Tag Archives: Novels

Meet The Author… Jay Raven

Birmingham-based Jay Raven has written multiple horror/fantasy short stories which were published in many anthologies. He is an author with multiple books under his name, not all of them in the horror genre. Jay has been in the writing world for a while, as a journalist at first but now as a full-time novel writer. Let’s get to know Jay a bit better.

Jay Raven

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Tell us a little about yourself…

I have passion for all things horror, especially vampires. As a teenager I’d skip school to sneak into the cinema to watch Peter Cushing staking Christopher Lee.

I’ve been a full-time fiction writer for 25 years, widely published on both sides of the Atlantic, but it was only a few years ago that I began to focus on my dark fantasy output. Most of my stories are set in the past – I jokily label it “harpsichord horror”.

In my free time I do a lot of baking, although I’m not sure the description free time is strictly accurate as that’s when I dream up my best plots.

What is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you?

Just before Christmas I was signed up by Junction Publishing to write two Gothic horror/dark fantasy novels. It’s since become a three-book deal.

What is your favorite childhood book, and why?

Alice in Wonderland. Even as a child I loved its creepy, menacing atmosphere, laced with barely controlled mayhem.

How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?

I grew up in Glasgow which had more than its fair share of Victorian grave robbers in its past. The cemetery near us had a small building where relatives would stand guard through the night to protect their newly buried loved ones. Learning about that made a huge impact on me.

Jay_Raven_StorybookWhat was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

While still at school I used to write local history pieces for my local newspaper. One was a three-part reconstruction of a notorious murder of a foreman by gangers building the railway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. My articles documented the manhunt to bring the killers to justice and the resulting public executions.

Just after part two appeared I was taking a shortcut home from my girlfriend’s house and I bumped into the school bully in the dark. I thought he was going to beat me up, but instead he was all excited and in awe, demanding to know what happened to the killers in the final installment.

Who is your favorite author? How much is your work influenced by his or her works?

Michael Crichton, author of best-sellers Jurassic Park and WestWorld amongst others. His writing is so tight, pacy and cleverly structured that it leaves you breathless. There isn’t a wasted word, character or scene. He is a master storyteller. I try to make my writing just as fast-paced and lean.

Music or silence?

I write with earphones on, music pumping. It blocks all external distractions and helps inspire me. You could say that my stories are created with their own soundtracks.   

Do you outline or just write?

Before I begin a book I spend two weeks creating a highly detailed blueprint – every chapter, scene, major hook, key pieces of dialogue all go into it and I end up with a 30-page mini version of the novel, which I just need to flesh out.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I’d bake artisan cakes in the shape of coffins and sell them at Dracula events in Whitby.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym, and if yes, why?

Jay_Raven_MiddleofNowhereI already do. Jay Raven is the name I use for my dark fantasy work. I write humour under my real name. I try to keep both sides completely separate. As Ghostbusters advises: “Top safety tip. Don’t cross the streams!”

What is your writing style?

I concentrate on making the work as visual as possible. I want readers to forget they’re reading and imagine themselves watching a movie. I inhabit the boundary between horror and fantasy. My work relies more on suspense than gore.

Do you try to be original in your storytelling or to deliver to readers what they want?

I try to do both – I obey the rules of the genre but mix in loads of new elements to keep things fresh. In Blood Riders, for instance, my vampires have demon horses and can communicate with each telepathically.

Do you have any difficulty writing characters of the opposite sex?

No, I started out writing short stories for women’s magazines. That’s something many people would be surprised about.

Out of the protagonists you’ve written about so far, which one do you feel you relate to the most?

Anton Yoska, the marshal caught up in the jailhouse siege, is an idealised version of me. But where he is brooding, I am just moody. He is noble and high minded, I come across simply as pompous.

What do your plans for future projects include?

Jay_Raven_ToSnareAWitchWitch Hunt – a series of whodunits set in an alternative history (1930s) where a Russian empire warlock is a homicide detective investigating murders that involve supernatural elements.

What writing wisdom would you bestow upon new writers?

Write the kind of books you would want to read, don’t slavishly try to recreate what is currently hot!

How do author friends help you become a better writer?

I kick about ideas with my fellow writers. They see things from a different angle, and are brutally honest  – which is exactly what you need.

What has been the best compliment?

A magazine editor who paid handsomely for my first short story said – “Love this – do you have any more?”

What do your fans mean to you?

Everything. Their support makes it all worthwhile.

Can you give us a bit more about your latest book, Crimson Siege (Blood Riders – Book 1) as it is launched today, the 22nd of May 2018?

 

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When ruthless bounty hunters target one of 19th century Europe’s most feared vampire clans, the last place any lawman wants to be is caught in the middle…


But for Anton Yoska, Lord Marshal of the Imperial lands south of the Carpathian Mountains, fate has trapped him in a supernatural stand-off that can end only in terror, pain and destruction.
A gang of mercenaries led by Anton’s former army comrade Milosh Drubrick have captured vampire aristocrat Stefan Modjeski, wanted for a string of bloody ritualistic murders, and have come to Anton to claim the reward and seek shelter and protection. And as Stefan’s predatory undead kin lay siege to the jailhouse, Anton is faced with an agonising choice – hand over his prisoner and abandon the treacherous hunters to their unspeakable fate, or stand and fight.


What’s more, the vampires have made him an enticing offer if he co-operates – they’ll save his dying wife by turning her into one of their kind. He can join her, and the devoted couple will live forever.
The jailhouse defenders are outnumbered and out of options. It’s a battle that can’t be won, certain slaughter for them all, and Anton can’t trust his scheming allies. But Lord Marshal Yoska isn’t about to surrender.


For he’s an experienced vampire hunter, a dangerous man when cornered, and a single minded warrior who knows there are worse things to fear than death…

Why it is a must-read?

It’s pacy, visceral and packed with twists and turns.

Here’s the trailer for Crimson Siege:

Thank you so much, Jay, for letting us get to know you a little bit better. Besides reading your books, I’d love to try one of your cakes one day!

Jay Raven‘s books and anthologies containing his stories can all be found on Amazon. Why not get your copy of Crimson Siege now!

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You can follow Jay Raven via the following social media:

Email: jay@jayraven.com

Website: www.jayraven.com

Twitter: @JayRavenAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fantasywriterjayraven/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYpfhXi_m6ePYfeHG_MPO7A

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3153810.Jay_Raven

Meet the Author… Jacky Dahlhaus

Tomorrow, the 8th of March, is International Women’s Day, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. As I have just finished writing the Suckers Trilogy and am bloody proud of it, I’d like to dedicate this week’s interview to myself 🙂 Let me bare my soul to you.

Jacky Dahlhaus

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Why did I start writing?

It may sound cliché, but I had a dream. I dreamed about a girl bumping into a vampire and instantly falling in love. You can’t think of anything tackier, but I liked it. At the time, I was listening to popular music and one of the songs was ‘When the beat drops out‘ by Marlon Roudette. I guess the lyrics of that song got stuck in my head. I told my children about my dream, and they told me to write it down. I sat behind my computer that morning, and for the next fortnight, I only left it for the basic human needs even forsaking television (which is kind of a big deal for me). I wrote 55K words and completed my first novel draft ever. It gave me an enormous high to write. Never ever had I experienced something like this. I never took any drugs, so I can’t compare, but it is possible to get high without them, apparently 🙂 .

What is my literary education?

I don’t have a literary education as science was my first love. When I was four, I suffered a heavy concussion and skull fracture, and I spent four weeks on my back in the hospital. The nurses in the hospital were nice, so I aspired to become one. From the age of six (for the life of me, I can’t remember why that particular age), my aspirations were set a bar higher, and I set my sights on becoming a veterinarian. Animals can’t talk and tell people what’s wrong with them, so I wanted to help them. Helping others is part of what I am. Fortunately, I’m an eager learner and did well at school. I had a huge setback when I contracted a severe bout of glandular fever, or infectious mononucleosis, in my late teens. Unfortunately, it affected me far longer than the few months they say it lasts on the internet. For decades, I was affected with a bone-felt tiredness, but I moved heaven on earth to become a veterinarian and finally became one in my early thirties. By that time, I was ready to have children and found animals no longer a priority in my life. After I gave birth to our twins and stayed home for one-and-a-half years, I re-schooled and became a high school science teacher. This proved too tiring and too depressing for me (I was trying to keep the students in their seats more than I was teaching). I gladly took the opportunity when an office job presented itself.

Byzantine necklace with four large blue jade beads
Byzantine necklace with four large blue jade beads

When I had brain surgery in 2009, I decided that life was too short to be unhappy. I quit my job, a joint decision with my husband, and pursued many hobbies. I tried painting, drawing, scrapbooking, chainmail-, metal-, and pearl-jewelry making, taxidermy, and photography. Never did it occur to me that I could write a novel. I had a diary in my teens, but after I let my then boyfriend read it which made him cry, I never put a pen to paper to entertain people, thinking I could only hurt people with my writing. During my university years, I wrote in a student magazine, but that was purely information transfer. I was an office manager and secretary for a residents’ association for years, but again, that writing was also pure information transfer. My past-time I spent reading, though. I loved Terry Pratchett’s books and Anne McAffrey’s stories. I read Tolkien, the Eragon books, and many others. I loved being sucked into another world, forgetting my own troubles. That’s what I’m aiming to achieve when I write.

Since writing Books 1 & 2 of the Suckers Trilogy in 2015, I’ve spent most of my time reading up on and learning how to write. I’m still learning but getting better all the time.

Is there a bit of me in my books?

Hell, yes! Many people who know me have mentioned this. They see me as Kate. I have the red hair, make rash decisions, and am a vertically challenged person (for a Dutchie). Not everything Kate does is me, though (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The two sisters of Kate, Maxine and Julie, also share the same first letters of my own two sisters, Marianne and Judy, but that’s where the similarities end. All characters are purely fictional and do not represent a particular person I know. That said, I based Caleb on the image of Ioan Gruffud and Charlie on the image of Peter Dinklage. They are two actors that I admire and love watching on the screen. I actually sent Peter Dinklage the first draft of my book but never heard anything back from him. I guess it’s not going to be filmed, then 🙂

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Why do I write paranormal novels?

I love dressing up! At home, we used to have a large crate in the attic with dress-up clothing. Whenever we could, my sisters and I would dress up and play. My twin sister, Judy, and I used to make up plenty of fantasy stories on weekends when our parents would sleep in. With our dolls and fluffy animal puppets, we created whole new worlds, spanning our entire bedroom, where anything was possible. Our imagination ran rampant.

To be honest, I never had something special with vampires. Anything out of the ordinary would work for me, still does. I was engrossed in the Twilight series, though. The idea of being beautiful, being better at everything, and living forever attracts me. As a teenager, I suffered the usual teenager-amount of pimples. My sisters didn’t, and I felt like the ugly duckling. The only thing I had was being good at everything I did–what am I saying; I was excelling–until I contracted glandular fever. The disease made my grades plummet, and I had to sit my final high school year twice because of it. It caused an abyss in my self-confidence with a fear of failing which made me a terrible procrastinator up until today. As mentioned, I suffered a life-threatening head trauma twice, which makes one contemplate life a bit more than usual. Immortality is hence a very attractive alternative to this unpredictable and painfully short lifespan.

Jacky Dahlhaus at the Winter Wonderland Book Signing November 2016
Jacky Dahlhaus at the Winter Wonderland Book Signing November 2016

But your books all are based on romance, so why not write romance novels?

True, all my novels (this means not the novelette) have their feet firmly planted in romance. It is the core of the stories as without them they wouldn’t make sense. But there are so many stories about normal romances already. Don’t we all want to be special, experience something unusual, be part of something extraordinary? Enter the paranormal aspect.

There was a time I watched a lot of crime series on TV. Suddenly, I was fed up with all this pain and suffering as it became too real. I don’t watch any news or read any newspapers. It’s too depressing. What I want to achieve with my writing is for people to get away from this world and love on a deeper level. Hence, I also don’t take the (minimal) intimate details in my writing for granted. They have only been added to express the love, the romance, the needs of Kate, hoping it will flow over to the reader. I know my vocabulary needs to improve, but I’m working on this.

What’s next on the agenda?

First of all, I need to launch Killing A Vampire, Book 3 of the Suckers Trilogy. I screwed up the other books’ launches and want to do this one right. Procrastination is hard to overcome, but I’m trying my hardest. At the moment, only Book 1 exists in print format, and I want all three to be available in print. Before I can make this happen, I need to go through Books 1 & 2 and re-edit them (for the so-maniest time, I know), but I’ve learned so much since I wrote them, and they can do with another ‘upgrade.’ Audio format is the next step.

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In the meantime, I am ready to start writing something new. Not writing for a few days made me depressed already. I’ve suffered from depression for a long time. My GP told me I was tired because I was depressed. I am convinced I was depressed because I was always tired. Who was right, I will never know. One thing I do know, and that is that writing is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. Don’t get me wrong. I love my family to bits and honestly couldn’t wish for a better life, but writing fires up my soul.

I’ve got so many ideas in my head. Number one and two are another paranormal/sci-fi novel (I never seem to be able to stick to one genre 🙂 ) and a whole new fantasy series in the style of Terry Pratchett. I love putting humor and sarcasm in my writing, and this seems like a good option to get away with this. I will send out a newsletter to my readers soon and ask them what they prefer I should write first.

Well, that’s me in a nutshell. I’m proud to be a woman, proud of what I’ve achieved, and proud of all the women in my life. You girls rock!

 

 

 

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