Interview with author Charlee Jacob

"Charlee clearly one of the best new writers working in the horror field today..." 
- Edward Lee, author of City Infernal and Dahmer’s Not Dead

"If horror literature has a queen, it is without a doubt Charlee Jacob." 
- Brian Hopkins, Bram Stoker Award Winning Author

"She has a fevered imagination, flashes of which would certainly give Clive Barker a run for his money...."  
- Brian Hodge, CyberPsychos AOD

"[Charlee] drapes her fiction in mysticism, dives deep into the unexplainable, the enigmatic and the totally insane." 
- Tom Piccirilli, Author of A Lower Deep

Charlee Jacob - Bio

Charlee Jacob has been a digger for dinosaur bones, a seller of designer rags, and a cook - to mention only a few things. With more than 950 publishing credits, Charlee has been writing dark poetry and prose for more than 25 years. Some of her recent publishing events include the novel STILL (Necro), the poetry collection HERESY (Necro), and the novel DARK MOODS. She is a three-time Bram Stoker Award winner, two of those awards for her novel DREAD IN THE BEAST and the poetry collection SINEATER; the third award for collaborative poetry collection, VECTORS, with Marge Simon. Permanently disabled, she has begun to paint as one of her forms of phsycial therapy. To see some of Charlee's paintings, click here. She lives in Irving, Texas with her husband Jim and a plethora of felines. To view a bibliography of Charlee's works, click here.

Interview with Charlee Jacob

Q: When doing some background research for this interview I found you to be quite an enigma in terms of your online presence. Aside from a handful of interviews there seems to be only a small amount of information available about you and your work. As a fan I find it hard to believe that such a prolific and gifted award-winning author is not better known. Does this frustrate you as an author or do you prefer to let your work speak for itself? 

A: I was beginning to do a lot more about that when, about a decade ago I was declared fully disabled with Fibromyalgia and several other problems that made it nearly impossible to sit up, to walk, or perform most daily functions. Several MRI’s and Neurologists later and they diagnosed me with Parkinson’s. I have also developed Narcolepsy. It is this difficulty that frustrates me, the constant ten out of ten pain level and the inability to stay awake.

Q: Could you please tell the readers some things about your upbringing and how this led to you becoming a writer (of primarily horror fiction)? How much of your childhood, for example, informs the themes and motifs that are threaded through your work?

A: My upbringing was very baby boomer; cold war, and keep your mouth shut about the condition of your family’s dirty laundry. My work appears to be about 80% Post Traumatic Stress. Post Toasties Serial). As experts are fond of saying, “Write what you know.” –and if you don’t know it, all of the ink and your blood put together…well, this is why it’s called fiction.

Q: What I have read of your work gives me a very strong surrealistic impression with the dreamlike prose imbued with such vivid imagery. Do you intentionally write in order to invoke the surreal or otherworldly, or would you just consider it a by-product of your style?

A: Half is written in the liquefied flat line brains of all who have been and will be victimized by the beasts of this and other worlds. As for any of it being the by-product of my style, well, by-products are often the organ meat, gristle, and waste that society rejects.

Q: Do you think that the genre of horror is undervalued by potential readers who have preconceived negative ideas about the genre? Have you ever tried your hand at other forms/types of fiction and do you read much horror fiction yourself?

A: In the early to mid forties and fifties, people did have preconceived notions, dealing with horror not as spiritual (Seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts bake sale style), nor as noirishly chic as Mickey Spillane’s racy parts. I may interject that I write science fiction and used to read it all the time- like Mary Shelley’s ‘Modern Prometheus’.

Q: Your prose is quite often very poetic in the way you use language and the visually imaginative worlds you create. Do you find that when you write a poem it will morph into prose and/or vice versa? How important is the writing of poetry to you in terms of how you write prose – does one influence/inform the other? 

A: Yes and Yes. Twenty two years ago everything I’d published was in poetry. Sometimes I even think and/or talk consciously this way. And as for morphing, what else do you call going to bed one kind of person and waking up almost ten years later as if born again into some persona from a long dream.

Q: Could you please tell us about your writing process? How do you come up with the ideas for your stories and how do you go about writing them? Do you outline your novels or is it more of an ‘organic’ process?

A: Most of my stories originate in nightmares. For others, I start out as I do often to write poetry, meaning I flip through a thesaurus, point at one word with my eyes closed, write that down, repeat the process—and the writing finger having written moves on. This Symbiotic Fascination started this way… first there was the ugly little man. My long poem ‘Taunting the Minotaur’ began in my head with one sentence- “How do I stop the bleeding”? I do outline some novels but always end up changing them.

Q: You write poetry, short fiction, novellas and novels – do you have a preferred medium or form? Do you have any favorite poets?

A: My preferred form is absolutely any path the piece feels like it needs to go down (or up). Three of my favorite poets are Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Ann Sexton.

Q: Edward Lee has said you are “armed with a talent to write the most beautiful prose yet [use] that talent to examine the most unspeakable and detestable horror.” Do you use your writing to examine issues that are important to you? Is there any underlying message/s you try to impart to the reader, or do you prefer to think of your work as ‘art for art’s sake’?

A: I have never been able to write on a project if I didn’t care for the subject. If I can’t manage empathy for at least one character, how will I get the reader to do so? I need to write as a form of therapy and catharsis.

Q: As part of WiHM (Women in Horror Month) can you point to any female authors in the horror world that stand out to you? Who are your favorite female authors in general and why? 

A: I always liked Melanie Tem, her work being studies in both controlled and free emotion (at least to my repressed obsessions). Lucy Taylor also, facile in her use of degradation that has somehow morphed into great beauty when we were sidetracked by the plot.

Q: What does the future hold for fans of your work? Are you working on anything new that you would like to share with the readers?

A: I have plans for two novels if I can manage to use my hands long enough and make my notes legible. My collection, ‘The Myth of Falling’ is due out any day now.

Cover art by Nick Gucker -

It has been an honor to interview you for WiHM. Thank you and I wish you all the best for your forthcoming ventures.

Free Reads from Charlee Jacob
Download a free PDF of the short story "Flesh of Leaves, Bones of Desire," click here.
Download a free PDF of the poem "Why the Journey's Far," click here.

Buy Charlee's Books

Released in Lmtd. HC (100) and TPB (300), Necro 2008
Released in TPB, Wilder 2008
Released in Lmtd. HC (100) and TPB (300), Necro 2005
Reprinted in TPB, Necro 2008
Released in eBook, Necro 2011
Released in Lmtd. HC (250), Delirium 2005
Released in eBook, Darkside Digital 2011
Released in Lmtd. HC (52) Chapbook (300), Bloodletting Press 2005
(Expanded version of HAUNTER)
Released in Lmtd. leatherbound HC (15) and Lmtd. HC (150), Delirium 2004

Released in mass market PB, Leisure 2003
Released in Lmtd. HC (100) and TPB (300), Necro 1997
Released in mass market PB, Leisure 2002

Released in TPB, Wilder 2007
Released in Lmtd. TPB (300), Necro 2006
Released in Lmtd. leatherbound HC (15), Lmtd. HC (150) and TPB (500), Delirium 2002
Released in eBook, Darkside Digital 2011
with Mehitobel Wilson
Released in Chapbook (300) and Lmtd. HC (52), Necro 2002
Released in Lmtd. leatherbound HC (20) Ltmd. HC (300/abt. 200 printed), Delirium 2000
TPB edition, Delirium 2003
Released in eBook, Darkside Digital 2011
Released in Lmtd. HC (52) and TPB (300), Necro 1998

Released in TPB, Necro 2007
Released in TPB, Cyberpulp 2005
Released in TPB, Dark Regions Press 2004

Crime Watch Interview

9mm: An interview with William Cook

Kia ora everyone! Greetings from the bottom of the world, and welcome to the latest edition of Crime Watch's popular 9mm author interview series. The series has been a bit sporadic in recent times, after starting off with a hiss and a roar, maintained for a couple of years, but there is light at the end of the tunnel - I have several great 9mm interviews with authors famed and lesser-known in the bag, and will be sharing them with you all very, very soon. Onwards...

Today's author interviewee is a Kiwi horror and thriller writer, William Cook. He had his first novel, BLOOD RELATED, published in 2011, after writing short stories and poetry. Cook, who is a graphic designer and book cover artist, is currently working on his second novel. You can read more about him at his website here. But for now, he faces down the barrel of 9mm...

9MM: An interview with William Cook

Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
 Will Graham, Thomas Harris’s troubled FBI profiler responsible for the original capture of the serial killer Hannibal Lecter, and the man who is assigned to locate serial killer Francis Dolarhyde. I also like John D Macdonald’s “salvage consultant”, Travis McGee.

What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
 Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I had an advanced reading age when I was a kid and this novel appealed to me on many levels. It was literate and compelling and unlike any other book I’d read before. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down – for the next two years or so I tried to replicate Tom and Huck’s adventures in my own backyard. There were some high-thrills and scares in that book too, which sent shivers up my young spine. I loved it for what it was and for opening up to me a whole new world of ‘classic’ stories filled with adventure, mystery and thrills.

Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
Blood Related took me approximately 5 years to write, before that I had always written mainly poetry and short fiction. I have had verse published in periodicals like Poetry NZ, Southern Ocean Review and a handful of others (both NZ and American). I’ve worked in publishing and marketing in the past and have had reviews (book, music and movie) and articles published in various news media publications.

Outside of writing and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise? 
Writing, of course, is my favorite pastime and I do it every chance I get. I also love illustrating and have recently switched to digital design. I love using Photoshop to create other worlds and characters. I am married with four daughters so I spend a lot of my time doing family things when I’m not working on my personal projects. I rarely get the chance to read a book cover-to-cover these days but the Kindle has helped me get back into reading on the go – reading being something I would really like to do a lot more of.

What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
I have no idea really – I’m not much of an ambassador for Wellington. Don’t get me wrong, I like living here and there sure are worse places in the world but it is a small place. I guess one of my favorite spots in Wellington is the Miramar Peninsula – the green belt that runs from the now abandoned Mt Crawford Prison to the point. At night it is a very mystical place, especially under a full moon. The other place I really enjoy visiting is Staglands in the Akatarawas (Upper Hutt); it is a fantastic place with many native birds and animals and a superb recreation of a pioneer village filled with great photographic opportunities.  

If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
I think my life these days wouldn’t make for very interesting viewing – a guy hunched over a computer keyboard! I am similar in stature to the late James Gandolfini and admire his acting ability. I guess if he was alive he would be my first choice.

Of your writings, published and unpublished, which is your favourite, and why?
I probably value my novel Blood Related the most but it is not necessarily my favourite. My collection ‘Death Quartet’ is one that I’m quite proud of but I would say that ‘Creep’ is my most compelling and well-written work to date. The story is the first story in an exciting and gritty new psychological thriller series. Cassandra (lead protagonist) is a hero to the victim and a merciless angel of death to evil doers. She is a killer of killers, striking fear into the hearts of those who get their kicks off hurting others. I guess this is probably my favourite because I feel as though I found my ‘voice’ with this one. Currently at work on the next two books in the series.

What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a online or physical bookseller’s shelf?
To tell you the truth I went through a slump. There were a number of reasons but exhaustion was the main factor I think. The response to the book was slow and then gained momentum nicely then tapered off to a plateau of sorts. I think all writers have high expectations of their work, especially with the first novel, and so an anti-climax is inevitable. Strangely enough I think that my initial reaction was because I was saddened that my relationship had ended with my book! Sounds weird I know, but letting it go was sort of like losing an old pal – albeit, a rather frightening one. I was more excited when I saw a copy of my book at the local library; I made sure that every time I went for a visit, I put it in a position of prominence. A real kick.


Thank you William! We appreciate you taking the time to chat with Crime Watch. 

NEW RELEASE - Dreams of Thanatos: Collected Macabre Tales - available now

New trailer for Dreams of Thanatos - book available now from

Dreams of Thanatos is a collection of macabre short fiction from William Cook, the author of the novel Blood Related. Demons, murderers and ghosts roam these pages although the most horrifying aspect Cook describes, is the dark soul of humanity. Whether writing about the horrors of modern life, or things that go ‘bump in the night,’ Cook’s writing is always “intense” and often “visceral” in his portrayal of the macabre. Included in this collection of fifteen stories is a novelette (Dead and Buried) and the origin story (Legacy: The Eternal Now and Thereafter) behind the novel, Blood Related.

“This man is simply scary. There is both a clinical thoroughness and a heartfelt emotional thoroughness to his writing. He manages to shock as well as empathize, to scare as well as acclimatize, yet beneath it all is a well read intelligence that demands to be engaged. I loved Blood Related. Ordinarily I hate serial killer stories, but William Cook won me over. He is a unique and innovative talent.”

– Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Flesh Eaters and Dog Days

Women in Horror Month #3 - Rena Mason

For WIHM (Women in Horror Month) I have had the great fortune to interview another fantastic author: Rena Mason. Rena is an up-and-coming author of dark fiction and is creating lots of ripples in the horror pond. Definitely an author to watch and without further ado, here she is:

Rena Mason graduated from college with a SUNY nursing license, started her career in oncology, did some home healthcare work for Visiting Nurses, and then went on to work in the operating room for over twelve years in Denver, Colorado.

A longtime fan of horror, sci-fi, science, history, historical fiction, mysteries, and thrillers, she began writing to mash up those genres in stories revolving around everyday life.

She is a member of the Horror Writer's Association, Pacific Northwest Writer's Association, and International Thriller Writers. She writes a column for the HWA Monthly Newsletter, "Recently Born of Horrific Minds" and writes occasional articles. She also does volunteer work for the Horror Writer's Association, KillerCon convention, and The Vegas Valley Book Festival.

An avid SCUBA diver since 1988, she has traveled the world and enjoys incorporating the experiences into her stories.

Currently, she resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with her family.

Interview with Rena Mason

Q: When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer and how did you go about realizing your dream?

A: About six years ago, I read ANGELS & DEMONS by Dan Brown and was completely disappointed the book had nothing to do with any angels and demons. Then I went on vacation with an armful of books that had won “awards.” They were some of the most boring books I’d ever read. I kept waiting for something to happen and it never did.
When I got back, I turned on my new laptop, opened up Notepad, and started writing. Ha! Yeah, I still have that original, too. But writing wasn’t enough. I researched everything. Then when I thought it was ready, I started submitting it to agents.
The rejections came one after the other. I bit the bullet and sent it to one of those “review” places and wasted money for nothing. (Money I later discovered, could have been put to better use by hiring an editor.)
I attended a writers’ convention and a friend of a friend who’s a writer convinced me to pitch my novel. I did. Thought I might have a heart attack and drop dead after I left the room. It was set up like an American Idol audition, but there were only two people behind the table—the owner and editor of the company.
A few weeks later, I received another rejection, but this time, the editor took the time to tell me that my dialogue was very stiff. Thank you! Since the story I’d written was a personal one, I put it on the backburner but knew I’d get back to it when I felt ready.
I got to work on something else, focused on creating more natural dialogue, and then hired an editor after submitting to a couple agents and receiving rejections. Getting a professional editor made all the difference for me. Not only did it improve my MS, but the positive feedback built up my confidence, and I learned that if I really wanted to publish my stories, I was going to have to put myself out there. So, with the help of my editor, I did just that, by joining the HWA, “friending” other writers on Facebook, attending more conventions where I actually introduced myself and talked to people. It was a learning process, but I made fast friends, and soon my work caught the attention of an up and coming new publishing company and that’s how my work finally began to get published.

Q: Your work to date has mainly been in the Dark Fiction/Horror genre – is this a genre you prefer to write in and if so, why?

A: Yes. I prefer to write Dark Fiction/Horror, because that’s what I enjoy reading the most. None of the other genres give me the roller coaster of emotions I crave the way darker works do.

Q: Have you always been a fan of horror literature? Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

A: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE was the first book I’d ever read in Kindergarten. I thought the little boy was a brat and wished the monsters would eat him. I was sad that the monsters were sad when the boy left. I’d always hoped that the monsters would find a way to sail off their island and find the boy. I read that book at least once a week and was disappointed there was never a sequel about the monsters’ revenge.
When I was younger I read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe and Shirley Jackson. Their stories never got old for me. Nowadays, I’m all over the board when I read. There are so many authors out there, I don’t usually read more than one work by that author. But as of late, I’ve found a few authors whose works offer a variety. I’m horribly lazy and the mere sight of a thick book makes me cringe, so I tend to stay away from those. I’ve read a lot of Lisa’s Morton’s works, Benjamin Kane Ethridge, and have recently been reading Mercedes Murdock Yardley’s works. Lisa Mannetti is another author I enjoy reading, but in my heart I prefer Gothic works, and she’s great at writing them.

Q: What are your writing goals and where do you see yourself five years from now in terms of your writing/publishing?

A: If I could write and publish a novel a year, or five short stories in that same amount of time, I’d be happy. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m lazy, so my minimal aspirations are purely my own. But what I do publish, I want to be good and ready. It will have been edited professionally, proofread, etc. and that’s before submitting. This would give me five novels in five years, or 25 short stories. I’d be okay with half and half.

Q: What are your thoughts on self-publishing? Is it something you hope to do with your own work? If so/not, why?

A: I have nothing against self-publishing. I’ll never self-publish my own though, because like I mentioned above, I’m lazy. Really. That’s the only reason.

Q: As a nurse and author do you draw upon your experience as fodder for your stories? Do you catch yourself eying up situations and people in the workplace as potential candidates for your stories?

A: Absolutely. I’m a firm believer that truth will always be more horrifying than fiction. Oh, the stories I could tell! And will. Eventually.

Q: How do you approach your writing? I.e. do you outline plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

A: If I get a story idea I’ll think about it and try to see it through in my head. If I can do that, and it doesn’t go away, but stays on my mind, I’ll write down how I’ve imagined the story plays out. If I keep thinking about it, then I’ll take the time to write it, because obviously it needs to get out of my head. So far, more stories get written than die out, which is a good thing.

Q: How do you promote your work and how important do you think social media is as a platform for marketing your books and building your profile as an author?

A: I’ve advertised in magazines, online magazines, do the Goodreads giveaways, Facebook posts, (just getting into Twitter now,) and word of mouth through friends and at conventions. I think all the social media is important, but I wish it wasn’t, because it’s hard to stay on top of everything and try to write. There are too many places where you can lose yourself for hours, and in the end, I wonder if it really makes any difference.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with your writing? Do you have a ‘magnum opus’ in mind or in progress that you would like to unleash upon the world one day?

A: I just hope to keep writing. Besides being lazy, I’m one of those people that does a thing, and when it’s done, I move on and find something else to do. I’m fighting a little bit of that now, actually, but the new horror family that I’ve gained keeps me in the train of thought to keep writing. I have so many more stories to tell.
And yes, remember that first story I’d written on Notepad? Well, that’s become a series of at least six books. If I dwell on it too much it starts to weigh me down, but it’s a story that must be told, and it’s personal, so if I write nothing else, it has to be that.

Q: Which one of your works stands out as the best example of your style and ability? Do you have any future projects that you would like to tell the readers about?

A: I wrote a short story about six months ago that’s in a slush pile that I love. I’m considering turning it into a novella or novel. It could even be a series. Yikes! Why must everything be a series? But really, it’s got that potential. And it’s not that I don’t like series, it’s the thought of writing one that intimidates me.
All my future projects are secret. I know, I know. Sorry. I’m working on something with a co-writer and then the other things floating around aren’t quite a done deal yet, so I shouldn’t say anything. But it does seem I’ve become a committee girl and am working on promoting the Horror genre in Las Vegas, which I’m proud of, is fun, but keeps me busy.

Rena Mason

Visit Rena at the following places








 Rena Mason, #WIHM, Women in Horror Month, Interview, Horror,

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