Why Reading And Writing Dark Fiction Can Be Healing With J Thorn

I’m fascinated by aspects of life that are just beneath the surface, things that are beyond the edge of what we can see or feel physically.

J ThornToday I talk about fear of judgement, writing dark fiction and the occult with J Thorn.

J Thorn is a Top 100 Most Popular Author in Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy, with his bestselling books selling over 100,000 copies.

You can watch the video below or here on YouTube, or listen to the audio on SoundCloud.

We discuss:

  • An overview of J’s writing including the Portal Arcane series. His books have an edge of horror, thriller and some science fiction.
  • J’s About page says, “I believe reading dark fiction can be healing,” and so we talk about what lies behind this. About J’s background and betrayalhow he didn’t fit in where he lived. He used to walk in the woods there, even in the middle of the night, and these experiences shaped his writing. I talk about the difficulty of ‘stepping out of the box’ that society puts us in.
  • Dealing with fear of judgement. We discuss our respective journeys to writing what we really love.
  • Our mutual interest in occult and mysticism. How J’s research of the Salem witch trials led him into learning about this side of things, and how it appears in his books.
  • The books and films that have influenced J’s writing. How he likes stories when you never see the monster. How we both love Stephen King.
  • On sleeping well and psychological wellness :)
  • On redemption – one of J’s main themes – and how that can happen after death, if not in this lifetime. On faith and how our past influences our writing.

You can find J at JThorn.net and his latest book is the Black Fang Betrayal.



Thrillers That Mix Science And Religion With Randy Ingermanson

One of the themes I revisit in most of my books is the issue of what I really believe. For many of us, that’s the internal journey of a lifetime!

Randy IngermansonToday I talk to physicist and Christian, Randy Ingermanson, about his City of God series and how he reconciles faith and science in his books.

You can watch the video below or here on YouTube, or listen to the audio on SoundCloud.

Randy Ingermanson is a physicist and geek suspense novelist. His books include the Oxygen series, the City of God series and Double Vision, as well as books for writers.

We discuss:

  • What is geek suspense anyway? How Randy loves books by Michael Crichton, and how his writing always includes city of godgeeky, smart people who have adventures. How he became a physicist and then started writing
  • How modern physics is a story about how the Universe got here. I talk about how I did Theology at Oxford and my boyfriend was a physicist so I combined religion and science. We discuss the line between religion and science.
  • Randy was raised in a religious home as a 7th Day Adventist. This has impacted his writing, and he continues to try and explore what he believes in his books through the eyes of his characters. How physics is very good at understanding HOW the Universe works, but not WHY the Universe works. We started with hydrogen and we ended up with people.
  • About Randy’s City of God series. A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the Apostle Paul. The book has a Messianic Jew, Rivka, who ends up with a Jewish theoretical physicist and accidentally walks through a portal to 1st century Jerusalem. Now they must stop the assassination of Paul.
  • On the culture shock of using Jerusalem as a backdrop to the story. A short history of 1st century Jerusalem and what was to come in that century, including the destruction of the Temple and the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism, as well as Christianity moving out of Israel to Rome.
  • How Randy visited Jerusalem in 1991 as part of his research and how Jerusalem is one of my favorite cities that keeps appearing in my books. How we were both influenced by The Source by James Michener.
  • How we have to write out of our own experience and passions – for us, it’s religion and the supernatural! Plus, Randy brings in an element of romance – he’s far more romantic than me! We both write powerful female characters.
  • On Randy’s research for the Oxygen series which features a journey to Mars.

You can find Randy at Ingermanson.com and you can get his first book in the City of God series, Transgression, for free on Amazon here.

On Writing Literary Horror, Cannibal Cults And Vampires With Martin Lastrapes

There are some books which stick in your mind, even years later.

‘Inside The Outside’ by Martin Lastrapes is one of those books, and today I talk to Martin about his inspirations for writing literary horror, and why ‘nice’ people like us love to write of the darkness.

martin lastrapesMartin Lastrapes‘ brilliant debut novel, “Inside the Outside,” won the Grand Prize in the 2012 Paris Book Festival. He also writes short stories, is an English professor, and a podcaster, and is currently working on a vampire series.

You can watch the video below or here on YouTube. You can also listen here on Soundcloud.

In the interview, we discuss:

  • inside the outside

    It’s not an alien novel!

    Martin’s writing background. He had a late start after discovering literature at college, and was drawn to the darker side of fiction. He was into comic books earlier in life.

  • The inspiration behind the award-winning ‘Inside the Outside,’ which is about a girl who’s part of a cannibal cult in rural America. Martin’s own reasons for going vegetarian plus serial killers who are seem to be really nice people.
  • On ‘literary’ vs ‘horror’ in terms of genre and why Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis changed Martin’s life. About Martin’s next Vampire series.
  • On self-censorship.
  • Being a ‘nice person’ and writing horror. How really happy people write dark things.

You can find Martin and his books and podcast at MartinLastrapes.com. You can find ‘Inside the Outside‘ on Amazon here.

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Exorcism, Supernatural Fiction And Sense Of Place With Michael Lister

One of the perennial themes of my fiction is the supernatural, and a continuing search for what my characters, and what I, really believe in.

blood sacrificeI recently read ‘Blood Sacrifice,’ by Michael Lister, which features a death during an exorcism, a popular topic right now as the film ‘Deliver Us From Evil,’ hits the big screens.

The main character of the Michael’s books is John Jordan, a prison chaplain, who also struggles with his beliefs even as he investigates crimes, so I was keen to talk to the author about how we both walk the line of faith and reality.

You can watch the video below, or here on YouTube. You can also listen or download the audio on SoundCloud or below. There’s also a transcription below the multimedia.

Listen, download or share audio

Michael Lister is the award-winning and bestselling author of the John Jordan suspense thrillers, with a supernatural edge, as well as historical hard-boiled thrillers. He also writes non-fiction, screenplays, and short stories.

We discuss:

  • How Michael’s writing journey started and progressed
  • How Michael was himself a prison chaplain and how his own work has impacted his writing
  • What the job of prison chaplain involved
  • The character of John Jordan and his struggles with faith
  • Balancing belief with story and walking the fine line of religion
  • How the exorcism can be read as possession, but it can be read as psychological. I come down on the side of the demonic and we talk about our own interpretations
  • Why are people so interested in exorcism?
  • Talking about our influences – including my own experience of Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness at aged 15
  • Michael’s non-fiction books about the meaning of life in film, based on a series of reviews he wrote for a paper
  • The themes in Michael’s work that he keeps returning to
  • Sense of place and why Michael is passionate about his area of Florida

You can find Michael and his books at MichaelLister.com and on twitter @michaellister. Blood Sacrifice is here on Amazon.

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Writing Dark Fiction, Research, Travel And Books I Love. Interview With J.F.Penn On Scenes And Sequels

This interview transcript is from the Scenes and Sequels Podcast with Dave Kearney, recorded in May 2014. We talk about my research process, obsession with travel and what inspires my stories, as well as discussing my darker side! I also read an excerpt from the Prologue of Desecration which you can listen to below.

Dave: Welcome to the Scenes and Sequels podcast for readers and writers of genre fiction. I’m your host, Dave Kearney, and on today’s show, I chat with New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, J.F. Penn about her new book, “Desecration,” the first in her new London Mystery series.

Dave: Hi, all, it’s Episode Seven of the Scenes podcast, and that was the opening passages from “Desecration,” read by the author, and my guest on today’s show, J.F. Penn. Now, it’s just brilliant to be able to chat with Joanna today, because she shares some just amazing insights into her writing process, and in particular, we talk a bit about theme and just the level of research that Joanna does when she’s writing her stories. And I really think it shows in a story like “Desecration,” because as a reader, it really sort of forces you to ask the question of where fact ends and fiction begins, and that’s really cool, because it gives that story a level of believability, which I think is really important.

And, with that in mind, we also talk a little bit about Joanna’s views on challenging readers. And Joanna believes that writers have the responsibility to tackle difficult themes and to examine difficult issues from a character’s perspective, and by doing so, it challenges readers to be thinking about the story long after they’ve finished reading it. And I think that’s really cool as well. Perhaps it doesn’t hold true for every story; it’s definitely something to think about, because, certainly from my perspective, after reading “Desecration,” it definitely had me thinking for some time afterwards, certainly about some of the themes underpinning the story, and that definitely comes through in our conversation today.

Just quickly, one other thing that we chat about today is some of the challenges for writers in switching between genres, and anyone who’s familiar with Joanna’s work would know that she also writes the ARKANE thriller series, and so we chat a little bit about the different approach that she’s taken to writing her ARKANE thrillers, and the London Mystery stories.

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The Darker Side Of The Dreaming Spires With Dan Holloway

I recently read No Exit by Dan Holloway, a dark novella. There are a lot of books that feature the dreaming spires of Oxford, but this one offers a no exitvery dark and different viewpoint.

Alice is drawn into Petrichor, a group of Parkour enthusiasts who portray decay as beauty, and death as just another choice. When her friend Cassie is bullied into suicide, Alice makes a choice that will change her life. The writing is poetic in places, shocking in others, and the length is just right for a short, twisted tale. Fans of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, and my own Desecration, will enjoy.

Here’s an interview with Dan Holloway, based on my questions from the book.

So many people only see the tourist side of Oxford, tell us about some of the darker sides that you perceive, places that inspire darkness in your writing?

There are so many sides to Oxford. I started out as a student, and that’s the world I wrote about in The Company of Fellows. But even then I was more interested in the underbelly of ego and hidden perversions and desires that I sensed the tips of in my student days.

Since then I’ve come to know Oxford best through its rich cultural life, in particular the spoken word scene, which has very little to do with tourist Oxford. Oxford is home to Hammer and Tongue, one of the UK’s oldest poetry slams that’s been going for over a decade, and the best bookshop I’ve ever been in, The Albion Beatnik. These are worlds of political activism, from LGBT rights and Reclaim the Night through incredible projects with the homeless community like the Old Fire Station’s Crisis Skylight oxford doorCafé to guerrilla campaigns against climate change. It’s a world where the people you meet are as likely to live on a boat as in a cloister.

It’s not necessarily a dark world – though as recent news stories have shown, Oxford has that. But it is a world the tourists don’t see – and most of all it’s a world of passion and creativity that’s raw, flawed, and brilliant – everything tourist Oxford isn’t.

I love Petrichor and the theme of the beauty of decay – what drew you to that?

Oh that’s such a hard question and I need to tread so carefully because the answers come from the world around me as I grew up, and I don’t actually want to imply that Stroud is a rotting carcass of a town…

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Talking About Death And Morbid Anatomy With Joanna Ebenstein

When I tell people that I’m a taphophile, someone who likes graveyards, I often get funny looks. When I write books like Desecration, that open with a murder in a museum of medical specimens, and explore themes of corpse art, body modification and morbid anatomy anthologyteratology, people question my interest with such morbid things.

But if you understand these fascinations, if you are my kind of weird, then you will also love Morbid Anatomy, a fantastic blog that covers the themes I am passionate about and much more.

In the video below (or here on YouTube), I talk to Joanna Ebenstein, multidisciplinary artist, author and designer, as well as the founder of Morbid Anatomy blog and library and now the creative director of the Morbid Anatomy Museum in New York which currently has a Kickstarter to get it started. You can read discussion notes below the video.

We discuss:

  • Joanna’s background in photography and graphic design, and how she got started with an exhibition on medical museums and anatomical art that led into a blog and then a global community of people interested in these darker topics
  • The themes of Morbid Anatomy include 19th century hysteria, the uncanny, art and anatomy, death and culture, collectors and collecting, sexology, freaks and monsters, baroque art, gothic literature, history of medicine, taxidermy and there are now artefacts as well as books.

Things that fall through the cracks and flicker on edges, delightful in ways to certain kinds of minds.

  • We discuss why some people find topics like death confronting, and about the lack of dignified discussion around death. There is an avoidance of great emotion in our society, but some of us are drawn to investigate these things that seem ‘wrong’ or taboo in some way.
  • On how two smiley, upbeat women can be into such dark things …
  • old operating theatreSome of the objects that Joanna is interested in, including Anatomical Venus figures (which I used in Desecration as a clue to the murder), as well as a small Korean funeral doll that would assist in the underworld.
  • The Morbid Anatomy Museum will be opening in New York this year, it is an extension of the Library that Joanna has been running privately and will contain lots of artifacts, books and exhibitions as well as community spaces. You can read about the plans and join the funding on Kickstarter here. I’m really excited about it!

You can find Joanna at the Morbid Anatomy blog here or @morbidanatomy on Twitter, as well as her gorgeous photos on Flickr.

Right image: Flickr Creative Commons Peter Pelisek

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Talking Psychological Thrillers And Crime With Rachel Abbott

Rachel Abbott is the Amazon UK #1 bestselling author of psychological crime thrillers, Only the Innocent, The Back Road, and her new release, Sleep Tight.

RachelAbbottBooksIn this interview, we discuss:

  • How Rachel’s own experience with stalking inspired the book
  • The themes that Rachel returns to in her books
  • On writing twists to keep the reader guessing
  • Rachel’s research process for the books, including interviews with the police
  • Island life as Rachel lives on Alderney in the Channel Islands and how it features in the book
  • On reading and writing different things

You can watch the video below or here on YouTube, and the full transcription is below the video.

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Talking Cults, Religion And Maine With Mystery Writer Jen Blood

My obsessions with religion, psychology and the supernatural are clear in the books I write, and I’m always thrilled to Jen Bloodmeet other authors who share the same interests.

Today I interview Jen Blood, the best-selling and award-winning author of the Erin Solomon mysteries. We talk about the Erin Solomon books, cult suicides, our obsession with religion and the supernatural as well was walking the line between belief and respect for people’s faith, plus how Jen does research and her love for Maine.

You can watch the video below or here on YouTube, and the full transcription is below the video.

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A Life Of Research: An Interview About My Books

I love to talk about the inspiration for my books, so here’s a couple of excerpts from an interview on Russell Phillips blog.

Pentecost newYou can read the full interview here including who would play Morgan and Jake in the ARKANE movies, plus will there be more coming soon.

Morgan likes storms and enjoys research, as do you. How much of you is in Morgan?

Morgan is my alter-ego and when I want to blow stuff up or go travelling, she gets to do it. Her background is nothing like mine as she is half Israeli and has a Jewish ancestry and upbringing in the Israeli military. I wanted to bring Israel into the mix as Jerusalem is my favorite city in the world and one of my goals is to live there for a time one day, so that was a way to do it! I do have a Masters degree in Theology and another degree in Psychology, so those fascinations also run through Morgan, but I am certainly not a fighter, although I am extremely independent, and I have travelled to most of the places in the books.

How important do you think realism is in thrillers?

JFP: Personally, I think you should believe it could happen within the real world, so I do a lot of research to make the books as ‘real’ as possible and then take that further into fiction. I always have an Author’s Note at the end which explains what is real, for example, ‘One Day In Budapest’ is about a right-wing political party whose anti-Semitism spills into violence with echoes of WWII. It was sparked by being in Budapest in November 2012 as a real political party marched in black shirts around a Roma village, and called for a national registry of Jews. I’ve outlined more of the realities of that book in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5onR9-L5IbU

Read the full interview here