Welcome back, folks. I’d like to now shine the spotlight on South African horror writer, Joan De La Haye. Thanks for stopping by my blog to answer a few questions, Joan!
Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Well … I’m South African. I live in the capital city, Pretoria, with my two cats.
I was raised in Germany, Namibia, and Austria. My parents were South African diplomats so I had a pretty interesting childhood.
I studied art and design, and I’m also a qualified clinical hypnotherapist.
I write pretty dark, and twisted, horror.
Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where something made you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?
When I was growing up I always thought I’d write more literary fiction or crime novels. I never pictured myself writing horror. But then when I sat down to write my first book, Shadows, I just naturally gravitated towards the horror genre. I was a bit of a late comer to the genre, but I haven’t regretted a moment of it. I love the freedom involved in writing horror. Most of the other genres, especially crime fiction, have so many rules. But horror doesn’t. As long as I can scare you, or make you incredibly uncomfortable, I’ve done my job. And I love my job.
Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?
Misery by Stephen King
It’s one of the first horror novels that I read and it’s probably the book that got me into horror in the first place.
I think it’s the human factor in the story that got to me. It’s not some supernatural entity being evil, it’s a flesh and blood human being.
It’s one of those stories that reminded me that humans are the scariest monsters out there. It’s the thing hiding under your bed, it’s the quiet guy down the road that you need to wonder about.
Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
I’ve written two full length novels (the third one will be out soon) called Shadows, and Requiem in E Sharp. Two novella’s called Oasis, and Burning.
I’ve had short stories published in about 10 anthologies. I also had an article published in Horror 101: The way forward.
Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling? E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
I love reading and writing novels, but there’s also something about the immediacy of a short story. A novel can take a few days to a few weeks before you finish it and know what happened to the characters, but with a short story collection or anthology you can read one in a night. With time being so precious short stories are brilliant for the person on the go.
Q. What are you working on at the minute?
I’m busy wrapping up my new novel Fury, it’s with my editor at the moment, and starting the planning phase for the first book in a new series. The working title at the moment is Awakening – Book One of The Cursed Witch Series. I may change it as the story progresses. I’m also still waiting for the title to grow on me.
Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?
There are so many great female writers out there, I can’t just name one.
Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
At the moment I’m busy reading A small town in Germany by John Le Carre, next on the TBR pile is Autumn by David Moody.
Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
The main thing that gets to me is that most readers over look women writers in the genre. They don’t seem to think that women can do the horror genre justice, that we can’t be dark or bloody enough.
But I think women bring a subtlety to the genre. Horror isn’t just about shock value. Fear is in the mind and that is where women excel.
Q. Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you?
Women in horror month shines a much needed light on the many women writing in the genre.
It’s just a pity that we still need to shine that light, though.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just sit down and write. Don’t focus on the blank page. Focus on putting one word and then the other on that page. Then focus on the sentence and the next one. Before you know it you’ll have finished that first page and it won’t be quite so intimidating.