Just wanted to let you know about a few things of mine that are seeing the light of day.
A couple of my monologues were recently published in Main Street Rag, which is a local magazine. It’s the first time any of my monologues have seen print and I am very excited about that!
Also, the From the Dark Side anthology has just come out. It’s a charity anthology benefiting Letters and Light – that’s the organization involved with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). So if you’re interested in helping support and encourage new writers, I suggest you check it out. The anthology includes a short story I wrote quite a while ago called The Looking Glass at Lughnasa, where I kind of put a fey twist on a few of Lewis Carroll’s ideas.
You’ll see the links to both of those in this article and as a new part of the general sidebar on my web site as well. It’s a really great honor to be included among the very talented writers in both publications and I’m really happy about it! And I’d be very pleased if folks would go and take a look at them.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. See you suddenly!
Click below if you’d like to hear me read the article:
Music by Dave Girtman
(The audio of this interview is available at the bottom of this post!)
JR: Welcome to jimyesthatjim.com, the blog that continues to exist in spite of itself. For those who are listening or reading this I am online with Jennifer Hudock, who is the author of Goblin Market. The thing that I find most interesting actually that I wanted to just sort of address first is that you are a full-time writer, and that is something that is incredibly impressive to someone like me. And, I just was wondering, how did you end up doing that?
JH: I went to college when I was 26, and the funny thing is that I actually went at the time – I mean, I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. It’s all I’ve ever done. I had tried to get things published traditionally before I went to college, and when I went to college I actually went for Criminal Psychology. I was on campus for about a year before I switched my major over to English and Creative Writing. And my advisor at the time thought I was insane and said, “I know somebody who went into that major and I’m going to tell you right now, she graduated four years ago and right now she works at Pizza Hut!” And that was discouraging, but I’m a pretty determined person so I told myself – before I had gone back to college I had worked in retail, I had worked in restaurants and offices – and I told myself that after I graduated I was NOT going to get another job like that. So, once I graduated I started looking into freelance venues and I started working. It wasn’t even writing at the time, it was more internet research for a company that had just started off at that time. And because I was working with them, I got introduced to other people who were working for another company who was more focused on a combination of freelance writing and research. And I worked for them for about two years and somebody that I worked with through that company had moved on and was actually editing a blog for another company. And he really liked my writing and we had a good work relationship and he actually invited me to come and work for him. So, I have been working from home, freelancing and now writing full time for the last three years.
JR: That’s wonderful. I aspire one day to perhaps get to where you are if I can overcome my own sloth and other issues. (chuckles)
JH: (chuckles) It’s not easy. It takes a lot of discipline. I mean, there are days where I wake up and I would rather stay in bed and sleep in until noon like I used to do but because I have to focus on my work like that it’s more disciplined. And because I learned that discipline of having to work at home and being responsible completely for your own income it motivated me in a lot of other ways, too – I mean, even with podcasting and writing fiction. You have deadlines and you have to meet them so, it’s been a help in a lot of different ways.
JR: Do you use any of those two years of Criminal Psychology in your writing at all?
JH: Actually, this is really funny. The thing that prompted me to go into Criminal Psychology was my love of The X-Files.
JH: I wanted to be like Mulder. I actually wanted to join the FBI at the time that I applied to go to college. So, I did have about two years’ worth of psychology before I really switched my major. It’s interesting because – psychology – you learn a lot about how the mind works and I definitely do use that when I’m creating characters because one of the things, being inside a character’s head, is knowing how they psychologically process things. So, it does help. Yeah.
JR: Cool, absolutely. Goblin Market, your podcast, is coming to an end, is it not?
JH: Yes, I have one more episode to record and it will be done! I do have to go back – the first seven episodes, the sound quality was just atrocious because my equipment was poor. I went back and I rerecorded the first episode. I haven’t put it out yet, but after that I have six more that I need to rerecord before I can put it up on Podiobooks.
JR: I really liked it. I’ve been enjoying it for some time now. I first heard about it I think when I was – I’m following Mur Lafferty in her feed – in her Twitter feed – and she mentioned it. And so I went and I checked it out. And it’s really cool, I think! I can see very clearly your fandom of things of the ilk of the Rossetti poem and Labyrinth and all that, but you’ve also gone in other directions with it and I think that is cool that you’re coming up with newer ideas to apply to that kind of thing. Where did your primary inspiration for Goblin Market come from?
JH: It was kind of a cross between Labyrinth and the Christina Rossetti poem. The very first chapter of the novel is sort of the younger sister who goes into the market in the Christina Rossetti poem. And I actually introduce it in the podcast with four lines from the poem – you know, “We should not look at goblin men.” And it was kind of a cross between that. And the funny thing is – and a lot of people probably don’t know this – some people might if they’re big fans of Brian Froud and the Labyrinth – but the Goblin Market was originally a Labyrinth fan fiction that I wrote.
JR: Oh, really?
JH: And after I finished it I realized I had put SO many elements that had nothing to do with the original story into it that I could go back and change a few little details and it would be original. So I did that. The Darknjan Wald, which is the bizarre, disgusting, rotting forest that they have to travel through to get to the goblin castle was originally the Labyrinth. So, there was a lot that you could twist and turn into something that had nothing to do with the Labyrinth itself.
JR: That’s very cool. Yeah, I noticed that – that the environment starts changing and it gets less and less recognizable – I guess more alien – and I really liked that.
JH: Thank you.
JR: It’s very cool, it’s very cool. Well now, once Goblin Market ends, you’ve certainly got plenty of other irons on the fire, I think, to keep you busy right now! The Dark Journeys anthology – tell us about that.
JH: Well, the Dark Journeys collection is a collection of short stories. They are completely unrelated to each other and I put one out pretty much every Friday on Amazon and Smashwords for download for 99 cents to $1.99. I only have one right now that’s $1.99 and that’s because it’s novella-length. But they’re all completely unconnected to each other – but yet, they’re connected by the fact that life itself is a journey. And I twisted it into these dark elements that sometimes we face things in life that are really difficult to overcome. But instead of just focusing on difficult life elements I took it more to a supernatural level. One of the stories, Portrait of the Dead Countess, is about a young boy who becomes enchanted by a haunted portrait in his family’s summer home that is connected to the devil. And through the devil in this portrait he becomes mesmerized and he kills for this portrait to sustain its life – because the woman the portrait was painted of gained immortality by selling her soul to the devil, and the portrait itself was actually painted on human flesh – like, the canvas was human flesh.
JH: So, I mean, it’s completely against his will that he’s doing this – like, he’s committing murders to sustain the portrait’s life…
JH: I mean, which, you know – that happens every day. (laughs)
JR: Well, yeah! (laughs) I was almost thinking sort of a reverse Dorian Gray type thing there, where you’re just doing all you can to keep the portrait safe. That’s awesome, that’s great. So, what prompted this sort of buck-and-two-buck fiction thing going on?
JH: My fiancée, James Melzer, started a Deviant Dollars series a couple of months ago where he was selling short stories on Amazon and Smashwords for 99 cents. And I thought to myself, he’s a genius! Because I have been trying to sell my fiction for years and every single story in this collection has been shopped out or previously published on smaller venues like online zines or journals that are so obscure you would never even know about them. And I thought this is a good way to get your work out there so people can read it!
JR: Cool! And are people buying it?
JH: Yeah, yeah! I mean, surprisingly enough, some stories do much better than others. Two of the stories are zombie stories. I have the Zombie Double Shot, which is the shortest thing in the collection and it actually has two stories in it – it only comes to about 3000 words with both stories combined, but that one has outsold all the other stories like four to one.
JR: Well, that’s great! I look forward to seeing how that comes out because that sounds like you guys may be onto something there!
JH: Yeah, a lot of people are actually doing it now, and I’m not sure if they’re having success with it. I tend to approach it from – you know, if you help me out and help me spread the word about this I’m glad to give you the story for free. So, I think that helps a little bit. And the funny thing is that a lot of the people who do blog about it or spread the word about it, they’re like, “No, no. I want to support you. I’ll buy it.” And that’s touching.
JR: That IS great.
JH: Because the community that we’re a part of is just so amazing – I mean people just have no idea. (chuckles)
JR: Absolutely, absolutely. So what’s next? You clearly have, like I said, a bunch of irons on the fire. Any of them that you’d care to pull out and have us bask in the glow of?
JH: Well, I AM working on two collaborative anthology projects. I have the From the Dark Side anthology, which is a charity anthology. I have a bunch of people who are submitting work. We’re going to put the anthology together and sell it through Amazon and Smashwords, and if it does well I would like to actually put it out in print as well. We’ve had some amazing people who are just willing to give their stuff over and we’re going to donate all of the proceeds from the sales to the Letters and Light organization which is affiliated with the National November is Writing Month forums.
JR: Which organization was that?
JH: Letters and Light. It’s a charity that helps promote creative writing in classrooms for kids.
JR: Cool. Excellent.
JH: So there’s that that I’m working on, and I’m also working on the Farrago anthology, which is another charity sort of anthology. It’s not as official, but my friend Michael Bekemeyer, who is a filmmaker, needs to raise money so he can actually put his film vision into the works. So, I mentioned it on Twitter: “Hey, would you guys be willing to donate a story to this anthology so we can help Michael raise money for his film project?” And I was just blown away by the amount of people who came out and were like, “I’ll do it! I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” And, I mean, by the end of that day I had so many e-mails from people who wanted to help Michael out – people that didn’t even know him – that it just blew my mind!
JR: Awesome. Well, I am definitely looking forward to that. Give us your web site! How can we find you?
JH: You can find me at www.jennybeans.net.
JR: And that links to all your other projects?
JH: Oh yeah, yeah.
JR: Cool, well, definitely looking forward to seeing how these things develop. Thank you very much for talking to us!
JH: Thanks for having me!
Click below to hear the interview:
Music by Kevin MacLeod
Here’s a little suggestion I have for writers of fantasy and horror: fairies should be terrifying.
They are not your friends. They will not whisk you away to a wondrous magical land where you’ll never grow old and you can play happily in golden fields and under the lollipop trees for eternity. What they’re more likely to do is snatch you away to a horrifying, twisted nightmare realm where the flow of time and the continuity of space are utterly subjective.
There’s been a trend lately, you see, to put the Grimm back into fairy tales and I’m all for it, to tell you the truth. Why? Because it makes for much better stories.
Let’s face it. Stories are much more interesting when the main character suffers torment. Fairy creatures can potentially represent as much torment as you could ever need. These are beings with completely alien mindsets who act largely on whim. They’re pretty much madness incarnate.
Dark fairy creatures make some of the best antagonists. This is why so many people have been showing an interest in the versions of fairy tales that were told by the Brothers Grimm. For all its cheese, this is why the movie Labyrinth worked as well as it did. This is why I keep hearing so many people are applauding the new version of White Wolf’s Changeling RPG and saying that it’s superior in presentation to the iteration that came before it. This is also why Jennifer Hudock’s podcast novel Goblin Market is getting such good word-of-mouth.
Dark fairy creatures are awesome.
Of course, this is something people knew long before the Brothers Grimm came around. Shakespeare presented King Oberon and Queen Titania as forces of nature that are quite content to meddle in human affairs – and in some cases transform them partially into donkeys. The old Celtic and Germanic fairy tales had a plethora of tiny magical folk – and indeed, larger magical folk – who were anything but benevolent. You really don’t have to dig very deep to find references to fairy creatures with less than pure intentions. Even the Wikipedia article on fairies makes a nice jumping-off point.
The reason these kinds of beings make good antagonists is that they can instantly (and for the writer, conveniently) embody all manner of psychological trauma. A.N. Wilson posited an interesting thought in the UK’s Daily Mail – the idea that the original purpose of fairy tales was to help children understand the kinds of fearsome things they may have to face in life. Not actual child-eating crones or anthropomorphic wolf-men, necessarily, but complex interpersonal situations with strangers, friends and families – especially families of the dysfunctional variety. When it comes down to it, some people are crazy and some are downright bastards. Fairy creatures have a level of mutability that lets them very neatly personify the kind of distress anyone might suffer when being forced to deal with the issues of those individuals.
Need a horrifying, murderous glutton? Hire a redcap. Want a massive, thuggish bully? Ogres and trolls both do well in a pinch. Want to show how a passion to tinker with things can lead to massive destruction? Just snatch up half a dozen goblins, wind them up and watch them go. If you use fairy creatures in a story then the darker and more twisted they are, the more interesting and significant the tale can be. The results rarely fail to please.