My guest today is horror author Joan de la Haye. She was kind enough to answer my questions about her work and writing life. Visit her at www.joandelahaye.wordpress.com. Welcome, Joan!
Tell us, what type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?
I think I’m a combination of both. I use my experiences and combine them with my daydreams and fantasies. My experiences are my jumping-off point and then my imagination just goes wild.
Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
I get mine in the shower. Some people sing in the shower, I have conversations with my characters. I think it has to do with the fact that there’s nobody else in the shower with me, no distractions. It’s me and the characters running around in my mind.
Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?
My muse is a guy and we don’t always see eye-to-eye. When ever he throws one of his hissy fits, I placate him by asking what he wants me to write. What story does he want me to tell? Keeps him relatively happy, till the next time around.
From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?
I first had the nightmare that triggered ‘Shadows’ in November 2005. It was finished by mid-2007. Then I started looking for a publisher. In September 2007 I heard from one of the large local publishers telling me they were interested but, ultimately, it wasn’t what they were looking for. That was when I decided to take matters into my own hands. I met my wonderful editor Jayne Southern who helped me polish it and published it on the 15th of December 2008
Describe your working environment.
I write on my laptop, which is on a huge desk that once upon a time belonged to my husband’s grandfather. I have an office all to myself and it get lots of morning sun. The first review of ‘Shadows’ is up on the wall where I can see it. Whenever I start thinking I’m a useless writer and need to get a proper job, I glance at it which makes me feel better instantly.
What type of scenes give you the most trouble to write?
There are two types of scenes that I have a hard time with. The really violent scenes that are written from the victim’s point of view, especially the rape scenes. I put myself in that person’s shoes in order to write it properly and sometimes I think I get a bit too deep inside that person’s head. It can get very uncomfortable. The other ones that I find difficult are the twisted sex scenes. I’m never sure of how much is too much. I usually end up deleting most of what I’ve written and then writing it again and deleting again.
Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
I usually edit as I go.
They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
So far I’ve been lucky on the review front but I did recently have my first hate comment on my blog. It was a total shock to my system. But, after I’d had a chance to think about this woman’s reaction to a short story that most people had found funny – twisted – but funny, I had a good chuckle and decided that at least I’d managed to provoke a strong reaction, which is really what every writer wants to do. We want people to react to what we write, whether it’s a good or a bad reaction, doesn’t matter. Besides, I can’t please everybody and let’s face it, what I write isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.
As a writer, what scares you the most?
Obscurity! And getting lost in my own stories. There’s a very fine line that we walk between our fictional worlds and reality and sometimes that line gets a bit blurred.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
People are more than welcome to stop by my blog: http://joandelahaye.wordpress.com/
where they’ll find the short story that provoked the hate mail as well as all the info they could ever possibly want about ‘Shadows’ and about me. I’m looking forward to meeting everybody!
Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!
About the book:
Sarah is forced to the edge of sanity by the ghosts of her family’s past. Suffering from violent and bloody hallucinations, she seeks the help of psychiatrist and friend Michael Brink.
After being sent to an institution in a catatonic state covered in blood – from stabbing her unfaithful boyfriend – Sarah is forced to confront the truth about her father’s death and the demon, Jack, who caused her father’s suicide and is now the reason for her horrific hallucinations. Unlike her father, Sarah refuses to kill herself. She bargains for her life and succeeds.
In Sarah’s struggle to regain her life and her sanity, she discovers more things to the world than she could ever have imagined and leaves her seeking the answer to the nagging question, “Who is really mad?”