Midnight Echo #15 Showcase: Juleigh Howard Hobson
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 Juleigh Howard Hobson. Welcome!
Who are you and where do you write from?
Literal answer: I am Juleigh Howard-Hobson. I was born in England but emigrated away at 6 months old. so I grew up in Parramatta NSW—right now I live in the Pacific North West of the USA. Very different world. That said, there is a haunting grey foggy quality to being here that works very well with my writing style.
Poetic answer: I write from the ether. I started when I was 16 and the poetry just sort of tumbled into my mind. I wrote it down and have never stopped. I used to write morbid deathcentric pieces with all the seriousness of a teenage tragic poet…now I write more nuanced pieces. But I still am deathcentric in my heart. We are who we are.
As for something readers may not know about me: I have a small container of native soil I used to keep in case I became a vampire, now I keep it because I always have kept it. I’ve had this soil since I was 6 and went back to visit old relatives in London—since they are all dead now, I can’t ask them how I got it or exactly why. At some point I mixed in a bit of red clay Parramatta dirt. Just in case.
Why does poetry appeal to you?
I like formal poetry better than any other literary type—and in particular I like sonnets for capturing black magic spells and charms with—because both formal poetry and working magic require exact distillation.
Can you tell us what inspired your contribution to Midnight Echo #15?
I like to create charms and spells that use common items in uncommon ways. In this case we had a renegade hen who laid eggs in various places—from time to time one of them would go unfound and when the weather got warm enough…. it would explode. Inspiration enough for the way my mind works.
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?
Darkness — when it — naturally, it is not a conscious decision. My great granddad sold magical charms back in England and my grandmother let me play with her spirit board. I think horror gives us the capacity to process the terrible truths of life in poetic/artistic ways. Or perhaps it just gets us ready to deal with what lies ahead. Turbulent times such as these are perfect for giving us a reason to duck out of reality for a little while, losing ourselves in dark imaginings.
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?
I don’t believe in decluttering or in Marie Kondo. Give me Victorian excess. Give me huge library rooms with volumes and volumes of books and walls hung with all nature of cluttery gothic bric a brac. I want bursting cabinets of curiosity upon which are heaped even more books.
Poe, Straub, King & Co aside, can you name any lesser known but deserving writers of horror fiction whose work has resonated for you recently?
For the past few years, I rather like Marylin Ross. Marilyn is the female identity through which William Ross wrote such genre gems as Castle Malice ,The Gathering of Evil and 32 novels based on the 60’s TV series “Dark Shadows” (which I never watched as a child, but now own the entire collection of as an adult—I even have the official coffin shaped wooden box for them to be stored in—my son bought it for me!). I once wrote a poem to Mx. Ross which was first published in The Ginger Collect.
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?
Yes! I adore heaps and shelves and piles of books and adore them even more if I am in them. So to have a print copy as well as an e-copy is magnificent.
What are you working on right now?
My poems are typically short ‘bust of inspiration’ affairs, and they are not exactly ever what I am working on right now. They tend to be what I’ve just worked on. Still, I do have a pair of ongoing projects:
I’m working on a grimoire of spell sonnets—this particular sonnet will be part of it one day. I would like the grimoire to be thorough so it’s very much a work in progress and will be for a while.
Other than that, in the grip of some inspired fervor, I once wrote a werewolf versus gypsy horror novel which I based in the Carpathian Mountains. I am slowly working it into a better draft. As a poet (for the most part, although I have written short stories), this is hell. Prose pages are hell. Chapters are hell. I don’t know how novelists don’t go mad. I’ve had to take myself in hand and yell at myself to get to work on it again—it sometimes works if I catch myself in a docile moment, but I am naturally stubborn and I usually refuse. Progress is, therefore, slow.
JULEIGH HOWARD-HOBSON’S poetry won the NSW ANZAC Award and has been nominated for “Best of the Net”, The Pushcart, the Elgin and a Rhysling. Her dark works can be found in Dreams and Nightmares, The Audient Void, Coffin Bell, The Literary Hatchet, The Haunted Dollhouse, Eye to the Telescope, Polu Texni, Abridged Magazine, Illumen, Eternal Haunted Summer, Mandragora (Scarlett Imprint), Five Minutes At Hotel StormCove (Atthis Publishing), and other places. A post-modern ex-pat drop-out, she currently lives beside a dark forest in the USA, with her husband and a dog. The dog may or may not be mortal.