Q1: When did you start writing and who influenced you the most now and currently?
Stephanie: I actually didn’t do a ton of creative writing growing up—I was more of a reader. I read constantly and often felt a closer connection to fictional characters than to the people in my own life. When it came to writing, I was too much of a perfectionist to enjoy the process, so I really only did it for school assignments. I started writing more seriously in my twenties, when I went to grad school for writing and wrote novels and tried to get them published for the first time. However, it didn’t work out, and I got discouraged and didn’t write for a few years before coming back to it.
In terms of my writing style, my two biggest influences would probably be Francesca Lia Block and Alice Hoffman. I discovered both of these writers when I was a teenager, and I love their lyrical style and the magical elements and references to fairy tales in their work. Right now, I’m influenced by writers in the indie horror community—there is a huge movement happening in indie horror writing, and it’s allowing for a wider range of voices and experiences to be explored within the genre.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Stephanie: As soon as I started reading, a part of me wanted to be a writer, because I knew books were magic. However, I often find writing to be a difficult and daunting process, so I resisted that desire to write for a long time. It really came back to me when I’d had a lot of disappointments in my life, including the end of a long-term relationship, and I was feeling hopeless and lonely. Characters and their stories just started coming to me, and I would think about them all the time, as a distraction and eventually as a way to bring purpose back to my life. This was the first time I felt an intense desire to be a writer—so I guess I’m part of that cliché group who write using pain and sadness as inspiration.
Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?
Stephanie: Support from my friends has been vital to my writing. When I started writing again, after those big disappointments I mentioned in my previous response, I showed my work to friends who reacted really positively and encouraged me to keep going. If they hadn’t, I doubt I would have put in the amount of work I have and kept going through all the rejection. I’ve also gotten a lot of support from the writing community on Twitter—even though I don’t know these people in real life, they feel like friends and have opened doors in terms of my career!
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you?
Stephanie: I grew up on the East Coast of the US in Baltimore, Maryland. It was a fairly artistic, liberal area and I went to a very cool performing arts high school in downtown Baltimore (I went for piano, they didn’t have a writing program!), so that influenced my interest in the arts and the creative process. There were also a lot of beautiful natural areas around me as a child, from the little park and stream near my home all the way to the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Mountains a few states away where we went camping. Being in nature really brought my storytelling mind to life, as I was always imagining fairies and elves carrying out their secret lives in the trees.
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?
Stephanie: So far, that would be my gothic horror novel THE BRIARS, which is forthcoming in May 2023 from Cemetery Gates Media. This novel is set in a commercial BDSM dungeon like the one I worked in for six years, and it deals with themes of sadomasochism, misogyny, the challenges of being a sex worker and being judged by society, queer love, and more. This story comes from an extremely personal place to the point that some portions of the novel felt channeled, like I wasn’t completely in control of what I wrote. I’m really excited for people to read it and hopefully get the same emotion out of it that I put into it!
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Stephanie: I wanted to be a dancer when I was younger, so I love many forms of movement—dance classes, yoga, walking, jogging, etc. I have anxiety, so moving is one of the only ways I can turn my mind off for a little while—and bonus points if I get to do it in a beautiful outdoor area.
Q7: What is a favorite line/stanza/lyric from your writing?
One of my favorite lines is from the final poem in my collection, Every Poem a Potion, Every Song a Spell:
“Magic has many definitions, and fantasy is its own kind of truth.”
Q8: What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song that always comes back to you as an inspiration?
Stephanie: That’s a really hard question for me to answer, because I’m super inspired by music in general and I love so many different genres! Anything with great lyrics will help me to feel strong emotions, which I then want to translate into stories or poems. I’m partial to 90s music, both grunge rock and singer-songwriters like Tori Amos—there’s a kind of rawness to music from that decade that really speaks to me. I’m inspired by so many songs, but one I often come back to is “Horses” by Tori Amos—the haunting melody and piano accompaniment, and the strange, melancholy lyrics with their references to folklore, really hit home for me.
Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, etc. that you would like to promote?
Stephanie: My debut poetry collection, Every Poem a Potion, Every Song a Spell was released in August 2022 from Querencia Press. People seem to like it—I’m really pleased with the response so far!—and you can purchase it on all the major platforms including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Bookshop.org. I have a little prose chapbook coming out from Bullshit Lit in December 2022, A Story, a Spell, which is really a prose companion to the poetry book—they both include fairy tale retellings from a feminist perspective. And my gothic horror novel The Briars will be released by Cemetery Gates Media in May 2023. This book provides an authentic, own voices portrayal of sex work that I haven’t seen in many novels, so I believe it’s very important, and I hope people will pick it up!
Bonus: A funny memory or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey.
Stephanie: Hmm…maybe because most of my writing tends to the darker side, I can’t think of too many humorous moments! However, there has been some strange serendipity that almost makes me believe in fate—or at least reminds me that when something feels like a setback, it might actually be leading me to something better. For example, I tried very hard to sell a memoir based on my experience working at a commercial dungeon, and I was crestfallen when it didn’t work out. However, if it had worked out, I would not have started working on THE BRIARS—a novel which was very much based on my own dungeon experience, but also included a broader range of voices, and ghosts(!!!) and gothic romance(!!!) and all the exciting things. I think I’ve created something really special and unique, which I probably never would have if the memoir had gotten published instead.
To purchase my poetry book:
Every Poem a Potion, Every Song a Spell: Parent, Stephanie: 9798986078854: Amazon.com: Books
Stephanie Parent (@SC_Parent) / Twitter
Stephanie Parent (@stephanieparent30) • Instagram photos and videos
STEPHANIE PARENT, AUTHOR AND CREATOR – Home
Bio: Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at the University of Southern California as well as a professional submissive and switch. After working for six years at a commercial dungeon in Los Angeles, she’s now writing about her personal and professional experiences with BDSM for publications including the HuffPost, Hippocampus, Pithead Chapel, Entropy, The Whorticulturalistand Mookychick. Her work has been anthologized in Dating & Sex: The Mutual Theory of Self-Destructionand My Heart to Yours: An LGBTQ+ Romance Anthology. Stephanie is also a published author of poetry and fiction; her poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award and Best of the Net, and her flash fiction won the O:JA&LEditor’s Prize for Flash Discourse. Her first poetry collection, Every Poem a Potion, Every Song a Spell, is forthcoming in August 2022 from Querencia Press. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Stephanie now considers Los Angeles her true home.
Links: A Book Review of Every Poem a Potion, Every Song a Spell by Stephanie Parent (reviewed by David L O’Nan & Jessica Weyer Bentley)