‘A thin crack is all it takes for wickedness to coil into our world. Winding through the delicate minds of innocents and the twisted desires of killers, it preys upon the crippled pieces of our souls.’
Jacob Klop: husband, father, accountant and author of The Community, has just released an excellent new collection of short horror stories, collectively entitled Crooked Souls.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Jacob about his new book, the writing process, and what he feels makes for a great story.
How did you get into writing?
I always took creative writing as my optional courses throughout university, but my brain sent me into accounting and then life/kids came along. About five years ago I wrote the first couple chapters of The Community and then set it aside. I showed it to my wife a year and a half ago and she said it was good enough to be published. Since then, I’ve been obsessed. I believe I was born to be a writer in my heart but my brain sent me in another direction.
It must be quite a challenge to find time for writing while you’re still working as an accountant on top of your family/life commitments. Any tips for juggling it all?
Honestly, I believe the best strategy is to do your best to set a daily goal. Three hundred words a day and you’ll have a first draft of a novel in a year. I aim for a thousand words, but my kids are older now.
What kind of process do you go through when you write? Do you have a particular process that works for you?
I do. I like to write a chapter then do a first edit of the chapter before moving on. I find that tackling the first edit in one chunk can be overwhelming.
Often when you talk to some authors they’ll tell you that they’ll have their stories all planned out and then as they write, their characters will take on a life of their own and take the story off in unexpected directions. Do you ever find this to be the case or do you like to stick doggedly to a plan?
For my short stories I often only have two or three sentences outlining a general plot when I start and they can take a life of their own. My novels need a bit more planning though. As I write I tend to improve my original version/thoughts when I think of better ideas.
So let’s talk about your new collection of short horror stories, Crooked Souls. There’s some really compelling stories in here, each with their own tantalising, grizzly themes running through them. What inspired you to write this book?
I had the idea for one of the stories ‘Trick or Treat’ from years ago so I wrote it for fun in between novels. I had so much fun writing it that I just kept going with more short stories. It helps that my wife is addicted to short horror stories, so I always had a fan to show my work to.
Is horror your ‘usual’ genre then, or do you dabble?
Oh, I’m a dabbler. My first novel was dystopian fiction. I have a completed Sci-fi and MG Fantasy that I need to do final edits on and I’m currently working on a sci-fi in a cyber world with an augmented detective as the main character.
Going back to Crooked Souls, I was quite struck, in a good way, by how in some of the stories the more fantastical horror themes are blended together with ‘real life’ monsters: nurses who get off on the suffering of patients, sleazy groups of men hoping to take advantage of a lone woman and so forth. Would you say horror, despite its fanciful surface themes, has something valuable to say about the darkness of real life?
I suppose it can, but personally, I’m just doing my best to entertain the reader with realistic characters facing horrifying situations. Once the story is in my readers hands it’s up to them to take whatever they want from them.
So what makes for a really great story in your opinion? What ‘does it’ for you personally as a reader?
In my opinion, great stories are driven by a combination of strong character development and an entertaining plot peppered with enough description for the reader to visualise what’s happening. As a reader I want to see what’s happening and feel like I’m getting into the mind of the character. I want to feel immersed in the story.
Do you have any particular author heroes?
Robin Hobb is my favorite followed by Dan Simmons probably. Lately I’ve been reading a variety of indie authors.
And finally, do you have any tips for new writers working on their first book?
Just do it. Don’t hesitate. Get writing, but keep reading and keep writing. I thought my first novel was great, but set it aside for about six months. When I returned to it, I cut out two thousand words because I’d essentially continued to grow and improve as a writer.
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I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.
You can check out our previous interviews here: