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  • Writer's pictureLee Murray

Midnight Echo #15 Showcase: J.A. Haigh

In the seminal novel that launched a genre, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote, “There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.” With this single sentence, Shelley cuts at the reason that so many of us embrace dark fiction. And it is with this notion in mind that I am showcasing some of the dark souls who contributed their twisted and chilling creations to the 2020 edition of the AHWA's annual magazine Midnight Echo. Today, my guest is J. A. Haigh. Welcome Janet!

Who are you and where do you write from?

I’m a qualified chef, and mother of two rascally children. When productive, I mostly write on my couch. This is terrible for my posture. I have a desk. I really should use it.

I generally tap out words in the wee hours of the morning, before my kiddly-winks wake up and demand all of my limited attention.

Please comment on your involvement in the AHWA and its importance to you.

I joined the AHWA this year. Somehow, I hadn’t stumbled across it until recently. I joined because I was looking to connect with fellow, speculative writers and discover more publishing opportunities. Seems like a great bunch of people involved in this community.

Why does the short story format appeal to you?

I like the short story format because I have lots of odd little ideas, it’s fun to get them out on the page, tinker about, and complete something in a shorter time-frame. I’ve written a novel or two, which has been a real slog at times. Short stories offer me a sort of creative mental break, away from the all-consuming world and characters of a weighty novel.

Can you tell us what inspired your contribution to Midnight Echo #15?

I kind of liked the idea of this main character, Martha, having this creepy talent, but not actually being all that creepy herself and then using her ‘gift’ in an unexpected way.

Why did you have to be so dark? 2020 has had its share of darkness. Do you think horror is more or less important in these very turbulent times?

Dark themes are always an undercurrent in my work. In a way, I’m trying to make sense of how these awful things come about and, on the flipside, reimagine an odd sense of justice or closure around them. So Martha has this creepy talent, but she isn’t the one with malicious intentions. …Or is she?

The Marie Kondo challenge: in an effort to de-clutter, you’re only allowed to keep three books on your nightstand. Which three would you choose and why?

The Sandman (comic) by Neil Gaiman

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Poe, Straub, King & Co aside, can you name any lesser known but deserving writers of horror fiction whose work has resonated for you recently?

Kathe Koja’s, The Cipher, really blew me away. Also, Monstress, a comic by Marjorie Liu. Trent Jamieson’s Deathworks series was great. Kaaron Warren is top of my ‘to be read’ list, along with many other local writers, but I’m woefully behind on my reading this year.

Midnight Echo #15 is being offered in both print and ebook versions this year. Did the offer of print make a difference to you? Are you seduced by the waft of vanilla and printer’s ink?

I always love to add a physical book to my collection, so it did increase the appeal but, predominantly, I submitted in the hope of seeing my work in print (or text), alongside a bunch of awesome horror writers.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently querying a YA/Crossover dark fantasy novel, A Harbour Not a Home, so hopeful that takes off sometime. I’ve also started the groundwork (mostly in my head) for another novel, a sort of gothic fantasy. In the meantime, there are a couple of short story ideas that I’d really like to get to work on over the summer and a few others to redraft.

J. A. HAIGH was raised in the wilds of Tasmania and her writing is full of magic and myth. Her work has been published in such places as Kill Your Darlings, Aurealis, ASIM, and Syntax & Salt. She currently resides in Newcastle, where she scrabbles away at her dark fantasy novel, while juggling two delightful rug-rats and their witty father.

You can follow her at:

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