In the Bloodstream Interview: Leigh Jenkins

I’m interviewing one of the talented female authors featured in the dark fantasy and horror anthology, “In the Bloodstream” published by Mocha Memoirs Press, available now at Amazon.

Take a look at the fabulous eBook cover art by Nancy Schuetz:

31 authors, 5 countries, and 31 tales of dark fantasy and horror
31 authors,
5 countries,
and 31 tales of dark fantasy and horror

ER: Welcome, Leigh! Tell us a bit about your background and what makes you tick.

LJ: One of my favorite quotes from a book is from The Red Tent and it roughly goes “To know a girl you have to understand her mother.”  My mother is a successful writer and my greatest inspiration and demon at the same time.  On the one hand she is proof that with hard work it can be done and done very well, and on the other she has shown me how hard it is to be a writer!  My whole life I swore I would never be a writer and then about two years ago I gave in, moving my scribbling and odd ramblings into more serious work.

I live in the same town I grew up in with my husband Alan whom I have been with now for almost twelve years (married for six).  We recently had our first child, a little girl named Martha, who is very curious, and will hopefully grow up to be an accountant, not a creative type like her parents.  Someone has to pay for us to go into the home!

My biggest passions are Tudor history, Disney, and my family.  I lived in Orlando for two years working for the Mouse, but have otherwise hated most of my jobs which have been everything from a waitress to an assistant at a college.  I’m pleased to finally feel like I have a career instead of just a job.

ER: Give us a short blurb about your “Bloodstream” story. How did you get the idea?

LJ: The idea for my story “Watcher” actually came from my father.  At his church there is a man with development issues who always “watches” the church and lets my dad know what is happening, when the youth group met, if the pastor was late, anything.  So my dad goes “wouldn’t it be weird if he actually saw a break-in or something?  That would be a good story.”  Of course my twisted mind takes it and comes up with a man who can’t communicate and witnesses a much worse crime taking place at the church.

ER: Do you have a day job or do you write full time? Would we be surprised by what you do for a living?

LJ: I write “full-time” but mostly I am a full-time mom.  Lots of what I write is actually non-fiction travel writing for Walt Disney World where I worked as a tour guide for two years.

ER: What scares you?

LJ: EVERYTHING!  I’m a real scaredy cat—in fact I refuse to read Stephen King because just the idea of his early work frightens me.

What? Scaredy cat? Not me.
What? Scaredy cat?
Not me.

ER: What do you do when your muse deserts you? How do you stay inspired?

LJ: My muse completely deserted me the entire time I was pregnant—so I didn’t write.  With that exception when I can’t think of what to write I usually switch projects for a while or try to follow an outline.

ER: Tell us a joke.

LJ: Two guys walk into a bar.  The third one ducks.  (My other favorite joke takes over half an hour to tell.)

ER: What’s your next project? Will you share with us?

LJ: Currently I’m working on my first full novel, a nameless YA about a young man named Joyce being held hostage by Selvin, a powerful spellcaster.  He has the unique ability to create Dust of the Fairies, a blue gel needed in all potions and spells.  In his world magic is illegal, but is often overlooked by the authorities who use magic to put themselves in power.  Selvin also holds Joyce’s best friend, a young girl named Cinnerie, and tortures her to force Joyce into submission.

The entire thing is based on a dream I had.  The only thing I left out was the part where we all boarded a rollercoaster.

ER: Do you listen to music while writing?  What’s on your playlist?

LJ: I listen to a classical music station while I write.

ER: How do you research your topics? What do you want erased from your Internet search history?

LJ: My first work was a group of alternative-history novellas based around the six wives of Henry the VIII (called The Six Lives of Henry the VIII) and I had some pretty weird research questions on that!  I knew quite a bit due to my general love of Tudor history but had to look up lots of info, especially for the first one which involves the Spanish Inquisition and torture devices.

"The Heretic's Fork"  I have to admit... It's quite interesting.  Now to find someone to erase my search history.
“The Heretic’s Fork”
I have to admit… It’s quite interesting.
Now to find someone to erase my search history.

ER: What do you do when you’re not writing?

LJ: Now I’m taking care of my little girl Martha!

ER: Any suggestions for aspiring writers out there?

LJ: Just write!  My biggest pet peeve is when people list everything you have to do to be a writer—untrue.  The only thing a person needs to do to be a writer is write.  Once you do that, you’re in!

ER: What’s your goal for your writing?

LJ: Obviously to be the next J.K. Rowling!  But in the real world I hope to publish a few books, even if they are self published and be able to help support my family.  People write for many different reasons, and my main reason is to be able to stay at home with my kids while my husband works a more traditional job.  Hence the non-fiction work as well as the fiction!

Leigh_Small

Thanks for chatting with me, Leigh! I enjoyed reading “Watcher”.

For more on Leigh, visit her on Facebook, Twitter, or on her website.

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Bloodstream Interview with Ross Baxter

I’m pleased to have author Ross Baxter on the blog with me today talking about writing and his short story, “Fifty-Five Shades of Green” featured in Mocha Memoirs Press’s horror anthology, In the Bloodstream

ER: Hi Ross, welcome! Tell us a bit about your background and what makes you tick.

RB: I spent thirty years in the British Royal Naval Reserve (1981-2011), which certainly colored my thinking. Through the Navy I met my Norwegian wife (in Albania!) and two kids later I’ve never looked back.

ER: Give us a short blurb about your “Bloodstream” story. How did you get the idea?

RB: When in the local bookstore I had a crafty flick through Fifty Shades of Gray, and was a little surprised what I read given all the media-hype. That’s where the idea for my short story Fifty-Five Shades of Green came from; love, lust and zombies!

31 authors, 5 countries, and 31 tales of dark fantasy and horror
31 authors,
5 countries,
and 31 tales of dark fantasy and horror

ER: Why did you start writing?  What drew you specifically to horror?

RB: I started writing when at sea, partly to relieve the long hours of boredom whilst on watch. I’d seen a lot of horror in real life, and decided to try and capture some on paper.

ER: Is writing horror different from other genres? What makes a great horror (or dark fantasy) tale?

RB: It has to be believable, and the characters have to earn a certain amount of empathy with the reader. In some respects the best horror books aren’t necessarily filed under the genre of horror; examples of such books are written by authors such as Cormac McCarthy or Pete Dexter. (ER: Agreed.  McCarthy’s The Road is one of the darkest books I’ve ever read.)

ER: Do you have a day job or do you write full time? Would we be surprised by what you do for a living?

RB: I wish I could write full time but what I make from writing a year buys just a couple of tanks of gas. In real life I manage a truck depot.

ER: What scares you?

RB: My mortgage! (ER: Ha! Completely understandable.)

ER: What do you do when your muse deserts you? How do you stay inspired?

RB: In over ten years of writing I’ve not lost it yet (hope I’ve not spoken too soon)

ER: You’re going to the gallows. What’s your last meal?

RB: I’m English, so it’s got to be Fish & Chips.

Mmmm... I had a fantastic fish and chips when I went to England. And I'd do it again...
Mmmm…
I had a fantastic fish and chips when I went to England.
And I’d do it again…

ER: Tell us a joke.

RB: A hungry lion came across two people out on a camping trip. One was sitting under a tree and reading a book, the other one was typing away on a laptop. With a roar the big cat pounced and gobbled up the person reading the book. Even the king of the jungle knows that readers digest and writers cramp.

ER: What’s your next project? Will you share with us?

RB: I’m just finishing an action novel based around tensions in the South China Sea. I’m waiting to see if the situation in North Korea deteriorates as then would be a good time to try and hawk to publishers.

ER: What’s missing in fiction?  What (and who) do you like to read?

RB: Decent Westerns, such as Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. This genre is well overdue a comeback.

ER: What’s the most difficult part of writing? What do you love most?

RB: Rejection letters are the worse part, receiving the book in the post the best.

ER: Any suggestions for aspiring writers out there?

RB: The three Ps: practice, practice, practice.

Ross Baxter

For more of Ross’s work, take a look at his Author page on Amazon or find him on Facebook.