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: “Sacs” is a story about loss, about how life can change overnight, and about how hardships transform us, either making us draw strength from weakness or letting tragedy defeat us without a fight. Set in a time of armed revolt, a wild epoch in itself, Sacs tells the story of a wealthy family that has to flee from home because of the insurgents, and who takes refuge in the wrong place. Without giving away too much of the plot, it’s enough to say that they’ll soon learn how hard life without everyday commodities is, and that bad fortune can fall upon any human.
Q: What drew you to writing a survival horror story for Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror?
A: I’ve always been fascinated by the horror caused by the unknown, by uncertainty, to not be sure a certain situation is survivable. Writing for the anthology allowed me to explore some of humanity’s most ingrained fears and to create a story that was not only entertaining but that made me reflect about myself and what living really means.
Q: What work (fiction, video game, movie, TV show) of survival horror would you recommend as a gateway to the genre?
A: For me, survival horror will always be represented by the first jump Resident Evil 3 gave my cousin and me two decades ago. However, have you seen what kids these days play? Those pixels don’t scare anyone anymore. Fortunately, games have evolved, and I believe they are the best way to experience survival horror. There’s nothing quite like putting yourself in the shoes of a protagonist who may not be able to defeat the odds. Amnesia, SOMA, Dead Space, Alien Isolation, The Evil Within, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, of course, are all good games to get to know the genre. If it’s someone’s first experience, I’d recommend Alan Wake. That, or Resident Evil 7 with a VR visor.
Q: What survival situation do you most fear?
A: Ever heard “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles? In real life, horror often comes from the mundane. Will people read what I write? Will I be able to live off my art? If this does not work, what will I eat tomorrow? There’s no greater horror than being trapped in a place where you cannot do what you want. Lack of freedom, and to be a part of the social machine that forces you to survive instead of living, that’s what I fear most in the whole world.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge in writing survival horror?
A: Even when there’s audiovisual media that may be much more effective in eliciting scares, literature is queen when it comes to conveying ideas. The mind is a beautiful thing, and imagination is the most powerful tool to create fear that persists. The challenge lies in striking a balance. If you write something cursory, it won’t have the necessary impact to make it memorable. It won’t make the reader feel. On the other hand, if you describe too many details you won’t allow the reader’s mind to fill in the blanks with what they fear the most. The trick is giving the reader enough to become invested with the story’s world and to allow them to be a part of it when they make their own decisions in regards to some of the details.
Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?
A: At my blog: authorjcmartinez.blogspot.com.