Monday, May 21, 2012
Soul Screams with Sara Jayne Townsend
Today I welcome Sara Jayne Townsend to my blog. She's here to chat about her latest release, a collection of short fiction. We've walked a long path together; I've edited two of her Lyrical Press novels, Suffer the Children (paranormal thriller), and Death Scene (crime).
ND: So, Sara, Soul Screams... You've gone for 13 horror stories. Obviously the number was intentional. [laughs] Did you write them all in a short space of time or were they collected over a while?
SJT: These stories were written over a period of 20 years. The earliest ones were written when I was 17. In some ways they are a map of how my writing has evolved over the years.
ND: Which of the stories is your favourite? And why?
SJT: That’s like asking a parent to pick their favourite child…
I like them all, for different reasons. The Thirteenth Floor was my first published story, and I have an affection for it for that reason, flaws and all. Possibly the story I think is one of my best is The Guitar, though others may disagree.
ND: Are there any real-life anecdotes/occurrences that found their way into this collection?
SJT: Quite a lot, actually. The most autobiographical is To Dream of an Angel. The writing group in the story is based on one I used to belong to, and the conversation about dreams that starts the story actually happened. The meditation exercises that the main character participates in, involving a knife and a talisman, and the visions she has, also happened to me. However, the real-life story ended a bit happier. My boyfriend did not die as a result of all this, like Jenny’s does.
Trio is another story inspired by real-life people and events. The trio in this story is based on me and two friends I used to hang out with as a teenager. We met through a drama group, as the characters in the story do. Happily, though, unlike the characters in the story, my real-life friends are still alive and well.
ND: What scares you?
SJT: Most of my fears are abstract ideas. Loss of identity is a big fear I grapple with – I pride myself on being an individual, for all my quirks and foibles, and I have an irrational fear it will be taken away from me. It’s one of the reasons I kept my name when I got married.
Featureless and distorted faces scare me. Mannequins with no features in shop windows still give me the creeps. I think this is possibly tied in with the loss of identity fear – a person with no face has no identity.
I can quite cheerfully watch all manner of gruesomeness in horror films without batting an eyelid, but one thing I do get very squeamish about is damage to eyes. The film Jeepers Creepers had a lot of that, and it really creeped me out, thoughmost horror fans wouldn’t rate it as a particularly scary film. I can watch someone being eviscerated or gutted without being put off my dinner, but if someone takes a weapon to someone else’s eyes in a film, I have to look away. I can’t explain why.
ND: Hahaha... Eye violence gets me too. Are there any underlying themes that recur in this collection, now that you can take a step back?
SJT: Rather a lot of them, actually. I’ve always used my writing as a way of trying to deal with emotional baggage, so there are recurring themes that pop up a lot – things I was evidently having trouble dealing with at the time. Many of them reflect my own personal fears. The most obvious theme is death – in 12 of the 13 stories, at least one person dies a horrible death. Betrayal by a loved one is another recurring theme. Loneliness, isolation and despair also feature a lot. Cheerful stuff!
Soul Screams releases in June and will be available in e-book format (Amazon for Kindle, and Smashwords for other formats). There will also be a print version. All buy links will be featured on Stumar Press’s website. Check http://stumarpress.webs.com/soulscreams.htm for further details.
Buy links will also be featured on my website where you can find out more about me and my writing.