Author Spotlight: Chelsea Mueller

Q. Tell us a little bit about your background, and your evolution as a writer. If you’ve taken more than one workshop at the Storied Imaginarium, what is it that keeps bringing you back?

I’m a writer who loves to try new things, which means you’ll find my stories shelved throughout the store. My debut novel was a gritty urban fantasy called Borrowed Souls (Skyhorse, 2017). It’s set in a contemporary world where people can rent souls and has a reluctant soul repowoman has its main character. It’s the first in a series. 

Photo Credits: Lauren Bethany Photography

From there I moved to writing young adult novels—both horror and thrillers. I’m best known for Prom House (Delacorte/Underlined, 2021), which is a throwback to ’90s Fear Street and Christopher Pike with 10 teens renting a house prom weekend and one by one they start to die. Very fun. Lots of kissing.

My short fiction has been all over the place, too, but I’m delighted that my most recent published piece is one written in the Season of the Bear workshop at Storied Imaginarium. It’s titled “Hibernation Heirloom” (Sunday Morning Transport, 2023) and features a touched-out new mom seeking self care the hard way. 

Q. Can you tell us what inspired your Season of the Bear story? 


I’m only half joking. I have a three-year-old and still live in a state of perpetual fatigue—as most parents of littles do! The Season of the Bear had a module that examined bearskin stories as well as hibernation. While many Bearskin tales feature daughters fleeing gross fathers, I focused on the act of donning a bearskin as an act of freedom. Expectations were shed when fur appeared. 

So who needs hibernation more than a postpartum mom? Those early days of sleep deprivation and hypervigilance around your kid are real. The added layer of some lactating parents becoming more aggressive only added to the story of my mama bear who needed her own mother and a sense of peace and an excuse to let her husband take care of the baby while she rested. 

All of that came together in “Hibernation Heirloom.”

Q. How did you come to writing and who are some of your influences?

I’ve always been a writer. (Does everyone say that? Probably.) I had a career in journalism for many years, writing mostly pop culture, music, and lifestyle pieces, but when newspapers became an unstable workplace, I switched careers and became a marketer. Marketing is a lot of fun, but doesn’t have near enough writing to sate me. That’s when I began writing fiction. 

Q. Can you give us an insight into your writing process? Any habits when you sit down to write?

I find time whenever I can to write, so I’m much less focused on ritual and more on routine. I love to sprint in 20-minute bursts, because I can make my brain focus on the one thing for that long. Then I allow myself five minutes of checking email or scrolling Instagram, and back in until I hit my goal for the day. 

All that said, if I am at home, I’m likely to have a coffee on one side and a lit candle on the other. Right now it’s Alchemy & Ink’s “The Darkling” scent. It’s almost gone and I’m very sad because it’s a perfect moody candle. They describe it as “winter wind, night, bare branches,” and that feels about right for the domestic horror I’m working on! 

Q. What is next in store for your readers?

I’m working on several new things: a new atmospheric horror novel and a trio of fantasy short stories centered on women bending the world. 

My latest novel, Cloud Nine, released in March and is the first in an explosive new YA dystopian series. It’s breakneck pacing with a big mystery plot and buckets of sexual tension. Bonuses of women in STEM and friends you’ll love. I’m writing the sequel this summer!  

About cmariebissett

Carina Bissett is a writer, poet, and educator working primarily in the fields of dark fiction and fabulism. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in multiple journals and anthologies including Arterial Bloom, Gorgon: Stories of Emergence, Hath No Fury, NonBinary Review, and the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. V and VI. In addition to writing, she also teaches online workshops at The Storied Imaginarium.

One Comment

  1. You are so talented. Your brain must be in overdrive all the time to come up with ideas. Congratulations. Your mother must be so proud.

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