Monday, August 27, 2012

Joan De La Haye's world of darkness #guest

Joan De La Haye is no stranger on my blog, and I decided to have her over again because she's recently celebrated two releases. Welcome back, Joan, tell us a bit more about your latest titles.

JDLH: My two recent releases are Requiem in E Sharp, which is a rather dark thriller set in Pretoria, and Oasis, which is a post apocalypse zombie novella also set in South Africa. They've both been published by Fox Spirit, a small indie publisher in the UK.

ND: How does Pretoria lend itself to a dark thriller?

JDLH: Being South Africa's capital city, Pretoria is full of intrigue, it's also the nations capital for all our policing screw ups. Most South African thrillers are set in either Johannesburg or Cape Town, and Pretoria is often over-looked. Which is rather sad. Pretoria has a lot of atmosphere. It also has a very high murder rate and the unit responsible for solving serial murders is stationed in Pretoria.

ND: And what makes South Africa grand fora  zombie story?

JDLH: We've already got zombies running the country, it's not much of a leap for them to take over completely. Another great thing about zombie stories is that it doesn't really matter where you set it. It won't matter where you are if there's a zombiepocalypse, they're going to get you no matter where you hide.

ND: What were some of the moments you particularly enjoyed?

JDLH: After having written Shadows and Requiem n E Sharp, which are both pretty dark and harsh, Oasis was a lot more fun. I really enjoyed writing it from Max's perspective. She wasn't as damaged as Sarah and Natalie. She's just a nice girl stuck in a really bad situation, trying to survive the end of the world. I also really enjoyed writing the twisted ending for Oasis. I got to be rather evil.
For Requiem, I really enjoyed the research part. I got to spend some time with the head of the SAPS psychology unit, which was fascinating.

ND: Can you name one or two locations in Pretoria and tell us more about what makes them lend themselves specifically to your story?

JDLH: There's an area close to where I grew up called Silverton. It's a stone throw away from the Koedoespoort train station and if the wind blows from the right direction you get a wiff from the Silverton tanneries. It's your standard lower middle class suburb where you can imagine an older woman with a drinking habit, curlers in her hair and a cigarette dangling from her mouth and wearing slippers with a hole at the big toe. It's the perfect place for my killer to stalk his victims. Most of the areas I used in Requiem in E Sharp are suburbs I knew while growing up in Pretoria or have lived in. None of them are affluent. They're places you'll find a cross section of society.

ND: And your zombies? Tell us more about what makes them tick. Are they lurkers who hang about indefinitely? Or are they rotters who slowly grow grosser and stinkier as they eventually decompose?

JDLH: My zombies are fast, filled with rage and damn ugly. They're also very hungry for human flesh. I'd say they're lurkers who just keep coming and devouring the living.

ND: And how do you define being really evil in your novels?

JDLH: I'm not sure that my novels define evil as being quite that black and white. My novels explore the very darkest of human nature as well as the demonic, but also give them a very human side. There are varying shades of dark grey and under the right circumstances the most normal of people are capable of committing the most evil of deeds. It's just a matter of finding that tipping point that will push someone far enough. Evil can be relative.

ND: And hanging out with the SAPS psychology unit. Wow! How did you go about organising that? Can you share any interesting anecdotes of that time?

JDLH: A friend of mine knew that I was doing research for Requiem and she knew Prof Gerard Labuschagne and was kind enough to put me in touch with him. He was then kind enough to read Requiem and let me know all the mistakes I'd made. When I was in his office, he asked if I was squeamish. I said, rather flipantly, "I write horror. What do you think?" He just nodded and pulled out a file with photos of dead people who'd been found in water, much like the victims in my book. Now, seeing photos of real people who were brutally murdered and left to rot in water is very different to seeing a violent movie where actors pretend to be butchered. I have a sneaky suspicion he was expecting me to freakout or be unable to look at the pictures, but I didn't freakout in fact I found them fascinating, which makes me a little worried about my own mental well being. I think I may have tendencies towards psychopathy.

ND: What's next on the cards? Care to spill the beans with regard to any upcoming or current WiPs?

JDLH: I've got a short story in an upcoming anthology called Tales from the Nun and Dragon being published by Fox Spirit. It'll be out later this month. And at the moment I'm working on a novella called The Race. It has swords and lots of blood. It also raises the question: What would you do to survive?

People can find me on my website: or follow me on twitter:

My books are available to download on Oasis and Requiem in E Sharp

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