Thursday, October 30, 2014

Coffin Hop: Jean Rabe on Writing #Horror, Witches & Demons

Welcome to Day 7 of Coffin Hop 2014!

** Be sure to stop by the main Coffin Hop site and visit a bunch of authors, artists, etc. Coffin Hopping through Halloween. There'll be prizes, giveaways, ghoulish fun and more!  (See all the Coffin Hop books at the bookstore. Don't forget the giveaways we have on most of our posts here. See page tab at top or side logo for day one.)

Today, author Jean Rabe  makes a confession, talks about writing horror, 
and her upcoming new book with a demon and a witch! 

I don’t like to read horror novels; they unsettle my senses and keep me from a good night’s sleep. But I’m discovering that I like to write them.

It started when I cobbled to the notion of writing an urban fantasy set in New York, this because I liked to watch Law & Order and Blue Bloods, both set in the big bad city. I like the huge grittiness of the setting, the swarms of people, and the amazing buildings—all of which television allows a country girl to keep at arm’s length.

Anyway, I decided I wanted to put my own spin on the Big Apple. Never been there, but I researched the heck out of it, constantly e-mailed friends living in the various boroughs, bought detailed subway maps, and downloaded various bus schedules. No horror in any of that, right?

Until I got the idea to throw witches into the mix.

And to saddle my hero—Bridget O’Shea—with a demon. That part wasn’t planned, certainly not in the beginning; I’d outlined giving her a mischievous spirit. But I ended up turning it into a vile, disgusting demon that dripped and bubbled and…. That’s all I’ll tell you without giving away too much.

The book is called Pockets of Darkness, and it will be published by WordFirePress this spring. I’m crossing my fingers and toes that it does well, as I’ve another Bridget O’Shea book outlined. That means she survives my first horror novel.

I think complex characters have pockets of darkness in their souls, hence the title. Bridget is no angel. Here’s the blurb I put to the book when I was marketing it:

Bridget O’Shea is a thief, and she’s a damn good one. But when she steals an ancient relic from a Manhattan apartment, she acquires a curse in the form of a Sumerian demon. The demon wants something from Bridget, killing people she cares about to force her cooperation—her ex-husband, a close friend—and it will continue to kill unless she meets its demands. 

Next in the demon’s sights? Bridget’s teenage son. Bridget must learn to communicate with the demon, divine what it wants, and satisfy it to keep her son alive. But she soon discovers that mollifying a creature from the pits of hell could damn her soul and send the world into chaos.


Bridget never wanted to be a hero. That’s for suckers. But now, she has no choice. She has to find a way to best the beast and keep its kin from reemerging, or ... well, there really isn’t an “or.” She has to win.

I said that Bridget survives the first book. I’m not telling you if she “wins.”

So how does a person who doesn’t like to read horror write it?

The book kept getting darker as I went, as I added threads designed to scare me, and as I twisted notions and characters along the way. Most of my fantasy and adventure novels have a reasonable body count. I once wrote a cozy mystery for a company, and the editor called and told me to cut back on the bodies. I obliged.

But Pockets…I wrote for myself. I didn’t cut back. Oh, it’s not all blood-and-guts-dreadful-bodies-everywhere. I wouldn’t have liked to proofread that. I even managed to fit in some humor. Throw in a dash of fun.

  Jean Rabe is the author of 31 fantasy and adventure novels and more than 60 short stories. When she’s not writing, which isn’t often, she edits ... two dozen anthologies and more than a hundred magazine issues. Her genre writing includes military, science-fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery, horror, and modern-day action. She lives in central Illinois near three train tracks that provide “music” to type by. 

Visit her website: - Facebook - Twitter: @jeanerabe

** Contest: Share about your favorite horror book and why you liked it for a copy of one of Jean's books. US Shipping only.


  1. I'm another horror writer that suffers from unsettled nerves when reading or watching the genre. I find it very odd that I like to write about stuff (and my own writing doesn't bother me) that most of the time I'm too chicken to read.

  2. Funny as I cringe when watching some horror movies, or cover my eyes. Most times reading, or especially writing it, doesn't bother me.

  3. I'm the jaded type when it comes to horror. I've discovered that when I wrote horror, I let out a lot of frustration and pain. Today, I don't write horror. I turned to urban fantasy and paranormal - and I sprinkle horror elements to spice things up. I'm definitely eager to find a horror novel that will make me cringe. The last one I found absolutely fascinating was American Psycho. LOL Like I said, I'm a bit jaded. Thanks for sharing! Johanna aka the Manicheans

    1. Johanna ... need your address to send you a book. Send to

  4. No fav; haven't really read any

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  5. It and The Shining are probably tied as my favorite horror books. I love them for similar reasons, though the characters are vastly different in each. In IT, King used childhood terrors of monsters, loss of family, loss of parental love, abuse, and so on, combined with very adult fears of losing a child, death, murder, and other serious topics. In the Shining, fear of loss of control was big, as well as all that loss meant. Combined with that were the very real childhood fears of those things that go bump in the night, fear of the dark, and fear of the unknown. Add to both the supernatural element King does so well and each time I read the books, I still get the chills and have sleepless hours at night. I know there are "things" in the drain and that "we all float down here..." michelle_willms at yahoo dot com