Today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of the brilliant and twisted minds behind the Dark Carnival, and Pen & Muse. If you aren’t familiar with the Dark Carnival, go here. Since this is Jolene’s first interview, I thought we’d go for a more casual mood and share answers between the two of us. You know, sort of like the internet getting to listen in on two friends having a conversation.
Without further adieu, let’s begin the interrogation…er…interview!
BWT: Welcome to Slushland, Jolene. I’m excited you dropped by. Ready to get your question on? Let’s go!
Jolene: Okay, I’m ready. *cracks fingers*
Question number one: When did you first know you had a thing for horror?
Jolene: As early as I can remember. My parents love horror and I can remember watching movies like Halloween as early as five-years-old. My parents would tell me to close my eyes during the scary parts, but my brother and I never did.
BWT: Yeah, I got into horror pretty early on too, I’d say around seven or eight. My father and grandmother used to watch horror movies…a lot. My siblings and I would watch when we could.
Question number two: What is your earliest horror memory?
Jolene: Growing up, my dad was really into putting on a haunted house in front of our house for Halloween or at my elementary school. There were black lights, smog machines, and my brother and I got to scare the crap out of people. I guess I was a horror-lovin’ jerk child. And I regret nothing! *throws fist in air*
BWT: Oh, geez, there are so many. One of my earliest horror memories would have to be watching the 1979 version of Salem’s Lot on TV. The little kid scratching at the window because he wanted to be invited in to feast on his friend scared the crap out of me as a kid.
Jolene: Ohhh, good answer Brian. That version of Salem’s Lot is so good. I have a lot of those memories too.
Question number three: What draws you to horror in literature?
BWT: I think I’m going to go first on this one. My answer is the unknown. Each of us has our own unique fears. The best horror can take any situation and put a scary spin on it. That’s what I love about writing horror too.
Jolene: Brian’s knocking it out of the park on this one. YES. The unknown. If you try and break down fear into the simplest elements, one of the main contributors of fear is the unknown. Not knowing what dwells in the dark. Not knowing if what you THINK you saw was real. Not knowing if you will make it out alive. I love horror because we get to see people face the unknown and face their fears. And on a darker level, it’s sometimes nice to watch people totally get what they have coming. Did that sound evil? Good.
BWT: *inches his chair away from Jolene*
Question number four: In your opinion, what makes good horror?
Jolene: In my opinion, good horror must have several elements. It must be funny (at the right times to offset the serious), involve the unknown, play with the audience’s own fears, have a body count (usually), and just make your skin crawl. Also, the main characters must be relatable. I need to be able to put myself in the character’s shoes.
BWT: See answers to question three and what Jolene said.
Question number five: How did the Dark Carnival come to be?
Jolene: I’ve always loved carnivals and hated clowns. I’ve always loved the fall and all the dark and wonderful things that come with Halloween. I kind of associate all of these things with each other. It could be because of Ray Bradbury’s, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. There really wasn’t anything out there like that. So I figured, I could make it happen through Pen and Muse. What better way to have a creepyfest than to invite all of the talented people I know? I was expecting maybe ten people to sign up. To my surprise, almost one hundred people signed up to showcase their artwork or short stories. It’s been a wonderful thing. Turns out, you’re all even more twisted than I am, which was a joy to read and see.
BWT: Aww, thanks, Jolene! You’re twisted and disturbed too! #HorrorLove
Question number six: What has publishing the Dark Carnival taught you?
Jolene: Publishing is HHHAARRDDD work! I’ve worked for publishers before. I’m a writer. I thought, “How hard could this be?” But it’s a completely different game when you’re collaborating with forty different contributors and you’re babysitting the book through edits to cover to overall concept to marketing to settling disputes. It’s been very hard but SO rewarding. I’m lucky to be working with the best of the best. Everyone contributing and the Pen and Muse team has been so fantastic. I really am very lucky.
Question number seven: What projects are you currently working on? What’s next for you?
Jolene: Well, I’m finishing up the Dark Carnival anthology for sure, which will be a free anthology. On Pen and Muse, we’re running our 2nd annual October showcase. This year’s theme is Haunted House. It’s different from the Dark Carnival but I have high hopes for creepiness. My other blog, The Midnight Society is putting on a HUGE Halloween event all of October for writers, readers, and everyone in between. There will be fun, costumes, and lots of prizes. Even a reading club read-along. Check it out at http://midnightsocietytales.com/
In November, my super secret pen name alter ego is releasing a romantic thriller that involves a serial killer, a love triangle, and a body count. I can’t say more beyond that. I also have one of my novels on submission with literary agents. I’m playing the waiting game right now. Hopefully soon, I will have exciting news. Until then, you can find me on my couch watching Halloween. *pats seat next to me* Come on over, Brian. I’ve got plenty of room. And mallows.
BWT: Holy Halloween, you’re one busy woman! *eyes Jolene sideways* You’ve got books with serial killers and body counts, AND mallows. *shrugs, sits next to Jolene* Okay, I’m sold!
Here comes the Lightning Round!
1) Scariest book you’ve ever read?
BWT: Only one book every sacred me: HOSTAGE TO THE DEVIL, by Dr. Malachi Martin.
Jolene: There are a lot of books that I love for their creepy or macabre vibe, or moments, but I admit that I’ve never really had one scare me. Well, there was this one about this kid who was being haunted. This one scene stands out to me. He’s alone in his bunk bed and something crawls in with him, under the covers. The author did such a fantastic job making it scary and suspenseful. I can’t remember where I read it or what the title was. Really wish I could. Looks like I need to read Brian’s suggestion. If you’re looking for awesome dark stuff, check out SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE, or Brian’s recent release, SNAFU: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MILITARY HORROR. Oh, and when it’s out, THE DARK CARNIVAL.
2) Scariest movie you’ve ever seen?
Jolene: When a Stranger Calls (2006) and The Strangers (2009). I used to babysit and I had some creepy things happen to me. For me, when things could REALLY happen in real life, that’s what really scares me. Humans are the scariest kinds of monsters.
BWT: Only three movies ever scared me: The Exorcist, Salem’s Lot (1979), and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973). Sadly, that was when I was a kid. Nowadays, nothing scares me. I think I’m numb to horror movies.
3) Favorite horror character of all-time?
BWT: Michael Myers. There’s something about that bleached mask. *shudders*
Jolene: *Cheers* Michael Myers he’s our man, if he can’t kill you, no one–Wait. You’re dead.
4) Favorite Halloween costume? Adult, or child, doesn’t matter.
Jolene: Little Red Riding Hood!
BWT: Dracula. Yeah, go figure. 😉
5) Favorite Halloween candy?
Jolene: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
BWT: Mallow Cups.
6) Favorite thing to do at a carnival?
Jolene: ALL OF THE THINGS. From face paint to bad food to rides to side shows. I want it all. *cues Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop.”*
BWT: I’m going to have to say everything. Rides, games, and food, I want to do it all!
7) I have it on good authority that you like hockey. Who will win the Stanley Cup this year? Yep, I totally just put you on the spot.
BWT: Montreal Canadians over the Dallas Stars in five games. Boom! Sadly, neither of those teams is the NJ Devils, whom I am a fan of.
Jolene: Oh, Brian, I think you misspelled the Anaheim Ducks. 😛 I think it’s going to be an explosive year this year. We have a lot of great chemistry going into the season. I’m also super psyched about Kesler joining us.
Final question: I’m a big music fan. What is your favorite horror themed, or Halloween inspired song?
Brian, you kill me. How can I pick just one? Here are some of my faves.
Favorite Halloween music and band (other than Blink-182): The Room Where You Sleep, by Dead Man’s Bones
Music for writing a slasher scene: Want, by The Soft Moon
Jolene: Thank you so much, Brian, for having me today. I had so much fun with you! You are fantastic. ❤
BWT: Thanks for dropping by today, Jolene! You’re welcome back anytime. Just make sure you wipe your feet. Don’t want bloody footprints ruining the carpet. 😉
Bio: Jolene Haley loves five things: coffee, books, Harry Potter, fluffy puppies, and anything horror. In addition to her day job, she is the founder of YA & NA horror blog The Midnight Society. She co-founded writer’s haven Pen & Muse and Pen & Muse Press. She also contributes to Pub Hub, an online community for writers.
Her back ground is in English Literature and Composition, with accolades from California State University of Fullerton.
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