Please welcome Keris McDonald to The Qwillery. “The Sleck” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.
This is the sixteenth in a series of interviews with many of the authors and the artists involved in GENIUS LOCI. I hope you enjoy meeting them here at The Qwillery as much as I am!
I am a backer of GENIUS LOCI which is edited by Jaym Gates. You may check out the Kickstarter here. GENIUS LOCI has been funded and there is less $2000 to go to the Deluxe format of the printed edition!
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Keris: I’m a pantser. I start writing, and I research as I write. I like research and I love it when things fall into place and fit exactly where you need them in the story, like you somehow mysteriously knew them all along…
The most challenging thing for me about writing is keeping off the goddamn Internet. Somewhere in my psyche is a deep urge to know ALL THE THINGS, and since I joined Facebook this has forced me into a never-ending loop of procrastination. No longer do I just read the news on teletext several times a day: I have to absorb the entire Interwebs. Maybe I should just shoot myself now…
TQ: Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?
Keris: M.R. James. H.P. Lovecraft. Angela Carter.
TQ: Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask?
Keris: “Would you like to sign this lucrative contract for the publication of your collected horror stories?”
TQ: Describe “The Sleck”, which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.
Keris: A small girl has drowned in a pond in a patch of urban wasteland. Dad gets drunk and goes to investigate.
TQ: Tell us something about “The Sleck” that will not give away the story.
Keris: It’s all about the stinky slimy mud. “Sleck” is a dialect world from the north of England, meaning “foul-smelling mud”.
TQ: What was your inspiration for “The Sleck”? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?
Keris: As a child I was passionately drawn to natural places that seemed otherworldy and eerie to me – little patches in the midst of the mundane world that no one else seemed to notice the wonder of. Now, as an adult, I struggle to recapture that numinous sense of immanence. I wanted to write a story about an adult forced to see the world from that child’s-eye point-of-view.
TQ: Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from “The Sleck”.
“Even in his day, before the invention of Health And Safety or parents giving a shit where the bairns were off to, it had had a dire reputation.”
TQ: In which genre or genres does “The Sleck” fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?
Keris: Horror/paranormal. Genre classifications are a necessary evil because most readers want to know what they are getting in advance. Personally, I like writing cross-genre. I like to confound expectations.
TQ: What's next?
Keris: I’m writing a trilogy about fallen angels and huge religious conspiracies for Cleis Press, under my other writing name, “Janine Ashbless. The first novel, Cover Him with Darkness, is already out. I recently visited Ethiopia to research the second volume, and now I’m going to write it.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Keris: Thank you so much for having me!
Keris McDonald lives in the not-very-grim north of England and has seen her horror short stories published in All Hallows magazine and anthologies by Ashtree Press and Hic Dragones Books. She spends most of her writing time under the pen name ‘Janine Ashbless’ though, spinning tales of supernatural erotica and passionate romantic adventure for publishers such as HarperCollins and Virgin. Her ninth novel, Cover Him With Darkness, a tale of fallen angels and religious conspiracy, was published in 2014 by Cleis Press. The Sleck was inspired by the post-industrial landscape of County Durham and childhood memories of visiting her aunts and uncles in Newcastle, as well as stories of “sacred” wells and springs. “Sleck,” by the way, is a very old dialect word for “stinking mud”.