Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net

Interview with 
Horror Author Teri Jacobs

By Shane P. Carr

2002, Shane P. Carr


(photo by Bob Meyer)  

Teri Jacobs is writer of horror and dark fantasy. She is the author of numerous short stories and has just recently published her first novel, The Void. Teri was kind enough to take time out of her increasingly hectic writing schedule to be interviewed and give us a glimpse into her dark mind. 

VISION:    When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? At what moment did you discover you actually were a writer?

Teri:   I first announced I wanted to be a writer when I was thirteen years old, and the moment I realized I was actually a writer happened in June, after The Void appeared on the shelves.  Newfound fans wrote me letters of praise and expressed interest in my next book.  Wow, reality struck then.  Suddenly, others had expectations of me to bring them "the next book."  Readers saw me as a writer, and my ideas about myself and my work took on new meaning.

VISION :   You have published numerous short stories and your first novel, The Void, in the Horror/Dark Fiction genre. What attracted you or inspired you to write in this genre?

TeriMorbid curiosity compels passersby to gawp at the twisted heaps of cars for that glimpse of smashed bodies; others to gather at brawls for the sound of flesh whapping and battering flesh; and the rapt-eyed to watch the nightly news with those highlights of war, murder, kidnapping and all other heinous acts.   And it makes me attracted to dark fiction. . . So that I can dangle the horror and hook an audience as well.

VISION:  Are there any other genres you are interested in that you could see yourself writing for sometime in the future?    

Teri:   Oh definitely.  My Muse is quite fickle, and I've outlines for other novels in fantasy, science-fiction, thriller, and mainstream literary fiction.  Hopefully the future holds enough time for me to develop all the stories in my head.

VISION:   The classic question -- Where do you get your story ideas?  

Teri:   Obviously from my Muse.  She is the air that I breathe, and consequently the energy in my blood and brain.  She brings the imagery, and the hints in what everyone calls sparks or flashes of insight, that wonderful sensation of "a-ha."  Anything will trigger this.  Even an unsuspecting woman in her car is fodder as my mind conjures a life she's never lived.  But she will live it in my fourth novel as my main character.  Something about her clicked in my head, and I saw her weathered hands not on the steering wheel, but on the pottery wheel shaping clay.  I knew her thoughts and dreams and her appreciation of the quiet world -- knew her struggles as well, financially and emotionally, all of her as beaten up as her car.  Yet strong.  Strong enough to handle whatever haunting thing I would throw at her, and survive.

I cannot understand how inspiration works, nor explain it.  I can only accept the mysterious force and allow my imagination to fly wild with it.

VISION:  Writers tend to be a superstitious lot, with good luck charms and other objects they need to have nearby when they write. Do you have any such item that must always be with you when you write (e.g. Favorite Pen, Certain Music, Statue of a Drooling Gargoyle, etc.)?

Teri: I do have a little statue of a gargoyle with his head thrown back, mouth open wide and his tongue stuck out to catch computer viruses, but the only thing I must have is my computer.  And usually some music.  

VISION:  If you could offer one bit of advice to your fellow writers what would it be?  In turn, what would you tell them not to do?

Teri: Besides luck and talent, a writer needs three things for success: passion, perseverance, and perspiration.  The thing a writer should never do is give up writing.        

VISION: Tell us about your recent novel, The Void.  What inspired you to write it?  (e.g.  Initial idea,  Where the idea came from, etc.)

Teri: The Void alternates between the real world of Leslie Starr, a photographer plagued by shadows and a haunting legacy, and the underworld of Xibalba, where a Mesoamerican pantheon of dark gods and demons torture the dead.  There's something special about her that these ancient powers want.  The dreaded lords order Coatl, the Dark Man who stalks her dreams and preys upon his victims by slipping into their minds and then steals their souls for sacrifice, to bring Leslie into Xibalba.  But first he murders her best friend, the first of many, and lures her back to the lake, the place where it all began and will end.

The novel started out with the simple idea of a woman and her stalker, but became more complex and original as elements of shamanism, mythology, and spirits (all subjects which interested me) unfolded into the outline.  After watching a program on the Discovery Channel about psychic spies, I created the creepy character of Coatl.  And somehow this strange mix came together.

VISION You have been to a few horror conventions. Do you feel that going to these conventions has helped your career as a writer? If so, in what way?

Teri:  Yes, attending horror conventions has helped my career.  Without that initial meeting with Don D'Auria, I doubt I would have striven for such an ambitious and challenging first novel, nor would I have gotten myself off the bottom of the slush pile.  I've also met countless other writers who have given me a wealth of advice and support.  Granted, I would've learned the ropes on my own, but the climb would've be harder, longer, and not as much fun.

VISION Do you feel any other authors have influenced your writing?  Have you gained anything from reading a particular author's work that has helped better your own writing?

Teri:  Although I believe I have a distinct voice of my own, Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Thomas Ligotti, and Charlee Jacob have certainly influenced my writing because I aspire to attain their level of skill, whether with atmosphere, mood, language, style, character, structure, or poetry.  Lately I've picked up works by Joyce Carol Oates for that understated yet richly poignant writing.  Hopefully I can incorporate an ease and vivid simplicity into my style without sacrificing art.

VISION:   What can your readers expect next?

Teri:  I am currently editing my second novel, Shadow of Jezebel, which, if all goes well and meets my editor's approval, will be due out June 2003. Shadow of Jezebel deals with a group of fallen angels called the Grigori who've escaped their prisons in heaven and have returned to earth to bring back their sons, a race of giants called the Nephilim who were destroyed by God, his Archangels, and the Flood. The Grigori force Rani into becoming the mother host of horrors. In the course of the book, the readers will venture into Hell and Heaven, into battles between the Grigori and the Archangels, and into the venues of murder, necromancy and Enochian magick. Lilith, Asherah, Ba'al, Solomon, and Jezebel will have their parts as well. But mostly, the novel involves Rani's sorrow and terror -- the murder of one infant son, the monstrous and unnatural incubation of another son, and the threats of her son's murderer, who wants her as dead as her boy.

I've also begun my third novel, tentatively titled Virtu in Flesh, which is about an artist, his art, and the seductive evil that creeps from the frames.   

VISION:   As a horror author you have written some pretty terrifying scenes. What really scares Teri Jacobs?

Teri:   The threat of falling from great heights, drowning, suffocating, being mangled in a car wreck, child predators, the destruction of this planet as well as the depletion of its natural resources and life, the loss of loved ones, death as in the total annihilation of my self, my soul if you will, so that I never ever have another thought or feeling for all of eternity.

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Teri Jacobs' book, The Void, is available in bookstores everywhere. Those interested in contacting Teri or finding out more about her and her upcoming books can due so via her website: http://terijacobs.darkgriffon.net