Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Birmingham, England and much of my writing takes place in the local area with recognisable landmarks. A traditionally industrial city, the dark atmosphere inspired the music of Black Sabbath and the fiction of J.R.R.Tolkien. Tolkien in particular was focused on the way industrialism had affected the people and landscape, and I think this sometimes filters through into my own work!
When did you first start writing?
I was five years old and I wrote a poem about rainbows for my mum. My grandmother, who also lived with me, was a big fan of Hammer Horror and crime drama, and sneakily staying up with her to watch movies was probably what influenced me to start writing something a little darker!
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm keeping it pretty much under wraps for now, although I will say that the local area and in particular the city cemetries feature heavily in the landscape of the novel. If all goes to plan, it should be doing the rounds towards the end of this year.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Tired of hitting the slush pile just like many other writers, most of all when you know it's largely because publishers and agents can't be bothered to even look at your work. With most people having access to social media, there's never been a better time to self-promote, and if people like what you are doing, hopefully they'll keep coming back.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I hope this interview will be the starting point for people to start investigating my work. My blog at https://joanneshemmans.wordpress.com/ showcases a lot of free short fiction I have written over the years, making it available online for the first time. If you're interested please drop by!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Self-expression and escapism. My writing involves a lot of my influences and experiences- many that even most people who know me wouldn't be aware of.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything! Feedback is valuable so feel free to comment on my blog, FB or Twitter if you like what you read!
Who are your favorite authors?
Tolkien was a fantastic storyteller. Thomas Hardy was a great social commentator. More modern authors I enjoy are Koji Suzuki, Cormac McCarthy and Dan Brown. I'm also a big fan of Dean Koontz and Stephen King, two of the few writers who understand that horror isn't primarily about gore, it's about the telling of the story, just the same as in any other genre.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm lucky to have a family who are very close, so my weekends are usually spent with them. When alone and not writing you'll probably find me listening to music or going to see a band live.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I can't remember exactly the first one, but I did love Little Red Riding Hood when I was very young, and I suppose it's dark theme made an impression on me. The first story I can truly recall admiring is Ray Bradbury's 'The Emissary'. which I must have discovered when I was about eight or nine. It's the skill in writing and the building of suspense that makes the piece of work successful, and this is something I feel very strongly about in dark fiction and film in general.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
That's a tough one. Making money obviously- I have a day job which helps to keep the bills paid! Being a parent also really changes your attitude to life, you're not just living for yourself anymore. My son is seventeen now but part of the reason I do almost everything is still largely down to him. It's not just about helping him make the best start in life but also, hopefully, setting a decent example. From his point of view, just not embarassing him too much!
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.