I recently read an excellent collection of short stories entitled “Come Forth in Thaw”, by American author Jayson Robert Ducharme.
I decided to send him an interview request, and he accepted.
Below is my interview with Mr. Ducharme regarding his work, his influences and his life as an author.
Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Jayson Robert Ducharme. Believe it or not, I don’t like talking about myself very much lol. I never know what to say. Even now I’m sitting here just trying to figure out what to say. I’m just a regular dude who works a day job and writes silly books on the side. I like cats, coffee, video games and reading. I feel like my books are more interesting than I actually am.
What are your earliest horror-related memories?
When I was six years old my father rented the first Resident Evil game way back in 1996. He invited a neighbor over and for an entire weekend I sat in the living room and watched him play through the entire thing. It wasn’t like anything I had ever seen or experienced before. I don’t even think I watched a horror movie by that point in my life, even though I had been exposed to violent movies at a young age (Predator, Terminator 2, etc). The first Resident Evil game had a profound emotional and psychological impact on me and basically traumatized me as a child. I like to think things got spooky for me around then.
What about the genre appeals to you?
I think that horror fiction has the possibility to touch every cornerstone of the human experience. For me, it’s about talking about things people don’t like to talk about, and presenting it in ways to people in its most raw and unapologetic. Horror fictional is conversational, and the topics are things that make people uncomfortable. In a way filtering these conversations through the lens of genre fiction makes these concepts and topics easier to digest. In science fiction, authors explored nuanced speculative topics through high concept fiction. In horror, authors explore emotional and psychological topics.
Who are your literary influences?
One of the problems, I think, in a lot of supernatural, psychological and horror fiction is the fact that the pool of influences aren’t very diverse. Every author of horror fiction says they’re influenced by Stephen King, or Dean Koontz, Jack Ketchum or Clive Barker. One thing I knew I wanted to do to try and make something distinctive was to try and find influences outside of the usual. For example, Russian literature is a huge influence on me. Nikolai Gogol is a wonderful author who wrote many Ukrainian folk tales in his fiction and came up with all sorts of imaginative and grotesque speculative stories. Mikhail Bulgakov is also very influential for much the same reasons as Gogol. Dostoevsky is also very much an influence, because his novels are very psychologically and emotionally intense, despite not being a genre author. Another influence is Southern Gothic fiction. There’s something atmospheric, bleak and morbidly humorous about a lot of Faulkner or O’Conner or McCarthy. Southern Gothic fiction has a strong focus on the grotesque and the weird, in both character and setting. It’s all about bleak and dismal swamps and countryside and decrepit plantation estates; about ugly characters doing ugly things that are socially taboo. I feel like I try to incorporate all of this in my work; the mysticism and imagination of Gogol and Bulgakov, the psychological intensity of Dostoevsky, and the exploration of the grotesque and the weird of Cormac McCarthy or Flannery O’Connor.
When did you start writing your own stories? What were they like?
I wrote a lot of lame spy stuff when I was a kid. Like secret agents or war stuff. They weren’t very good at all, but it wasn’t until eighth grade did I decide to try and focus more on supernatural and gothic fiction. Nothing I wrote back then was any good either.
Is there a specific theme you explore in your work?
It honestly shifts from story to story. I don’t like mulling over one specific theme in all my work, because I enjoy exploring all different themes.
You’re from the New England area. How does that influence your work, or does it?
I feel like New England has a strong tradition in horror fiction, from stuff as early as Nathaniel Hawthorne to anything as recent as Joe Hill. This is one of the oldest parts of the country and has a lot of history of witchcraft (Massachusetts), vampire scares (Rhode Island). There’s also something atmospheric about New England you don’t typically see outside of the east coast: cobblestone sidewalks, gas lamps, old colonial houses and sleazy seaside fishing towns.
Where do you get your ideas?
Whenever people ask me this question I think of that scene from Spongebob Squarepants where Patrick says “The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma” and it cuts to a thought bubble of a carton of milk spilling over. It’s literally just that. I have no idea.
Tell us about your bibliography! What books are available to buy? What are they about?
I have three books published with a fourth on the way! You can find them all on Amazon. Ceremony of Ashes, Alessa’s Melody, and Come Forth in Thaw. A fourth book, After Me, the Great Flood will be coming out on Amazon June 29th.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on two things. A novel I can’t currently talk about, and also a smaller novella project that’s inspired by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and House of 1,000 Corpses. Just something very grindhouse-like and violent.
Where can people keep up with you?
I’m mostly active on Instagram at americanhorrorfiction_author. I have other social media but I’m not as active on them as I am on Instagram, so that’s where you can find me.
And finally, my regular questions, with a horror twist!
Your top 3 books?
“Viy” by Nikolai Gogol
“Dracula” by Bram Stoker, definitely
“We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson
Your top 3 horror soundtracks?
The Shining, 1980
The entire discography of Silent Hill by Akira Yamaoka. Every album is amazing.
Not a horror movie, but it’s one of the most atmospheric and eerie soundtracks I’ve ever listened to, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack. But if that doesn’t count, I’ll go with Lustmord’s “Purifying Fire”.
Your top 3 horror movies?
The Shining, like above. The only movie that remains surreal and eerie to me.
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre
And Vampyr (1932), directed by Carl Dreyer