would be entertaining for children of a little bit older age. Being that I did grow up reading Goosebumps books and Dr. Seuss, as well as my love for Poe, I’ve found a way to combine all three styles and I believe that would work for young people really well, but could also be enjoyed by anyone. I’m happy with whoever reads/enjoys my writing.

 Geosi Gyasi: What is the hardest part of writing?

Tawny Kipphorn: I struggle with writing longer stories. I have amazing ideas for novels, so I try to cut them down into novellas or novelettes, but I still find it a challenge to drag the stories out. I’m always so excited to get everything down and out fairly quickly and get to the point. In some ways I feel that weakness of mine could actually be something I could use, as attention spans are decreasing as generations go on. It’s also difficult for me to have a specific assignment with a deadline, my ideas come to me when they want, it’s not something I can force nor would I want to, that would make for poor writing.

Geosi Gyasi: How do you find time to write?

Tawny Kipphorn: Being as passionate as I am, I always find time for writing. If I’m running errands, I usually have a notebook and pen with me, any little thing inspires me and I’ll just take a moment to jot it down. Good work takes time. I have stories that took me years to finish but I always had time to take notes. Those small notes over time end up turning into something pretty amazing later.

Geosi Gyasi: How did you get involved with poetry?

Tawny Kipphorn: With my love for the rhyming style of Dr. Seuss embedded within me, once I discovered Edgar Allan Poe in high school, it was set in stone. I was meant to be a poet. I had read “Annabelle Lee” and something just awoke in me that I could never explain. It was almost like the feeling of having just found a soul mate, or every thing you never understood just making sense finally. It burned in me to create things just as beautiful, things that made me feel the same way his work did. It became a love of mine to re-create the old style romanticism feeling and being it back to be appreciated today.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you know how you often start a poem?

Tawny Kipphorn: I’ll have the story in mind I want to tell, and I’ll just think of a good opening sentence that captures the reader. Once that is done it’s basically smooth sailing for me. I’ll just think of the following sentences that would fit and make sense to the story, while making sure it rhymes. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and I have to change sentences around but I always make it work.

Geosi Gyasi: What is it about Edgar Allan Poe that inspires you as a writer?

Tawny Kipphorn: I’m a big fan of the 1800’s lexicon and that has a lot to do with it. The fluidity of his words that you just don’t hear anymore really resonated with me. The amazing and twisted stories he had in his mind and the ease with which he created them really inspire me. I love that he was such a dark and brooding person but at the bottom of all that, he was just a regular person who wanted all the same things we all do. He was a very real and relatable human being, the kind of person I feel I could have sat with for hours on end discussing the existence of everything.

Geosi Gyasi: Could you define your voice as a writer?

Tawny Kipphorn: My voice as a writer is that of just a simple storyteller. The person who tells all the scary stories while sitting around a campfire in the dead of night in the middle of nowhere. I try to have an approach of creepy yet somewhat whimsical and theatrical at times. I’m here to tell stories, that’s my calling, simple as that.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you write on a computer or in a notebook?

Tawny Kipphorn: Both! I usually start out in a notebook and then once I have the first stanza or paragraph, I’ll transfer to computer. I find the computer works best when I have a clear-cut vision and everything just flows, and the notebook is better when I’m not so sure and I need time to play around with different words and ideas.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you approach poetry the same way you approach short stories?

Tawny Kipphorn: No. There is definitely a lot more discipline and research that goes into stories, whereas poetry just sort of comes much easier for me. I feel as though writing stories is a lot more about logic and brain power, and writing poetry is all about intuition and emotion.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you mind giving me a brief synopsis of your poem, “Rosalee”?

Tawny Kipphorn: Rosalee is about a woman who loses the love of her life, and she longs to join him in the spirit realm. Eventually, his spirit beckons her and it is her time, so they are united once more.

Geosi Gyasi: Are you the type of writer who read before writing?

Tawny Kipphorn: Yes when I’m writing a story, if it’s poetry no because that’s all feeling, not thinking. So if I’m about to write a story, I will often times read first either to exercise my brain or often times for inspiration on how to begin and how to keep the fluidity.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you have a special way of ending your stories?

Tawny Kipphorn: Not particularly, I just try to either make the endings something that was unexpected or something that hits home and makes you sit back and think about what you just read. I try to make the ending in a way that will make the story stick in your mind for a while.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you have any formal education in writing?

Tawny Kipphorn: No. Aside from what I’ve learned from Elementary through High School, and learning from other authors, I’m self taught.

Geosi Gyasi: What do you think of the role of poetry in the 21st century?

Tawny Kipphorn: I feel as if poetry is a dying art. I feel saddened by that, and it is important to have good poetry in the world because I really feel that it teaches good vocabulary and sentence structure. It’s not only a beautiful way to tell stories, but it’s something that anyone can learn from. Poetry is something that you don’t just read and forget, it’s something you feel in your soul when you read it, something that stays with you. Very much the same way lyrics to a song stays with you, and that’s what is so beautiful about it. When you read and feel poetry, you create its music in your own mind the way you interpret it.

Geosi Gyasi: Are there any projects you’re currently embarking on?

Tawny Kipphorn: Yes, I’m going to be creating a new poem/story of possession called “Mother Maggie” about a resentful spirit who’s making life hell for one family. I’m also planning to re-write my short stories “6 Minutes 2 Madness” and “The Bloody Balfours” and giving them both new life and a lot more blood!



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