Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oh, Horrors!

Recently back from an idlyllic getaway on the island of Madeira, revived, rested and raring to go, foreign correspondent, Sue Roebuck shares her recent interview with author, Julia Kavan originally published on Sue's blog, Laurecea.

                 The horror awaits, shadows hover, succubi and incubi lurk. Boy oh boy, I'm still on my new favorite subject.

I'm seriously thinking of experimenting with the horror genre. And why? Because ever since I read Stephen King's The Shining or watched the film The Exorcist (and didn't sleep for a week after), I've hankered after horror, paranormal, supernatural stories. Yes, it does take me some time to get a clue, I admit it.

But if I'm going to write in this genre, I need to glean titbits from people in the "know". That's why I've invited author of horror stories Julia Kavan here today. I'm going to try and get into her mind (evil laughter).                                              

Julia Kavan is one of those writers that you know is going to be a success. I feel it in my water LOL. And, more importantly, I've read some of her stories. 

Let me give you some insight into why I say this: she’s different, she’s consistent, and she doesn’t waste words. Take a look at her blog: and you’ll see what I mean. Don’t those pictures just send you into a darker, even-more-sinister world than we live in now?

Julia’s writing definitely errs on the dark-side which is no understatement if you read her Dreaming Not Sleeping , published on Jan 14 2011 by Etopia Press.  It terrified me into leaving the light on all night.

I asked her if I could get into her mind and she told me to be careful because it's very scary in there.  So if you have a thing for spooky/psychological horror, then Julia is just the girl for you! 
Welcome Julia to Lauracea. I’m shivering as I write that short summary of your story. But I have to admit, I had to read it until the very end – it was so absorbing.

 Sue: What is it about your chosen genre that fascinates you so much?

Julia: I’ve always loved ghost stories, both real and fictional. As a kid I sought out anything to do with the unexplained and the mysterious... I like to be intrigued.   I could always be found in either the esoteric or Horror/SciFi sections of bookshops... and nothing has changed really. Sue: I love the pictures you choose to publish on your website. But they're usually dark and mysterious. Is this how you'd describe yourself?

Julia : I am a little dark, but I don’t think I’m particularly mysterious... I like dark images – I have books of HR Giger artwork, and my favourite painting is L’Umana Fragilita by Salvatore Rosa. The painting hangs in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and I go and see it every so often.

Sue: Have you dreamt anything similar to the woman in your story “Dreaming Not Sleeping?

Julia: I’m a vivid dreamer and often wake still feeling whatever was happening in my dream. “Dreaming” came about through a combination of things – a walk in the forest, some random graffiti on a tree, the music in the car going home – all combined with my experience of intense, and sometimes lucid, dreaming.

Sue: Do you ever get spooked?

Julia: I’m pretty good at spooking myself, but never anywhere you would expect to find creepy! I find mirrors in darkened rooms scary – something I’ve used in another short story, and I also avoid looking out of windows at night... no, no idea why....Sue: Your new novel “Reflections” is nearly ready for publication. Tell us about your writing process.

Julia: It tends to vary for each work in progress. Reflections is a supernatural mystery that started as a short story, but when I started thinking about the motives behind the things the main character was doing a bigger story began to emerge. The novel is about finding missing people – and also identifying human remains, in order for them to be returned home. In Reflections we get to hear from the ‘lost’, as well as those trying to solve their mysteries. I used multiple points of view – and enjoyed getting to know how each of the characters ticked. I have  photographs and notes and random paragraphs in a big folder. My MC is a forensic artist and I had to research that – so have clippings and emails from various experts.
My latest project is more about psychological horror. It’s written in first person and the main character finds herself trapped in a real life nightmare. I can find writing like this quite intense, as I have a tendency to put myself in my characters shoes, and sometimes their frame of mind for particular scenes. My writing flows in a completely different way – and I don’t edit those sections too much – I hope the ‘rawness’ adds something.
I have nothing to go on for this novel – no real outline, no character profiles or photos, just some sketched out ideas and seeing what the character does – if there is such a technique as extreme pantsing then that’s what I’m doing.

I was lucky enough to be at home full time when I was writing “Reflections” – I also wrote four ninety-minute screenplays at the same time – I would write for eight hours a day, and then more late at night. However I could also go for weeks at a time without going near the computer, particularly if I wasn’t teaching. Now I work in a hospital for four hours a day – then still do eight hours either writing, editing or researching. With a growing circle of writing friends on the internet I have managed to keep myself at the computer more consistently than ever.
Sue: You are a creative-writing tutor. What advice do you give your students who are tending towards your favorite genre?

Julia: I tell them to read. A lot. And to see what aspects of a story affect them. They should experiment and not worry too much about ‘rules’.
Strangely, I haven’t had many students working in the direction of horror – I get a lot of people who have no idea what they want to write and enjoy trying different genres. Luckily I am usually teaching on the run up to Halloween – so have the perfect excuse to get them to have a go at writing a ghost story. Even those that wouldn’t have considered writing something like that seem to enjoy the exercise – and are quite surprised by it!

Sue: What are your favorite books and which ones do you recommend for fans of your genre?

Julia: I rediscovered The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker earlier this year – and love it. I’d recommend that to everyone. I also read Peter Straub and have recently picked up Neil Gaiman – try his short story, “Tastings”.
I used to have a massive collection of horror novels – sadly lack of space forced me to part with it, but I hope to build a new collection on my Kindle! I’ve already started, with fellow Etopian author, Steve Emmett’s “Diavolino” – a more traditional horror/ thriller, and I’m on the look out for more new horror writers to add alongside the well established authors.  I do find I experiment a bit more with ebooks – not always sticking to what I know. I use the sample facility a lot, and have had some surprises. I always look at the Horror section first though – I said nothing  has changed! Even in the world of ebooks that’s where you’ll find me!

Watch out for Julia in the future and, as a foretaste, I recommend Dreaming not Sleeping as a must read.

Thanks Julia for stopping by today. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to post them here and I'll be your friend for life. If you don't, I'll set Julia on you!


  1. Welcome to Book Blather, Julia. You're our very first horror author! Your book sounds horrifyingly good! I think I just made up a new word - LOL!

  2. She's a real horror, Marilee! It's a great story :)