Author Interview: Valjeanne Jeffers

Valjeanne Jeffers author pic

Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, and the author of ten books, including her Immortal and Mona Livelong series. Her novella, The Switch II: Clockwork (Books I and II combined) was also nominated as the best eBook novella of 2013, by the eFestival of words.

Her writing has been published in numerous anthologies including: 60 Black Women in Horror Fiction; Steamfunk!; The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology; and most recently, Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures; Sycorax’s Daughters; and Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler. Her stories (Awakening and The Sickness) have been published as podcasts by Far Fetched Fables. Valjeanne is also one of the screen writers for the horror anthology film, 7Magpies (in production). 

What’s new and exciting in your life as an author? 

Late last year, I released the second novel of my newest series: Mona Livelong: The Case of the Powerless Witch. It’s a steamfunk/horror series and it’s become quite popular, which makes me happy. I love it when my readers dig my offerings. I had three stories and an essay published in 2016-2017. Also, Quinton Veal, my fellow author and cover artist, and I published Scierogenous: An Erotic Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy (2016). This is an anthology which brings together both new and seasoned authors’ unique take on erotica and science fiction, and we’re very excited about it.

What is your connection to the American South?  

My parents, Lance and Trellie Jeffers, were both English professors and writers. My father (now deceased), was from San Francisco. My mother grew up in a little town in Georgia, Eatonton, about a hundred miles from Atlanta. I grew up listening to her stories: she is a most certainly a griot. My whole family enjoyed her stories; I guess now they would be called folklore. My father, wrote over a dozen poems to her and her Southern roots. Most of my mother’s family still lives in Georgia, and as a child, I often spent my summers in Eatonton. This is where I had some of most memorable experiences—both good and bad. And all of this has found its way into my writing.

How has that connection to the South informed your work as a writer?

When I wrote my Immortal series, I drew heavily from my experiences as child of the Civil Rights era, and of the beautiful “Make Love not War” zeigeist of this movement. This 1960s-1970s flavor is part of the mosaic of my Immortal series; in fact I think it binds together the synergy of Afrofuturism, sorcery and shapeshifting of these novels. But when I wrote my third novel, Immortal III: Stealer of Souls, I embraced both this era and my roots. “Annabelle” the newest main character, is definitely a Southern. She is a powerful, conflicted, dangerous meta-human. She brings both the beauty and the terror of her (my) Southern heritage to the series.

When I began writing Mona Livelong, I dusted off some of the memories of the gritty urban novels I read as a child to create something new. Again I returned to my roots. I returned to my mother’s stories, to that little town in Georgia, to some of my experiences that blur the lines between reality and fantasy. They are the stuff of dreams and of nightmares. The beginning of Mona Livelong III was actually inspired by an experience I had while visiting relatives in Eatonton.

What can we expect to see from you in the future? 

I just released an audio book of Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. I read and produced it myself, and it was a lot of work. But I had fun working on it. Readers can purchase the MP3s (listen online or download) at www.gumroad.com/valjeannejeffers. The CDs are available at www.vjeffersandqveal.com. I’m going release Immortal IV: Collison of Worlds, which I also plan to read myself, in the near future. I’m writing Mona Livelong III: The Case of the Vanishing Child as we speak, and I plan to release it in 2018. Quinton and I are also planning to release a sequel to Scierogenous in 2018.

Readers can purchase the novels of Valjeanne Jeffers at www.vjeffersandqveal.com or at Amazon (click here for her Amazon Author Page) or at Barnes & Noble. You can purchase her ebooks at www. Smashwords.com.  Free stories are available at Smashwords:  Grandmere’s Secret and Outcasts.

Immortal I and Immortal II: The Time of Legend are also available at Audible.com.

Author Interview: Mark Allan Gunnells

Mark Allan Gunnells author pic

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf. 

1. What’s new and exciting in your life as an author?

This summer has been all about re-releases. Apex Publications released a new edition of my zombie novella ASYLUM, featuring an original short story “Lunatics Running the Asylum” set in the universe of the novella. E-topia also re-released my time travel gay romance THE EXCHANGE STUDENT.

2. What is your connection to the American South?

I was born and raised here in South Carolina, and being southern is such an integral part of who I am that I don’t even think about it. As a gay man, the south is not always the most welcoming, but even in the conservative south, there are great pockets of openness and acceptance. I am very proud to be southern.

3. How has that connection to the South informed your work as a writer?

Almost everything I write is set in the south, particularly small town south because that’s were I grew up and continue to live. Small southern towns are interesting because everyone seems to know everyone’s business, and yet these communities know how to keep secrets like no one else. This is very conducive to horror.

4. What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m working on a haunted house novella called 432 ABERCORN. This October Hydra, Random House’s digital line, is releasing a series of anthologies called HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL, and the first volume will contain my novella #MakeHalloweenScaryAgain along with stories from Lisa Morton, John R. Little, Kevin Lucia, and Robert McCammon. Next year Crystal Lake Publishing will release a new collection from me, BOOK HAVEN AND OTHER CURIOSITIES.

Click here to visit Mark’s Amazon page, and click here to visit his author blog. 

Poetry: Welcome

by Darrell Z. Grizzle

Welcome to the ranks of those who feel
deeply. This is not an easy path.
You will be subject to both anxiety attacks
and random attacks of grace.
You will have days when everything is crystal clear
and days when everything is murky grey.
You will have days when you will feel such joy
you’ll think you might explode.
And you will have days when you will feel despair
so deeply you’ll long to be shallow again
and wonder if you can ever return to normal.
The answer is no.
Your capacity for love — the depths of your compassion —
your ability to experience the emotions that make life worth living —
these are directly proportionate to your ability to feel pain.
This is your blessing and this is your curse.
Welcome.

Originally published in Whosoever, January/February 2001
Copyright © 2001 by the author