Today I have an interview with Selah Janel, whose latest book is Lost in the Shadows, which she co-authored with S.H. Roddey. This is the second time Selah has been here. Her first time was back in May 2012, when she appeared with a guest post about writing what you know and how that can apply to genre fiction.
What’s your favourite part of writing a book?
My favorite part is when I latch onto a character, a place, or an idea, and can just let my mind go. When things really start rolling, everything feels effortless—it’s like vacationing in some strange place that only I know about and visiting friends that are only in my secret circle!
What inspired you to become a writer?
A lot of things inspired me. I was brought up around stories and books. Relatives and friends of the family were always telling tales about the area or their upbringings, and I was surrounded by stories in the media: local access shows featuring storytellers, Reading Rainbow, Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, etc. During the summers, it was a given that my mom and I would be at the library every day, especially as I learned to read. It seemed like an effortless transition to go from coming up with wild stories for my dolls and stuffed animals to act out to actually writing them down.
What books have influenced your writing?
Ray Bradbury’s works were like a beautiful slap in the face for me. His horror is jarring, his sci-fi breaks the mold of the genre, and titles like Dandelion Wine and From the Dust Returned are so jam-packed full of emotion around the simplest experiences…reading his work reminds me why it’s beautiful to be human. Madeline L’Engle’s books launched my mind into other worlds as a kid. They really proved to me that girls could do anything, even save universes! She wasn’t afraid to include science, religion, mythos, and so much else in her tales. She had such a canny understanding of how to use research and how to balance out plot and characterization. It saddens me that a lot of teens these days don’t read her work anymore. Neil Gaiman also made me realize that people still thought about mythology and folklore. I’d bought into the hype that reinventing fairy tales or mythos was out of vogue, and then I started reading Sandman. He’s so good at reinventing things and balancing all of the different elements of story. Plus, he’s one of the male authors who can really write women characters well. I’m also a big reader of Clive Barker and Joe Hill – they get how to use suspense and humanistic elements to craft a horror story instead of going for the obvious.
Did you base any of the characters on real people?
Since Lost in the Shadows is a short story collection, and one I’ve co-written, I didn’t really base characters on anyone. If anything, the characters in this book come from things I’ve noticed or felt and then chose to run with: experiences I’ve had on bad days, emotions I’ve wondered about, little things that catch my interest. This collection is more ideas-oriented than people, but that being said, every character I write is based on some sort of real emotion. For me to really make a story work, I want to understand where my characters are coming from. I have to find some way in to understand the callous doctor featured in All the Little Things, just like I have to know the heartache and determination the widow in Candles faces. Those feelings have to come from somewhere, and it’s an author’s job to bring human experiences and emotions into stories. That’s the whole point of stories, in a way: to help people make sense of situations or emotions that are bigger than we are as a solitary person.
What is your favourite part of promoting your book?
I love talking to readers and hearing their thoughts on what I write! It really balances out the solitary act of writing a book, to have that kind of feedback or even just a conversation about what they like about certain genres or the things they like to read. While writing and reading are individual experiences, there’s no reason they have to happen in a vacuum – it’s a lot of fun when you can see what the other side of the book has to say, so to speak!
Is there any specific message you hope readers take away from your story?
Lost in the Shadows is meant to be an interactive reading experience. Some of the stories are traditional genre fare, but a lot aren’t. Some are vignettes, some are not quite one genre or the other. I want readers to realize that it’s okay…not everything has to be a novel or a series or franchise. It’s okay for them to not be given every little bit of information, for them to wonder about things, and come to their own conclusions. This book is meant to get readers’ minds wondering and wandering. We want people to not be afraid of the shadows. Shadows can’t hurt you unless you know what ideas are casting them. The only way to do that is by examining them for yourself, and making up your mind where they come from. We want people to read these stories and let them sink into their minds for hours or days afterwards. Maybe these tales inspire original ideas of their own for people. Maybe it just jumpstarts a thought or a feeling deep inside. Whatever the case, if it causes a reaction for my readers, if it starts them thinking and feeling and reacting, then I’ve done my job.
Lost in the Shadows by S.H. Roddey, Selah Janel
Published by Phoenix & Fae Books on Jul 18, 2013
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
Welcome to the Shadows:
Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation. In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways. Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.
Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.