Ginger Nuts of Horror
Jordan King-Lacroix is an author from Sydney, Australia. He holds a Masters of Creative Writing from the University of Sydney, in addition to his Bachelor of Arts from his studies at McGill University, Montreal, Canada and the University of Sydney. He has had his short stories and poetry published in Adventures of Mystery and Intrigue (Vol 1 & 2), Crimson Streets, Paper Lens (Issue 1), Phantasmagoria, Colors in Darkness: Forever Vacancy, Harbinger Asylum (Fall 2016), and Stitched Smile Presents Unleashed: Monsters vs Zombies. A short story is set to be published in Polar Borealis #4.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I never know how to answer this. I’m originally Canadian, but I moved to Australia when I was eight years old. Outside of writing, I also act and write music. I’m a massive geek - at heart and in my day to day life.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I play a lot of video games. And I read, of course. I think I have a pile of books next to my bed that’s about fifteen deep, so I’m making my way through that at the moment.
Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
Weirdly, a lot of Hunter S Thompson and Jack Kerouac. They taught me a lot about how I can use language and how different pacing affects how you read things on the page. Also Charles Bukowski because his style was so simple so it was easier to learn from, in terms of what can make an impact and when.
Brett Easton Ellis was also great to read when I was developing my own writing because he can be so brutal and so distant that it gives you a very cinematic feel. Neil Gaiman, too, because of the way he writes everything with a bit of the flair for the fairytale - or does he count as horror?
The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations. What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?
Oh, man. I mean, I agree in a sense in that when you say “horror” to someone, they automatically think of slasher films (e.g. Friday the 13th) or a variety big scary monsters. Generally anything outside of that gets classed as “psychological thriller” or something to that effect. A lot of people are turned off of horror for that reason, I think.
Horror has a really important place in fiction, though. We like to be scared. We like scaring others. It takes us back to a really primal place. And it isn’t for everyone - just like how romance novels aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.
In the end, I don’t know how necessary it is to break past the assumptions people have of horror. If people want to feel scared or tense then they’ll enjoy the writing; if people don’t enjoy feeling that way, then they won’t read it.
A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?
Ha! Post-apocalyptic writing has seen a MASSIVE rise in the last about half-decade. Maybe more. I think we’re going to see that trend continue for a while. We may even start to see a lot more downer endings; people write to reflect their own reality.
On the flip side, we may see a lot of optimistic endings too. When situations are difficult, we like to look toward something hopeful. That’s kind of way some form of entertainment (movies, books, video games, etc.) often see a rise in use when times are hard.
In short, I have no idea. It could go anywhere. We could see more pseudo-political slasher stuff like The Purge, or we could see some really high concept stuff, like what’s coming out of Joe Hill and Lauren Beukes.
What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?
As for books, I would say Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas played a big part. When I read it, I was in amazement, just like, “You can use language like that?” It was great.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was a huge influence. I couldn’t put it down. The way Kesey constructs everything, it’s magnificent.
Big Sur by Jack Kerouac was important to me, too. It was so majestic and beautiful.
When I got into Joe Hill, though, that was a big turning point where I was like, “I wanna do this.” Same goes for anything by Lauren Beukes and Emily St John Mandel.
Movies are harder. The adaptation of Fear and Loathing was great; Donnie Darko, too; Reservoir Dogs is still one of my all-time favourites. I’m a big fan of what I call “two men in a room” films. You just have to do a lot more with so little, like Hard Candy and The Sunset Limited.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say Heart and Souls as well, it’s probably my favourite movie. It’s a love story with ghosts and has Robert Downey Jr and Kyra Sedgwick - hard to go wrong!
What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice of?
The poet Omar Sakr is an amazing voice right now. He’s a very good friend of mine and just got his first book of poetry published, which I highly recommend.
Julie Koh is an Australian author as well who has a fantastic collection called Portable Curiosities. It’s a book of short stories with some very unnerving work and, again, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Jannali Jones, too, is an author I know quite well and she’s doing some great work - I think she has a book coming out soon, so keep an eye out.
How would you describe your writing style?
Punchy, I guess. Trimmed down, but occasionally beautiful, I hope.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Not professional reviews, no. I think the one comment about my work that stuck with me was from many years ago. I was showing an ex-girlfriend some poetry I had written and she said, “This looks like how a nightmare feels.”
That stuck with me, and I’ve tried to embrace it wherever possible.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Making things long. I’m a naturally punchy storyteller and when I have to hit a certain work length, I sometimes find it difficult because the story I want to tell doesn’t always need that many words.
Other than that, it’s just getting started; putting those very first words on the page.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
I don’t know if I have a good answer for this. I guess more than a subject, I wouldn’t want to write from the perspective of a person or group who, in real life, doesn’t have a lot of opportunity to tell their own stories.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Names are hard, honestly. I agonize over them because if I didn’t I’d have stories filled with people named “Jake Johnson” and “Mary Patterson”. Those are the first commonplace names that come into my head, but they’re also so boring. But I also don’t want to name everyone something like “Reginald St Cloud” or “Ariella Martinique” just because I like the way they sound.
I try to think of who the character is, and then I name them based on who I feel they are. Also internet name databases are a godsend.
Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?
A lot, I would say. My earlier stuff - while not terrible - is kind of unpublishable. Not because it’s bad, but because it’s incredibly derivative. I was very much taking on the tone of voice of authors I liked - like Bukowski or Ellis or McCarthy - and writing stories I felt that they would write, but using my ideas.
It takes a while before you stop imitating authors you like and instead become influenced by them. You create your own voice from a patchwork of others, telling the story in only a way you can.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A basic understanding of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. You wouldn’t believe how many writers don’t start from that place. And I don’t mean nonsense like “never start a sentence with ‘and’” - that’s all a matter of style.
I mean how to use a semicolon, where a comma goes, things like that. Also, a brief study of journalism would be beneficial, just because they teach you how to impart information in such a way that your reader will want to keep going.
Every author has to read a lot. To quote (paraphrase) Stephen King, “If you don’t read, you don’t have the tools to write”. That doesn’t mean you have to exclusively read within the genre you write. Expand your reading list and your writing will improve.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?
To use as view adverbs as possible (words like pathetically, artistically, etc. - anything that ends in “-ly”). It can’t always be avoided, and sometimes an adverb is the best word to express what you want (I’ve used a few in this interview), but trying to avoid them makes you think in a different way, and to try and rewrite your paragraphs and sentences in a more interesting manner.
Getting your work noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you tried to approach this subject?
There isn’t an easy answer to this except “keep submitting”. Getting noticed is more a matter of people seeing your name everywhere. If you keep getting your credits up, more people will want to publish you, which gets your credits up, which means more people have seen your work, and on and on it goes.
Getting that first story published is the hard part. Once that’s done, once you have a list of credits, it starts to get easier. Publishers and editors will look at your list of credits and think, “Oh this person must be worthwhile, look at all the places who have published them”.
So, especially early on, don’t worry about getting money for work. Submit where they take it and it’s unpaid. After that, you’ll start getting some paid ones.
To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favourite child, and who is your least favourite to write for and why?
My favourite ‘child’ is probably the titular pulpy action hero from my first published story, The Tall Tales of Captain Horatio Silverthorn. He’s so much fun to write and I can just let loose and write these ridiculous pulp stories.
I don’t think I have a least favourite yet!
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Probably the piece I had published in Phantasmagoria. It was a little slice of life called Edgar and Adrienne which is about an old woman’s husband dying. It’s short and it’s sweet and I’m just so happy it got published.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
Not yet - but there’s still time!
For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?
I’m actually waiting on getting my first novel, Last Breath, published. Trying to get that out there has been a big focus for me. Other than that, the story from CID: Forever Vacancy, The Last Day of Jerome Brown, is a good example of my style.
Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us?
Nothing jumps to mind except for this line from a poem I wrote a couple of years ago:
“a long time down the road,
your star will fade in with
all the others.”
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Well, like I said, I’m still trying to get Last Breath out there, which is a thriller about a write who gets kidnapped by a serial killer and taken on a murderous road trip through the desert in the USA.
Next, I’m working on a military sci-fi book.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
“The call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!”
Or when the reveal is “he’s got multiple personalities and one of them is a killer”.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
I just read - more like absolutely devoured - James Frey’s The Final Testament of the Holy Bible. It’s so dark and grimy and tense. It’s a very good read. It can get a little long in the tooth, but it’s absolutely gripping.
The disappointment is actually the book I’m reading right now, Tracer by Rob Boffard. The writing just isn’t great, even though the setting is fantastic. It’s not grabbing me so it’s taking me so long to read it.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
“Hi, I’m from [INSERT GIANT PUBLISHING COMPANY], can we please publish your book?”
Yes, yes you can.
Colors in Darkness, the premiere online site for dark fiction authors of color presents its first anthology!
Amid the upheaval of the 1960s, the Kretcher Motel opened in a poor, desolate part of Atlanta. It still serves its original purpose: to lure those souls who are lost, who are troubled, who are evil…to itself. Check in to view these thirteen dark tales of horror, betrayal, fear, and wickedness, all featuring characters of color. You may never want to leave.