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 for further details.
Buy links will also be featured on my website  where you can find out more about me and my writing.

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