Julia Kavan made my day recently when she told me that her short story Safe Harbour had been chosen to appear in Sanitarium horror magazine. It’s a while since Julia graced this blog so I asked her to come over for a bit of a grilling.
Steve: Welcome, Julia. What do you think to the broomstick parking bay I had made for you?
JK: Well, you could have swept it… here, you can borrow my broom 🙂 Thanks for the invitation, it’s been a while…
Steve: So, Safe Harbour is out in public. Congratulations! I think readers will love it, but it hasn’t been plain sailing (excuse the pun) has it?
JK: It’s had a few ‘almost, but not quite’ moments. I think I’m most disappointed with its ‘almost, but not quite a radio performance’. I’d love to hear Safe Harbour being read, but it wasn’t to be. However, I’m thrilled that Barry Skelhorn, editor of Sanitarium, accepted the story.
Steve: I’ll read it for you if you can get me on a radio show 😉 Now, I know you have some quirks when it comes to forms of transport but how are you with boats? Since this story has a nautical flavour presumably you’re a hardened sea dog (I couldn’t say sea bitch, could I)?
JK: Quirks? What quirks…? Okay, so I have been known to get travel sick in a lift… and as for going over all those hills to get here… and actually I’d probably need sea sickness tablets to use the Thames Clipper. However, I do love the sea – particularly when it’s angry. I love the sound and the taste of it in the air. I’m not one to declare my love for the ocean from the comfort of a sun lounger at the edge of a calm blue sea. The rougher the sea (as long as I’m not on it) and the wilder the coastline, the better. And I’d rather be clambering over rocks than sitting on a beach, although I do go there to watch the sunset sometimes – there’s a certain eeriness being by the sea at night. I also used to go for walks on the cliffs at Dover when I was a kid – scrabbling up the lesser-used cliff paths (which kind of makes me shudder now) to get to the top. One day I’ll write something set there, I think.
Steve: Well, then, you’d better tell us why you wrote this story and something about it. Tempt my readers with it.
JK: Safe Harbour is a very short but intense (I hope!) horror story –– originally written for a competition, I think the prompt was ‘shipwrecked’. Along with my love of ghosts and demons and creatures of the night I also had a bit of a fascination with mermaids when I was very young – only not the Disney kind, I preferred the darker myths about the creatures.
Steve: I thought I could smell fish. Now, you’ve a very inspiring graphic to go with the story. How did you come up with that?
JK: LOL, subtle, Steve… I think you should have put a winky emoticon there… 😉 aside from my putting the final image together, the composition was pretty much down to you! We both enjoy a bit of photo-manipulation when we’re not writing, and I find it relaxing – usually. However, you kindly got the images together for me during a somewhat frazzled moment. Thank you.
Steve: Oi! I wasn’t looking for thanks. You knew what you wanted – as you always do. Listen, I know many people are waiting for your next book. What’s on the horizon?
JK: Well, of course you and I are still putting the finish touches to our joint project, ready to get feedback from some brave beta-readers. When we’ve finished working on the novel I’d like to write more horror/dark shorts. I also have a WIP – Sinner – which is growing in quick, violent bursts. I don’t know if it will turn into a novel just yet, though.
Steve: What’s your take on the state of horror publishing at the moment? Do you think readers have enough choice now?
JK: When it comes to horror novels – no, there doesn’t seem to be a huge choice from mainstream publishers…or any choice really. There was a glimmer of hope recently when a small publisher opened its door to horror submissions, only to shut it again very quickly. As you mentioned in a recent radio interview, everything seems to be crime based, about tracking down serial killers etc.
Steve: Yes, it’s a crime, when really it ought to be a sin 😈 What do you think could improve things?
JK: Well, I understand that publishing is a business and publishers are out to make money at the end of the day… but… it would be nice for them to be more willing to take a chance with new writers.
Steve: Well, yes – new writers can sell, too, after all! Have you read any really good books in the last couple of months that you’d like to share with us?
JK: I’ve been so busy concentrating on our joint project I haven’t really had time to read anything substantial. I have several books I’ve started and put to one side. Instead I’ve found myself dipping into some horror anthologies, and I’m becoming more drawn towards novellas. I have Cousin K on my ‘to read’ list thanks to your recommendation.
Steve: Cousin K is a superb book! Here’s the link to my review at New York Journal of Books:
And any really bad ones?
JK: Define ‘bad’.
Steve: I don’t do definitions, that’s what dictionaries are for.
JK: Grrr! I’ve part-read plenty of stories that haven’t grabbed me by the throat – and I do like to be grabbed…or seduced, or intrigued… something… I may just be really hard to please, though.
Steve: You? Hard to please? Don’t make me larf, darlin! *gasps* Where do you see yourself twelve months from now?
JK: Still writing what I love, I hope.
Steve: I know you like Pinterest, so give us something to look at that sums up your work.
JK: I do like Pinterest – I remember when I used to have folders and display books of images, cuttings and notes when I first started writing. In fact I still have everything I collected for my first novel in a box somewhere. Pinterest is much tidier J and I can access my images anywhere. I have boards for all WIPs – so if people wander around my page they’ll catch a glimpse of what may be to come.
Safe Harbour is in Sanitarium Issue No 9 due out 20th May 2013. You can find out more about the magazine and where to buy a copy on their website: http://sanitariummagazine.com/
Julia can be found here: