Also published on the 31st October is Joanna Koch’s The Couvade – Book 35 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series. Dean and Joanna recently discussed it...
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hi Joanna – welcome to the Demain family. Let’s get straight to it – can you tell us about yourself and your writing?
JOANNA KOCH: Hi, Dean. Thanks so much for having me! It’s my pleasure! I’ve always been compulsively creative, needing some place to channel mental energy and be immersed. About ten years ago I tried writing out of dissatisfaction with visual art, and some physical challenges with executing art. I guess I was ready to do something less abstract, too. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, so it’s like a daydream come true to find myself writing fiction.
DP: If I have one regret it’s the fact that I’m no good at art. Well, that’s what one of my teachers once told me. We were painting at school. He stood watching me do a still life or something and he took the brush out of my hand, snapped it in two and said that I had no aptitude and was a ‘waste of space’. Very weird when you look back at it. Bullying you could say. Well, I hope to prove him wrong at some point...anyway, enough about me . Can you tell us about The Couvade?
JK: Martin’s keeping a dangerous secret from his partner. He’s found love with Jerome, and a life happily estranged from the shapeshifting rituals of his past. But some secrets don’t die. As the past comes alive and lures them into a trap, Martin must choose whether to be hunter or prey.
DP: As the story was ‘French’ it certainly appealed to me ha ha. Who exactly is your protagonist?
JK: Martin is a psychiatrist despite his dark secrets, or more likely because of them. He keeps anxiety at bay by maintaining control as the Doctor, the master of the situation. I like that he’s an expert in sanity with a fragile center. He’s kind of a mess as a human, and makes bad decisions in his relationship with Jerome, and his reluctance to trust makes him blind to obvious threats.
DP: This time around would you say that there was much research needed before you crafted your story?
JK: Elements of this story grew from my interest in sin-eaters, as well as the medieval criminal case of Gilles de Rais. I mean, I just do research because I’m a nerd, basically! Years ago I first heard of sin-eaters from a friend who saw one at their grandmother’s wake. Their description of the cloaked sin-eater stuck with me, as did the mystery of what happened behind the closed door. I took my research wildly out of context to create a mythology for this story, though.
DP: Ah, Gilles de Rais – there’s a character! Would love to make a film about him one day for sure. Did you find any of the scenes particularly difficult to write?
JK: Without giving too much away, the last act presented some hard questions about villains and vengeance, and what part aggression plays in recovering from being hurt. I hope the story speaks to people who struggle with those questions.
DP: I think it does so well done. What does the word ‘horror’ mean to you?
JK: Going all the way. Trying to go further. I mentioned my fascination with what was behind the closed door a moment ago. That’s probably what led me to study psychology professionally and it absolutely drives me to write and read horror. I want to know ALL the dark secrets.
DP: You and me both! So what is Joanna Koch afraid of? And have you ever written about it?
JK: Driving a car. I can picture so many horrible outcomes while behind the wheel. No, I haven’t written about it! Seems like a bad mojo to do that while I still have to commute. I very much need a chauffeur in my life.
DP: Ha ha. I can drive, but haven’t driven for a long time, though right now I quite fancy the idea of racing...I’ve longed to have an old banger and drive that in races...no idea where it comes from...anyway, anyway, creatively is there anything you haven’t achieved yet?
JK: Ooh, that’s a juicy question. I’m toying with more collaborative experiments as a way to push out of my comfort zone, as well as longer works. I’m currently working on a serialized novella, collaborative in spirit if not in content. Corresponding with the editor is moving the piece in very exciting directions. I also have a fantasy of one day meeting a mathematician who will translate my fiction into equations.
DP: Oh very esoteric! Of which: Marvel or DC?
JK: This question baffles me. I guess I’m not that kind of nerd.
DP: Fair play to you. Last one then, can you tell your readers something they might be surprised to find out about you?
JK: I grew up quite poor. Food stamp poor, in the bible belt. I like to talk about art and ideas and all the fancy things I love, but I’m not an especially fancy person. We can hang out and have a beer, eat a burger. That’s cool with me.
DP: Let me know when / where and we'll be there!
Thank you so much for your time Joanna – all the best with your Short Sharp Shocks!
If you would like to converse with Joanna directly:
Website Address: horrorsong.blog
Twitter Address: twitter.com/horrorsong