On January 31st DEMAIN publishes Dave Jeffery’s novel on Amazon (print and ebook), Finding Jericho. Before publication, Dave and Dean sat down and had a chat about it.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello again Dave, you need no introduction here at DEMAIN, so let’s talk Finding Jericho – your third DEMAIN release.
DAVE JEFFERY: Finding Jericho is a contemporary novel that gives insight to those who have either basic or very little knowledge of mental illness, mental health and the experiences those who endure it. The story is told in retrospect by protagonist Jonathon Dupree, who moves in with his uncle Ronald, a long-term survivor of bi-polar affective disorder. Jonathon finds out how the stigma of mental illness transcends beyond the family and into the local community. The story centres on how he deals with the pressures this kind of oppression elicits on his life. Let’s just say, it’s a learning curve.
DP: Without giving too much away, it’s quite a steep learning curve! Why did you choose to write about mental health / illness…you have some experience in the field I believe?
DJ: I’ve worked as a mental health professional in the UK for 35 years. Ironically this edition of Finding Jericho is being released on the day I retire, so this has an unmitigated level of poignancy for me. The book was a direct response to my ongoing frustration with an apparent lack of public awareness of what mental illness was/is. The contemporary setting was important as this was about grounding the story to maximise the impact for a general audience.
DP: Good luck on your retirement. I agree that there is a lack of general awareness but I will add that a lot of people / organisations are striving to be better, so at least that’s a step in the right direction – though obviously there is a long way to go. Can I ask, did you have to do much research and did you find that challenging?
DJ: I have a Degree in mental health studies and a Master’s degree in health science, so I have a pretty good grasp of the issues. I was, however, keen to make this story real for people. This meant that events had to be something that readers could relate to, irrespective of their personal experiences of mental health. The themes of grief, bullying, social isolation, and family upheaval are common to most, so it is through these aspects that Finding Jericho puts across its message.
DP: And it does that very well. Dave, all the characters in Finding Jericho are extremely vulnerable (in different ways) – was that a conscious decision and again, was that easy to write?
DJ: Vulnerability is at the heart of the story because the message I wanted to portray is that we are all susceptible to the fundamentals of life, and its challenges. Feeling vulnerable, be that physically or emotionally, is a key component to why we surround ourselves with defences, some healthy, some not. Walls are either our fortress or our prison, defined by our need to build them. The book title is a nod to this tenet.
DP: Did you always set out to write a novel such as Finding Jericho? Is it a subject you would tackle again?
DJ: The finished book is exactly how I planned, a first for me, I’ll have to admit. I think the story was so clear to me for such a long time―it seemed a natural process once it came down to the writing. I have another story that I want to tell. The working title is TABOO and explores the relationships between mental health staff and the people in their care. I just have to find a publisher interested enough to take it on. The basic premise of the story is highly controversial, so I’ll need a publisher sympathetic and up for the challenge.
DP: Well, count us in. If DEMAIN can help, you know where to find us. Finally then, can you tell us an interesting / surprising thing which either happened before / during or after writing Finding Jericho?
DJ: I found the whole experience of writing Finding Jericho as monumentally cathartic. It was also easy to write. I put this down to my desire to write it, how long I had thought about doing it. I have had readers get in touch and say the book has changed their life. As a writer, this is a profound endorsement of what you’re trying to achieve in your work. I must admit, I shed a tear when such sentiments are sent to me. On a professional level, having endorsements from the BBC and the Independent Schools Examination Board for English is validation of how the book is perceived from a literary standpoint. I’m immensely proud of this book and what it represents.
And we are extremely proud that you allowed DEMAIN to publish Finding Jericho. We wish you the best of luck with it.
Finding Jericho is published on the 31st January 2020 in both ebook / print.
Some important links which might be of interest:
MADNESS & LITERATURE NETWORK: http://www.madnessandliterature.org/
(cover by Adrian Baldwin)
Series one of the Short Sharp Shocks! comes to a close on 31st January with the final books available on Amazon- 51 books published in less than a year - well done everybody involved!
January 31st is the publication date for Dave's novella A Quiet Apocalypse in print on Amazon. Here's the full over by Adrian Baldwin (with a central art piece by Roberto Segate).
January 31st sees the publication of the print version of Dean's Dirty Paws on Amazon. Check out the full cover by Adrian Baldwin.
Jan 31st sees the publication of the paperback version of Maggie Of My Heart by Alyson Faye on Amazon.
Here's the full cover by Adrian Baldwin.
So it's true, the Short Sharp Shocks! series one has come to an end. 51 books published between March 2019 and January 2020! No mean feat hey?! Of course it couldn't have been possible without the authors and Adrian for the brilliant covers / branding. It's certainly been a blast. The books will soon be available in print form. Concentration will now be our other releases but don't worry, we're now reading for series two which will be released later in the year...thank you to our readers...without whom...well, you know the rest - but thanks a million, it allows us to continue what we do...
(artwork by Adrian Baldwin)
DEMAIN is really happy to be republishing Dave Jeffery's novel Finding Jericho. It will be out on 31st January but is available now for pre-orders on Amazon. Please watch this space for more information and a mini-interview with the author himself!
The final Short Sharp Shocks! is Dark Corners by David Charlesworth. It is published on the 31st January but is out now for pre-orders. Dean and David talked about the book prior to publication.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome to DEMAIN David – for those that don’t know you, can you please tell us a little about yourself.
DAVID CHARLESWORTH: I'm a 36 year old Scouser who was born and raised on horror and the macabre by a family of like-minded misfits. Growing up my main passion was art, but unfortunately I've never been able to fully express my feeling and what I see in my mind using a pencil and paints, so I turned to writing instead. I only really got into writing a few years ago―we were actively dissuaded from pursuing literary endeavours in my school.
DP: I really wish I could paint or draw but it seems I haven’t got the talent though I did buy myself a colouring book for Christmas so I’ll have to make do with that. What is your Short Sharp Shocks! about?
DC: Dark Corners is an unabashedly grotesque little tale about the worst humanity has to offer finding out that somehow, there's something in this world worse than them.
DP: And your protagonists?
DC: Paddy is an amalgamation of multiple people I've known and had the displeasure of having to deal with. He's his own worst enemy, which in turn makes him society's worst enemy. Only he'll never admit to it. His woes, his drug abuse, his thievery and murders and everything else... it's always someone else who caused that to happen.
DP: Ah, I think we all know people like that! When writing Dark Corners did you have to do much research?
DC: With most of my work I think (and I hope this comes across) there is a sense of hyper-realism to everything. For example there's some scenes involving police procedures in the story and whilst I've tried to keep it grounded, for the story to work some things aren't quite ‘real’. If you catch my drift.
DP: Oh I do, don’t worry. With that in mind, were there any scenes which were particularly difficult to write?
DC: There are! I often feel bad writing gruesome ends for people, even when they deserve it. I often feel maybe I go too far...but then after it's all said and done I often think maybe I wasn't extreme enough.
DP: Ha! There’s always some room for a little bit of ‘extreme’ stuff in our work particularly if certain characters deserve it. Sometimes we shouldn’t hold back ha ha…anyway, creatively David what would you say was your biggest success to date?
DC: I self published a few short stories a year or so ago. I released them unedited and it was just a huge mistake. However, the actual stories were exactly what I wanted to get out of my head and onto paper. They're being cleaned up now for a re-release soon, hopefully. Lots of weird cosmic shenanigans and kaijus involved.
DP: Awesome, keep us updated with how that goes. Tell us about your inspirations…
DC: I was raised on Clive Barker and he's absolutely an inspiration. I can't imagine what my life would be like without the Books of Blood...well, probably a little more sane!
DP: They’re great aren’t they…stories you can return to time and time again. What would you say ‘horror’ means to you?
DC: Wonder. Awe. I love the idea of things being greater than what we understand or can perceive. Unfortunately as wondrous as those things are... nine times out of ten they're utterly horrifying.
DP: So what scares you?
DC: I'm not afraid of anything. Not saying that to sound like a hardcase, but when I have nightmares I cherish them. Though if I wasn't too stupid to ponder my own morality I'd probably say the fragility of the human body.
DP: Yeap – ain’t that the truth. So is there a book / film you’re looking forward to?
DC: Color Out Of Space if only to see how utterly bonkers Nic Cage is. That and The Lighthouse.
DP: I can’t wait myself for Color Out Of Space – not just because of Cage but because it’s directed by Richard Stanley, whose work I just love! We talked about creativity – is there anything you’d like to do but haven’t managed it just yet?
DC: I'm trying to get back into art. It just takes so much time and practice and all of my spare time is already taken up by writing. I'd love to draw my own horror comic one day. There's so much to do and explore with the medium.
DP: Perhaps I need to take some lessons…two quick ones then. Marvel or DC?
DC: Dark Horse. Hahaha. And Hellbound Media, of course.
DP: Of course, of course! Finally then, what is something your readers might be surprised to find out about David Charlesworth?
DC: Despite looking like a serial killer I'm actually a nice bloke and I'd love to buy you a pint.
Next time I’m in Liverpool, I’ll take you up on that offer! Thanks so much for your time David, it was a pleasure talking with you. All the best with Dark Corners.
If you would like to connect with David direct:
Short Sharp Shocks! 49 is Moonlight, Gunshot, Mallet, Flame by Alicia Hilton. It is published on January 31st but is currently available for pre-sales.
A couple of weeks before publication, Dean and Alicia sat down and talked.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome, welcome Alicia. For those that don’t know you – can you please tell us a little about yourself.
ALICIA HILTON: Hey. I am an author, attorney, law professor, actress, and former FBI Special Agent. I received her BA in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and my JD and MA from the University of Chicago. I have had work appear in Akashic Books, Bronzeville Books, ChiZine Publications, Dreams & Nightmares, Vastarien, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror 4, and elsewhere.
DP: Impressive. Why did you become a writer?
AH: I wrote my first poem when I was twelve. My English teacher suggested that I enter the Oregon Zoo’s poetry contest. My poem was about a lion, and I won the contest. My mother was a writer, and she encouraged me to write more poetry and fiction. I enjoy writing about nature. Many of my stories and poems incorporate animals.
DP: Brilliant. In your mini-collection there are two stories, what are they about?
AH: As a whole, the book is about dangerous, passionate women who risk their lives confronting supernatural forces. When the moon is full, passion simmers and demons strike. Who will survive? MOONLIGHT, GUNSHOT, MALLET, FLAME: Laura is a hitwoman who murdered men to avenge and protect innocent victims, but her violent past catches up to her after she kills her nephew. Are Laura’s terrifying visions hallucinations, or real? And in A LITTLE DEATH: An Internet date unites two monsters. Descended from flesh-eating witches, Darla must choose whether to embrace her magical powers and kill, or risk her own destruction for love.
DP: Very different stories on the face of it but you’re right, they are definitely connected by your protagonists. When writing Moonlight, Gunshot, Mallet, Flame, did you have to do a lot of research?
AH: When I write fiction, I tend to borrow from my own life. I’ve never killed anyone, and I don’t have supernatural powers, but I know how to use weapons. If I’m going to write about a real place, I always visit that location so I can incorporate landmarks and learn about the flora and fauna. Moonlight, Gunshot, Mallet, Flame is set in New York and Connecticut. I’ve lived in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Connecticut. Some of my relatives are farmers, and I’ve seen industrial incinerators. A Little Death is set in Oregon. I grew up in Oregon.
DP: What books / authors do you read and do they also influence you?
AH: Reading is one of my favourite pastimes. I love horror, and I read other types of fiction, plus poetry and nonfiction. Most of my fiction is weird or cross-genre. I’ve been influenced by many authors, including: Jane Austen, Mikhail Bulgakov, Angela Carter, Brian Evenson, Neil Gaiman, Stephen Graham Jones, Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, Josh Malerman, Cormac McCarthy, Chuck Palahniuk, Priya Sharma, Mary Shelley, Lucy Snyder, Richard Thomas, Chuck Wendig, and A.C. Wise.
DP: A real varied lot which I think is really important if you’re going to become a well rounded author. What does the term ‘horror’ mean to you?
AH: Lack of control over your destiny, threats that cannot be seen or fully realized, seemingly random events that collide, coincidences that create a sense of wonder or dread, psychological torment, supernatural elements, crime, and gore, all can be part of horror.
DP: Ah, I like that. Is there a horror book or film you’re looking forward to?
AH: Malorie by Josh Malerman.
DP: I’m not aware of that so thanks, I’ll check that out. What is Alicia Hilton frightened of?
AH: I used to be terrified of spiders. When I was a kid, I decided to conquer that fear. I grabbed a spider’s egg sac, and dozens of baby spiders crawled on my hand. Fortunately, I was not bitten. I’ve written about arachnophobia.
DP: Nice! Back to your creativity, is there something you’d like to do which you haven’t managed to achieve just yet?
AH: Finish writing my first horror novel! I’ve written 55,000 words of the novel, and I’ll finish writing the book this year.
DP: Brilliant and keep going. We’d love to read it when finished. Lastly then, can you tell us something which your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
AH: As an FBI Special Agent, I was a member of a foreign counterintelligence squad. I also worked undercover in two long-term criminal cases, posing as a drug dealer with ties to organized crime.
I don’t think there’s anything I can add to that. Thank you so much for your time and the very best of luck with your Short Sharp Shocks!
If you would like to connect with Alicia direct:
Dean recently sat down with Deborah Sheldon to talk about her upcoming Short Sharp Shocks! Hand To Mouth – Book 48. It is out now for pre-orders and is released on the 31st January 2020.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome Deborah, let’s get straight down to it – can you tell us why you became a writer?
DEBORAH SHELDON: Over the 34 years of my professional career, this question has come up a lot and it’s always difficult to answer. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been a writer. As a pre-schooler, I drew my stories because I hadn’t yet learned my letters. I’ve devoted my entire adult life to writing in so many forms―TV scripts, feature articles, health and medical writing, play scripts, flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, novellas, novels―and I’m still exploring new forms. My latest crush is poetry. I expect I’ll keep experimenting with words until the day I die. So, why did I become a writer? Well, that’s like asking a cold virus why it causes a runny nose. The urge to write is simply hardwired into my DNA and I can’t resist the compulsion.
DP: And what about your story?
DS: On the surface, Hand to Mouth is a novelette about an imprisoned man who writes letters to his son to explain why he’s behind bars. It’s also a sci-fi exploration of cutting-edge technology. And while Hand to Mouth is a horror story, it’s a puzzle too; a layering of truth and deception, like a ‘choose your own adventure’ story. Ten readers will have ten different interpretations of what happened. It took a lot of drafting to work in so many possibilities.
DP: An intriguing premise then, who is your protagonist?
DS: Graham is the first-person narrator, so we don’t get the balancing act of any other character’s point of view. It means we have to take Graham at his word…or not. He’s an English lecturer who prizes intellect over anything else except his son, James. Graham may be a distant, non-demonstrative and awkward father, but his love for James shines through the narrative.
DP: I love the idea of an unreliable narrator! I guess, considering the subject matter you’ve alluded to, that you had to do a lot of research?
DS: The crux of Hand to Mouth is the prosthetic arm. I had to familiarise myself with the latest technology―not so much as to write a thesis on robotics, but just enough to offer credibility. The idea for the story came from my husband. At his workplace, the HR department regularly holds safety seminars. One such seminar was presented by a man who had lost his arm in an industrial accident. While his talk was about keeping safe amongst machinery, he also happened to be in a medical trial for a new generation of prosthetics that attune to the nervous system. As my husband told me about this meeting, the roots of my scalp began to tingle which, by the way, is how my brain tells me that I’ve just found the germ of a story idea.
DP: That’s brilliant! Did you find any of the scenes difficult to write?
DS: The final act. I knew all along what I was working towards―I never start a story before I have my ending in mind―but that didn’t make it any easier.
DP: I bet. So, tell me, creatively what would you say was your biggest success so far?
DS: Moving my skillset from non-fiction to fiction. For most of my career, I specialised in health and medical information for the layperson across a range of media, including magazines, CD-ROMs (yes, I’m that old), and websites such as the Better Health Channel. In 2005, I wrote my first short story. In 2007, I switched my focus from non-fiction to fiction. And in 2014, I wrote my first pure horror story. Making the transition into fiction was challenging. I had to figure out which skills I needed to take with me, which to jettison, and the ones I needed to keep but adapt. A steep learning curve, yes, but fascinating. I’m still on that learning curve.
DP: Aren’t we all – we should never stop learning. What books / authors do you read and do they influence you?
DS: I read widely across a range of genres, from literary to crime to horror to classics to self-help to memoir to you-name-it. Everything I read influences me. I firmly believe that the best way to improve your writing is to be an avid reader.
DP: I’m with you on that one. So, what is ‘horror’ to Deborah Sheldon?
DS: Emotional honesty. No other genre allows you to delve into life as it really is―unpredictable, violent, unfair, ultimately lethal―instead of how we wish it could be. And unlike other genres―which have strict parameters and tropes that fans expect to be honoured―horror allows the writer to do whatever the hell they want. The range of subgenres is staggering. In fact, mashing genres together is not only tolerated, it’s expected. Readers always want to be surprised. This freedom allows the horror writer to slip the leash and explore any theme or storyline they desire; in whichever format they’d like to try. I find this freedom exhilarating. If I end up living a long life, I could spend its entirety writing horror stories and never run out of subgenres.
DP: I like what you’ve said about readers want to be surprised, that was the whole reason we started the Short Sharp Shocks! in the first place. Creatively, is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet? If so, what?
DS: I’ve written for TV, but I’ve never had my own stories translated onto the small or silver screens. I’d like that very much. It’s also been a dream to make a documentary, but apart from a couple of false starts in my twenties, this dream has never eventuated. Opportunities for scriptwriting in Australia are limited. For example, free-to-air channels prefer reality TV series and cooking shows. Australia’s film industry mostly exists to provide production staff for Hollywood blockbusters. Our own stories don’t seem to matter anymore.
DP: Really―that’s a massive shame! Though also true because not that long ago I was talking to an Australian film producer and he said he was having issues finding an ‘Australian’ story and was unsure actually what that was nowadays...he felt the ‘identity’ had been totally lost―lots to seriously think about there...so let’s end with something completely irrelevant but fun: Marvel or DC?
DS: When I was a kid, I loved comics and my hero was Wonder Woman. I liked Supergirl and Superman too. And the Legion of Superheroes featuring Superboy, Lightning Lad, Mon-El, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Shadow Lass…oh, it’s DC all the way, baby.
Hope you’re watching Titans then [did I mention previously I LOVE this show?]. Thank you so much for your time Deborah. The best of luck with Hand To Mouth.
If you would like to connect directly with Deborah:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0035MWQ98