I’m pleased to have Marge Simon on board for an interview. Marge’s story will appear this year in Tales from the Lake, edited by Kenneth W. Cain, Crystal Lake Publishing.
Where did you get your concept for “The Midland Hotel”?
The Midland Hotel began as a poem. The poem was inspired by a trip my husband and I took to meet up with some friends in Tampa, FL. They booked us rooms overnight at a hotel.
Several stories high, It looked okay from the outside, but once in our room we were less than pleased. Rather than a pile carpet, it had tile floors. The bedspread was thin, with one flat pillow per bed. The bathroom offered a used bar of soap and half a toilet paper roll. There were no amenities — not even paper cups, no phone, no remote for the TV. It was so bad, I wrote a poem about it, imagining the guests who’d have visited such a place. What sort of travelers would they be? But then, I got to thinking –why not make it the opposite sort of accommodation?
Then I wrote from a different perspective, refined and obliging to guests. Or rather, obliging certain guests with what they need rather than what they had once wished for. Eventually that morphed into “The Midland Hotel”, a very fine old hotel indeed – set in England. A good friend of mine from Manchester helped a great deal with the details, including the name of an actual “haunted” hotel, The Midland. My unpleasant but simple trip to Tampa, Florida turned into an account of five different sorts of people spending the night in the old Midland hotel outside of London, England.
I’ve sold and published at least twelve collections of poetry or short fictions, or a mix in the past decade or so. I find that prose poetry and flash fiction are my forte. I’ve never wanted to be a novelist. I used to say that this was because of a short attention span. But actually, writing an excellent short fiction — whether telling OR showing or both, whether or not with dialog, and whether or not with naming the protagonist(s) is my kind of challenge.
Aspiring writers’ advice:
What kind of degree would I have wished to pursue if I were in my twenties? Today, I would avoid an MFA like the plague. You don’t need an MFA to be a good writer, IMO – and of course, that also depends largely on having a good teacher. College courses in writing can screw up your mind. Attending an excellent writers workshop like Clarion or Borderlands Boot Camp would be a good start after or while pursuing a general degree in the arts. Don’t ever expect the world to come to you. The world is under no such obligation. I also suggest joining the Horror Writers Association, which provides so much for writers just getting started – the only element for your stories needed is one of darkness, which – if you think on it, is contrast needed for all kinds of stories including fantasy and science fiction. It doesn’t have to be gore. I don’t write zombie stuff. You don’t have to include violence. I prefer psychological horror, myself.
If you marry or hook up with a lifemate, hopefully it will be someone with like interests who supports you – as you support their needs/interests in your own way. Some idioms I advise: 1. Never marry a musician. 2. You get what you pay for. 3. Don’t postpone today what you could do tomorrow. 4. Show up, preferably on time. 5. Do a job good enough to do what it’s for. (This applies to your own stuff OR depending on the job and your salary.) Say like washing your dirtycar when it is very hot or very cold or you are tired. I am tired just thinking about it. 6. Finally, to your own self be true. To me, this means avoid deception. There are too many fake people as it is. This also applies to what you chose to write. You need to believe in it, if it is to have merit.
Thank you so much Marge for taking the time to speak with me! It has been such a pleasure getting to know you.
You can keep up with Marge here: