Monday, 14 December 2015

Meet the #Author Monday - CJ Malarsky #YA #horror

Please tell us a bit about yourself: Hi! I’m C.J. and I’m a total geek. In addition to being a writer of Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction, I also enjoy playing table-top RPGs and LARPing. I’m child of the 80s through and through, and an alternative fashion enthusiast.

Tell us about Ashwood: Ashwood is a YA Horror about a sixteen-year-old girl named Willow who becomes haunted by malevolent entities after she goes urban exploring in an abandoned asylum. It’s a very cerebral story which shifts between the nightmare realm where Willow’s soul is trapped and the waking world where Willow is unaware of the danger she’s in. It features themes of Jungian theory and Slavic folklore.

What inspired you to write this particular story?: There are a number of inspirations that went into creating this story. One of the biggest being the idea of how sleep parasomnias were viewed in folklore. I suffered from sleep paralysis growing up and it was such a terrifying experience to endure. I’ve grown out of it now, but the memory of it stuck with me.

After college I actually worked as a technician in a sleep lab and my experiences there also fueled my creative fires. Being in a dark, quiet control room and suddenly hearing patients wake up screaming from night terrors felt like the start of a horror story sometimes. So those experiences served as the first kernels of what eventually became Ashwood.

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?: Usually a character’s personality comes first, followed by appearance. Name is usually the last thing I work out. Though occasionally the order changes.

Any tips for aspiring authors?: Write from the heart. One of the biggest traps any writer can fall into is trying to write to a trend. Don’t do it. By the time something is a trend in the marketplace, it’s old news to agents and publishers. Similarly, don’t try to be the “next big thing” or go into it with thoughts of a movie deal. Go into it for a love of literature and the passion to tell a good story. Just try to write with sincerity.

Questions for fun: 
Which fictional universe would you like to live in and why?: Probably Narnia. I’m tempted to go with the Harry Potter universe, but with my luck I would be a muggle and that just ruins the whole point of it. With Narnia, even if I wouldn’t be able to perform magic myself, I would still be surrounded by it. There is so much chance for adventure, and I would love to be in a world with talking, magical creatures.

Coffee, tea or wine?: It really depends on what I am doing at the time. I enjoy coffee either to wake me up in the morning or to sip after a nice dinner out. Tea for when I am writing a manuscript. Wine for when I am reading or outlining a new story. If I could only pick one though, I think I would have to go with tea.

What is your favourite book?: The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander are hands-down my favorite books I have ever read, and have been since I first read them as a little girl. That was the series that made me want to be a writer. In fact, I actually was blessed to have had a bit of a correspondence with Mr. Alexander before his passing. He always encouraged me to follow my dream of writing and I consider him somewhat of a mentor.

Favourite genre and why?: While I enjoy writing horror, my actual favorite genre is fantasy. I love magic and whimsy so much. There’s something very freeing about writing (and reading) it. The world building is only limited by your imagination. I love stories that can really transport me somewhere else and make me feel a genuine sense of wonder. And that is what I strive to do as a writer.

Upcoming news and plans for the future?: Ashwood is the first book in the trilogy so I still have to finish the next two books. I have a number of other story ideas, independent of the trilogy though they will have to wait until the trilogy is finished.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!

When sixteen-year-old Willow goes urban exploring in an abandoned asylum she expects the dark halls, creepy echoes, and ominous atmosphere. But she doesn't expect it to follow her home. After the trip, Willow becomes haunted by nightmares in which she never left Ashwood Asylum. Nightmares where she is pursued by grotesque, mind-infesting horrors called the Mora who feed off the fear of mortals. Unfortunately for squeamish Willow, they are hungry. And she is their perfect meal. 

Upon waking, Willow recalls only fleeting memories of dead butterflies, hollow eyes and discordant whispers. But slowly these phantasms begin to bleed into her daily life, making Willow question her own sanity. She soon realizes that the solution lies solely within the decrepit walls of Ashwood. As the boundary between dreams and reality disintegrates, Willow must find the courage to defeat the leader of the Mora before he traps her soul in the nightmare forever

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