By JEAN SHORNEY
I have two favourite genres, to read and to write. These are crime and horror. Is there really a dividing line? A crime is committed; a spirit seeks revenge from beyond the grave…
But let’s separate the two. Firstly crime. It’s not that what you write about is something you would wish upon yourself. You don’t want to actually commit a crime. The other perspective is the whodunit – the Agatha Christie or Inspector Morse-style crime novels, where the story unfolds mostly via the detective.
My style of crime writing is more about the modus operandi of the bad guy; the criminal. I’m not a whodunit writer. A crime is committed. The detective is called in to solve it. I prefer to write about the perpetrator – his family; his relationship with his girlfriend,wife, or ex-wife.
In Stalking Aidan, The Devil In Soho and Progeny Of A Killer I write about ex-offender Aidan McRaney. Because of his good looks and his sexy Irish accent, this young man is already a hit with my female readers. He’s not such a bad guy that he’s unsympathetic. He’s simply drawn unwittingly into the criminal underworld, mainly because he carries a big chip on his shoulder. He blames his father and the rest of the world in general for uprooting him from his beloved Ireland at the age of nine.
Speaking personally, I love the anti- hero – the crossover between actual villain and the man or woman trying to be good, but never quite making the grade. My books have their anti-heroines too, such as Verdi Benson in Stalking Aidan. With her husband Charlie jailed for armed robbery and her son Terry blown up in Aidan’s car, ex-prostitute Verdi is no stranger to guns. She can blow away anyone who crosses her. With the promise of endless sex, she twists the hapless Aidan around her little finger. But Aidan is no pushover. He can be hard, and knows his way around weaponry as well as any soldier. Then there’s LJ, Lorna Jane Allardyce, in Progeny Of A Killer. LJ is an expert shot, so much so she’s even published a book about tactical weapons training, and is Aidan’s partner in their war against terrorism.
Getting inside the mind of a criminal is exciting. Why does he or she dowhat they do? Does their desire to kill stem from an isolated incident in their past; dormant for years, but manifesting later as a criminal tendency?
My contribution to the crime genre follows no hard and fast rules. The anti-hero answers to no one. He doesn’t have to concern himself about catching a crook or that the Chief Constable will have his head if he lets one go.
I grew up reading horror stories and occult writing from my early years, perhaps as a result of my father’s tales told and re-told to me during long winter evenings? As a teenager, I devoured as much literature as I possibly could about the occult.
I recollect sending for certain books relating to witchcraft when I was almost enticed to join a coven before my dad decided it wasn’t for me.
My love for the horror genre began with accounts ranging from ghostly apparitions on haunted highways to spectral chain-rattling wraiths in gloomy castles. My all-time favourite writer, Elliott O’Donnell, recounted his nights spent in various haunted houses in books such as The Screaming Skulls. Dennis Wheatley, with his stories of black magic and the occult, inspired my latest work, One Night In Hell.
It tells the story of a young psychic, Freya Monroe, who had once practiced witchcraft as a High Priestess in a coven called the Hecate Circle. Because of her powers, the Circle want her back in order to resurrect their leader, the satanist Dante LeVey. However, Freya, who’s first husband Richard was found burned to death at the wheel of his car while the rest of the interior remained untouched, is reluctant, fearing that she will alienate her present husband, who has no idea of her past.
In One Night In Hell, there’s a character called Goethe, aka Danny McCluskey, who has adopted the name of the author of Faustus, which is, in turn, about a man who sold his soul to the devil. Goethe is a vicious little serial killer, who believes the murders of young girls will ensure the satanist LeVey will use him as the host body on his resurrection. Here then, again, is the line between crime and horror.
Jean Shorey lives in Thatcham in Berkshire and works part-time in a care home. She has published five books online. The inspiration for my novels comes largely from the movies she watches, and from writers such as Jack Higgins and Gerald Seymour. She loves all things Irish and listens to old country and Irish country music – as well as old Methodist hymns – while she writes.
Jean’s website: jmshorney.wordpress.com