What was the inspiration for your piece ‘Protect Us from Evil’?
A group of people in a small town become suspicious of a mysterious newcomer and decide to take action. This story came together quite quickly. I had been reading a lot about the Donnelly family massacre, a true story of a family that was slaughtered by a violent mob. This happened in Canada fairly close to where I live. It inspired me to write this story and explore how seemingly good people can not only be influenced by a mob mentality, but may even hide darkness and hatred that only bubbles to the surface under very specific conditions.
Are you a plotter or a pantser when it comes to writing, or somewhere in between?
Definitely a plotter. I come up with a lot of my stories while I’m at work, so I jot notes down in my phone as they come to me. I inevitably think about the story over the next several days and continue to take notes. By the time I actually have time to sit down and write it, I essentially have all of the main plot points and some dialogue written in a note on my phone.
How do you find the editing process once you’ve finished writing?
I don’t enjoy the editing process near as much as the initial draft process, but I find it very important. I generally write the first draft fairly quickly, since I have it very well-planned. Therefore, editing is incredibly important and I have to take many passes over the story to rearrange ideas and work on my descriptive language.
How did you celebrate your first story acceptance/publication?
I was at work in my office. I got the email and probably just smiled and did a little fist pump. Have to maintain professionalism, of course!
Do you find writing is energising or exhausting?
I find it a bit exhausting when I really want to write and there are all kinds of other things requiring my attention. However, once I get writing, it energizes me. I’ll start writing at 8:00pm and plan to put in an hour or two and then I’ll look at the clock and it will be past midnight.
Which book(s) inspired you to begin writing?
Strangely enough, I don’t think it was a specific book, but I think it was bad books in general that inspired me to write. I was one of those people that read a lot of books and had all kinds of critical things to say about them. However, I finally got thinking to myself: Why am I being so critical of the work of others? I’m certainly not churning out any works myself, so who am I to criticize the works of others?
It’s funny because it is so easy to criticize art, but to make great art, it is very difficult. I have been a musician for years, and it’s really great when I’ve worked out a great song with my band. But often it takes five crummy songs to really make a great one. That applies to writing as well. Even the best authors have a few in their bibliography that aren’t masterpieces, but it is all part of the process.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. For the longest time, I was a fan of very plot-driven fiction. I felt that a lot of words were wasted on description! I had never read a book where I felt compelled to re-read passages. It was almost as if I had never seen words as art before, but when I read this book, I knew that it was truly a piece of art.
‘Protect Us from Evil’ by Jay Adair appear in Tall Tales & Short Stories Volume One.