Retired Chief Media Manager
We are pleased to welcome J.S. Breukelaar, whose new novel, THE BRIDGE, releases from Meerkat Press on June 22, 2021. J.S. Breukelaar is the author of Collision: Stories, a 2019 Shirley Jackson Award finalist, and winner of the 2019 Aurealis and Ditmar Awards. Previous novels include Aletheia and American Monster. Her short fiction has appeared in the Dark Magazine, Tiny Nightmares, Black Static, Gamut, Unnerving, Lightspeed, Lamplight, Juked, in Year’s Best Horror and Fantasy 2019 and elsewhere. She currently lives in Sydney, Australia, where she teaches writing and literature, and is at work on a new collection of short stories and a novella. You can find her at thelivingsuitcase.com and on Twitter and elsewhere @jsbreukelaar.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I was in fifth grade and a kid donkey-kicked me in the gut, with a verbal insult I will never forget. I wrote about it here: http://thenervousbreakdown.com/jbreukelaar/2010/10/bend-down-over-and-what/
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Early. But it was a toss-up between the usual stuff - veterinarian, explorer, musician, artist.
You write amazing dark fiction. What led you to writing in that genre?
I come from a remote rural area with lots of ghosts, and life led me to the dark, so here I am.
What has been your favorite story/novel to write? Least favorite?
One of my favorite stories was "Union Falls," in which I felt I hit my stride for the first time. A hard one was “Collision," the title story for my collection. It was sciencey, and I wrote it from a few tricky points of view before getting it right. I knew what I wanted to say and why, and maybe that was the problem. I kept bumping up against what I knew and what the story knew better.
What are common traps you see for aspiring writers?
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Keep it simple, stupid.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Dogs and cats.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
For me, the research.
What are you reading right now that you would recommend?
The first double-issue of Black Static Magazine. Every story in it is astonishing, aspiring, and devastating.
Tell us about the inspiration for your new novel, The Bridge.
A major, but certainly not the only inspiration was the Greek myth of the Furies, and Wyrd Sisters generally across time, in twos and threes. I had written a short story set in that world, a couple actually. But I wanted to crawl right into the experience of being caught on the bridge between worlds—as an expat, a human/being, between magic and science, folklore and myth, extinction/survival, belonging and refusing to belong. The landscape of Australia, and its hidden very living histories plus the culture of the US— its darkness and its light.
What’s coming next?
A new collection of long short fiction. A novella in collaboration with the inimitable Angela Slatter, a collection of folklore-inspired flash fiction out next year in collaboration with the author Seb Doubinsky.
Is there anything we didn’t ask that you’d like to share?
Many thanks to my publisher Meerkat Press, and the tireless Tricia Reeks. Thank you to WritingForums for having me!