Jemima Valentino is the author of His Elle, an erotic novella, and Broken, a short story based on real life events. I couldn't think of a better time than Halloween to talk to Jemima about her new supernatural release The House On Hundred Hill.
Your new paranormal novella, The House On Hundred Hill, explores the hidden world of the Nephilim. Has this particular mythology always been of interest to you? Did you have to do much research?
I absolutely love mythology and the supernatural, but to be honest I am probably a bit of a dunce when it comes to ancient legend - I do love to make it up though! I did do a little bit of research on the Nephilim, and discovered that they were supposed to be giants, so much larger than my characters Draven and Nate Black. I think the thing with mythology though, is that it’s open to interpretation as the whole point is, nobody really knows. So, I allowed the research and information I discovered from it to swirl around in my head for a while to come up with my own interpretation. ‘The House on Hundred Hill’ was my first real attempt at world building, and I totally loved it! It’s given me a new passion and a totally different direction to my current work in progress.
Your first novella, His Elle, was a piece of erotica set in the real world. The House On Hundred Hill is a paranormal thriller with erotic elements. Did your writing process differ at all the second time around?
Absolutely. I wrote His Elle very much from the heart, putting myself in the place of my central characters and basing their emotions on how I thought I would feel in that situation. His Elle is a story of emotional and psychology healing through BDSM and although I have never lived in this lifestyle, it’s always easier to write a character that you can relate to. I remember having a similar discussion with you before about how it is easier to write a character based on your own gender, age group, environment etc.
Whereas with The House on Hundred Hill, I have (obviously) never encountered a real-life Nephilim or their ancient enemies, the Gregori. Therefore, the short answer is definitely yes - my writing and thought process differed massively with second book, and I’m sure it will do so again with my third, fourth and fifth as you grow as a writer, and in the writing process, with each new idea.
Genre terms such as "urban fantasy" and "paranormal romance" have become ubiquitous in recent years due to the success of Stephenie Meyer and the more adult fare of Laurell K Hamilton and Sherrilyn Kenyon. What do you think it is about these subgenres that makes them so popular?
I think people in general like to get lost in fantasy. The worlds that Laurell K Hamilton and Stephenie Meyer have created have massive appeal to readers that can use their imagination and lose themselves in an alternate reality for a period of time. It’s escapism in its simplest form. I read ‘Thinner’ by Stephen King when I was a child and was probably far too young to be let loose inside a book that dealt with an adult theme of gypsy curses, but that book has stayed with me to this day because I remember thinking what I would do if one of my family was cursed in such a way.
Escapism is what books are all about - every fiction book ever written and read has caused somebody somewhere to lose themselves, even if it’s just for a second. Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance are not new to our bookshelves, they’ve just been modernised with the times, and given updated ‘genre definition’ from the classics of Bram Stoker and JRR Tolkien.
Do you have a favourite novel from the fantasy or horror genre?
I actually watched the start of ‘Christine’ last night on the TV, before I fell asleep. I’d forgotten what an awesome story that is. Although it’s probably not amongst my favourites, I do enjoy most books by Stephen King.
This year I have also read quite a few books in the fantasy genre by indie authors, and the one that really stuck with me is Fierce Dawn by Amber Scott. It was really very well written and probably the only time I’ve given a 5 star review to a book that sits in the YA category. Then again, I also totally loved Hunger Games too, and can’t wait for the film release next year.
What would you say separates The House On Hundred Hill from other works of fiction that explore paranormal romance?
Probably it’s erotic element. Angels and BDSM is not something that I’ve come across that much (if at all!), and some readers may find that a bit of a strange theme throughout the book. It was written intentionally though and I really think it adds that extra dimension to the normal ‘sexy angel’ books that you find floating around on the bookshelves of YA readers. The House on Hundred Hill is very adult, and I’m hoping it will appeal to readers who like to combine the paranormal and sex.
Can you choose one sentence from the book that encapsulates its style or theme?
He was Nephilim; the perfect impure balance between humanity and the sprawling darkness, the terrifying shadows that eclipse the soul of the pure-bred humans and lead to that desperate ache, that chill of bones, the screams of malevolence that beg and fight for release but are never heard or recognised until it’s simply far too late.
Do you have a favourite character in this book? Who was the easiest to write for?
Jessica was the easiest to write (going back to my earlier comment about relati
ng to characters), but the most fun and my favourite was actually Draven. I love that dark dangerous edge in an alpha male character and my favourite part of the book was when Jessica meets him for the first time.
The House On Hundred Hill is the first in a series. What can readers expect from future instalments?
I would love to tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. (That’s not a threat by the way, before I’m arrested for posting death threats to the internet….)
Seriously though, I have the plot semi formed in my mind at the moment but I’m taking a little break from writing the next one to concentrate on something else. But, what I can tell you is that there will be a surprise return of a character mentioned in The House on Hundred Hill, and Jessica and Nate’s relationship will be threatened as they venture into Gregori territory on the desperate hunt for Draven and Azrael.
Who are your writing influences and/or literary heroes?
I hate this question because there are so many literary heroes and I always struggle to name just a few. From the top of my head, I would have to Say Stephen King and Anais Nin. I always want to throw Sue Townsend in there as well, as the woman is a comedic literary genius and the Adrian Mole series will keep in entertained for the rest of my life as I never get tired of reading those books, time and time and time again.
As it's Halloween, I have to ask you - do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
Oh for sure! I am a great believer in paranormal activity. I’ve never actually seen a ghost, although I think I’ve felt them on more than one occasion.
My parents live in an old converted barn / woodshed that dates back to the early 1800’s (just to clarify, it’s a house now, they don’t just live in a woodshed…), and they have a long sweeping gravel driveway that leads up to the house. My dad told me once that he looked out of his bedroom window one morning and there was a man with a horse and cart walking up the driveway. By the time my dad went out to greet him, the man and his horse had disappeared. When my dad asked in the local village if anyone knew him, the locals said his name was Ipikin and he was a rag and bone man at the time my parents’ house was built. The villagers even showed my dad some drawings of what the man looked like. Since then both of my parents have seen Ipikin a few times, mainly in the winter when the driveway is covered in snow. Spooky eh?
The House on Hundred Hill is out now on Amazon. Check out Jemima's website for more information, or follow her on Twitter: @JemimaValentino