Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed Jennifer Gordon, who has recently released her second novel in The Hotel series, When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (Read the reveiw here). Her first novel, Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) is a finalist in the Kindle Book Review Awards.
Jennifer Anne Gordon is a gothic horror novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) which is a finalist in the Kindle Book Review Awards, and From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1), and coming out in November 2020, When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2).
She had a collection of her mixed media artwork published during spring of 2020, entitled Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Gordon
Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, a video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network.
Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog “Lord Tubby”.
She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.
She has made her living as an actress, a magician’s assistant, a “gallerina”, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.
When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like ‘give me a kiss’ and ‘what hand is the treat in?’ ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.
She is a leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.
For more information and benevolent stalking, please visit her website at http://www.JenniferAnneGordon.com
Francis comes out as a broken, far more damaged man in the book two. But it’s his weakness that is unexpected and shocking. Was that something you planned for him right from the beginning or it happened with his character’s development?
I definitely agree that he is broken and more far more damaged than anyone thought, in the first book, and yes my plan for Francis was always to go dark with him. In fact he (also Agnes) were the reasons this turned from a one book standalone to a 2 book series. I was originally writing one novel, about Isabelle and Francis, and then the second half of the story started to shape itself in a different way. So yes, my plan for Francis was always to reveal the truth about him. Though, I personally don’t really consider him weak. I believe in a lot of ways, he as a character are very emotionally stunted due to the childhood trauma, but I never thought of him in terms of weakness, I did think if him in terms of being a man who was never at one point in control of his own life.
The characters’ inner turmoil, like Isabelle and Francis’s, which have been the main theme in the first book suddenly takes a back seat in this book. It’s Agnes whose story became the center of the theme. Was that a conscious choice on your part when you started the first book in the series, or was that something that developed as the story progressed?
When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk is still very much Francis’ story, though Agnes did play a huge role in who he was, and “why” he was. What I love to do in my writing is create “doubling” or characters that emotionally mirror each other. I think in the first book From Daylight to Madness that Isabelle and Francis have a lot of the same experiences, being betrayed by their family, both being sent away for being “sick”, they both had a profound loneliness and a desire for real connection.
When I was writing When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk it gave me a chance to explore the same idea of doubling or mirroring with Francis and Agnes, as they too had similar things to draw them together, childhood trauma etc. I don’t really feel like her story was the center of this book, but the themes behind her story definitely were. Also she was one of the only characters that we come to know that really knows Francis.
Agnes as a character became a bigger part of the story the more, I wrote her, and all of my beta readers kept begging for more of her. Someday there will be an Agnes book, but not for a while.
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite? Why?
Strangely my favorite part in this book is a little “Interlude” I wrote, that involved my characters Agnes, her Father and her mother (who died in childbirth). I loved writing that because it gave a glimpse into the life of some of these characters before we get to know them in the current book and though the subject matter was very dark that I was writing about, I used an almost story book or fairy tale rhythm to the language during the Interlude, so it reads much “lighter”.
How do you come up with names for your characters?
Isabelle and Francis I just knew in my heart that was what their names were, it was like I was writing about real people. Agnes came to me in a dream, and the rest in this case came from Census forms for the 1870’s and before (depending on the age of the character and their heritage.)
What’s more important: characters or plot?
To me it will always be about the characters. I usually have a very rough idea of a plot (or theme) usually I like to know the beginning the middle and the end…sometimes the end changes. I let my characters tell me the story, I just type it up.
Do you read your book reviews? Do they please you or annoy you? Do you think you can learn a lot from reading criticism about your work?
I do read them, I think right now it’s still so important to me to know what is connecting with the audience. We don’t have in person book events where I can answer questions and gage reaction, so reviews are crucial. I try not to be annoyed by any review, though sometimes when I get a one star review and there are no words to go along with it, that is hard, because I don’t know what caused the bad review.
How different was your life one year ago?
A year ago, that seems like a lifetime…a year ago was pre-covid, and I was a professional ballroom dancer and performer, my “day job” was teaching dance and choreography. I was also getting ready to head to Spain for my fiancé and I’s yearly trip over seas. Now…. I have been unemployed since March for the most part, I have been focussing on writing, and my books have won some awards, and my novel From Daylight to Madness became #2 on the US Horror Best Seller’s list (The Stand was #1). I host a podcast where I talk with bestselling authors about what went right and what went wrong in their writing process. It’s Called Vox Vomitus. I also just started a new job working for a political strategy and lobbying firm called Karner Blue. Also, now I’m married…so everything from my life a year ago is different. I think that’s why it feels like this past year has really been four or five.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently about 45,000 words into a literary speculative fiction novel. Think Contagion meets Lost in Translation. It’s been fun to write in a non gothic way, though I still have my own lyrical style. This novel will be hard to put into a category, there are moments of horror and body horror, but it’s really about the end of the world, maybe not in a global sense but in a personal sense. “It’s not the end of the world, it’s just the end of their worlds.” Hoping for a Summer 2021 release
Categories: BookView Review Interview