Friday, 1 November 2013

Author Interview: Jaime Lee Moyer

Novel: Delia's Shadow

Short Fiction



> What is Delia's Shadow about?

Delia has always seen ghosts, but only as glimpses of faces watching from a corner, or faded haunts walking through walls. The ghost she discovers standing at the foot of her bed one morning is different. Shadow, as she comes to call this spirit, follows her relentlessly, invades her dreams, and demands things of Delia. This young woman died before Delia was born, the last victim of a brutal killer that terrorized San Francisco and then vanished. At the same time, Lieutenant Gabe Ryan finds himself investigating a series of murders that bear an uncanny resemblance to his father's thirty-year-old cases. Working together, Gabe and Delia race to discover the killer's identity before he claims more victims.

> Why did you decide to set your novel in 1915 San Francisco?

Choosing the time period was easy. The earthquake that had devastated San Francisco was nine years in the past and the city thought of itself as reborn. San Francisco hosted the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915, and invited the world to come see a rebuilt city. Setting the story in that year gave me a rich background for my story.

1915 really was at the beginning of what we think of as the modern age. Cars were becoming as common as horse drawn buggies and wagons. Women had already won the vote in California years before and were proud of their independence. Women's roles were changing, attitudes were changing, and the flapper era was just around the corner. It was an exciting time.

> How much research did you do on 19th century spiritualism for the novel?

Spiritualism flourished well into the 1920s and beyond. The belief in communication with the dead wasn't as strong by the time the 1930s rolled around, but it was still there. I think that the modern day paranormal investigators are what 19th and early 20th century spiritualism evolved into. It's not viewed as a religion now, but unexplained phenomena and a strong belief in ghosts are still at the heart of it all.

I read a great deal about the spiritualism movement. Spirit mediums were employed to  provide a point of contact between the living and the dead. Seances were very popular and viewed as the best method of formal communication with the afterlife.

Spirit photography flourished at the end of the 19th century as well. People really believed that the blurry images and half seen shapes in these photographs were the ghosts of loved ones who hadn't completely "passed on" into the afterlife. Those beliefs ran deep. Telling someone the photographs were faked and a trick elicited shock and anger.

> What made you want to be a writer?

I wrote my first story at the age of 11. It's not so much a matter of wanting to be a writer, as in making a conscious choice, as it is that writing is at the heart of who I am. I don't think I could stop writing.

> If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

No, I don't think I would. I love these characters, but each of them has their own burdens to bear, their own pain and sorrows that haunt them. Fictional characters don't have an easy life, especially if they are my characters.

> What was the hardest scene for you to write?

There is a very emotional, pivotal scene that takes place on the 4th of July. I can't go into detail without spoiling the plot, but that scene was very difficult for me to write. People who've read the book will know the scene I mean.

> Since you write all three, beyond the matter of length, do you find it easier writing short stories, poems or novels?

I'm a good poet and a better novelist. Novels seem to be a natural length for me and come more naturally. Much as I love writing short stories, I'm not nearly as good at those.

> When and where do you write?

It sounds very grand to say that I write in my office, but the office is really the second, unused bedroom. I have a desk and a computer and this is where I write.

I write around my day job, so there is no set time or schedule. In all the ways that count I have two full time jobs, three if you count real life.

> What’s the best/worst thing about writing?

The best thing about writing is making a connection with a reader and knowing that someone, somewhere, gets what you were trying to do. That they love your story and your characters.
The worst thing is that the story on the page is never as grand and wonderful as the story in my head.

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Practice, practice, write all you can, and hone your craft.

> Any tips against writers block?

I'm the wrong person to ask. If something I'm writing stalls, it's not because I'm "blocked" but because I took a wrong turn somewhere. I usually backtrack  a bit, figure out what I did wrong and keep going. 

I know that's not very helpful, but it's all I have. :)

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