When did I begin my love of horror? Well, like a lot of people I became addicted to Stephen King books as a teenager, but it goes much farther back than that…
My earliest dream that I can remember was about a plane crashing in my back yard when I was about five years old and as I watched from the window over the sink in our kitchen, a “man” stepped out and started staggering drunkenly toward our back door. The little dog we had at the time was in the dream too; I think she was a Cockapoo? (That’s half Cocker Spaniel and half Poodle). I think her name was Ladybug. Well, Ladybug barked at the tottering man has he proceeded to open our back door. I wake up at that point in the dream because somehow I knew he was a zombie. Way too scary to stay there…
Years later, I found out I was not born with knowledge of zombies, but had snuck in the living room at night as my parents watched late night zombie movies on TV. It would have been 1970 or there abouts, so I’m guessing my first horror movie was none other than, George Romero’s classic, Night of the Living Dead (Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).
My mother said that though my infiltration was discovered and I was promptly removed from said living room, that I would return in what I thought was stealth mode, only to be removed again. I think, I just really liked zombie movies!
As Time’s Arrow marched on, my love and knowledge of the genre increased as I was introduced to such greats as Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff:
Then in my early teens came the arrival of the unforgettable, Jason Voorhees (well technically a vengeful mother came first):
But one of my favorites of all time came next because this monster came to you in your dreams! So scary!
So many scary books and movies later, I am now writing my own little horror vignettes. A quote from the forward for The One That Got Away written by Gwendolyn Kiste: “Growing up, I always lamented the lack of female characters, both in horror and literature at large. While there are certainly many memorable women in books, there still weren’t nearly enough. That in large part was due to a dearth of female authors being accepted in largely insular literary communities. But times have fortunately changed for the better in this regard, and more than ever before, we’re finally seeing female characters in horror that are written by women.”
I feel both proud and humbled to join my fellow Women in Horror doing something that we’ve loved all along as much as “the boys”. I have found the Horror Family to be welcoming to all lovers of horror, regardless, of age, sex, gender, etc… It’s a place for us all to come together to share our love of the genre!
Bio: Trading in a police badge and then classroom, Janine is a full-time Splatterpunk Award nominated writer, whilst also being a mum, wife and Disney addict. Influenced by the works of King from a young age, she likes to shock readers with violence and scare them with monsters – both mythical and man-made. When she’s not killing people off, she likes to chew the fat with other authors – reviewing books and conducting interviews for her podcast and YouTube channel. You’ll likely find her devouring work by Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea and Tim Meyer. Her biggest fan, beta reader, editor and financier is her loving husband. He just wants her to write a story about werewolves that wear shoes on their hands …
Guys! I’m doing my first author interview with Janine Pipe, my kindred spirit of horror!
Thank you for being my first interview victim, Janine! Here goes…first question:
CC: I’m sure you’ve always been drawn to writing as many of us are, but at what point did you decide to pursue writing with publication in mind?
Janine: A couple of years ago I was made redundant due to budget cuts. My daughter was school age so I suddenly had some time on my hands. I had been blogging in the travel genre for a while but my passion for fiction had always been horror. I started writing a few bits and pieces, just the kind of stuff that I would want to read and fully immersed myself in the community to learn about how to sub, who to sub to etc. which was vital and as with most people, I had rather a lot of rejections. My first ever proper acceptance was with Kandisha of course and the rest as they say is history. It is still nerve-wracking though for sure, each and every time something gets released as you are putting yourself out there. But that’s the game.
CC: Why the horror genre? What specifically drew you to it?
Janine: Horror and dark, psychological thrillers have always been my bag. Right from a young age, I was drawn to the more macabre side of things and had a fascination/deep terror of all things supernatural. To this day ghost stories both excite and scare the crap out of me. As a teen I loved the cat and mouse type fun of Point Horror and the character driven small town narrative of King. I also read a lot of crime books as I always wanted to be a police officer. Lore in particular has always really interested me too, I love the origins of certain legends and growing up near Glastonbury and Stonehenge was just the icing on the cake.
CC: Who are your greatest influences in the horror genre?
Janine: It would be remiss of me not to say King as the genesis of my love of this genre and his work like Carrie, Salem’s Lot and IT have had a great impact on me. But more recently, I am for sure inspired/influenced by my own 3 favourite authors – Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea and Tim Meyer. Also, women like Caroline Kepnes and Kenzie Jennings and although not best known for her fictional writing, Sadie Hartmann for her passion and spark.
CC: Okay, here’s the really cliché question, where do your ideas come from?
Janine: Sometimes I’ll just be hit with a spontaneous idea and that it almost always somewhere inconvenient like in the shower, lol. Then it’s like some sort of fever dream as I desperately try to write it all down. Other times, I get ideas from things I have read or seen. Not copying obviously, but taking the initial idea and growing it, changing it, making it my own. An example being The Special by James Newman and Mark Steensland – that is a story ultimately about sex addition and a dude that fucks a box. I turned my version into teen boys and a hole in a tree but it definitely originated from that. I actually sent James my story and he liked it. Thank god 😉
CC: Once you have an idea, how do you flesh out a story?
Janine: So, I’m a total pantster, I’ll have like an egg of an idea and then I’ll just write and let the rest come organically. Sometimes even I have no idea where we are headed until said egg hatches and I’m like woah I did not see that coming haha. One of the things that I enjoy writing and developing is banter between my characters and I have had some lovely feedback about how realistic it is, especially between male characters. I’m not sure how I can delve into the teen boy mind quite so well but it seems to work!
CC: You have your first book coming out, could you tell us a little about it?
Janine: Sure. Whilst I am super proud of all of my anthology contributions, I really wanted to work on something of my own and something longer. Cue two WIPs that will hopefully see the light of day some time, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I realised that what I enjoy writing most is flash and shorts. I had quite a few already that I had stored waiting for the right anthology to come along and I just thought to myself, why don’t you put them altogether and see what you got? Alongside two of my favourites which we already published – Footsteps which is my Splatterpunk Award nominated work and They from Glenn Rolfe’s Alien Agenda Sampler, I had another twelve stories that were ready. I wrote three more, two which would be considered extreme/splatterpunk. There are seventeen stories in total, varying in sub-genre from creature features to gothic, to haunted houses to urban legends. They are mainly set in the 80s/90s and are tied together with an overseeing narrator who has happened upon the collection along with a mixtape which contains the songs which are the titles of the stories and three more relating to the others. I created a Spotify playlist to go along with it and honestly because I love the 80s, it was just so much fun to litter it with pop culture references.
CC: You’re also an editor and publicist for Kandisha Press, could you tell us a little about that as well?
Janine: Jill was the very first person who accepted one of my shorts for the Kandisha Women of Horror Anthology Volume 2 Graveyard Smash. After working with her for that, we became friends and as well as contributing to Volume 3, she asked if I would help out with some publicity too. The next logical step was to become an editor and we have some amazing plans already for 2022/23 and beyond. Jill is one of my very best friends and working with her is like a dream come true. We have the same hopes and aspirations for Kandisha and between us, we hope to amplify women in horror and become a place for more of us to have a voice.
CC: As you know, I loved your story, “The Invitation” which was featured in the second anthology, Graveyard Smash, put forth by Kandisha Press. It seems that you and I both have a love for the TV show, Supernatural, because I felt a real vibe from that show in your story. Am I right?
Janine: 100% lol. I didn’t actively channel Sam and Dean when I wrote that but I guess it’s always in my subconscious as it is for sure my favourite TV show. One of the things I love most about SPN, asides from the great characters, is the humour and a lot of my work shows that. Even if I’m trying to write a genuinely creepy piece, I usually end up breaking the tension calling someone an ass-hat or the like. I can’t help it. I love my horror to be funny too. I have another story in TTT which is a definite nod to Dean. Now if someone can just ask Jensen if he wants a copy …
CC: What advice would you have for writers like myself that are just starting out?
Janine: The best advice I can give is keep at it and just write as much as you can. Once you have words on a page, you can edit, change, play with it. You can’t do that with a blank space. Read as much as possible too. Support other indies but also read some of the classics. There is a reason people like King, Ketchum, Keene and Laymon are considered the Masters. Learn from them. Books like King’s On Writing and Tim Waggoner’s Writing in the Dark are essential too to hone your craft. Also you need a super thick skin. Everyone gets one star reviews, everyone gets negative comments because not every reader will like your voice, your style. I roll that dice often with my more extreme stories. Some people dig that, others really, really don’t like it and will tell you. And it hurts because that’s your baby but you have to just accept it, learn from it and move on. As has been seen over and over, never ever retaliate as it is their right to have an opinion. Be kind, civil and respect reviewers. They matter. Which shouldn’t need to be said, we should all just always be civil all the time.
CC: What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Janine: Characters. I love creating these people. Sometimes they are a mixture of real-life friends or an homage someone fictional e.g. I love Richie from IT. I love the camaraderie of Sam and Dean. I love the shit the kids give each other in again IT and more recently, Malignant Summer from Tim Meyer. Building relationships with my creations is one of the best things about writing 100%.
CC: Thank you for being my first ever author interview! Any parting words of wisdom for me and my readers?
Janine: Thank YOU for taking the time to talk with me and letting me be your first victim, I mean guest. Ha. Words of wisdom from me? That’ll be hard. The best advice I was ever given and I live by it, is write what you would read. That way it feels authentic in my opinion. If I tried to write in one of the sub-genres I don’t like, my heart wouldn’t be in it so it wouldn’t feel so real. That’s not always the case of course and as you become more prolific you are likely able to put yourself into any character, setting, plot with ease. But when you’re starting out, writing something you know and enjoy makes it far easier. This is why a lot of my stories involve creatures, cryptids and cops. It’s what I know.
Reed placed his hand on his brother’s arm, “Jack…”
But Jack jerked his arm from his brother’s grasp, strode toward their mother and repeated, inches from her face, “What truth, Mother?! What’s going on?!”
Jehenne walked to the kitchen counter, grabbed a tissue, and wiped the spittle from her face. She then smiled at her son and said, “Say it, don’t spray it, Jack.”
Jack’s face reddened. “You’re going to joke?! With everything that’s happening?!”
“Jack, calm down,” said Reed.
Jack swung around to face his brother, “No! I won’t calm down! This weird shit probably doesn’t faze you because you’ve always lived in the fringes anyway! But I have a bright future! I’m a winner! I have big plans and I need the world to go back to fucking normal!”
Amir turned to Jehenne and said, “I told you that you should have trained them in our ways when they were young.”
“I wanted them to have normal lives, Amir. Adita grew up too fast.”
“Better to be prepared. You knew they would come back one day,” answered Amir.
“It’s been centuries, time doesn’t pass the same way for them. You sound like one of those Jesus freaks, thinking it’s time for the second coming, which if it ever does happen, it will be long after we’re all gone. And, we closed the portal, remember?”
“Well, how do you explain all that’s been happening lately? And, we’re immortal, remember?” asked Amir.
“It’s just a glitch between universes, Amir. It happens from time to time. And we are long-lived, but not immortal.”
“She’s back and you know it,” said Amir.
“Who’s back?! I want some answers!” shouted Jack.
“You need to calm down, Jack,” said Jehenne, turning to face her son.
“Calm down?! People are disappearing, weird houses are popping up out of nowhere with strange doorways that lead to nowhere or some crazy Alice in Wonderland fucking places!” Jack shouted.
Now Jack had Jehenne and Amir’s full attention. “What are you talking about Jack? What have you seen?” asked Amir.
Reed stepped forward and said, “We both saw it.”
All eyes were now on Reed, and Jehenne said, “Tell us what you saw, Reed.”
When Reed finished telling them all that had transpired earlier in the day, they were all silent for a moment and then Amir asked, “So you did see a woman?”
“More like a monster,” said Reed.
“Did you not listen to the description?!” interjected Jack.
“Yes, yes, but that may be just how she appeared in that world,” said Amir.
Jehenne turned toward Amir, “Do you really think it was her?”
“I don’t know, but if it was, we have to stop her from getting into our world.” Amir turned toward Reed and asked, “Where is the house? We need to destroy it.”
“Destroy it? We can’t. We have to get the object,” said Reed.
“Why is the object so important to you, son” asked Jehenne.
“I don’t know exactly. I just have a feeling,” said Reed.
“A feeling?! Seriously?!” Jack bellowed as he grabbed his shorter brother by the shoulders and spun him around to face him. “You’re enjoying this aren’t you?! You love this fucking shit!”
“Stop!” shouted Amir.
Jack dropped his hands from Reed’s shoulders and turned to face Amir and shouted, “Shut up old man! You don’t even care about your own daughter! Just some stupid fucking house!”
Amir was in Jack’s face instantly and even though the younger man towered over him, with his six-foot tall, athletic frame; the older, shorter, Indian man, knocked him flat on his back with one swift punch to the jaw.
“Not bad for an old man,” Amir said, looking down on Jack who was sprawled out on his back on the linoleum floor. Amir reached out his right hand, Jack took it and Amir easily lifted him to his feet. “You need to show some respect to your elders, boy,” the older man said.
“Yes sir,” said Jack.
The four of them rode in silence in Jack’s car heading toward the outskirts of town where the brothers had found the old house. Jehenne rode shotgun while Amir and Reed had settled in the back seats. Jack looked straight ahead, face stern. Jehenne reached over and placed a hand on his leg. He glanced at her for a moment, eyes liquid with emotion, and then faced forward again.
Jack drove through the center of the town and then pulled onto a side street that ran along the outer edge of the town. When he reached the end of a row of wood-framed houses on the fringes of the city limits, he pulled over to the curb and parked the car.
“Why are you stopping here?” asked Jehenne.
“This is where the house is…was,” answered Reed from behind her.
“So, the portal is closed. Good, then the worst is over,” said Jehenne.
“With the disappearances that have been happening, I doubt that was the only portal,” said Amir.
“Well, this was the one where she was spotted and it’s closed now,” said Jehenne.
“First of all, we don’t know if it was her and second of all, just because it’s gone, that doesn’t mean she didn’t come through before it closed,” said Amir.
“Jack, Reed, did you boys see the woman again after you re-entered our world?” asked Jehenne.
“No, I came back alone, or was thrown out,” said Reed.
“Did you see anyone, Jack?” Jehenne asked.
“No, Reed and I were alone when we left the house,” Jack answered.
“That doesn’t prove anything, Jehenne. She could have entered our world after they left,” said Amir.
“Amir, she’s not here! The boys said the door slammed shut after Reed was thrown through it. And the house is gone now.”
“Look Jehenne, I know you’re scared…” began Amir.
“Scared?! I’m not afraid of her!” Jehenne was shouting now.
“Really? You know how powerful she is. She’s the one who…”
“Taught me, I know. And that’s why I know her tricks. If she is here, we’ll defeat her again and this time, I’ll destroy her!”
“Well, be that as it may, let’s get out and check this area for any portal remnants, just in case,” said Amir.
“Portal remnants? Is that a thing?” asked Reed.
“Sometimes a small bit of the interdimensional gateway remains open, lingers around a bit,” said Jehenne.
“This just gets better and better,” said Jack as he turned off the engine and then stepped out of the car. “And what about Adita? Don’t you even care that your daughter is missing, Amir?”
Amir stepped out of the car and faced Jack, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Of course I care, son. I’m worried too, but she has trained for this all her life. I have faith in her.”
“Trained all her life?”
“You need to have faith too, Jack. There is so much you don’t know,” said Amir.
As the four of them headed to the former location of the mystery house, Samuel James appeared as if from out of nowhere.
“Dad!” Reed and Jack said in unison.
“How did you get here?” asked Jack.
“Samyaza, you’re here. Finally,” said Amir.
“I had some business to take care of, old friend,” said Samyaza.
“Business, what business is more important than what is happening here?” asked Amir.
“There are other realms besides this one, Amir,” answered Samyaza.
Jehenne walked over and embraced her husband. Even at her height of 5’8”, his 6’3” physique towered over her. He lifted her chin with his right hand, his ebony skin contrasting with her lightly tanned skin, reached down and lightly kissed her on her mouth. He then looked up and said to the group, “The portal is closed.”
“How can you be so sure?” asked Amir.
“Have you forgotten who I am, Amir?”
Amir and Samyaza stared at each other in silence. Amir looking up at the much taller angel, glaring.
“You two need to stand down. We need to take a ride to Antonia’s. She’s been searching for a dreamwalker. Hopefully her search has been successful,” said Jehenne.
“She’s right,” said Amir.
“Alright, my love, I’ll meet you there,” said Samyaza to his beloved before vanishing.
“What the hell?!” said Jack.
“It’s okay,” said Reed.
“Did you know that our parents weren’t who they said they were, Reed? I don’t understand.”
“No, I didn’t know exactly. It’s hard to explain.”
“Well try,” said Jack.
“Boys, we need to head to Antonia’s ranch, Kuhaylah Arabians. There is much to tell you,” said Jehenne.
“Much to tell us? That’s an understatement,” said Jack as he dutifully headed back to the car with the others. But then he stopped and turned toward his mother. “Why did you say Antonia’s ranch and the name of it? Why would you say both?”
“For the reader,” said Jehenne.
“The reader? Have you completely lost your mind, Mom?!”
Jehenne laughed, “Jack, when extraordinary events happen throughout the cosmos, there is always a historical record.”
“Yeah, but not exact dialogue, word for word as such.”
“You never know who’s listening son,” said Jehenne as she turned and headed toward the passenger side of Jack’s car.
Jack stepped into the driver’s seat and started the car, but before pulling off, glanced back at Reed, sitting behind their mother and their eyes locked for an instant. Jack was overcome with a feeling of calm, then faced forward again and pulled out onto the road.
“Reader,” Jehenne began. She smiled and waived her hand indicating the others, “Don’t worry, only you can hear me. I am much older than I look, and I’ve learned to never take life too seriously, just simply sit back and enjoy the ride. That’s what I’m hoping you will do as you watch these events unfold. Time is not linear for me nor for many of the creatures who are slipping back into our world through crevices that had been closed for millennia, so pay close attention reader, this adventure will be exhilarating to say the least. And one more thing, reader. I might not speak directly to you for a while, but you’re always in my thoughts.”