Posts Tagged ‘The Suburban Book of the Dead’

The Suburban Book of the Dead by Jamie Sands

January 23, 2019 - 10:33 pm No Comments

As part of my LGBTQ+ month reading, I have come across a new to me author Jamie Sands. I have just read their 1st novel and have also got an interesting interview with the author themselves At the moment this author’s book is on sale on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Suburban-Book-Dead-Jamie-Sands-ebook/dp/B07HPYFXYV/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1548282456&sr=8-6&keywords=The+Suburban+book+of+the+dead

The Suburban Book of the Dead by Jamie Sands

Published on 26th September 2018

215 pages

The Suburban Book of the Dead is a YA novel with a blend of the paranormal. Rain had a fascination with the visiting carnival, well not the whole carnival, just the operator of the Ferris Wheel. After plotting her move, she decided that the last night of the holidays would be the night that she approached him. Everything was going just how she planned until she heard a blood-curdling scream and her best friend Rachel was killed. Now a ghost Rachel latched on to her best friend, all she wanted Rain to do was to avenge her death. But could Rain accomplish her best friend’s request, learn to grieve and get the boy of her dreams.

It took me a couple of pages to like Rain, as at the start she was just like any other girl, superficial and only thought about herself, however after Rachel died, she seemed to have a purpose and whilst on the surface she came across as cruel and snippy, she was trying to cope with the death. Hooking up with Jake saved her, as without his knowledge she would have joined her friend in the afterlife. Jake was a hunter, imagine a younger version of Dean Winchester, knowing something was not right at the carnival he was working undercover to sort out the supernatural issue.

From the 1st demonic attack, you are drawn into a story that will capture your imagination. With the story revolving around Rain and Jake, you witness the changes in them and whilst Jake learnt to rely on someone else, Rain started to mature the more she learnt about the dangers. The relationship between Rain and Rachel was very close even after death, sometimes comical especially when Rachel would materialise without a word of warning. The scene in the ghost train involving the monster had me imagining a slightly scarier Sully from Monsters Inc and I do wonder sometimes where my imagination goes.

The story was a fast pace as there was always something going on, whether it was a simple exorcism or doing their research in the library. There were twists in the story to help build up the tension for the final battle and I did not expect the final scenes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this 1st novel and I hope to read more of Rain’s adventures. A YA story that will suit teenager and adults alike.

Want to know more about Jamie Sands, here is their interview

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

My name is Jamie Sands. I’m an almost 40 year old living in Auckland, New Zealand. I’m non-binary, preferring they/them pronouns and I’m recently married to a wonderful woman and I write fiction. I’ve always been a reader, my father used to take me to the local library ever Thursday and I’d get out a stack of books. 

Why horror? What is appeal of the genre to you as both a fan and as a writer?

I guess the appeal for me is the same as why I love to ride roller coasters: the unknown, the thrill, the screams. I get the same exhilaration from reading a really good horror. If it gives me shivers or nightmares then I know it’s done a good job. For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated with monsters, so my work is usually paranormal or folkloric in nature, rather than about humans behaving badly.

As LBGTQ+ fan and writer of horror, how did you when you first became immersed in the genre and found that representation that you could identify was few and far between?

It wasn’t a surprise to me, most of the genre I read you really have to search for queer representation. However, I have found that the speculative fiction communities – science fiction, fantasy and horror included, to be full of lovely inclusive and diverse people. It’s improving!

How did you discover authors that wrote about characters that you could relate to? Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?

I’ve discovered authors with queer content through word of mouth and recommendations from other queer people mostly. Outside the horror genre, science fiction and fantasy were big influences on my writing. In particular young adult fiction and urban fantasy. Especially Mercedes Lackey’s urban fantasy which would include bi and gay characters without making it a big thing. Neil Gaiman’s work too.

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?

I’m hoping that we’ll see a lot more happy endings, people overcoming the odds and banding together with other good people to defeat evil. One of my favourite horror movie series is The Purge sequence, which has a strong anti-authority /eat the rich mentality to it. I love the idea of horror as resistance.

What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?

Roald Dahl’s works definitely had an influence on me, that mixture of whimsy and horror. Holly Black’s Young Adult fantasy, the way she writes fairies is just wonderful. I watch a lot of films so it’s hard to pinpoint any that influence me as a writer, but definitely all Jim Henson’s works on TV and film. There was an old series called The Storyteller that I watched avidly.

In recent years there has been a slow but gradual diversification within the genre, which new LBGTQ+ writers do you think we should be paying attention to?

Emma Osborne has published some gloriously creepy short stories. Jordan Kurella, Marianne Kirby, A. Merc Rustad and Aliette de Bodard are all brilliant. There’s a couple of books coming out soon that I am especially looking forward to reading called The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling and The Outside by Ada Hoffman. There’s a brilliant short story Which Super Little Dead Girl™ Are You? Take Our Quiz and Find Out! by Nino Cipri which just blew my mind. They have new stuff coming out soon too.

How would you describe your writing style?

I used to be purely a pantser – just write as it comes and trust the muse – but lately I’ve been experimenting with plotting and planning and I find I don’t hate it. I do a kind of basic ‘this scene then this scene’ plan and ensure I’m hitting the beats, the right arcs and then write around that.

Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?

I haven’t had too much published yet, but I do love my positive reviews.

What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?

Editing, probably. I love the process, and I love how my mind gets caught up in solving problems, or thinking up twists, but when I have to go back and revise and improve stuff, I just get kind of bored. I’ll still do it, but I have to really force myself to get motivated and not just put it off and focus on the new shiny things.

Are there any subjects that you would never write about?

I’ll never write explicit sexual assault scenes. I just think there’s enough of that in the world already, and I don’t see the point in adding more. I wouldn’t want to either, the idea of writing that squicks me out.

Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?

I believe in always learning and improving. Probably the best, biggest development I’ve had was learning how to receive criticism and feedback without taking it personally. I’ve learned how to process and examine my work, and the feedback, critically and improve things without getting hung up on it.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

Look for the conflict in the scene and then focus on that.

Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you attempted to break through the barriers that are so often in place against LBGTQ+ writers?

Networking with others in the community is key. I also believe in using whatever platform I have to promote other authors, the more we talk about different voices the better.

Many CIS white male authors use LGBTQ+ characters in their works, what’s the mistake that they make when trying to portray these characters?

I don’t think I can generalise that all cis male authors do one thing with queer characters, but the one trope I see perpetually is having just one LGBTQ+ character as a token. Then killing them off before they get to do anything interesting or affect the plot at all.

Moving on to getting your work read by unwashed masses, what do you think is the biggest misconception about LGBTQ+ fiction?

That it’s all some SJW special snowflake stuff, and that it’s a bad thing. This notion of ‘PC gone mad’ is a huge barrier. People seem to think that queer stories will only be about being queer and queer issues. As if we’re just inventing diversity for the sake of it, we’re not. We’re just trying to write about the truths we’ve experienced through fiction.

There are a number of presses dedicated to LGBTQ+ fiction, do you view these as a good thing, or do you think they help to perpetuate the ongoing exclusion from mainstream presses?

I think until the mainstream presses publish minority fiction at the same rate they publish cis white male authors then dedicated presses are needed. If only to get the work out there!

And here is the million dollar question do you agree with movements like this and things such as Women in Horror Month?

I do agree, because without them there’s a whole lot of people who just wouldn’t be exposed to new voices. I know how easy it is to just keep reading Stephen King, because he’s great and he keeps putting stuff out there. I’ve been there. But unless you make an effort to read outside what you know you may never find the best book you’ve ever read. Events which put minority voices and authors in front of readers who may love them are fantastic.

If so how would you like to see sites such as Ginger Nuts of Horror tackle diversity?

Ideally you wouldn’t need to make it an event, because you’d regularly highlight and share output from diverse voices.

The most common phrase you hear when people object to active movements to encourage all forms of diversity is “I don’t care about the sexuality, gender, color etc etc of the writer I only care about good stories” what would you like to say to these people?

I’d say: sure. Good stories are what we’re all after, but if you’re only ever reading say, white straight American male authors all you’re reading is from the same point of view. There’s a whole world out there, and it’s filled with exciting and interesting points of view. Have you read Nalo Hopkinson? Her book Brown Girl in the Ring is an astounding mix of horror, folklore, dystopia and Afro-Jamaican culture. I love Stephen King, but he can’t write that!

To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favorite child, and who is your least favorite to write for and why?

This one’s tough. Probably my favourite child is a kelpie from my first novel. He was so much fun, an utter wreck and a monster. First novel though, so it’s never going to be published. I don’t know that I have a least favorite, because when I write them I get to love them. Even the baddies.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

I’m very proud of the ‘end of the rainbow’ story I had published in the Baby Teeth anthology. Maybe something I haven’t published yet is what I’m most proud of though…

For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?

I only have one novel published which is just my own. I also have a couple of short stories in the Baby Teeth horror anthology.

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

The Suburban Book of the Dead is a young adult ghost story which also features demons and monster hunters. My lead character’s best friend is killed in the first part of the book and then comes back as a ghost. They have to take down an evil carnival and get revenge, it’s good fun.

I’ve started a series of paranormal mysteries set in New Zealand, lots of creepy stuff and a bad ass lesbian detective lead character. The first book is in the submissions process at the moment.

What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?

I really liked the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’m pretty strict on just stopping reading books I’m not enjoying, and then I forget them.

What’s the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?

I’d like someone to ask me to direct a movie. I’d be great at that.  They could say ‘here’s the new blockbuster horror franchise and lots of money, would you please direct it?” and I’d obviously say yes.