Unless you are brand new to Clues and Reviews, you know how much I adore Ania Ahlborn. Her writing is smart, chilling and downright addicting. In honour of her new book, The Devil Crept In, releasing TODAY, I had the opportunity to ask Ania Ahlborn some questions.
In case you missed it, I read The Devil Crept In late last year and LOVED IT! I think it was my favourite Ania Ahlborn, to date. You can check out my review here.
The novel follows a young boy, Stevie, whose best friend (and cousin), Jude, goes missing. Sick with worry at the loss of his only friend, Stevie begins his own search for what happened to Jude when he went into the woods. Deer Valley, the town where the boys reside, is no stranger to tragedy; a little boy went missing (and was murdered) years ago and animals in the town go missing often. Stevie continues his search and finds out that whatever is in the woods is a lot more sinister than he could even imagine. And when Jude shows up back in town, seemingly unharmed, Stevie realizes that this Jude is not Jude. Whatever evil lurks in the woods seems to have crept in. Super creepy right?!
Super creepy right?!
The Devil Crept In had a little bit of everything, for every reader. It contains some elements of every genre (supernatural, horror, thriller, mystery) and has such multi-dimensional characters. I truly became invested in each storyline. I have been recommending this book to everyone and anyone. I am already naming this one as one of my favourite releases of 2017!
Keep scrolling to check out what the author, Ania Ahlborn, had to say about her new novel, her writing process and life in general!
Your newest novel, The Devil Crept In, is completely original (and horrifying!); how do you come up with ideas that are so completely out of the box?
The concept for The Devil Crept In started out pretty tame. I’ve always been fascinated by missing kids, and the concept of feral children is just so, so creepy to me. I wanted to pair the two into a single story somehow. When I conceptualize a story, it isn’t me sitting down at a computer and banging it out right off the bat. The idea rolls around in my head for a good few months, if not longer. Within that time, I’m constantly challenging my own story ideas with questions of “but what if this happened?” Forcing those “what if” questions onto yourself, I believe, is one of the most important things a writer can do. It pushes you to think outside your comfort zone, and that’s where the weirdest and most wonderful ideas come from.
Which one of your characters, in any of your novels, creeped you out the most? Why?
I think Charlie Winter (Seed) wins that award. I little kid possessed by a demon? You can’t get more creepy than that. Seed took a lot of courage to write, not only because it was my first published novel, but because that whole Exorcist concept had been haunting me since I was a kid. I was afraid that as soon as I sat down and actually put the story into words, it would be ruined. Thankfully, Charlie didn’t disappoint.
What is your favourite part about writing horror?
I often wonder what it would have been like if, rather than writing horror, I had decided to go literary instead (a lot of my books have a tinge of literary in them). And every time I ask myself that question, I come up with the same answer: it would have been an awful, bad, terrible, miserable time. I find joy in the darkest parts of stories. Where many people see terror or revulsion, I see the truth of what it means to be a human being. Horror, for me, is a very honest genre, at least if the story is character-focused. There’s no better way to expose the dark truths of the human condition than to put a person in the path of their own nightmares. So, to answer your question, my favorite part of writing horror: putting my characters in the worst possible positions without knowing how they’ll get out of them. It’s pretty fascinating to watch someone of your own creation take on a life of their own.
What does your writing process look like? Are you a consistent writer? Is it more sporadic? Do you make an outline? Go with the flow? Does writing energize or exhaust you?
This is a loaded question, especially when it comes to what’s happening in my life right now. My world is pretty chaotic at the moment. My husband and I have bought a house and are knee-deep in renovations. As you can imagine, this has seriously messed with my regularly scheduled program. Right now, it’s wake up, make coffee, spend a few hours on the computer (be it dealing with emails, social media, or working on my current manuscript), take the dog for a walk, eat lunch, and jet off to the new house to spend hours painting, sanding, or what-have-you. If I don’t manage to get any writing done in the morning, I do it in the evening instead. It’s like groundhog day over here, and I can’t wait for it to be over. Once it is, my schedule will settle back into long, quiet days with hours worth of writing happening five days a week. Some authors write every day, but I take weekends off. It’s better for my mental health, I think, because it really can get exhausting. But it can be energizing as well, especially when a manuscript starts falling into place. I do write with an outline, but I try to keep it pretty loose and organic. Did I mention my schedule is a nightmare right now? It’s a nightmare right now. What day is it? Is this real life?
What is your favourite underappreciated novel?
Hmmm. Maybe Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis. I’m not sure that’s really underappreciated as much as it’s sort of unknown beyond the hardcore Easton Ellis fanbase. It was made into a movie in 2002, but I’m not convinced that film got much traction. Bret Easton Ellis was, next to Stephen King, my biggest literary inspiration when I was starting out as a writer. His dark humor is on point. I found parts of American Psycho hilarious, but I’m weird. (Obviously.) Anyway! Rules of Attraction. The style in which it’s written has been a major influence in my own work, and the book itself is one of my absolute favorites.
Which of your characters, in any of your novels, would you like to meet in person? Why?
Jeffrey Halcomb from Within These Walls. There is no “why” with Jeffrey. Everyone wants to know him. That’s the appeal of a seriously charming but ultimately deranged cult leader, after all.
How many unpublished and half finished books do you have?
I’m not the type to squirrel novels away; I tend to send them out into the world one after the other, otherwise I’d probably work them to death. As of this writing, The Devil Crept In comes out in February 2017, so that’s one. I have a novella titled I Call Upon Thee, which will be released sometime later this year as well, so that’s two. And I’m roughly half-way through the first draft of a manuscript I’m working on now, so that’s three. I’m guessing this one will see the light of day sometime in 2018.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
I like to relax, but instead, I paint walls and cabinets and crawl around an empty house on my knees, wondering what’s become of my life. No, but seriously, once the house renovations are done, I’ll have time to visit antique shops, watch ghost hunting shows, bake elaborate desserts for no reason whatsoever, and take long naps in the sunshine with my dog. And of course, I’ll read a book every once in a while. 😉