Interview With Joan De La Haye

Joan De La Haye

I haven’t had an interview on my blog for a while. It is too much like interacting with real people for me. On the other hand I usually enjoy author interviews. My curiosity won out. Joan De La Haye is a really interesting writer. I love the slight cultural differences that I pick up reading her books but most importantly I really enjoy her storytelling. Requiem in E Sharp in particular is well worth a read. I hope you enjoy Joan’s answers as much as I did.

Q. How would you describe your writing and who does it appeal to (other than me)?

A. I guess I would describe it as being dark and a bit twisted. I tackle difficult subject matters and my books don’t tend to be for the faint of heart. So I think my books would probably appeal to people who like to be pushed out of their comfort zones.

Q. I was surprised to see a South African writer using Wicca in a story. I’d assumed it was mainly a British and American thing (shows what I know). You commented on my review that there is Wicca in South Africa. How does it fit in with more traditional South African tribal culture?

A. South Africa has so many different cultures. We have eleven official languages. And, surprisingly, Wicca has a few similarities with traditional African witchcraft. And some wicca covens do incorporate some of those traditions, while others stick to more Gardnarian traditions. You’d be surprised by how many wicca covens you’d find here in South Africa. While I was in my early twenties I spent a couple years with one in Johannesburg. Was an interesting time for me.

Q. Cover Art. I love wrap-around covers and I think the Tarot cards on Burning work really well. The cover to Requiem in E Sharp was a perfect Kindle screensaver and I had it on mine for a while. How much input do you have in to the cover art and what do you like to see in a cover?

A. I’m so glad you like my covers! Adele Wearing, my awesome publisher, actually gives me quite a lot of say in my covers. Dave Johnson, who did the cover for Burning and Shadows, actually reads my books and comes up with a whole bunch of concepts which Adele and I get to choose from. Adele and I have a discussion on what we’re both looking for and what we prefer, then whittle it down to one or two cover ideas. If we have trouble choosing between them we get Dave to wade into the discussion. He then does the final cover, which always manages to blow our minds.

Q. It is shameless plug time. Why should we read your latest book Burning?

A. Because it’s awesome!
And there’s sex and witches …
And things on fire literally and figuratively …
What more could you ask for?

Q. What goodies do you have in the wings for the near future?

A. I’m busy working on a novel called Fury. A young girl is brutally murdered and comes back to take revenge on those responsible. Should be fun to write.
And there’s Tales of the Mouse and Minotaur and The Monster Book coming out soonish … I think … from Fox Spirit Books with short stories from me in them. I’m rather looking forward to those being out and about.
I’ve also got a story in 221 Baker Streets which is being released by Abaddon in October.

Q. If you could put on a skin mask and be somebody for a day who would you choose and why?

A. To be honest I’m quite attached to my own skin and don’t feel the need to try anybody else’s on for size. Other people’s lives may look good from the outside, but I think the moment you put their skin on, you realise that everybody has their own crap to deal with and I’d rather deal with mine than somebody else’s.

Q. You’re stuck on a desert island and you only have five books to read. Which five would you choose and why?

A. This is a tough one. There are so many amazing books out there, but that being said …
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Misery by Stephen King
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
A Games of Thrones by George R R Martin (I’d probably sneak the rest of the books in the series onto the island when you weren’t looking)
These are probably my favourite books and I think everybody should read them at least once in their lives.

Thanks for answering my questions Joan and good luck with Burning.

Wake Up, Time To Die by Chris Rhatigan

Wake Up, Time To Die by Chris Rhatigan

Some book covers have spectacular covers and some are just terrible. This one is neither. I call this a Ronseal cover. It does what it says on the tin. Or in this case the cover gave me a good idea of the twisted and bloody crime noir contained inside.

I like hard-hitting stories, especially the kind that has an odd slant to it. These stories are seriously weird. Most elements of these stories are perfectly normal and expected within the genre and that is the rub. Everything seems as it should until you get slapped in the face with a wet kipper. There were several points where I exclaimed in public places whilst reading this book. Bill Gates holding up convenience stores for the adrenaline rush stunned me but nowhere near as much as the was that The Boss ends the story. Yes you did just read that. Bill Blinking Gates is a gun-toting nutcase in that story.

This collection shouldn’t work as noir. It should come across as too silly. I’ve read most of the stories twice and I still can’t understand how the author managed to maintain the gravitas I’d expect in this kind of book. I found myself thinking about the stories and the writing for several days after I finished this book. It is well worth a read and a great example of subject being less important than the quality and voice of the storyteller.

Locke & Key welcome To Lovecraft by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez

Locke & KeyI saw this cover from half way across the shop and made a bee-line towards it. A flashing neon sign saying buy me would have been less likely to draw me in. A creepy looking house with an interesting looking key what wasn’t to love? Having Welcome To Lovecraft in the title makes it pretty clear what kind of story lies inside.

For me the mark of a good Lovecraftian tale has always been the way that normal horrors are blended with paranormal ones. For large parts of this story it was easy to forget that there was any supernatural elements involved. I got lost in the story and characters. So much so that I barely even noticed how long I was just staring at some of the stunning artwork. There is one page in particular where the young Bode draws his school holiday. It is perfectly rendered. Every aspect is how I have seen similar things from my kids. The obvious differences being the lack of horrific murders and out of body experiences. Even if you don’t want to read this book I’d recommend looking at that page. The rest of the artwork was also enthralling. After I finished reading this book I went back through it ignoring the words and just looking at the pictures.

This story was dripping with pain and anguish. The deeper story was only hinted at but I just have to find out more.

I have to buy the second part of this story. It has really tickled my fancy.

Breed by K. T. Davies

Breed by K. T. DaviesThis cover is rather underwhelming. I textured physical cover like the limited edition Salamanders book that Black Library put out would work amazingly on this book. Somehow the cover works. There is something about the simplicity that draws the eye and make the bright orange scales really pop. What I really like though is the attention to detail. Rather than a quote attributed to a modern author it credits Voltaire. That made me chuckle and instantly want to open the book.

]Of course opening the book was never going to be an issue for me. I am yet to read anything by K. T. Davies that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. No pressure then. I was a little confused during part of this book as I thought I’d read it before. There is a very similar scene regarding the demon in another book by the same publisher. That scene aside these are very different books but both enjoyable.

At first glance this is a very simple book with not a lot of though process required. It wasn’t until I finished reading the book that I realized that I didn’t have a clue as to the gender of the main character Breed. Just Breed. The half-breed. The outcast. That’s how I viewed the character all the way through. That made me stop and pause for a while. I’ve not thought about mixed heritage characters for ages. That made me reflect Tanis Half-Elven the first mixed race character I ever really thought about in that way. Anything that makes me think of my first fantasy obsession is a good thing.

This story is really easy to read and is easy to relate to. There were moments where I laughed out loud. The cursing is at times highly creative. I had to look-up what scut meant. We live and learn. If you want an easy to read and enjoy fantasy story that manages to think about the world we live in without impacting your enjoyment this is a great read. I will be looking out for more gems from this author.

King Wolf by Steven Savile

King Wolf by Steven Savile

This book cover kicks butt but it is also perfect for the book. The little touches like the apple really made it pop. The obvious fairy tale nature of the story provided some obvious allegorical references and then it started to get Grimm. There is a darkness that pervades these three stories. I thought that was going to be it though. A nice story wrapped in an allegory. Instead I found a story that seemed simple and easy to read but was much deeper and interesting than it first seemed. There was a lot of symbolism in this story aimed at differing levels to create maximum impact. There was a huge amount of reading between the lines and it was very effective.

This book contains three linked stories. Two I believe have been published before but that third story really made them work as a whole and it was hard to believe that they were not written as one piece. At only eighty two pages long it didn’t take long to leave but it was a damn sight more interesting than watching England play footie last night. I’m certainly glad I turned off the goggle box for this book.



A Case Of Noir by Paul D. Brazill

A Case Of Noir

There is a uniquely British feel to Brazill’s noir. Even when his characters are right at home in Poland there is a feel that is unmistakably tied to the way the working class traditionally (and still do in many cases) manage their weekly pay. That is to say that as soon as work finishes they head to the pub until they are tossed on to the street and wander home. This adds a vivid feel that somehow manages to evoke unpleasant smells as well as the expected sights.

This book is a series of linked stories. I’m not sure if it was a deliberate technique to throw the reader back towards the previous story but I personally found that the couple of times a phrase was repeated it knocked me out of my reading rhythm and I had to re-focus. That is about the only negative thing about this book for me. I don’t normally quote from a book in a review but I just have to in this case because this snippet stopped me dead. I thought about it for quite a while before continuing and for me it gets to the heart of Brazill’s writing.

“Anonymous hotels attract interesting peoples but only anonymous people stay in interesting hotels since they hope it will add a bit of colour to their dreary lives.”

This is a thoughtful look at the seedy underbelly of cities across Europe and is well worth a read.

Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock

Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock

Whilst looking through a second-hand book shop last week I realized that although I’d played the roleplaying game Stormbringer and read a few of the later books I’d never read the story that explains how it all started. How could I possibly resist?

Although a fairly short story there is so much story and character in every page that it feels much longer. There is no wasted space in this thoroughly enjoyable story. It made a refreshing change to read a fantasy story that I could hold in one hand.

Probably my favourite thing about Elric’s world is that all sorcery comes at a price. A bargain must be made with the elemental or demon providing the power. The more powerful the magic the more dangerous the bargain. There is one line in this story that makes the whole thing work for me. It basically says that the physical manifestations of a bargain are inversely proportional to the power of the spell. That is the insidious nature of sorcery. The powerful sorcerer thinks they are in control and so makes ever greater bargains that hasten their demise. All that from a single line. There are more lines like that too.

If you have any interest in fantasy fiction you really do need to read this book.