Writing horror in SA

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Way back in 2011 I wrote a blog post for David Chislett’s blog on writing horror in South Africa and after reading what I wrote back then, I have to say I still agree with it.

So … here’s what I said way back then:

I write horror novels, novellas, and short stories which are set in South Africa. My first novel, Shadows, is set in Johannesburg. My second novel, Requiem in E Sharp (while not strictly a horror novel) is set in Pretoria. The genre fiction scene in South Africa is tiny in comparison with the rest of the world. There are only a handful of us who are writing horror set here and selling it to an international audience. Placing our stories here, instead of international locations like London or New York or the Australian outback, means we know our setting intimately. It also gives our stories a distinctive South African flavour.

I wrote Shadows while I was living and working in Johannesburg. As a result I used the neighbourhood I lived in and the building that I worked in. I used the buildings that I saw everyday. And while Johannesburg is a city like any other city the world over, it still has it’s own beat, it’s own pulse. I could have set it in any other city, it wouldn’t have made that much of a difference to the actual plot, but then I wouldn’t have been able to describe the setting in as much detail. I wouldn’t have been as comfortable writing it. Let’s be honest, there’s no point in my setting a book in a city I’ve never been to. Anybody reading it and who had been to whichever city I decided to pull out of my hat would know that I’d sucked the details out of my thumb. And the devil is in the details.

Writing horror is not just about where you place your story, it’s also about the people in the story. Since I write rather twisted stories, I get to do some rather nasty things to my characters. Strangely enough, I’m not a mean spirited person. When I look at the things that people are capable of doing to each other, it makes me scratch my head. In some ways I think I use my writing to try and figure out why people do such terrible things. I still haven’t quite managed to, but I keep trying.

I read an article a couple days ago about a young South African woman who lured a man to a cemetery where she killed him, dismembered him and skinned his face. I know that eventually this will end up in one of my books, because while I was reading it, I couldn’t understand why a twenty year old girl, who apparently seemed like your typical girl next door could just one day decide to skin a man’s face. It’s certainly not something that would ever occur to me to do. It left me wondering, why? I think it’s that question that drives me to write in this genre. Why do people believe in demons (and yes, you do get a lot of people who do)? Why do people believe in ghosts or haunted houses? What’s behind those strange occurrences? Why do people commit muti murders? The list of questions goes on and I think as long as those question elude me, I’ll keep writing about them and they’ll probably all be set in South Africa, a country that is filled with the horrific and the beautiful. It’s those polar opposites that give it its flavour and make it the perfect place to set horror novels.

To read the original have a look here.

Writing Horror – Introduction

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

I’ve just received the rights back to the course material I wrote a few years ago for Creative Industries College on Writing Horror. I’ve decided to share that material with you here for free. Fox Spirit and I might then at a later date put it out as a dirt cheap ebook.


So, you’ve decided to try your hand at writing horror?

Are you fascinated by the macabre? Do the things that go bump in the night fill you with excitement? Does it give you a thrill to frighten others with your tales of the horrible and horrific?

Then horror is the genre for you.

At some point or other most literary figures have tried their hand at writing dark fiction, so why shouldn’t you?

The horror industry went through a slump after the eighties boom time, but it is now coming out of it. There is an influx of intelligent horror coming from all over the world. More and more small and independent publishers are emerging and publishing fantastic horror. There are now more and more online magazines that are accepting short horror stories and paying for them. But that doesn’t mean this is an easy industry to find a footing in, in fact it’s still one of the most difficult genres to write in. There are a lot of writers out there competing for a rather small slice of the pie.

This series of posts will hopefully give you a better understanding of the industry and of horror fiction. It will also hopefully answer those questions that have been nagging at your brain-stem and inspire you to write something that will set the world of horror alight.

Welcome to the world of wild imaginings, dark delights, and fantastic freaks. It’s going to be a scream!

Next week we’ll get into what Horror Fiction is.

In the meantime feel free to check out my Amazon author page.

Shadows by Joan De La Haye

Joan De La Haye:

Shadows gets a new review.

Originally posted on Tony's Thoughts:

Shadows by Joan De La Haye

I’ve read a few stories by this author and was surprised to find this one lurking at the bottom of my reading pile. At the start of this book I was asking myself whether the demon was real or in the heads of the victims. By the end of the story I wondering if the victims were real or there purely as a punishment for the demon. Looking back after a couple of days I’m not sure I could definitively tell what if anything was supposed to be real. I might be having an existential crisis of sorts right now.

This book review is real. I’m sure of that (I think). As you probably gathered from my ramblings above this is a psychological horror. There was a nice balance of how much information was provided and how much was left to the reader. There was a slight negative for me…

View original 60 more words

SAIR Book Fest

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Because I’m lazy I’ve pinched Monique Snyman’s vlog to show you what went down at the SAIR book fest over the weekend.

You see me for about two point five seconds, you’ll get to enjoy my shoddy camera work while Monique was on a panel talking editing, and Burning even gets a shout out.

And in case you were wondering, Burning didn’t win the award for best book. Thanks to all who voted for it.

SAIR Book Fest

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

The SAIR Book Fest is happening this weekend. There’ll be a host of brilliant authors talking books, writing, and publishing. So if you’re in the Johannesburg area it’s well worth popping in to chat to one of our local scribes and I’ll be there.

SAIR event poster


And I’ll also be finding out if Burning takes home the prize for best book, so that should be fun.



Hello my Freaky Darlings,

So … Monique Snyman, fellow South African writer, has coerced me into joining Tumblr. I can honestly say I have absolutely no clue what to expect from it, or what I’ll be doing on it, but hey, it should be fun.

You can follow me on Tumblr or whatever it is that one does there: http://joandelahaye.tumblr.com/

Shadows: The Audio Edition

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

I am incredibly happy to announce that I signed a contract with Audioshelf this week to turn Shadows into an audio book.

It’s going to take a couple months for it to be available, but as soon as it is you will be the first to know.

But in the meantime, here is the stunning new cover for the audio edition: