Welcome back to my Shadows at the Door series. Joining us today is writer and ghost tour operator and guide Andrea Janes.
When did your first fall in love with the horror genre?
When I was around seven years old or so, I found these Alfred Hitchcock anthologies aimed at young adult readers, with names like “Witches Brew” and “Ghostly Gallery.” I thought they were amazing, and I had no idea I was reading people like Algernon Blackwood and Shirley Jackson and Robert Bloch! I just loved the stories!
Which subgenre/s of horror would you say your work falls into?
Ghost stories, definitely, and weird fiction generally. Stories that work with eerie feelings, bad dreams, and common fears like aging or isolation. In one of my stories, the entity was something I invented that I called a “cholera demon” who was a harbinger of sickness and death, an emblem of the overcrowded city in the heat of summer. Very Poe, except he made his victims poop on the rug.
What is it about the horror genre that appeals to you as a reader and as a writer?
Who doesn’t love to be scared? Fear is the salt and vinegar chip of emotion.
What are some of your favourite horror stories?
On the page, I like anything by Shirley Jackson, J.S. LeFanu, M.R. James, and good old Edgar Poe for comforting favorites. A great contemporary ghost story I read recently was Mr. Splitfoot. On screen, Carnival of Souls and I Walked With A Zombie are two films that have burned themselves into my brain. I think Orphan is a very underrated horror movie. Right now I am most looking forward to seeing The Witch. That’s another thing I love as much as ghosts – witches.
Do you remember being scared by a particular story growing up?
My mother bought me an Usborne book on Ghosts when I was little, and there was one illustration of a woman combing her hair in front of a mirror, with a single ghostly arm materializing on her shoulder. Every time I looked in the mirror as a child, I waited for a filmy apparition to appear behind me. Who am I kidding? I still expect it to this day. I realize that’s an image, not a story. Which may be why my biggest weakness as a writer is plot.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember the exact moment. I’ve just always kind of wanted to be one. I’ve always had green eyes, been born in May, and wanted to be a writer.
Are there any writers who have particularly influenced you?
Have to bring it back to Shirley Jackson. I over-identify with her particular brand of domestic horror, and I admire the clarity of her language.
Tell us a bit about your previous writing work.
Mostly I’ve written New York City-centric ghost stories, often with a historical bent. I also wrote a YA novel about witches called GLAMOUR that was published with World Weaver Press in 2013.
How do you feel about being part of the Shadows at the Door Anthology?
I love how everyone involved in it seems so friendly. This is the first anthology I’ve participated in where the editors started a Facebook group so the writers could communicate and share ideas. It’s been very pleasant. I also like that we’re all kind of torchbearers for this somewhat out-of-fashion form of horror writing. Makes one feel at home.
Are you working on anything else at the moment?
Two things: a short story that revolves around the horror of throwing a huge party and having nobody show up (terrifying!) and a novel-length ghost story about a haunted condo in Queens, N.Y.
Plus, every day I get to think about ghost stories as part of my job at Boroughs of the Dead, the ghost tour company I founded in 2013. That’s a lot of fun, and I’m very grateful to be able to earn a living telling ghost stories.
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