On the factory floor with
In our First Issue of The Wyrd, we were privileged to get our grubby little tentacles on a haunting story by Joanna Roye. What can be better than publishing her excellent Big Puppy? Well having a good yak about it, of course. We asked Joanna to reveal her secrets. Here’s what she said…
Your story, Big Puppy, reminded us of classic horror stories that feature a machine, some human artifice, as the ultimate antagonist. How did this story arrive on your doorstep?
I think I was primarily inspired to write about my hometown. It was a small city that peaked during the 20th century much like the one described in the story. In thinking about the history of the town and its effect on people, I began to contemplate how large systems operate. I considered, too, how they all eventually dispose of the humans wrapped up in them. And the metaphor of a hulking machine was readily apparent. This spilled over into thinking not just about the treatment of manual laborers, but also of women. Further, the story seemed like a great vehicle for exploring a certain kind of existential horror.
Tell us a little about your inspirations. What made you get into writing and what keeps you there?
I’ve loved scary stories since I was a small child. As soon as I could read I was devouring ghost stories and telling them to other kids at school. I wrote a few stories as a kid, but it took me a long time to return to writing as an adult. Now, I love crafting stories that have an impact on readers and that explore ideas creatively. The horror genre will always be my favorite, but sometimes it feels like a lot of the ideas in the field are stale and threadbare. I keep writing, because I’d feel like there’s plenty more to explore. As far as writing inspirations, I enjoy Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Daphne Du Maurier, Caitlin Keirnan, and Flannery O’Connor.
What about the process? What’s the writing day of Joanna Roye look like?
Actually, this answer might seem strange, but I do a fair amount of pre-writing in my head. Since I’m currently a stay-at-home mom, I don’t have much time to sit at a computer and write. Therefore, I do most of my plotting, and even crafting certain turns of phrase, in my head before writing them down. This saves me lots of time when I do finally have a chance at the laptop. Otherwise, I tend to try and write short stories in bursts over 2-3 days and then spend several weeks revising and polishing. I also send stories out to friends and family for feedback and read them aloud to my husband.
Back to your story, Big Puppy. Did you have to do a lot of research for it? Spend any time in yarn factories for this one?
I did a certain amount of research in terms of the specific parts of a spinning machine, but your final question is very perceptive. My father actually worked as a chemical engineer in a nylon spinning plant. As a child, I got to visit the plant several times and take tours that included the main spinning floor. I wove the story together from my memories, as well as a few horror stories my father told me of industrial accidents he had the misfortune to witness.
What are you reading right now? Which writers should we be looking out for?
I actually read a mix of things inside and outside the horror genre. I’m currently working on Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, The Empty House and other stories by Algernon Blackwood, The Collector by John Fowles, and will be starting on High Rise by J. G. Ballard soon. I’ve also enjoyed reading through the other stories in The Wyrd and Deciduous Tales Vol. 1 (another publication I had the honor to be included in this year).
Random question: If you could have dinner with one author, alive or dead, who would it be?
I think I’d have to say Dorothy Parker. I’d love to sit and have drinks with her and witness her wit in the first person.
What is on the horizon for you: any interesting projects our readers should be aware of?
I’m currently focusing on revising a novel that I hope to begin querying to agents next year. It’s about a young woman struggling to overcome the brutal death of her roommate, an anthropologist who is sliding into senescence, and an eldritch god who sometimes takes the form of a beautiful woman or ordinary cat. It plays with tropes from the gothic tradition and draws on old adventure tales.
If our readers want to keep up with what you’re up to, where should they go?
The best way to keep up with my publications is through my website: joannaroye.com. You can also follow my facebook page (at JoannaRoyeAuthor) or my Twitter account (@jjroywrites).