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  • Writer's pictureLee Franklin

Jennifer Sullivan

G'day and welcome to the Couch Of Chaos.

Yes, I know I look a little worse for wear. After the Raven girls yesterday it was absolute mayhem and madness around here. Spent all afternoon battling horny bloody Snow-Yetis, damn that Doyle woman. I finally found the Primian, but he is traumatised after his ordeal, has been so damn clingy. Now today was officially sanctioned as a "Snow Day" in my household, so I'm going to have to squeeze you in and out. Mind you after yesterdays antics I am quite sick of snow. I guess as a Canadian snow is your life. Mmmh well yes. Oh, you want me to hurry up? You have books to read and write. My, my, my you are a busy button. Ok let us not hold you up any longer.

Now I can’t start writing until I have a coffee and digestive biscuits to hand. Do you have a ritual before you start writing, or is it spontaneous venture?

I’m a creature of habit with almost everything, including my writing time. Coffee is a must, plus a cosy cardigan (even in the summer), and I light a stick of incense. I try to match the scent with the type of scene I’m going into, like jasmine for quieter moments, or cedar wood when emotions get heavy.

Self care is important these days, and women tend to leave ourselves to last everytime. How do you care for yourself.

Oh, I’m so guilty of leaving myself to last! But I’ve been working on that. One thing I’ve been doing is exercising first thing in the morning, instead of leaving it until later in the day, because “when I have time” turns out to be never. An hour or so of me walking or running on my treadmill pumps me up and is a space where I tell myself I don’t need to always be doing something for other people. Another thing I’ve rediscovered is my love of jigsaw puzzles. Working on complex puzzles helps me relax while my mind works on story problems in the background.

You have a choice of five people to invite to dinner. Any five in life or beyond? Ok, make that four because it is a given you will invite yours truly. Four friends plus me to your dinner party. Who are they and why?

Hope you’re ready for a weird party, lol. I’d invite David Bowie, Jane Goodall, V.C. Andrews, and Lorraine Warren. At first glance they might seem to have nothing in common, but all these people found their passions and pursued them regardless of what other people thought.

Bowie’s songs, style, and artistic flair were unique and constantly evolving, pushing his own limits, which I aspire to do with my writing. Goodall has been a hero of mine for a long time because of her refusal to accept societal repressions on women in science, plus even now in the face of global climate change she’s ever hopeful (think we could all use someone like that). Flowers in the Attic was the first horror novel by a woman I can recall reading and if it weren’t for Andrews, I might not have started exploring the genre outside of the male perspective. And, lastly, what’s a party without including paranormal experiences? While I don’t blindly believe every supernatural claim by Lorraine Warren, I do think there are things which science can’t yet explain, and I think she’d be the perfect person to discuss what lies beyond.

How do you determine success for yourself?

Success for me is completing stories I would want to read. I spent many years writing stories I thought other people would want, and only half finishing the stories that resonated with me. It got me a whole lot of nothing and left me feeling hollow. So, now I try to craft things that feel true to my voice. If other people read and enjoy my work, that’s an awesome bonus.

Tell us, why should we read your work? Don’t say because it is better than mine.

I wouldn’t dare say that! My fiction is rich with atmospheric horror, laced with vivid imagery, and blurs the lines between good and evil. If that sounds good to you, and you don’t mind a splash of gore, I think you’d enjoy my work.

Is there one thing you would have done differently in your writing career?

I would have started to take myself seriously sooner. My childhood and adolescence were spent writing a lot, but then in my twenties I got side-tracked by life and a career in business and didn’t create anything for over a decade. But at least I managed to reignite my imagination. Better late than never, right?

What inspires you?

Fear and pain, mostly. Both my parents passed away before they reached retirement age, so I’m constantly aware that time isn’t guaranteed to anyone, and the fear of running out of life before sharing my work keeps my nose to the grindstone. My inspiration for stories isn’t any cheerier, as I’m the type of person who always thinks of the worst-case scenario and listening to other people’s pain in all its forms lights up my imagination.

Imagine I am filthy successful agent (I did say imagine) we are stepping into an elevator. Hit me with your top three elevator pitches for three pieces of your work.

Infertile wasn’t a term Rhonda thought would apply to her, until it happens. Following a hysterectomy, grief makes her vulnerable to terrifying visions and spiritual attacks from demonic forces lurking in her home. Rhonda and her husband Jordan believe a paranormal team is the answer, but demons are the least of their worries. ~ Thirteen Doorways, a novel, currently looking for a publisher to call home.

Valentine’s Day is a personal hell for Joyce. Chained to her past and her abusive husband, she holds the key to her freedom, if only she can find the strength to use it. ~ “Shackles,” a short story, available on Kendall Reviews

Ever wondered how serial killers choose their victims? Step inside the mind of madness where a bizarre ritual determines whether someone lives or dies. ~ “The Crows,” a short story, available on Sci-Fi & Scary

A mother isn’t meant to have favourites, but tell me, what is your favourite story that you have written? And why? Just so all those other stories know.

“The Driver’s Seat” is probably my favourite because it was my first finished piece after I started to seriously focus on writing. In the short story I pushed myself in a lot of ways by writing outside of my comfort zone (it’s not horror, gasp!), employing a second person narrative, and telling a deeply emotional tale. If you want to experience the soul crushing pain of taking a loved one to live in a nursing home, you can read “The Driver’s Seat” on my blog

Other than WIHM which is an amazing month for female horror writers. How do you feel other women can best support each other in this genre?

Networking and cheerleading each other. Through social media I’ve come to know so many fabulous women authors in the horror community and I try to help them wherever I can. That might be reading their work and plastering reviews everywhere I can, or offering to beta read, or letting other women know when I come across open calls for submissions where their story style would make a good fit. By supporting each other, and pushing each other to take chances, I think the entire genre of horror will benefit.

Bio and Links

J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.

As part of the Kendall Reviews team, Sullivan regularly contributes reviews of horror books and is curator of Scary’s Voices, a weekly article series reviewing horror podcasts.

Her fiction has appeared in Don’t Open the Door (horror anthology, 2019), It Came From The Darkness (horror anthology, 2020), and she acted as an assistant editor for Black Dogs, Black Tales (horror anthology, 2020). Other spooky tales and updates on her writing journey can be found on her blog.







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