Torment is a supernatural horror novella published by Damnation Books in the US. It centres on Jessica Newman, a young woman who is forced to relive her horrific childhood when her father, a catholic deacon, ex-communicated over the death of her mother during an exorcism, takes his own life. Jessica must deal with his estate in Scotland, but her father’s house has its own secrets.
Tell us something about yourself.
I live in Rockhampton, Central Queensland Australia. In 2009 after joining the Australian Horror Writers Association I was selected in its mentor program under the tutelage of Melbourne writer Brett McBean, that year I had a short vampire story published in The Absent Willow Review.
Since then I’ve had half a dozen or so more short stories published, my first novella – Torment and I’ll have a second, The Noctuary released later this year. In addition to this I’m also a horror artist and I’m currently illustrating a graphic novel for horror writers Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton to be published by McFarland in early 2012. Professionally, I have eight years experience as a newspaper journalist and I currently work in public relations.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to do an exorcism story, but I wanted to do it from a different angle. The thought of having a husband murdering their wife – and perhaps a parent using exorcism as a method of murder appealed to me. I wanted the story to be a mystery from start to finish. I wanted the reader to come to know this woman and feel for her.
How did you choose the title?
The title comes from Jessica – she’s been tormented all her life by the death of her mother and the fact her father might have been responsible… but she’ll encounter a new more terrifying torment.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
Only the standard ones when submitting any manuscript to any publisher. You have to very patient in this line of work. J
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
Ever since I was about eight or nine years old, I was always writing and drawing – my own comics mostly. I loved comics and it was through them that I learned the fundamentals of storytelling. My writing always had a dark streak, and at first I dabbled in crime writing, but I found it a little too formulaic and restricting. I then decided to pursue horror writing.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I have two children and I work full time. I write during lunch breaks and at night.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Jessica’s name just came to me – it has a nice ring to it, as an adult and a child, but I did need a strong Scottish surname for her father and I researched that.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
When you’re new to the publishing game, patience is the key.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I might have made it a little longer, but I do feel the story is well worth the ride.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
Horror and dark fantasy. My fave authors are Edgar Allan Poe, King, Clive Barker. Barker’s Books of Blood are very inspiring.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Damnation Books will publish my second novella The Noctuary in December and apart from edits it’s complete. I’m focussed fully on the graphic novel, but on the side I’m writing a horror coming of age story about a young boy who becomes the plaything of a group of vaudevillian monsters.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Be patient. Wear rejections as badges of honour and use them as inspiration to write better stories. Take the bad reviews for what they are – constructive criticism and savour the good ones. Keep at it and write every day.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Someone who likes a good mystery and someone who likes to feel a chill up their spine. You don’t have to be a horror connoisseur, but if you want a good introduction to the genre, then my book might be a good place to start.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?