Arriving on a new author bookshelf is a trial not for the impatient or the weak of heart. Jae Mazer, however, has been waiting for this day to come her entire life.
“I’ve always wanted to be a writer ever since I was a little girl. I actually wrote a collection of short stories when I was eight or nine years old and tried to get it published at the time,” she admitted. “Of course, it was with a handwritten submission letter. Of course, it was rejected.”
“Because of that, I thought, ‘you know… I think I could probably write a really good book.’ I’m an avid reader of horror and I watch a lot of sci-fi/fantasy/horror movies and shows. I thought I could come up with a good one myself. And I did.”
Landing in Eden has finally landed. Published in February, it’s a book of some bizarre crimes that besmirches the peace of a quiet little community. Mike McCallister has a seemingly wonderful existence with a decent job and a solid marriage, but a strange murder somehow sends him reeling, spinning out of control and losing his grip on reality. To say that things get a bit supernatural would be an understatement. They get downright unnaturally supernatural.
Horrors beget new horrors in this psychological drama with all of the hallmarks of great fiction, especially science fiction. Mazer has been a huge fan of sci-fi for a very long time and just couldn’t see herself writing anything different. Horror, science fiction and fantasy are her bread and butter, the former mental health counsellor said.
“It’s pretty simple: I like reading them. I’m not a fan of historical romance or westerns, or even courtroom drama. There’s tons of good writers in other genres. I’m sure Louis L’Amour is fantastic. Obviously, the man made a lot of money. John Grisham … obviously very popular but not my style of reading, so not my style of writing.”
She much prefers the works of people like Stephen King, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, and Dean Koontz. That’s the style she feels most comfortable writing in, she noted. Her biggest hope is that her name one day will roll off readers’ tongues as easily as those esteemed authors’ names do too.
“I know how hard it is to get published, especially because I’m writing in the horror genre and sci-fi, which is really limited and the audience isn’t as big. It’s hard to get in there as a first time author. There’s the big names and people don’t tend to stray from that. Breaking into the market as an indie author is tough, especially if nobody’s heard of you. So once I was in, I wanted to make a good impression.”
The secret to her strategy: just keep writing. As rejection letters kept coming back, she was hard at work on her second title, Delivery. When she finally got that magical acceptance letter for Landing in Eden from her publisher, Netherworld Books, she brought her next book to the table.
“I didn’t even know at the time if anyone would even pick it up. There was a long waiting period, of course, to even get published … to get my foot in the door, so while I was waiting for that, I was writing Delivery as well. Once I snagged a publishing house, I went back to them with the second manuscript and said, ‘Are you interested in another one?’ They said, ‘Oh yeah!’ I made sure that I was very good to work with. I really worked hard with them in hopes that they would pick up further manuscripts, and they did.”
Rather than cranking out the next pulpy paperback doorstop, she still strives to hone her craft, making sure that her works are not just readable but have merit as bona fide novels.
While you’ll find a bit of blood in this book, Mazer isn’t interested in overdoing it. That’s what everyone expects you to do in this age of excess, she said.
“The problem with the horror genre is, especially independent authors have a bad rap because a lot of people try the ‘gore and shock’ factor only. You get these books that are really over the top and really gratuitous with the violence. I like a story. Of all the authors that I read, there is horror and fright and some gore and violence, but there is a story. There’s always good characters. It’s not pointless. That’s what I wanted to bring in.”
“There isn’t just murder and blood and gore. They are actual people. You actually get invested in the characters. To actually like the story, you have to care and that’s what I try and get across. It does take a lot of work.”
That’s why she wrote ‘Eden’ and then read it. That process helped her to change some characters because she didn’t enjoy how they turned out on the page. Mazer is definitely keen on writing for the reader.
“If I’m not invested in a character, I’m not going to finish the book. I’ll read halfway through and think I’m not really feeling it.”
That doesn’t mean that her characters all come across as likeable but it does work to further the reader’s interest because it draws attention to their backstory and motivations.
Interestingly, Delivery was her first idea. She started writing Landing in Eden with that idea in mind but, in the end, the characters had other ideas and other plans. Since she didn’t have an outline, the story took a different course than she anticipated.
“I didn’t have an endgame. I just started writing and let the characters go off on their own. As I was halfway through, I thought, ‘Hey! This is how I want this story to end.’ So I switched around some of the characters and tweaked a few things and it turned into a book. It was a mess all the way through but it came together.”
Both books qualify as horrors. While Delivery is very “ghost story supernatural,” Landing in Eden is more of a combination of crime drama with supernatural elements.
“It’s a big stretch for anyone looking for something more realistic. It is not realistic at all. You have more creatures. You have more horror. There’s more fantasy in it definitely. Eden has a smattering of different characters. Delivery is very female focused. The antagonists and protagonists are all female. There’s no romantic story in Delivery at all. That was intentional just because I feel that women are under-represented in the genre. I’m hoping to throw a little wrench in that with this book.”
Delivery is still in the pre-publishing stage but she said that it could be expected to pop up soon.
Landing in Eden
by Jae Mazer
Available on Amazon and Apple for $5.05 for the Kindle version and $13.89 for the paperback edition.