AN INTERVIEW WITH… JAYSON ROBERT DUCHARME

Jayson Robert Ducharme is the author of over 40 short stories, 10 novellas and two novels. His work has appeared in the New Hampshire, Science Fiction and Horror editions of Z Publishing’s “America’s Emerging Writers” series. His novellas “Alessa’s Melody” and “Ceremony of Ashes” are available for sale on Amazon.

For those who don’t know you yet, which works of yours are out there?

 I’m a traditionally and self-published author. Short stories of mine appear in Z Publishing’s America’s Emerging Writers series, specifically the New Hampshire, Horror, and Science Fiction editions. I have two novellas out currently, Ceremony of Ashes and Alessa’s Melody, with a third titled Come Forth in Thaw due out in February.

Your latest novella is Come Forth In thaw: how the idea for that was born?

There were lots of reasons for it. Like many I watched the VICE documentary on Aokigahara in 2012, and thought it was interesting, but I didn’t feel compelled to write about any sort of suicide forest. I wrote a short story semi-inspired by it, about a wish-granting tree that can be found in the middle of a haunted forest, where numerous people have died trying to find it, but I was left dissatisfied with it. It wasn’t until the Logan Paul controversy–as well as the numerous movies based on and set in Aokigahara, which I found tactless and stupid–that I felt like I should return to the idea.

In Come Forth In Thaw there are a lot of strong themes, were you at all scared in coming out with a story that strong?

I don’t see any reason to be scared or afraid to talk about important things like this. This is the entire purpose of literature: to open conversation, and explore concepts that are otherwise difficult for us to digest or comprehend. The structure of narrative allows us to explore heavy themes, or even personal issues, through the lens of fiction to give us a more concise and digestible vision of it.

Am I wrong in believing the under the surface Come forth in thaw is a story that’s despite everything is full of hope?

Yes, it is a story of hope. It’s necessary for it to be a story about hope, given the subject matter. It would be the only appropriate story to tell.

Can you tell us about your beginning in the indie world?

I was hesitant to enter the indie world for a long time. Like many I felt like I needed the validation of “traditional” publishing in order to feel like an author. I laboured for about seven years endlessly submitting short stories and only managed to get three accepted from the same publisher. I decided, once I was 30, that I would stop waiting on others to make my career take off, so I bit the bullet and began self-publishing. I have no regrets.

What, if anything, is missing from the indie scene?

I’m honestly not sure. I’m still relatively new to the scene, so I haven’t explored every nook and cranny of it to make any sort of judgement of it in that regard.

After basically a year into the pandemic, does it feel weird in writing stories about characters that still live in a “normal” world? Do you feel compelled to have them wearing masks and social distancing to have the world-building feeling realistic, or Covid-19 didn’t affect your writing at all?

It doesn’t really feel weird to me. Then again, I live in the US, where our government is trying to pretend that a pandemic doesn’t exist and insists on keeping everything open and making people go to work. My life has changed little since the pandemic hit–I still go to work, I still pay bills, I still write, I still stay inside with my cat and my books. Though I have considered incorporating aspects of it into my work, but there hasn’t really been any need to. Typically when I begin a story I start it from whatever month or year I begin it in. The only thing I’ve written since Covid is my upcoming novel, the Modern Prometheus, and I haven’t really needed to incorporate aspects of it into the book.

In a world dominated by social media, do you reckon there is still a point for an author in having a website?

I think it’s mostly a formality to have a website. I think it’s expected of an author. Sort of like a job resume–not the most practical thing in the world, but it makes people take you more seriously.

Promoting on social media is vital for an indie author. This said, do you think that being popular on social platforms is becoming more important than actual writing talent, when it comes down to selling books?

I think that genuine talent is more important, but marketing gets the results regardless of whether you have talent or not. Regardless, if you’re popular on social media, that means people are reading your stuff, and if you do have talent, then being popular online will catch the eye of actual publishers, who will recognize that you already have a market under your belt.

Writing, proofreading, editing, cover design, marketing… do you wear all these hats yourself or do you have someone helping you?

I do everything myself save for making book covers. I commission artists for that. Other than that, I do everything myself.

How good are you at balancing writing with every day life’s demands?

It’s not difficult. I do at least a half hour or an hour of writing every day. So long as you pace yourself, you’re never completely consumed by it. Sometimes I honestly wish I could do more a day for it, but I know if I do that, then I’ll wind up getting burnout, and it’ll start to affect my work.

What do you do when you’re not knee-deep in writing?

I play with my cat–a seal-point Himalayan named Dacre. I also read and play video games, but that’s about it. I don’t have a very interesting personal life.

You wrote about forty short stories. When you write a short story, do you already know in which anthologies it should go, or you write it first and try to place it in a second moment?

I don’t think about any of that. I think about getting a story done, and what anthology it should go in comes after. Though like I said, I spent seven years trying to get my stuff published in magazines, but I wouldn’t compromise what I want to write for the sake of writing specifically for a predetermined market. 

Classic question: do you plan in advance or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I get a general idea of how the story will play out, but for the most part I let the story tell itself. It’s the most natural way of expression. When you plan things out too much you wind up trying too hard to adhere to the plan; it makes the story constricted.

Do you come from a literary background?

My mother is a librarian, and two of my uncles are professors of literature–one at Brown University and the other at Boston University. The other half of my family are all working class.

What is your literary and / or cultural inspiration as a writer?

I like New England. I like its history and its rural setting. I’m interested in the people around here and how they think and how they talk. In terms of literary inspirations, I’m interested in themes and style more so than actual storytelling. I really love Faulkner, Woolf, McCarthy, as well as the Russians, such as Dostoevsky and Gogol. All these authors had a means of conveying mood, psychology, and people that mean a lot to me.

Having written a lot of short stories, would you say that the short form is your favourite, or do you enjoy writing short stories, novellas and novels just about the same?

I hate writing short stories, honestly. Then again, I adhered a lot to the restrictions set by a lot of literary magazines (as per my aforementioned frustrations with trying to write specifically to a market). I get why it has to be that way, but I didn’t like constantly watching my word count cap off at 5k words when I felt the story needed more. Novellas feel perfect to me, in short form writing. It gives you the wiggle room you need to get character, mood, atmosphere and themes laid out comfortably in a story without the added stresses that come with writing a novel.

Do you ever explore different genres outside the gothic / horror / dark fiction as a writer?

I do. There are a lot of things I want to write outside my own genre. I’m interested in historical fiction and romance mostly.

Would you like to give us some of your contacts?

americanhorrorfiction_author = Instagram

www.jaysonrobertducharme.com

I have a Facebook page as well, but I’m mostly active on Instagram.

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