Tonya “Katt” Dunsmore writes short stories. Her stories have appeared in Crime and Suspense Magazine, Mouth Full of Bullets,  MicroHorror, Bewildering Stories and anthologies like The EX-Factor: Justified Endings to Bad Exes. Her illustrations and graphics have appeared in Reggie & Ryssa and the Summer Camp of Faery, Cracker Wisdom and a number of other publications.

 

Tamara Wilhite: Horror and crime drama seem to affect every aspect of your life. For example, your bio says your cats are named Psycho and Schizo. What is your background, if I may ask?

Katt Dunsmore: I have a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice that is heavy in Forensics and Abnormal Psychology. I worked for several years as a Dispatcher for a County Police Department near where I live, as well as having several years’ experience with law enforcement prior to that through my work on a Volunteer Fire Department when I lived in Florida. Now I’ve been a Social Worker in a homeless shelter for the past ten years. As for the cats, because I know people will ask; Psycho is a feral rescue from the shelter I work at. We have a large feral cat colony there. Almost nine years ago, as I pulled up to work and got out of my car one night, she ran up to my feet. She had gotten away from her momma, and some of the bigger cats were after her. She was about four weeks old, so I took her into my office, fed her shrimp all night, and took her home. She was so wild, that one day I called her a little psycho. That’s how she got her name. Schizo’s name was chosen long before he was given to us. He’s two. And yes, they are both spoiled rotten!

 

Tamara Wilhite: How does this impact your day job as a social services case worker? Or does your work influence your writing?

Katt Dunsmore: I see a lot of things working with the homeless that would break most people’s hearts. That often breaks MY heart. I’ve dealt with almost every situation over ten years that you can imagine. I’ve also seen a lot of heartwarming things, things that give you hope for humanity. People have a very skewed view of the homeless. Most don’t seem to realize that the majority of us are only a few paychecks from being homeless ourselves. I use my Criminal Justice and Psychology background more now than when I worked in Law Enforcement. But as to whether or not my work effects my writing…EVERYTHING affects my writing. It could be something I see or hear at work, or the grocery store, or see on a street corner on the way home, or a snippet of conversation… My ideas come from any and everywhere.

 

Tamara Wilhite: How did you end up illustrating multiple children’s books when you write so much horror?

Katt Dunsmore: I was working with Bo Savino at Koboca Publishing on the idea of The EX-Factor when she mentioned one day that she was writing her book, Reggie & Ryssa and the Summer Camp of Faery, and was looking for someone to do a book cover for it. I told her that I had been painting and drawing for years, and that if she wanted to see some of my work, I’d send her some to look at. I was cringing on the inside the entire time, because I’m my own worst critic and I never think my artwork is up to snuff. But she wanted to see, so I sent her pics of some paintings and drawings. A few days later I was slated not only to paint the cover, but to do inside illustrations as well. A few months after that, I got the commission to illustrate Cracker Wisdom. And then after Reggie & Ryssa came out, all these requests started coming in to do children’s illustrations. I said something about the writing horror, illustrating children’s books thing to Bo one day, and she just laughed and said it gave me balance.

 

Tamara Wilhite: You’ve written dozens of short stories. For example, you’ve had stories show up in Flashshot and Microhorror. What is the market for very short stories like this like? How much public demand is there for them?

Katt Dunsmore: The flash fiction market can be very competitive, though I’ve always found it to be a friendly, tight-knit community. In my experience, a LOT of readers love flash and even micro fiction stories. I’m not sure if it’s the quick conclusion, the short read, or what, but it just seems to work for a lot of people. Maybe it’s the busyness of today’s society, where some people feel they don’t have time to cozy up to a big book.

 

Tamara Wilhite: Have you ever written a novel? And are there any anthologies that are just your work?

Katt Dunsmore: I have two novels started. I have every intention of eventually finishing both, I just haven’t had the time. An anthology fully of my own work is in process as we speak, and it will have old and new stories in it.

 

Tamara Wilhite: What are you working on now?

Katt Dunsmore: Those new stories for the anthology. Once I put the finishing touches on them, they go to my beta readers. When I get their feedback, I’ll make any needed changes and go from there.

 

Tamara Wilhite: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Katt Dunsmore: I’m just getting back into writing after an almost five year hiatus. I have missed it like you cannot believe … and I’m having some of the best ideas of my career. My beta readers and fans should probably buy new bulbs for their night lights.

Tamara Wilhite: Thanks for speaking with me.