So here we are again. Mid-September, children back at school and the weather here in Britain is certainly on the turn – and so is SMoD&L.
I’ve just come back from The Lake District in Cumbria. We spent a lovely few days relaxing and recuperating from a traumatic few weeks and you can see by the pictures here that autumn is definitely creeping up on us.
Those few days were bliss and I can’t wait to go back there in November for a proper holiday. In fact, don’t be surprised if one day, you visit my Facebook Fan Page and see that my location has changed to Ambleside, Cumbria!
We even got to visit Dove Cottage, where Wordsworth spent many a happy year writing with his sister (among others! I have no idea how they got that many people in the place, Buckingham Palace it ain’t!)
What a place this was. You can see his original writing chair and the couch that he mentions in his poems. Truly inspirational.
Speaking of houses, what do you think the chances are of growing up in a house in a cemetery and you writing romance?
My guest today is Shaun Jeffrey and he explains the answer to my question. Not much:
Over to Shaun (who I am insanely jealous of!)
I guess the fact that I grew up in a house in a cemetery is pretty unusual (and it allows me to call myself the real Shaun of the Dead), but whether I’m a product of nature (it’s in my genes) or nurture (it was how I was brought up) it will probably come as no surprise that I don’t write Mills and Boon books. I write dark fiction.
But when I tell people that I grew up in a house in a cemetery and that I write horror stories, many of them immediately seem to think that I must be a little warped. They don’t seem to realise that I only make stuff up; that I don’t really go out and kill people, and neither do I harbour the desire to do so (or at least I’m not going to admit to it in public). They form a preconceived notion based on what little information they have. It’s the same when we look at someone and judge them by their appearance. We form an opinion of what we think that person is like. If they have short hair and tattoos then they must be a thug. If they are dressed in a suit and holding a briefcase, then they are a businessman. The truth is that the skinhead with tattoos might work as a nurse, and love caring for people, whereas the business man might have just tricked his way into an old person’s house and robbed them of their life savings once their back was turned. This all comes down to what we are expected to believe or think about someone based on what we know about them. Preconceived ideas not only stereotype people, countries, and cultures, but also end up being a cause of judgment, a judgement that can sometimes prove fatal.
Serial killer Ted Bundy for example used charm and good looks to win his victims’ trust. All of his known victims were attractive young women and girls who usually had long, straight hair, parted in the middle. He typically approached them in public places and gained their trust by feigning injuries or disabilities, or by impersonating an authority figure. Having nothing else to go on but their initial first impression, the victims’ would have used preconceived notions about his appearance and demeanour, judging him to be OK, which in this case proved to be to their undoing. If you look at the prolific serial killers, like Ted Bundy or Gary Ridgeway the ‘Green River Killer’, (combined body count of both numbers in the hundreds) they were able to achieve the illusion of a ‘normal existence’ while expressing their predatory desires. It’s always a common theme after the killers have been arrested to hear people say: ‘he was a nice normal guy’ or ‘I never would have believed he could do something like that’ because their crimes don’t fit with the stereotypical preconceived notions that we’ve learned to build up about them. Another preconceived notion is that all serial killers are male, when in reality there have been female serial killers such as Aileen Wuornos, a Florida-based killer and prostitute who murdered seven johns in 1989-1990; Belle Gunness, a strong and brutal woman who tallied more than 40 victims in her day and Nannie Doss who murdered four husbands and a boatload of other relatives, including her sisters, two of her kids, and her own mother.
So people are like books. And you know never to judge a book by its cover, right?
OK, I’m off to write a love … erm, I mean a horror story.
Thanks Shaun. I guess no-one can blame you for not growing up to be a Mills & Boon novelist!
Here’s a bit about Shaun:
Bio: Shaun Jeffrey was brought up in a house in a cemetery, so it was only natural for his prose to stray towards the dark side when he started writing. He has had three novels published, ‘The Kult’, ‘Deadfall’ and ‘Evilution’, and one collection of short stories, ‘Voyeurs of Death’. Among his other writing credits are short stories published in Cemetery Dance, Surreal Magazine, Dark Discoveries and Shadowed Realms. The Kult was optioned for film by Gharial Productions.
Trailer now online: Youtube
Buy Shaun’s book:
Thanks for the warning about opening the site Shaun – you scared me half to death!
Anyway, now that my heartbeat has returned to normal, I’d best get back to writing. See you next time!