An Interview with Dark Fiction Author, J.H. MONCRIEFF
Updated: Jul 9
Our guest author today is the winner of the 2018 Kindle Book Review Award for best Horror/Suspense. She won Harlequin's search for “the next Gillian Flynn” in 2016, and watch out, because her muay tai skills can kick your ass. Welcome to the Witch Haunt, J.H. Moncrieff!
WH: Hi, J.H.! Do I call you J.H., or something else? :)
J.H. works just fine. :)
Please give us a brief introduction of your talented, spooky self:
I’m a dark fiction author (mystery, supernatural suspense, psychological thriller, some horror) who draws inspiration from traveling. I love to explore haunted locations around the world, and use them as settings for my supernatural suspense series.
WH: Love that you do this. What’s your most exciting ghosthunting experience?
Definitely Poveglia, the world’s most haunted island. It was an adventure even getting there, because the guy who was supposed to take me didn’t show up. I’m not someone who scares easily, but I was terrified the entire time I was on that island. All of the buildings are creepy, but there are some that have a real psychic weight to them—you just know that something is going on there, or at the very least, that people suffered there. The asylum was one, and the tower where the evil doctor jumped (or was pushed) to his death was another.
WH: That's pretty freaky! CITY OF GHOSTS won the Kindle Book Review Award for Best Horror/Suspense? Tell us a little bit about it.
That was super exciting for me. That book has been the bridesmaid so many times, but never the bride, so when it was a finalist, I was sure it wouldn’t win. When it did win, I was in shock.
City of Ghosts is the first book of my GhostWriters series. Jackson Stone has this crazy plan to write books about his paranormal experiences all over the world, and make a million dollars so he can leave his dull-as-dust job at an insurance company. But there’s a small problem—he’s not a writer, and he doesn’t believe in ghosts. After he sneaks away from his tour group to spend a night in a Chinese ghost city, he meets a mysterious woman who just might change his mind.
Though it may not seem like it, City of Ghosts is my love letter to China. I did want to explore some of the atrocities that have taken place in the country’s history, but I adore China and would go there again in a heartbeat.
WH: I'm adding it to my TBR pile right now. So, if someone was new to reading the works of JH Moncrieff, which book should they start with?
City of Ghosts is a good place to start, but the second book in the series, The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts, is a sentimental favorite. They can all be read as standalones.
WH: Which book(s) of your entire collection are you most proud of?
One that hasn’t been published yet, called The Last Bit of Light. Out of the ones that are published, I’d say The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts.I spent two hours alone on the world’s most haunted island to write that one.
WH: Blending field experience with fiction. You could've been a professional ghost hunter. What other career would you have if not writing/publishing?
I was raised in a practical family, so even though I’ve wanted to be a novelist since I was five years old, I’ve always believed in back-up plans. I’ve been (and sometimes still am) a journalist, a publicist, a marketing director, a developmental editor, and a teacher. I’m teaching a lot right now, primarily international students, and it all stemmed from teaching writing courses at writers’ conferences.
If I could choose something else, though, I’ve always wanted to be a forensic psychologist.
WH: I'm right there with you. I've been a teacher, a cake designer, a candlestick maker... If you could interview any author, gone or alive, who would it be?
Stephen King is the obvious choice, because his book On Writing got me writing fiction again after a long slump. I feel like I owe him a lot, and would love to express my gratitude, but he’s been interviewed so many times.
I’m not sure if non-fiction counts, but if so, I’d love to interview John Douglas. John was one of the FBI’s first profilers, and the inspiration for the Jack Crawford character in Silence of the Lambs. He’s interviewed many serial killers, and analyzed plenty of famous cases, including the JonBénet Ramsey murder and the Atlanta Child Murders. I could pick his brain for hours. I’m fascinated by that stuff. The Netflix series Mindhunter is based on his career, but I found it a bit disappointing.
WH: How have you changed as a person from your early life until now?
I haven’t changed that much, but hopefully I choose my friends better now and take less crap overall (though I still take too much—I’m a forgiving person with a huge heart).
Sadly, I have a lot more self-doubt now when it comes to writing. When I was a kid, I knew I was destined to be something special. I’d tell my mom I was going to write a classic like Charles Dickens. When I got to high school, my writing teacher called me Stephanie Queen, and there was no doubt in my mind I was going to seize that fabled brass ring and become a famous author. It was my calling. These days, I’m often terrified I’ll never succeed the way I want to, and that devastates me. But I have to keep pushing.
WH: Fear is the single most crippling dream-crusher. You have to envision your future as nothing BUT being a successful novelist. That's why I dropped the other practical pursuits, so they wouldn't even be an option.
What is something few people know about you? Any secret talents?
I once had a sushi roll named after me. I’ve been training in muay thai kickboxing for too many years to admit, and one of my coaches once said my right cross could knock anyone out—I guess that’s a talent. (But I actually prefer to use my elbows.)
WH: Things makes me long for my kickboxing days. Perhaps I'll pick it up again. How do you like your coffee? Do you have a favorite libation? What’s your favorite dessert?
Believe it or not, I hate coffee. Even the smell. I don’t drink much, but I do have a fondness for moscato, prosecco, and Bellinis. I once went to Harry’s Bar in Venice, where the Bellini was invented, and experienced the real thing. I was in heaven, even though they cost 16 Euros each. I had two.
As for dessert, I’m more of a savory person, but anything light and fruity—pavlova, strawberry shortcake, angel food cake with berries, lemon meringue pie. I also have a weakness for coconut.
WH: You're on the light-healthy end of the dessert spectrum. That goes with your athletic sensibilities. What is the witchiest thing about you (we’re all a little witchy and well, this is a witchy blog :))?
I have a knack for forming intense bonds with people super quickly, which has helped tremendously with teaching and journalism. One of my exes once called me a witch because of this (Sorry, no spells, but I used to read tarot cards and I’ve used a Ouija board before).
WH: Nothing wrong with that! What do you feel makes a horror novel scary/compelling?
Caring about the characters. So many horror stories are plot, plot, plot, but if I don’t care about the people, that will only take me so far. Also, the ending. The ending has to live up to the premise. I’m so tired of predictable, trope endings: the protagonist is really the killer! The protagonist has split personality disorder! The invisible friend is a ghost! (No slight to any writer intended.)
Personally, I love endings that are left a bit open to interpretation. If you’ve ever seen the psychological thriller Basic Instinct, that ending is a perfect example. Was she or wasn’t she? I thought about it for days—weeks, even, and I love that, when a story can make me think. However, I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and believe me, I’ve heard from those people. :)
WH: I love a little open-endedness as well, but I find most readers want it wrapped up with a bow.
What is the most awesome thing happening in your life right now that you’d like to share with us? What’s next for you? We can’t wait to see what you have coming up!
I’ve just released the fourth book in my GhostWriters series, and so far, people like it, so that feels pretty awesome. I’m currently working on a creature book for Severed Press that will bring back Nat from Return to Dyatlov Pass, and the fifth Ghostwriters book, which will be released in June.
Fantastic! Well, thanks so much for sitting down with me today, J.H. It was fun getting to know you and I look forward to picking up your GhostWriters series. For anyone wanting more information, follow all of J.H. Moncrieff's links below, and have a great Hump Day! :)
* Website: https://www.jhmoncrieff.com
* Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00UB4I8Z4
* Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jhmoncrieff/
* Twitter: https://twitter.com/JH_Moncrieff
* Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jh_moncrieff/
J.H. Moncrieff's City of Ghostswon the 2018 Kindle Book Review Award for best Horror/Suspense. Reviewers have described her work as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure. She won Harlequin's search for “the next Gillian Flynn” in 2016. Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year. When not writing, she loves exploring the world's most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.
J.H. loves to hear from readers. To get free ebooks and a new spooky story every week, check out her Hidden Library.
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🔮 GABY TRIANA ☠️