For this week’s author spotlight, I am thrilled to introduce Jess Landry. Jess is a genre writer who pens both fiction and nonfiction. I came across her story in the Women in Horror Issue of The Sirens Call, and after reading the beautifully terrifying, “A Change of Season,” I knew I had to feature her on my site. Turns out she’s a Shirley Jackson fan and a major cat lover who currently wrangles two felines of her own. Serendipity or what?
A few icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
I wrote a lot as a kid and into my early teens, but then life happened and writing, unfortunately, took a backseat. It wasn’t until a few years ago that the time felt right to get back into the swing of things. Even when I wasn’t writing, I knew it was something I should be doing. I’ve always had that feeling; I’m sure a lot of writers can relate.
Clive Barker is my #1. I can’t get enough of everything he does, be it his writing or his paintings, I love it all! In the horror genre, I also really like Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, Ray Russell and Algernon Blackwood. In other genres, I like Chuck Palahniuk, Gillian Flynn, Kazuo Ishiguro and Colin McAdam.
I love your short story, “A Change of Season,” in the latest issue of The Sirens Call. Is the topic of childhood fears one that often inspires you, or was it unique to this story? Any crazy childhood fears of your own?
Thank you! Kids are so imaginative and innocent, I love using those characteristics in stories. And the more I write, the more it seems to be about kids and how they view the world around them. A lot of what I have on the go right now is about children in uncanny situations.
I wouldn’t necessarily call them “fears,” but I do have a lot of quirks from my childhood that are still around today. I can’t let my arms or legs hang over the bed when I sleep. I don’t like to keep mirrors in the bedroom. I actually suffer from hypnagogic hallucinations, which makes me sound like all sorts of crazy…but I’m not. I swear. Basically, I see things as I’m falling asleep. When I was little, I remember seeing a giant spider in the corner of my room. These days, it’s mostly my cat hanging off the ceiling fan! I don’t mind seeing things, probably because I’m used to it (and sometimes the hallucinations inspire story ideas), so really the only person who suffers is my poor husband. Minimum two times a week he has to wake up and tell me that the cat isn’t on the fan.
You write a regular column at Dirge Magazine. How did you get involved with the site, and what has been the most rewarding part of the experience?
I forget the specifics of how I found Dirge, but it was a great match right from the start. Jinx Strange, Dirge editor extraordinaire, really helped me find my voice when I first came on and told me to just give’r. He was completely open to my column idea, Cinema Obscura, where I write about horror movies from around the world. The best part about it all is that I have a lot of creative freedom to babble on about horror movies. It’s amazing.
In addition to your writing talents, you’re also a graphic designer. Does the horror genre ever collide with your day job, or do you fight to keep them separate?
Unfortunately, the two never collide. My day job consists of doing design work for trade magazines for the heavy construction and human resources industries. I would love to do more horror design work, but I also want to focus more time on writing and getting more pieces out there. If only there were more than 24 hours in a day, then I’d be set!
Your bio says you have two cats. I myself also have two cats, and together, we quietly plot world domination. In your professional opinion as a cat owner, in which apocalyptic scenario do you feel cats would fare better: an invasion of giant mice or an attack from a million red laser dots?
Giant mice, for sure. Cats don’t give two shits about the size of the beast. If they see something moving, and if it looks like something they can eat, they’d be all over that in no time. I can picture the crimson skies, the crumbling buildings, the stench of smoke and rot in the air, and 50 house cats pouncing onto a giant mouse. Laser dots? No way. The cats would be in a frenzy, then they’d pass out from exhaustion.
On a side note, my fat, lazy house cats would not survive either apocalyptic scenario.
What projects are you currently working on?
Right now I’m working on my column at Dirge Magazine, coordinating posts and writing book reviews for Hellnotes.com, wrapping up a few short stories and writing my first novel. Sleep? Who needs sleep?