Hello, everyone! Thanks to Mrs. DeRaps for inviting me to talk about my novel Through Her Eyes that will be in bookstores on April 5th.
Through Her Eyes was a lot of fun to write for many reasons, one of them being that the main character, Tansy, is the daughter of a horror writer. Tansy’s mom, Millie, writes under the pseudonym Millicent Moon, and Tansy describes her as “the female version of Stephen King, minus the mega bucks and movie deals.”
When the idea for this story started brewing in my mind, I knew I wanted Tansy’s mother to be a writer, partially because I wanted to step into Tansy’s skin and experience vicariously what it might be like for my kids to have me for a mom! Children of writers have to put up with having a parent whose mind is always “in the clouds,” a parent who stays up into the wee hours of the morning working, or who rises hours before the sun to start banging away on a laptop. They have to put up with their friends’ teasing about “Mom’s embarrassing book covers.” (At least my kids did. I wrote romance novels for a while early in my career, so I had a cover or two that my sons wished they could hide from their friends!)
Through Her Eyes is a ghost story, so having Millie write horror seemed a natural fit. Besides, I’ve always been intrigued by the workings of a horror writer’s mind. For example, I used to think that Stephen King was brilliant, but that he must also be a tiny bit mentally disturbed to come up with the stories he does! Then I read his book On Writing, and although I still think he’s brilliant, I also think he’s a perfectly sane, extremely loving family man, who is incredibly wise. Why did I ever think anything else? As I said, I used to write romance novels, but that doesn’t mean I’m a hopeless romantic. (A romantic, perhaps, but not a hopeless!)
Tansy struggles with that same preconception – people believing her mom is a nutcase because of what she does for a living. She also struggles with embarrassment over the covers of the novels, and some of the titles completely mortify her. Tears of Blood and The Screaming Meemies, for instance. Tansy has to deal with a bit of teasing from classmates, too. One guy at her new school nicknames her “Zombie Girl,” because zombies play leading roles in most of her mom’s books.
I enjoy scary books, and I really love spine-chilling movies, as well; not so much the slash and dash kind, but the sort with a ripple of psychological suspense in them. The sort of movies and stories that don’t just terrify the audience, but make us think and question and try to figure out what’s going on. Books and movies in the genre that I’ve loved probably influenced me, at least in a small way, to make Tansy’s mom a horror novelist. During my twenties, I went on a Stephen King and Dean Koontz book binge, and I still read their novels from time to time; they’re the kings of the genre, in my opinion. If I’m in the mood for a horror novel with writing that’s a bit more on the lush side, I often turn to the writer I consider the queen of the genre – Ann Rice. Her novel The Mummy is a particular favorite. Of course, the YA market also has many great horror titles, and in these my taste also tends to run more toward the psychologically creepy more than to vampires, werewolves and such, although I enjoy a good story in that vein, too. Some of my YA favorites are older titles, and a few of them are marketed to readers even younger than the typical YA booklover. I particularly enjoyed Coraline, by Neil Gaiman; The Folk Keeper, by Franny Billingsly; and Jade Green, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Owl in Love, by Patrice Kindl is also very unique and intriguing – it’s humorous as well as creepy, and it might very well have been the first shape-shifter novel.
As for movies that influenced me, my favorite chill-raisers are The Mothman Prophecies, Identity, and The Sixth Sense. Oh, and Shadow of the Vampire, which came out in 2000 is by far one of the creepiest movies I’ve ever seen!
I hope readers of Through Her Eyes will experience a few chills of the same sort these wonderful books and movies induced in me! I invite you to stop by my website www.jenniferarcher.net and my blog www.jenniferarcher.blogspot.com to check out the book trailer and other information about Through Her Eyes, as well as my other novels.