Today I am lucky enough to have taken up some of Author Jay Raven’s time to speak about his books and other random stuff.
Jay is the author of two amazing books, both of which I reviewed as part of their blog tours, so to start with here is the info and purchase links for his current books.
Crimson Siege – Blood Riders Book One
In the Godforsaken badlands of Transylvania the fragile truce between mankind and monsters is about to explode…
When bounty hunters target one of 19th century Europe’s most feared vampire clans, the last place any lawman wants to be is caught in the middle…
But for Anton Yoska, Lord Marshal of the Imperial lands south of the Carpathian Mountains, fate has trapped him in a supernatural stand-off that can end only in a bloodbath.
A gang of mercenaries led by Anton’s former army comrade Milosh Drubrick have captured vampire aristocrat Stefan Modjeski, wanted for a string of frenzied murders, and have come to Anton to claim the reward. And as Stefan’s predatory undead kin lay siege to the jailhouse, Anton is faced with an agonising choice – hand over his prisoner and abandon the bounty hunters to their unspeakable fate, or stand and fight.
The jailhouse defenders are outnumbered and out of options. It’s a battle that can’t be won, certain slaughter for them all, and Anton can’t trust his scheming allies. But Lord Marshal Yoska isn’t about to surrender.
For he’s an experienced vampire hunter, a dangerous man when cornered, and a single minded warrior who knows there are worse things to fear than death…
To Snare a Witch
No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.
But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe.
What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.
And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…
Horror writer Jay Raven talks ghouls, guests, gore and why his cupcakes are to die for.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
I’m a Glaswegian, now living In Birmingham. I live on the outskirts of the city in a creepy old house bordering 500 acres of woodland. I was a journalist for 20 years, working in various parts of the country, before I took voluntary redundancy to follow my dream of being a fiction writer.
I have two parallel writing lives. Under my own name I write humorous short stories, and under the pen name Jay Raven I write Gothic horror and dark fantasy novels for Junction Publishing – all with historical settings. I try to keep both sides of my output as separate as possible.
I loved Hammer Horror films in my childhood and my mission is to reinvent traditional Gothic monsters like vampires, werewolves, goblins and witches for a modern audience.
My other ambition is to eat as much chocolate as humanly possible.
How would you describe your writing style?
It’s fast-paced, lean and crisp, which is down to my journalistic training to tell stories as economically as possible. And it’s full of plot twists and unexpected events. I aim for short chapters, each ending with a dramatic teaser to keep readers hooked.
I tend to write in a very visual way, focusing on how things look. This gives my work a cinematic flavour and I’m thrilled when people write reviews saying it made them feel they were watching a movie rather than reading a novel.
How do you come up with the ideas for your books?
In truth, I can’t say for sure. My head is constantly buzzing with story ideas. It can be a chance remark someone makes, a creepy old building I visit on holiday or hearing an old fairy tale or legend with sinister origins. All inspire me.
With Crimson Siege – my vampire versus bounty hunters thriller – I wanted to experiment in creating a cross between a Gothic horror film and a spaghetti western. I started with a mental picture of a kidnapped vampire Prince chained up in a cage being transported cross country by mercenaries.
To Snare A Witch – my 17th century tale of a reluctant sorceress forced into magic to save her true love – came from a surprising fact I discovered that witches in England weren’t actually burnt at the stake, as usually portrayed, but were hanged.
I’ve read and loved Crimson Siege, and To Snare A Witch. You say both are series openers. What can we expect in the next instalments?
In Crimson Siege I deliberately didn’t explain too much of the back story about the war between mankind and vampires. I wanted to keep readers guessing. But in the second episode of the Blood Riders series (it’s got the working title Daylight’s Deadly Kiss) we learn how the war was miraculously won by humans even though it appeared the Undead were going to triumph and enslave us all.
Nosferatu slayer Anton Yoska is sent on a dangerous mission to investigate the claims that a long lost weapon that evaporates vampires on contact has re-emerged. The quest will reunite him with the woman he once loved but will also deliver him into the hands of his deadliest enemies.
The second part of To Snare A Witch carries on from where part one ended, where heroine Elizabeth Fiennes discovers that her mystical actions have unexpected consequences and will bring a host of new supernatural threats and mortal villains to battle. Her loyalties will be tested to breaking point.
Are there any books that you wish you’d written?
Many books, but perhaps the one that springs most readily to mind is Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse. It’s witty, gritty, wonderfully crafted and has an amazing amount of whimsy in it for a product of the angry young men/kitchen sink drama era with its scathing social comment. It’s also damn funny.
If you had to organise a dinner party for four other authors, (living or dead) who would you choose and why?
Ooh – that’s a toughie. I think I’d invite Agatha Christie, because I’d love to pick her brains about how she constructed her intricate whodunits and we’d have a laugh about the many portrayals of Hercules Poirot – both inspired and cringe-making.
I’d also want Issac Asimov, because his Sci-fi short stories and novels were a staple of my childhood. I devoured them and he and I could talk “robots”.
Next, Terry Pratchett. I adore his Disc World novels and think he was an underrated genius, who had a spookily insightful understanding of human nature, using humour and pantomime to hold up a mirror of truth to ourselves. He is the modern age Jonathan Swift.
Lastly, I’d want cookery book pioneer Mrs Beeton. Not just because she’d be able to share great dinner party recipes and hosting tips, but I’d love to get her take on what it’s like to have invented a whole genre.
You said you write humour as well as horror. How difficult is it to switch “voices” between light and dark, and how do you decide which you’ll tackle on any given day.
Actually, I don’t find it too difficult to switch between gags and gore. Once again, working on newspapers taught me to write in a variety of styles – and to be able to jump from quite harrowing hard news stories to entertaining, frothy feature articles and personality pieces.
I tend to be governed by deadlines. Whatever is scheduled for publication next gets my full attention. But when there’s no rush I choose whether to be funny or scary depending on my mood when I wake up.
I have one rule that I always obey. I don’t put jokes in my horror work. I do it straight. It’s too easy to spend ages creating a terrifying, spooky atmosphere and destroying the tension in a second with ill-chosen puns or word play.
If you weren’t an author what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d be a full-time artisan baker. I love everything about baking – the smells, the tastes, the precision needed, the ability to experiment, the licking of spoons – and of course, the delicious finished products. I do a jaffa-cake inspired range of cupcakes which – if I can be immodest – people tell me are scrumptious.
About the Author
Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous placeto venture, full of monsters and murderous men.
He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as ateenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a500-acre wood may have something to do with it