Interview with Jacob Rayne
Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.
I’m a huge fan of horror and heavy music. I love rollercoasters and anything that gets the adrenaline pumping. According to my friends I have a knack for telling really bad jokes. And I’m clumsy as hell. If it can be broken, I’ll manage to break it.
You’re primarily a horror writer. What appeals to you about that genre and what are your favourite aspects of writing horror?
I always remember watching horror films as a kid and getting a rush from them that I didn't get from any other type of film. I think the feeling of being scared makes you feel more alive which probably explains why I enjoy some of the things I do in everyday life.
I love everything about writing horror but I guess my favourite bit is the action scenes. That’s what I find most interesting in films and books, so I try to keep a heavy emphasis on the action in my work.
Can you tell us a bit about your books?
Most of my books have a relentless pace. I like to cut out the long, shambling introduction and get straight to the carnage. I prefer short chapters (I discovered this as a reader: I came across a book with short chapters with cliff-hanger endings. I could not get through the story quick enough and the chapter length kept me saying, ‘Ah I’ll finish this one then go to sleep’. Fifty pages later…) and try to keep the scares coming all the way through. I try to write a book I’d love to read myself. I always find myself skimming when a writer is describing the weather or a character’s outfit for five pages.
My aim is to scare the hell out of every reader as much as humanly possible. I want to get under their skin, into their heads. I want them to lie awake at night, with something I've written still making them squirm.
One of the best compliments I've ever had was when a hardened horror reader told me that my novel, Becoming…, had given her nightmares. I’m still grinning about that six months later!
Horror can often be viewed as a violent and bloody genre. Where do you, as a writer, fall on the gore scale? Do you tend to tone down the blood and guts, in favour of more psychological scares, or do you feel comfortable with the splatter? Or do you include it how and if the story dictates?
Right at the deep end: I love the splatter! I think of a horror story like a good burger. You've got a nice juicy chunk of beef in a bun. Now that’s great as it is, but it’s much better with a generous dose of ketchup!
I do like psychological horror too; my novella, Digital Children, is a bit more restrained than the others, but I always find myself coming back to those stomach-churning, blood-up-the-walls style scenes. Again, I guess it’s because it’s what I enjoy in the work of others.
Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate?
The vast majority of the time I make it up as I go along. I've tried planning, but I find that doesn't produce an effective story for me. I've learnt to just start it, and let it go where it wants to go. Nine times out of ten, the story takes you to the right ending anyway and usually catches me by surprise in the process. It makes it a lot more fun for me and hopefully for my readers too.
As far as ideas go, they seem to appear and I sure am glad of them. The idea for Flesh Harvest, for example, just came from waiting for my wife at a spa in the middle of nowhere, very similar to the beginning of the story. The thoughts – What’s taking so long? How long should I leave it before I go in and check everything’s ok? Would anyone know we were here if anything has happened? – popped into my head and then the story was developed from there.
I've always been blessed with a hundred and one ideas (often appearing all at once). I wish I had the time to explore all of them. I tend to go with the most appealing one and just have fun with it.
What do you find most challenging about being a writer?
Definitely the promotional side of things. It makes me a bit uncomfortable pestering every man and his dog about my books, but it needs to be done, I guess. There’s a very fine line between keeping people updated and being all ‘Buy my book! NOW!’ every time you get on the internet. I’m not sure if I get that balance right, to be honest, but I do try to be considerate with it.
What do you enjoy as a pastime when not hard at work writing?
I spend a lot of time with my family. Apart from that, watching TV. 24 and Sons of Anarchy are my favourite shows ever. I’m a hopeless addict for both of those. Walking Dead is good too and I’m loving American Horror Story more with every episode.
I read, but not as much as I would like to. I tend to spend my downtime on my own work.
I love heavy metal, so there aren't many things in the house that don’t have that as a soundtrack.
I also enjoy playing guitar, eating and spending far too much time messing about on the internet.
Who (or what) has inspired you as an author?
One thing that has always stuck with me is the scene from The Shining with all the blood falling out from the elevator doors and flooding the corridor. It’s just such a powerful image and has stayed with me all these years. I’m sure my love of horror started with that film.
Reading a really bad book by a well-established author was a powerful motivator. It was a real ‘I can do better than this’ moment!
Other writers have been inspirational. Stephen King. It and Pet Sematary in particular. The late, great James Herbert and Richard Laymon. And I’m getting a good collection of Shaun Hutson’s now too.
Tarantino films. I love his style, the dialogue and the action scenes. He’s cool as a cucumber!
What’s your next project?
I’m currently working on the sequel to Flesh Harvest, one of the first books I released. A lot of my readers have said that’s their favourite, so it’s time to give them chance to catch up with old friends.
The blurb is:
But his nightmares are about to again become reality.
The thing in the barn bred…
And its offspring are ravenous.’
It should be available for pre-order very soon.
I'd like to thank the author for joining us today, and you can find out more about Jacob Rayne and his books at his website or on his Amazon page.