Zoe E Whitten is a prolific writer of dark fiction — the kind to make your skin crawl and your imagination go into overdrive. A couple days ago I reviewed The Sole Survivors’ Club (her latest release) and figured it was high time to have her around for a quick chat.
AMH: TSSC is about people cursed to seek out deadly accidents — where did the idea come from?
ZEW: The original idea was a joke based off of Violet Jessop, the only person to have served on board both the Titanic and the Britannic. (Yes, I have a very morbid sense of humor.) It was a comedy routine I did about Violet trying to get on other boats and captains knowing better than to let her sink their ships. (“Oh fer chrissakes, lady! You already broke two ships. Can’t you take a hint that God doesn’t want you on a freakin’ boat?”)
Once I started writing dark fiction, I returned to the idea and decided to explore the reason why some people seemed compelled to seek out disasters. So like most of my story premises, it started out as a joke until I decided to take it more seriously.
AMH: How did you settle upon living spirits as being the cause of the curse?
ZEW: I wanted to find a “monster” who hadn’t been done to death, and so ghosts were out, as were witches or daemons. In fact, I wanted to avoid all the usual Western society suspects and use something vastly different. While running through Middle Eastern legends, I ran across the word d’jinn and went, “Ooh, those haven’t been covered much in recent fantasy fiction!” So the jinn became my starting research point. (Incidentally, d’jinn means “the jinn.” So saying “the d’jinn” is really saying “the the jinn.” Kinda like saying “ATM machine” for “the automated teller machine machine.”)
AMH: How much of the jinn (genie) mythology is based on other texts, and how much did you make up?
ZEW: Aside from the final chapters, all the information listed in story was gleaned from research of Persian legends and Islamic references. Even the stuff about the mortal jinn being bound to objects is based in past mythology or religious texts. So really, this has been one of my most extensively researched books.
AMH: Do you believe in living spirits?
ZEW: Ah, that’s a tough question. I have an open mind about the paranormal, but I’ve never experienced anything directly to make me believe in hidden spirits. I guess you could call me a skeptic who desperately wants to believe.
AMH: Carl-the-elevator-accident-magnet: hot or not?
ZEW: Hot, but in a nerdy kind of way.
Check out zoewhitten.com for more information.