Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Julia Kavan Interview

Please welcome dark fiction author Julia Kavan. Julia recently interviewed me on her blog, and now it's my turn to ask the questions. Mmwhahaha. I'll lead off the interview by mentioning that I read Julia's short story, "Dreaming, not Sleeping," and I'm impressed. It's difficult to write a story from inside a dream, and she nailed it for this reader.


A woman is tempted away from the safety of her husband’s arms by a skillful nighttime visitor, but they both find nothing is as it seems…A short story that will draw you into a nightmare. Would you want to stay or go home?


Born in the University city of Cambridge, England, Julia has spent most of her life living in Cambridgeshire - atmospheric and the perfect inspiration for ghost stories.

She has taught creative writing classes for the last ten years, whilst writing screenplays, tackling a novel and experimenting with short stories.

A true Scorpio, her tastes definitely err towards the dark side. She devoured horror stories as a teenager, including James Herbert and Stephen King in her list of favorite authors, moving on to Clive Barker and Peter Straub. As a child she would watch anything that even vaguely looked as if it may be scary... so perhaps it is only natural that this is the area her writing tends to wander into - even if she doesn't always intend it to!


Keith: What is the greatest appeal of writing fiction, especially dark fiction?

Julia: As a child I would often escape the real world by losing myself in books and inside my own imagination. I loved writing stories then– and gradually those stories got darker as I grew older. I enjoy exploring the darker side of life… and our minds. I love the challenge of trying to capture the sinister and unsettling thoughts we have and creating stories from them.

Keith: After reading your short story, I have to ask a few related questions: 1) Do you dream? 2) If so, how often and how vividly? and 3) Do you welcome your dreams or dread them?

Julia: I have very vivid dreams. There are dreams I remember from childhood, and I also have recurring dreams. I love my dreams – most of the time – even the dreadful ones.

Keith: I was intrigued with the mix of horror and erotic passion in your writing. Fear and passion are such "lose control," immediate emotions, either one able to dominate feelings, thoughts, and actions. Put them together and you get...well, "Dreaming, not Sleeping." My question: Would you describe yourself as a controlled and deliberate person or are you more spontaneous and free-spirited?

Julia: Both. I’m mostly controlled and deliberate, but certain circumstances and people can make me flip completely the other way.

Keith: I know you've always read lots of horror. Can you identify any authors that have influenced your writing? In what ways did they influence you?

Julia: The biggest influence, I think, was a short horror story called Dark Wings by Fritz Leiber. It was atmospheric and disconcerting with a twist. I also love the way Clive Barker writes – I find his style/voice very seductive. I would love to be able to write like that.

Keith: Is there a lesson in your story, something you planted for readers to find?

Julia: I don’t think there is a lesson in there as such – but I do like to try and get readers to question their own thoughts and ideas. I’ve been surprised by the differing opinions about the fate of the main character. Some readers are sympathetic towards her, others toward her husband…and I’ve had some who want to know more about the visitor who haunts her dreams…

Keith: What was the biggest challenge for you in writing this story?

Julia: Trying to get the balance right between eroticism and horror. I was worried about going too far in the horror direction. Also - trying to keep the sexual element erotic rather than graphic. I’ve read such a lot of badly written sex scenes recently. I wanted this to be subtle and sensual – seductive rather than in your face.

Keith: Which do you prefer to write, short stories or novels?

Julia: I enjoy writing both. They each require a different set of disciplines. I’m currently writing short stories, both as myself and under a pen name. I’m a very intense writer and having something too dark lurking in my mind for too long can take its toll, so it’s best I keep some of my stories short. I’ve written a novel and have an idea for another fermenting away at the back of my mind. I’m also drawn to writing novellas, so may give that a go.

Keith: What would you like your readers to know about you, something that doesn't get mentioned in a typical author's bio?

Julia: I’m a big believer in following your dreams and walking your own path, or at least wandering off the path other people think you should be on to see what you can find. You might get lost for a time – but you might just find a better path.

Keith: And I'll wrap up by telling you how I enjoyed your story. I'm impressed with how the style managed to be lean and atmospheric at the same time and how you put so many vivid senses into play yet still captured the vagueness of a dream. Anything else coming out soon?

Julia: I recently had the pleasure of editing a short story by fellow horror writer Steve Emmett. A new challenge for me, and one that I enjoyed very much. ‘Kid’ was released earlier this month. I also have a short story coming out with Etopia Press - I hope later this year. However that will be under a pen name. I’m also preparing to submit my novel. Not out and out horror this time, it’s a supernatural mystery. I’m also thinking of releasing a collection of my own short stories. So watch this space…

Thanks for having me, Keith. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions!

"Dreaming, Not Sleeping" is available from Etopia Press,
Amazon US, and Amazon UK.

"Kid" is available from Amazon US.

Find out more about Julia here:
Website: http://www.juliakavan.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Seneca24
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julia.kavan
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/juliakavan


  1. Hooked me. I've always been fascinated by dreams and listening to anyone talk about their dreams and how they interpret them. Very nice interview, Keith & Julia.

  2. Thank you, Joylene. I enjoyed Keith's questions!

  3. Thanks, Joylene. "Dreaming, not Sleeping" is a great, short read. It was my pleasure to interview Julia.

  4. Great interview Keith and Julia. Really enjoyed it and I love 'Dreaming Not Sleeping'. Looking forward to reading "Dark Knowledge", Keith!