Note– I, the writer, was challenged to let one of my characters answer a series of questions. Being a truly magnanimous sort, I asked Nancy Stockhorst if she wished to give a small interview. She graciously allowed me to record her answers, which I did, just as she gave them. I did not edit them or leave anything out; it’s a very much warts and all little gabfest. This gabfest, of course, deals only with the House on Clark Boulevard issues, story and problems, not on Alice in Oregonlandia or yes, Saint Lysette and Bloody Alice, that’s right, a book three!, which wraps up the tale of the Stockhorst women. Notice that Nancy suggested I mention those other books; she’s quite a fearless sort and very pragmatic about more than just ghosts and how to cook a turkey. You wrote my story, she said, now get it out there. Isn’t that what you writers do?
NANCY’S SIDE: An Interview with Nancy Stockhorst
My name is Nancy Stockhorst. My story was told to a writer, a local one. I never thought it would, um, well, be seen by anyone. I told her she should write comedies and nice adventure yarns, things people actually want to read. I suppose if anyone read about a few days of their life magnified and dissected so, they’d get uncomfortable, too.
1. What do you like to read in your spare time and has it prepared you for living through your own story?
Oh my, I’ve been reading that James Herriot book, about the vet. Where this vet has adventures with animals back in the Twenties. No, the Thirties, right before the war started. I enjoy it very much when I can get a moment to read. I have, well, had…two small children, a house, a dog, a kitten, some chickens, a husband and so much to do. And, well, there are other things that take up my time. Sometimes, they get very busy. I guess you could call them ghosts. I don’t talk about this, with anyone. I, anymore, just ignore them. They giggle and play tricks, that’s the little boys. They’re dead, I don’t know who they are or why they died. And there’s a little girl with a doll, the tongue tries to lick me. There’s one with jacks. One with a tea set, always trying to get me to play tea party. And. And there’s others, but I ignore them as best I can. I tell them to leave me alone if I have a lot to do. Oh, Mr. Herriot, in that book, just does his job. I’d love a lazy day to finish that first book of his and start one of his others. But you can’t, not when your children are so small yet and so busy all the time.
2. Do you think a character should be able to choose their own genre or do you think that would lead to chaos across the bookshelves?
Well, if my story were told by another writer, I guess it would still be a sort of ghost story. I don’t know how others see their stories. I suppose Mr. Herriot would not wish his book put into the cooking section. That wouldn’t make sense. We all wish to be heroes and not be made fun of. Others put us into groups but we don’t have to stay there. But if you’re telling a tale about ghosts, then why try to put it into the pile about boats? It doesn’t make sense.
3. If you had to write a story yourself, would it be in the same vein as the story you’re currently living through?
Oh good heavens, no. I’d not ever reveal what that Ms. Wuehler revealed about me! I feel very exposed and silly. She did try to capture most of it, but I came across so, well, as I did. I’m not like that! I try very hard to do the best I can and be a good wife and good mother. Those dust ups with Alice! And little boys take a bit of time to learn how to use a toilet! Aaron was a baby! Art was not himself during most of that. I do not cuss so! I’m very careful what I say. I’m always very careful. I came across as some…actor. As if I go about all day pretending that I like being a wife and mother; I do like being a wife and mother! This would just be a tale of a family getting through the holidays, they pile holidays up so. Thanksgiving and then a month later, it’s Christmas. Halloween right before that! Dealing with all that would fill a book no one would be ashamed to have on their bookshelf. Real things as done by real people. And I’d never include the other elements. There’s no need to talk about that stuff. Or what really happened to the chickens.
4. Do you think this story is sharing the greatest moment of your life?
Of course not. Wuehler strung together my lowest moments possible. Where things were not going well. Where I let myself get carried away, and where I let the others in that house get to me. I do like the bits about the Calgon bath salts and the red string, that was accurate and true. But other parts, I wish had not been put on a page. I felt and still feel rather, well, naked. All that silly fighting with Alice, when do mothers and daughters not have petty little fights? Where I let Mr. Blue…I won’t talk about that or him. I won’t give him that satisfaction. He won’t win, not ever.
5. If you were allowed to edit your story yourself would you cast yourself in the leading role or keep out of the limelight?
Of course I would make myself look good. Do we not all do that? My brother Tom is always the hero or the victim of his own tales, he comes out on top or someone else is to blame for whatever he did. He’s your typical man. Well, he is. Do we not all do that, though? We scrub away the troubling bits of ourselves when we tell stories about ourselves or gloss over something to make ourselves seem better or nicer or kinder or wiser. I did throw that damn cat. That was left in! I’d never include that if I were telling this story. I did punish Alice for talking out of school about things I told her not to talk about. Any mother would have done the same. I do like the bits about Ruth and Carl, they were portrayed almost exactly as they actually are. Just good solid farm folks. My own parents got nearly the same respect. I think Joan would be tickled over how she came across. I came off so oddly. I love my family. The writer of my tale makes it seem I don’t even like them that much.
6. Would you ever want to know the full page count of your story?
Mm. Well. From what I hear and see, Wuehler has been recording the Stockhorst tales into further volumes. She’s even now started a third. Several times over started it. As if there is more than one way to tell a story? I have no idea how many pages my little confession turned into. Most of what made it to the page seems determined to paint me in a very strange light. I did what I had to. To fight off that Mr. Blue and everything he did to me. Oh yes, there was also Mr. Peepers. He lived in Alice’s room. Aaron had his cowboy blanket and Alice had some little…thing that lived with her. He seemed harmless or I would have run him off. I did what I had to. I made pies and baked turkeys and figured out how to make all the others leave me alone. That could be reduced to about a page or two. For Reader’s Digest. And you could leave out all the ghosts and rolling beasties and Mr. Blue. I’d just be an ordinary woman dealing with children, a husband, pets, in-laws and holidays.
7. Have any scenes been cut from your story that you want putting back in place?
Oh goodness, the writer just put everything I told her onto the page willy-nilly. She even included the little moment when I spoke to my Aunt Pansy in the library! Oh, there was that scuffle over just how to explain my leaving the house when things got so very bad that one night near Christmas. She had me hurting Art, she had me running over to Susan’s, she had me calling my mother. Finally, she settled on me reaching out to Tom, my brother, to come get me. Who was cheating on his girlfriend, Freedom, so that was another way for the writer to show my brother in a not so kindly light. Yes, that was my brother’s girlfriend’s name. Freedom. She came with Tom to the Thanksgiving dinner at my house and she, well, seemed to see them, too. I could never quite trust her. But Tom, now, my brother came right over, in the middle of the night, didn’t he? I was portrayed as off my rocker and about ready to be sent to the insane asylum. I’d have left out how hysterical I came across. Well, not hysterical, really, more…focused and angry. Those other scenes had me a bit nicer and more like me, but the writer decided on having Tom come get me. I barely remember that night, so I let the writer take liberties, as they say.
8. If you could ever meet a reader in person would you ask for their review of your story?
I guess. I’d like to hear how I come across and if they’ve experienced anything like that. It seems there are other people who know about ghosts and such, I did look them up and read about them. It’s how I knew about making those bottles for catching ghosts and oh, dream catchers. And the red threads. But then again, the story is so off and odd. And not normal. I’ve kept most of what happened to me a secret in real life. Now my secrets are being turned into fiction, for people to read at the beach! It’s rather an uncomfortable feeling. And then to have people judging you based on whatever Wuehler chose to write about me! So much was left out. Perhaps her other takes on the Stockhorst family will include just the nice stuff. I know how hard and awful life can be; there’s no need to just write that sort of story only. Funny things happen all the time. Good things happen all the time. We don’t need a constant reminder that life can be awful and sometimes the dryer explodes a week after you buy it brand new. I’d also like to hear, from readers, how they dealt with daughters like Alice. There were days I thought I’d sell her to the Salvation Army!
9. Would you rather your story be light and entertaining or leave your readers with questions when it’s finished?
Well, my story did end on a rather abrupt and awful note. The writer just stopped writing. Called it a day! That’s not where my story ended, my story is still going, so to speak.
I’d have liked the House on Clark Boulevard to end with that Christmas chapter, where it’s just a normal family enjoying the holiday. It was done for shock effect, that ending, I scolded that writer and called her a hack. She informed me that the story does continue, in something I hope she only jokingly called Alice of Oregonlandia. Is it a comedy, I asked her. Sure, it’s got lots of jokes, the writer said. What is this further story about? Oh, it continues with Alice in the hot seat. About ten years later. Am I in it? I had to ask that. The writer just gave me a look. I take it I won’t like whatever that story, featuring Alice, will be, either. I think, if my story can get retold, I’d like to disguise my name. And make it more about trying to get ready for the holidays and not so much about the watching eyes, the trick-playing ghosts, the gigglers in the wall, Mr. Peepers, the furry rolling things and that stupid, murderous Mr. Blue. Did I do what he wanted? No, I did not! Yes, a more light-hearted, sweet approach. That’s what people want, not the gritty, dirty, ordinary sort of stuff that happens in people’s houses. Though, that can be fascinating, just not when it’s all about you and your house and your family, of course.
10. Are you happy for the problems in your life to be used as catharsis for your readers?
I had to look that word up. Well, I get so busy. So, someone will read my story and feel better? That might be a good thing. I just hope that Wuehler remembers I’m a real human being and not perfect if she includes me in her next attempt. And to be kind. That the truth might be shocking and titillating but that doesn’t mean it has to be told.
And now, it’s your turn!! Buckle up, dear fellow writers.
Ten questions for your character of choice to take a whack at:
1. What hobbies or interests do you have? Are they a part of the tale told about you? Why or why not?
2. What are you political leanings? What religion, if any, are you? Has the writer misrepresented you in these areas?
3. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone else? Why did you do it? Would you do that same act again and, if so, why?
4. What kind of sandwich do you like? Describe it. Are you a foodie? Do they have sandwiches in your realm, kingdom or plane?
5. Did the person/s telling your tale get it right? What would you change? What captured the essential you? What would you get rid of in your own tale?
6. Is it important that readers like you? Why or why not?
7. What’s your job, career or profession? Has this influenced your story in any way, shape or form?
8. Why does your story need to be told? What will a reader get from it?
9. Do you regret having your story known to others? Why or why not? Would you pick a different writer to tell your tale?
10. What parting words of wisdom would you like to leave us all with?
OH!! I’d like to thank Fellow KGHH author C.A (Christine) Ardron, for suggesting I try this challenge. I’d like to nominate Lucy Brazier, K.T. McQueen or James Peartree.
Ardron’s post: https://morethanacat.com/2017/06/17/byrd-speaks/