Saturday, July 8, 2023

Q&A with Jan Stinchcomb




Jan Stinchcomb is the author of the new novel Verushka. Her other books include The Blood Trail. She is an associate fiction editor for Atticus Review, and she lives in Southern California.


Q: What inspired you to write Verushka, and how did you create your character Devon?


A: Devon came first. I started with a child character because there’s something inherently frightening about how kids’ imaginations work: monsters are real for them. Children are never out of place in a work with elements of horror, and they make great main characters.


Verushka began as a scary figure in the forest, and then I had to develop her into a complete person with a full, troubling history.


Q: Without giving anything away, did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I did not know how the novel would end, not exactly. I try not to get too hung up on having the whole book plotted when I’m in the early drafts. Sometimes outlines work and sometimes they don’t. I did have to add entire sections to make Verushka work as a family novel.


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Verushka and Devon?


A: If these two women were walking around in our world, I would say we have the classic case of an experienced adult manipulating a vulnerable younger person. As characters in a novel, these two present the expected situation of the villain antagonizing the hero. At times, as these women vie for power, things become blurry and boundaries dissolve. Danger enters the scene. This is intentional.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I merely want them to be frightened and entertained. And if it’s not asking too much, I hope Verushka, with its multiple perspective narration and different time periods, serves as a reminder of what the novel can be. I am a fan of stories told in an unconventional manner.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Short stories, mostly scary. I tend to vacillate between short and long form. I’m sure I’ll get another novel idea someday when I least expect it, probably in the shower.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Please be careful with any otherworldly creatures you encounter in a forest setting. 


Seriously: don’t pass on this or any other literary horror out there. Horror and dark fantasy have come a long way. It isn’t all blood and gore, and fairy tales have much more to offer than Disney would lead us to believe.


I recently met a woman at a wedding who told me she “just couldn’t read that stuff.” Try it! You might be (darkly) surprised.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

No comments:

Post a Comment