Reviewer Lois C. Henderson: Lois is a freelance academic editor and back-of-book indexer, who spends most of her free time compiling word search puzzles for tourism and educative purposes. Her puzzles are available HERE and HERE Her Twitter account (@LoisCHenderson) mainly focusses on the toponymy of British place names. Please feel welcome to contact her with any feedback at LoisCourtenayHenderson@gmail.com.
Lois Henderson, one of BookPleasures.com's reviewers, welcomes as our guest Kiwi author, Ellie Douglas, currently author of four fast-moving books, as well as creative cover designer and entrepreneur in her own right.
Lois: Good day Ellie, and thanks so much for participating in our interview. From the blood-spattered front cover of Fear Inducer (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; ISBN-10: 1544711514; ISBN-13: 978-1544711515) to the very last page, you clearly make your utmost effort to keep the reader enthralled and begging for more. To what do you attribute your thirst for gore?
Ellie: Hi Lois, thank you for having me. I guess from growing up watching horror, reading horror and role playing horror. It has always been a part of me and so I take it beyond the limits. Going way above what is considered the norm, I push it further because it is what I love to do. It is my ultimate goal to give the audience the biggest scares possible, whether that is by grossing them out, or making them unable to sleep without the light on. That drives me. That is me quenching my thirst to write gore.
Lois: Whereas you found it necessary to set Toxic Desire in California, Fear Inducer is set in your home territory of Auckland. Why the change, and have you found that your relocation has impacted on your readership in any way? If so, please explain how.
Ellie: No real reason, other than I know my area far better than I did with outside of New Zealand. It felt a little more comfortable. Though I’m not at all concerned with location, as in I’m not fixated on it. I also wanted readers to know more about where I came from, so what better way than to incorporate that into a story. I’ve not had any comments to lead me to believe that the location has impacted on any of my readers at all. I think the location could have been in a made-up area, the story out told the location. So it hasn’t been an issue.
Lois: Your key protagonist, Dr. Felix Bloom (the highly appropriate name calling to mind the predatory characteristics of those of a feline species, as well as the oft-used expression ‘the bloom of death’) is a sadistic killer who singlehandedly subverts the tenets of the Hippocratic Oath. What was your initial impetus in choosing to center your novel on a member of the medical profession?
Ellie: I wanted the character to be of a highly regarded profession, to be well respected and adored by those he could help and did help. It fitted his persona to be a doctor. No other profession would have done. If not for his upbringing, he’d have been the doctor he should have been. One would have to read the story to find out what that clue means.
Lois: Each of Dr. Bloom’s victims has a particular phobia from which they hope he will rescue them. Of the hundreds (if not thousands) of phobias that exist in the world, why did you choose the particular ones in question?
Ellie: My choosing of the phobias were random to one extent, and some of them were hand selected on a more personal level. Some were based on what would look the best in a descriptive form of death. I did a lot of research on the phobias, and ended up with the common ones and not so common ones.
Lois: Each case is preceded by a graphic picture of how the victim concerned meets his or her gory end. Some of your reviewers have called Fear Inducer predictable partly because of this. Why did you find it necessary to illustrate the novel, rather than leaving it up to the reader to imagine their terrifying end?
Ellie: I wanted to be ‘predictable’.
You hear, all too often, the rule of writing, to let the readers guess, to be unpredictable.
But I’m different. I’ve always been different. I purposely wanted readers for this book alone, to know ahead of time what was going to happen.
Another reason was that, if someone who suffered from one of the phobias [described] within the book, then they would have a chance to gloss over that chapter, it if set off anxieties within them. I was safeguarding my readers as such.
The illustrations were again me being different. I wanted to be that ‘one of a kind’ author who created something unique, and took the idea of a graphic novel and rendered it into my own form.
Plus, a graphic image before the chapter allows the reader to really let their mind go, to have a visual like that would be powerful, that was/is my hope.
Lois: Dr. Bloom’s relationship with his secretary, Joanna, can be seen as ambiguous. Can you please explain how you see the dynamics of their relationship, in terms of the overall development of the plot.
Ellie: I wanted/needed Dr. Bloom to have one confidante, but not one who was too friendly to the point of sharing his deepest, darkest secrets. He needed someone to back him up if the police ever got too close. He needed someone who believed he’d never be capable of such heinous crimes. So he formed the friendship with his secretary, Joanna, as a ruse to disable suspicion, and to look on the outside as a normal functioning doctor. I purposely left it open for readers to interpret their own reasons for Dr. Bloom having the relationship he did with Joanna. So, some of my book is purposely ‘predictable’, whereas other parts are largely left up to the reader to figure out.
Lois: By and large, Dr. Bloom seems to enjoy his own company to that of others. However, he does have one friend, Rick, who is a fellow professional. Please tell us more about the need that Felix has for his friendship, and the importance of their association to the central unwinding of the story.
Ellie: Rick was again another player in Dr. Bloom’s world, a pawn who was only there as a means to support and back up any finger-pointing accusations. He also was another highly intelligent being to whom Felix could relate, with Felix’s need to fuel his ever-expanding IQ. It meant he needed to be in constant relations with someone his equal.
Lois: Whereas in Toxic Desire you focus on the erotic aspects of the novel, in Fear Inducer you largely concentrate on the horror-inducing elements involved. In terms of target audience, do you feel that you, consequently, have narrowed your audience (and hence restricted your sales)?
Ellie: No, a horror is a horror, an erotic tale is an erotic tale. They are separate.
Lois: Researching the background to your novels is very important to you. Please explain how you conducted your research for Fear Inducer.
Ellie: I studied the phobias and fears intricately. My own daughter suffers from a few fears, OCD with intrusive thoughts, and has phobias. So, having attended many sessions with her in a clinic setting it enabled me to learn a great deal over the years. The remaining research came from watching documentaries, talking to other phobia sufferers, and reading books.
Lois: I know that you are currently working on your next two novels. Can you please offer us a sneak preview into the horrifying works to come?
Ellie: Having a passion for horror, and in particular zombies, I’ve been working on a particular novel that is set here, in New Zealand. The actual location is fictitious, but the hospital it is worked from is based on true events that have happened. I can’t say too much more, as I like to obtain some secrecy regarding my new novels that are in the birthing stages.
My second one is again to do with horror; it will have a witch and a vampire in it. Again, I’m remaining tightlipped, as I prefer to remain mysterious about up-and-coming novels that I’m working on. Just know that they will equal my previous works; they will also be groundbreakingly scary. For the audience, there is going to be actual, ‘Jump-Scare’s’ and, of course, my usual gruesome descriptiveness will be abundant.
Lois: Thank you so much, Ellie, for granting me this opportunity to interview you. Fear Inducer certainly cast an alternative light on the medical profession for me. The next time that I visit my local GP, I don’t think that I’ll be quite so cheery and trusting as I’ve so glibly been in the past…