Journal

Negative Space Author Q&A: M.J. Mars, “Six Weeks”

This is part of a series of interviews with contributors to Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror from Dark Peninsula Press. Check back here over the next few weeks as I post more of these so you can get to know these great authors and get a little taste of this awesome collection! Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror comes out on June 19th, 2020!

Q: Tell us about your story in the Negative Space anthology.

A: My story is called “Six Weeks.” It is about a group of university students who are trapped in their dormitory during a monstrous outbreak. The protagonists try to fight the monsters using suggestions from internet forums, but one by one they are picked off by the beasts. The last man standing, Nick, believes his only option is to reach the chemistry labs to find ammonia, the one substance that has been proven to deter the creatures. The only problem is, the chemistry labs are on the other side of campus. And the monsters are closing in.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge in writing survival horror?

A: It was a fine balance between referring to common survival tropes without making them obvious and cheesy. There’s a difference between a nod in homage and a blatant rip off! For example, when Nick reaches a certain ‘check-point’ in the story, he finds a bag of crisps in the room and devours them, feeling his strength improve because of the salt intake. I wanted to reference those great little moments in games such as Resident Evil, where you know you’re in a safe room and you find the herbs and all is well for a moment, but you’re aware that as soon as you head on out the door it is going to be a different story. That’s where the tension builds in a game, for me, and I wanted to allude to that sensation in the climax of the story.

Q: What survival situation do you most fear?

A: For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an irrational fear of alien abduction. I think I watched a chat show when I was a child, with guests who believed they had been beamed up onto spaceships and experimented on. As an impressionable child with a wild imagination, I took everything they said as firm fact, and it terrified me! I can remember, we lived near a train track, and every time a late-night train rumbled past I would hyperventilate thinking that the aliens were coming to beam me up. The fear element comes from the fact that you’re in deep space, so even if you fought off your ‘attackers’ and escaped, there’s nowhere to go. Give me monsters chasing me on the ground, any day!

Q: What writing project are you currently working on?

A: I am working on a full-length horror novel called The Suffering. It stemmed from a short story I wrote about a Victorian séance that summoned ghosts in order to unlock the power to see into the future. The ghosts were banished at the end of the short story, but the full-length novel returns to the same house in modern times, where the ghosts come back out to play with the home’s current inhabitants. I’m having a lot of fun building up the ghosts’ histories and making them as vile as possible! I hope to have the novel finished by the end of this year.

Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?

A: You can find me on Instagram at: instagram.com/mjmarsauthor and my blog at mjmarsauthor.wordpress.com

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