I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m not too familiar with The Horror Zine, or Jeani Rector for that matter. Apparently Jeani resides in Sacramento, while I set up shop in Yuba City, roughly 40 miles away. With that said, I’m going to sit back, cease babbling and read up on something I should already know!
John Wisniewski: When did you begin writing and were your first stories of the horror genre?
Jeani Rector: I remember writing all my life. When I was a child, my favorite comics were Tales to Astonish and Ghost Stories and the like. I thought I’d go into art, but my fifth grade teacher told my mother to “encourage her writing, not her art” which says something about my art ability, hahaha. Anyway, when I was ten, I watched Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on Saturday nights, and then of course Stephen King wrote “Salems Lot,” and I was hooked! In 2009 I published an anthology titled “Around a Dark Corner.” Since then, my own writing tends toward historical fiction, such as “Pestilence: A Medieval Tale of Plague,” a full-length novel. There are many end-of-the-world stories, but the bubonic plague of 1300s is the original apocalypse.
JW: In what magazines did you publish your stories?
JR: One of the first was Bewildering Stories. Editor Don Webb is very kind and helpful. Another great editor (and patient teacher) is Robert Moriyama from Aphelion Magazine. But I have been published in Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Dark River Press, Macabre Cadaver, Axwound, Black Petals, Morbid Outlook, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Ultraverse, and lots of others I cannot remember off-hand. Unfortunately, some of those fine zines are now defunct.
JW: Why did you begin editing The Horror Zine?
JR: As you can see from the previous question, a lot of fine magazines and zines went defunct during the recession. I began to wonder who would step up to take their place? Well, who else? So I took a website class and bought Adobe Dreamweaver software and went online myself. The Horror Zine has just celebrated our fourth birthday in July 2013.
The Horror Zine’s mission is to support and promote struggling writers, poets, and artists. Not all of our contributors are struggling, however. The Horror Zine has been privileged to publish some of the “masters of the macabre” such as Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Lansdale, Piers Anthony, Scott Nicholson, Yvonne Navarro, Elizabeth Massie, Melanie Tem, Bentley Little, Simon Clark, Ronald Malfi, and many others.
JW: Tell us about writing the full-length novel PESTILENCE: A MEDIEVAL TALE OF PLAGUE…why did you choose this particular period in history to write about?
JR: I find viruses and bacteria fascinating, especially how a tiny, single-celled being can create such enormous havoc upon human beings. The bubonic plague pandemic of the 14th Century was the original end-of-the-world apocalypse story, yet all modern focus seems to be on the 1666 plague epidemic, even though a larger percent of the world’s population perished in the 1346-1350 outbreak.
And then I realized that only non-fiction seemed to be available for the 14th Century incidence of plague; it’s nice to have facts, but what about emotion? How would it feel to live through such an event of horrific magnitude? And that’s why I wrote PESTILENCE: A MEDIEVAL TALE OF PLAGUE.
JW: What inspires your novels, usually?
JR: Well, of course the novels I write myself are separate from The Horror Zine anthologies. But what inspires my own novels? History. It is amazing how many weird events have happened. You’ve heard the expression that truth is stranger than fiction? History is your proof.
For example, how weird were the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 New England? I wrote ACCUSED: A TALE OF THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS to again show a fictional character living through horrific, actual events.
JW: What do you find from writing, Jeani, that scares the readers?
JR: What a good question. I believe the answer is two-fold:
First, atmosphere. A great story contains a build-up to the suspense. Reel your reader in and increase the tension as you go. A story that does that is irresistible!
Next, the element of surprise. A twist at the end almost always produces an effective scare. Think of Hitchcock or The Twilight Zone and you will know what I mean.
JW: Any favorite horror films?
JR: Most of my favorite horror films are old “classic” ones, such as Phantasm I, Poltergeist I, Halloween I, Night of the Living Dead, Carnival of Souls, the 1980 film The Changeling (the one starring George C. Scott, not Angelina Jolee)….but I do like some newer films, including the “teen scream” movies like Scream, The Grudge, and The Ring.
JW: Have you written screenplays?
JR: No, I have unfortunately never written screenplays, and I admire how anyone can convey emotions and character development in dialogue only, as screenplays often do.
Do yourself the same favor I’m planning: Check out The Horror Zine!