Selah is another member of the Ladies of Horror group on Facebook. I asked her to come by to tell me about her most recent book.
Selah Janel was blessed with a giant imagination, even if it made her gullible enough as a child to believe fairies lurked in the woods and vampires waited in abandoned barns outside of town. As an adult, she writes in various genres, including horror and dark fantasy. She has three e-books with Mocha Memoirs Press (Mooner, Holly and Ivy, The Other Man), and has shorts in the collection Lost in the Shadows, published with S.H. Roddey. Her work has appeared in the anthologies The Big Bad 1&2, The Grotesquerie, Curious Incidents: More Improbable Adventures, and Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her faeries to play mind games, and her princesses to have adventures and hold their own.
She describes her book, Mooner:
Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck, with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night, they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have plans for his future?
Did something in the real world inspire Mooner?
I’ve always had an interest in history, cultivated by my parents from a young age. They thought it was important to know the background of where we lived. A lot of our vacations involved museums or historical sites. As I got older, I developed an interest in what everyday life was like for people in any given period. I think we tend to forget or romanticize a lot of those aspects, especially in American history. We like the image of people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps to do whatever, but the fact is a lot of people suffered and died and struggled in anonymity right beside all those other examples. There’s a lot of moments in time that we take for granted and still are reflected in our lives today.
I’d been a big fan of Lilian Jackson Braun, who uses a lot of historical-based anecdotes in her mysteries. A few of her books urged me to start researching lumber camps. I knew enough about pioneers, but since I’ve never really lived in the region, I was unfamiliar with the lumberjack lifestyle. The things they had to do to make a living were intense. The overall lifestyle provided this beautiful, rowdy backdrop. Somewhere in there I decided it would be fun to put different types of modalities against each other, including a vampire-type creature. I found the term “mooner,” which was defined as a thing that haunted lumber camps. I couldn’t resist mashing all that up into a story.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
I’m really proud of the ending sequence, because I think it adds a different twist to an otherwise straight horror piece. I also really love the introduction of the paranormal character and all the interplay between him, the lumber camp golden boy, and the naive rookie. It was loads of fun delving into those three reacting off each other and playing one another. I also love the chance to revel in description. This piece definitely gave me that opportunity.
What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?
The story came together very fast. I basically knew the direction I wanted it to go toward. When I have an end goal in mind, it makes things easier, even if I don’t have things mapped out beat by beat. Everything up through the betting sequence between three of the characters was set in my mind, but it was a framework until I saw what I needed to flesh things out a bit. Then I researched based on that need. For me, that targeting also speeds things up, because I get fascinated with everything and don’t need to be falling down a rabbit hole if I’m supposed to be writing.
The second big vignette where there’s a fairly big reveal was not planned at all. I thought the story still needed something and two of the characters kept lingering on my mind, so I went back and played more there. That took a little longer, because it changed the tone a bit and I wanted to make sure that it fit overall. I think it helps to make the story feel a little deeper, though, and reflects that period of history and the actual people who lived day to day. Beyond that, a lot of it was just wanting things to feel plausible and realistic. I looked at a lot of university websites, found a great website of lumberjack words, and really tried to dive into that lifestyle without it overwhelming the story I wanted to tell.
There was a lot of back and forth. Things changed again when it was reprinted by Mocha Memoirs Press, who has it now. We made the decision to add my own version of a vocab list at the end, since a lot of the terminology is unusual today but was such a big part of that time. Overall, it was brought more into focus than the original version, so I’m pretty pleased.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
The re-vamp was reviewed by Horror Addicts.net, a group I just love anyway. It was amazing, because the reviewer really got the different aspects of the piece, how much research went into it, and compared it to something that reminded him of Tales From the Crypt. I love anthology horror shows and came of age when that one was really popular, so that made my day!
What do you have planned next?
I’m focused on writing more and finding my voice at the moment, so while there’s not a lot out right now, I’ve definitely got a lot in the works!
Pick up your own copy of Mooner from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Xo9Wcj
Check out all her books: https://amzn.to/31HP9Qw
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