Horror and dark twisty fiction lovers, I’m here to help you celebrate the ladies that work in this exciting genre, and in keeping that promise, I’d like to introduce you to author Jeyn Roberts (pronounced “Jen”), who was recently put on the preliminary ballot for a Bram Stoker Award!
Jeyn, what is your latest and greatest book or book series that you’d like to share with our readers today, and what inspired you to tell that story?
When They Fade is the story of two girls: one dead, the other alive. It’s a twist on the hitchhiking ghost story that we all know and love. Only this story focuses on the afterlife as well. I can thank my father for the inspiration. My past two novels have both been about the afterlife, mostly because it helped me deal with my Dad’s death back in 2008. I spent a lot of time thinking about death and two novels came out of my soul searching. Both The Bodies We Wear and When They Fade focus on what happens after you die and how it affects the living. Also, I really love a good ghost story.
I love a good ghost story too! Your writing is so juicy and poetic, but you also have a special ability to get into individual character’s heads and give them unique voices. How did you hone those skills? Any special tips for the budding writers in the audience? It sounds like you’ve spent years eavesdropping on people in cafés, just by the way you can flesh out a character’s voice so fully.
I think that when you’ve created a character that takes on a persona of their own, you’ve done well. That’s when they start writing the story for you. I like writing multiple points of view, mostly because I enjoy the outcomes. People are interesting. They often act the same in certain situations, but they are never quite alike. I think it’s important to flush out a character as much as you can, because the more you develop, the more they act naturally. As for advice: practice!
Write every day. Try and create characters that have opposing views to your own. Have characters that make you uncomfortable or do things you’d never consider doing. It’s only through exploring these possibilities that you can bring them to life on the pages. And yes, I eavesdrop in cafes. Haha.
Great advice! Now that it’s Women in Horror Month, what female horror and dark fiction writers inspire you, and what in particular about their careers or work do you admire?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Poppy Z Brite. I was just a teenager when I read Lost Souls and it changed my life. She made me want to write dark gothic stories with punk rockers and pretty boys. I didn’t exactly go that route, but the inspiration was there. There are so many good female authors who write dark fiction, it’s impossible to name them all. Mary Shelley. Shirley Jackson. VC Andrews. Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale to this day is still one of the scariest stories I’ve ever read).
I love all the authors you listed as well. As a female author yourself, what do you feel is the unique strength women bring to your genre?
I really wish more women would write horror, because I think they have a natural instinct for it. A good writer builds on their experiences. In the past, men may have been the ones who went to war, but the women were the ones who survived. And women have never had it easy. I think it’s now empowering that more and more women are turning to writing dark fiction. They’re breaking away stereotypical barriers that have been stuck in fiction forever. Gone is the hysterical woman victim—here comes the tough determined heroine.
How did you feel when you found out you were on the preliminary ballot for a Bram Stoker Award, and how did you celebrate? I’m hoping there was a lot of chocolate.
It’s been a real blast. I’m currently in Mexico, visiting with some friends, one of which is another Stoker nominee (Elle Cosimano). So the two of us have been doing a lot of celebrating together. Oddly enough, I went to my very first Crab Race the other night and won a bottle of champagne. I’m seeing that as a good omen and will be putting it in the fridge for awards night!
I agree, winning a bottle of champagne is an excellent omen! Crossing my fingers that you win!
Jeyn, thanks so much for spending time with me today. Fans, please check out Jeyn’s books and please connect with her online at the following places: