Jay Raven’s Crimson Siege is the first book in his 19th century vampire hunter series Blood Riders
Tell us a bit about you and your writing.
I’m originally from Glasgow, but now live in Birmingham – in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood teeming with bats. Despite being a fiction writer for some 20 years I only switched to horror and dark fantasy just over five years ago – and that was by accident.
Canadian small press Absolute Xpress were bringing out a flash fiction anthology Creatures of the Night, and as a prolific short story writer I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could reinvent classic Hammer Horror monsters.
I submitted a vampire tale and a werewolf story, and to my surprise they took both – and asked if I had similar stories for other horror anthologies they were planning. Suddenly I realised I had a head bursting with horror plots.
Last Christmas I landed a three book deal with Junction Publishing to produce horror novels. Crimson Siege, the first of my Blood Riders vampire series, was published on May 22nd.
What in your opinion makes good horror?
Chilling atmosphere, tension, high stakes, breakneck pace, an original and unexpected slant and a likeable protagonist in mortal danger. My speciality is historical horror – so I go for the well known Gothic monsters, but with a modern twist. (My vampires are telepathic over short distances). I prefer creating psychological fear to all-out gore. But perhaps the most important ingredient for me are clever plot twists – constantly unnerving the readers, knocking them off balance.
How do you feel about flash fiction as a medium for horror?
I think flash fiction and horror were made for each other – out of parts stolen from the graveyard at midnight. You need to be at the top of your game to build a spooky world, characters we care about, a sense of menace and an unexpected denouement in less than 1,000 words. Some even shorter horror tales, 250 words or less, are miniature masterpieces.
What is your favourite horror short story?
I’m sure some might disagree with me categorizing it as horror, but my favourite chilling short story is Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl.
A woman murders her two-timing husband by clobbering him with the frozen leg of lamb she’s just taken out of the freezer for their dinner. Then she cooks it and when the police come round to investigate the death, she invites them to eat the lamb to stop it going to waste, hence destroying the evidence.
It’s a gem, with a wonderful twist, real malice but most importantly for a horror story – a wickedly dark sense of humour.
What scares you the most and what is your favourite horror scene?
Dogs – any sort: big, small, loud, yappy, slavering, shaggy or short haired. It doesn’t matter. They terrify me. A pack of ownerless dogs were running wild on the housing estate where I was brought up and one day when I was about eight, they cornered me. I wasn’t badly hurt but it made a deep lasting impression on me.
Talking of being afraid, I’m afraid my favourite horror scene is a bit hackneyed. It’s the moment in the film version of Carrie when her hand shot out of the grave. I can remember everyone in the cinema leapt three feet out of their seats. No fancy special effects or CGI – just old fashioned terrifying audience manipulation.
Please give us a one sentence horror story!
The vampire thought holy water couldn’t harm him, until I drowned him in it.
Find out more about Jay Raven at:
Crimson Siege- Blood Riders Book 1 is published by Junction Publishing
Check it out on Amazon at: http://geni.us/9E27uh