Interview: Fan Tales With Janet Joyce Holden
It is my great pleasure to have Janet Joyce Holden over for a chat, Janet, like Tony Tremblay is another stalwart of the ever excellent Horror World
Tell us about yourself
I’m originally from the north of England, but right now home is on the outskirts of Los Angeles where my husband and the cat do their level best to put up with me. I write novels and short stories, and when I’m not sitting at the keyboard, hammering away (or wringing my hands in despair) I seek further inspiration via sewing needle, paintbrush and camera. And there’s the reading, and the laundry, and … Needless to say, I don’t get out much.
What’s your favourite genre, and why?
I’m fickle. I tend to skip between Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy, depending on what’s out there at the time. However, I do appreciate a few threads of Horror woven into my SF and F, so I guess Horror has the edge.
Can you remember what first set you on this path?
Oh, heck yes. Early episodes of Doctor Who – the Daleks, Cybermen and the Yeti; Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. That was the greatest stuff when I was a kid. And Quatermass. And all the Dracula Hammer Horror films. And Vincent Price in House of Wax. Spencer Tracy as Mr. Hyde. And the ‘Monster from the Id’ in Forbidden Planet. A childhood and adolescence full of that and I was all set.
Is there anything about the genre you dislike?
Yes. (And I’m not about to denounce the classic monsters – vampires, werewolves, zombies – I love those guys.) For me it’s been the recent wave of rape, rape, torture, dismemberment, torture, rape, gore and more rape. And yes, I realize this is Horror and bad things happen to people. But when an entire book (or short story, for that matter) is purely scene-based on those elements, with little spared for character or plot…
It might work for some, and that’s fine. But I always end up short-changed and I feel like I’ve paid good money to be some lunatic’s psychiatrist. I like back story. I need a character – protagonist, antagonist, doesn’t matter – someone with whom I can empathize. Not some cardboard twit on a gory revenge spree and his/her two-dimensional victim. Character is everything. That’s why the classics are so good. I’ll always root for the likes of Frankenstein and the werewolf. And Dracula is such a charismatic bastard.
Who are your favourite authors?
Currently Stephen King, Dan Simmons, George RR Martin, Steven Erikson, Joe Abercrombie, Jacqueline Carey, Neil Gaiman, CJ Cherryh, Anne Rice, Iain M Banks, Glen Cook, Laird Barron, Robin Hobb, Caitlin R Kiernan (I’m sure I’ve missed some). But most of all, Clive Barker. His books open doors.
Have your tastes changed over the years?
Hard to say. Am I reading more dark, epic fantasy these days because my tastes have changed, or because I’m more likely to find the required measures of horror, character dimension, battling against the odds, and bleak despair within their particular pages? I don’t think my demands have changed. I’m constantly pulled back and forth between genres, wholly dependant on what’s on the supply conveyor. Always have been. And when a good vampire or werewolf standalone comes along, be assured I’ll snap it up.
What would be your desert island book?
That’s easy (and I’m probably cheating). The SAS Survival Handbook. Anything fictional, I can create on my own. Besides attempting to fish with my bare hands and discovering ingenious ways to collect water, it’ll give me something to do.
What are you reading now?
Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Night of Knives. Re-reading Iain M Banks’ Against a Dark Background. Not Horror, but it’s a lot of Ia(i)ns.
Have you discovered any new authors of note this year?
I’m going to say – not yet. I have one heck of a TBR pile and I might find an absolute gem in the midst of it. I’m certainly hoping so.
Are there any books being released in the future that you are really looking forward to reading?
I’m way behind, so most of the books I’m looking forward to reading are already out. Richard Kadrey’s Aloha From Hell; Erikson’s Forge of Darkness. I’ll be looking out for anything Stephen King and Laird Barron. And Horror World’s upcoming Eulogies ll. Yes, I do have a story in that one, but there are some cracking good authors in there, too, the likes of Piccirilli, Moore, Braunbeck, Minnion, and McMahon, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with. Other than that, as always I rely on Ginger Nuts of Horror and sites like Horror World to give me the heads up.