And now for today’s second victim… um… sorry… I mean, guest.
I first discovered Jemiah Jefferson and her work roughly ten years ago; she writes vampire books and needless to say I have a huge soft spot for bloodsuckers. Seriously, I can’t get enough of them. Ever.
While Jemiah hasn’t been quite as prolific in recent years, her Voice of Blood series (Voice of the Blood, Wounds, Fiend and A Drop of Scarlet) remains well worth tracking down.
And, of course, I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to add her voice to the wonderful chorus of writers who’ve already joined us to talk about what scares them in both fiction and life.
* * *
31 Days of Halloween… with Jemiah Jefferson
Describe a time when a scene in a horror novel really unnerved you or caused you to turn on all the lights.
My first time attempting to read a volume of Clive Barker’s The Books of Blood didn’t quite go as I had planned. I was maybe 15 at the time, and really hadn’t read very much horror in my lifetime yet – mostly just a handful of Stephen King’s very earliest novels, and a couple of somewhat dodgy paperbacks purchased by my parents without them bothering to vet whether or not the material was appropriate for children. My friend Jeff lent me his copy of Volume 1 of the Barker series, telling me it was pretty much his favorite material at the time, and I trusted him, so I dove right in. I didn’t make it very far, since “Train” is the very first story in the collection, and there was something about hooks and entrails and what have you, and I realized I was in way over my head – I felt genuinely physically sick and traumatized, so much so that instead of the scene replaying in my mind over and over (a common result of seeing shock gore scenes in horror movies when I was a kid), my mind simply erased the details so that I could remain functional. I gave Jeff his book back, stammered an apology for it being a bit too intense for me. Jeff refused to listen to my nonsense, though, and insisted that I at least read “In the Hills, the Cities”, and that was much, much easier to deal with. All the same, I didn’t have the guts (heh!) to read any more Clive Barker for years, but once I read a novel or two and the beauty of his prose finally sunk in (hey!), I went back to the Books of Blood and they remain some of my favourite stories of all time.
Your top three fears?
I’m not a person to scare or spook or even startle easily – I am strongly pro-monster, I love the darkness, adore spiders and snakes and sharks and killer whales, and am wheeled into the surgical theater with a big smile on my face – [but] I do have a couple of phobias. And yeah, they’re kind of silly, but also not really…
#1: I have a phobia of driving. I have never driven more than a tiny little bit, as in, starting an ignition, putting a car in drive, proceeding maybe 50 yards, braking, and then stopping the car. And then I get out of the car and hyperventilate. I have lots of dreams about driving – I know how to do it, physically – and they’re really fun until I remember that I can’t drive, and then I crash horribly, usually killing several people or animals while I’m at it. Fun!
#2: I have crowd-based claustrophobia. I actually like small, enclosed spaces – I’m that freak that has fun while having an MRI scan in the coffin-sized tube – but once I’m surrounded by a couple of thousand people in a room, I start having a really bad time. This came on all of a sudden at Comic-Con International…
#3: I am absolutely terrified at the idea of going to jail. I’m sure this is all based on my need for really good food available at all times – prison loaf is a more horrifying concept than the guillotine.
Learn more about Jemiah Jefferson at http://jemiah.com