Why do I write horror? Simple. Because horror has been a fixed presence in my life for as long as I can remember. Both real-life horror and the fictional kind. I remember still being in diapers and watching Universal Monster movies with my dad. When I was six, my older sister and I watched Poltergeist. When it was bedtime her thirteen-year-old self hid under my bed and grabbed my leg, pulling me under, as I tried to climb in. I must admit, I took a running leap into bed from that day until I was fourteen years old.
My dad wasn’t around much when I was a kid and when he was around I bore the brunt of his anger. He had an awful lot of it and I was an extreme smart ass. It was not a good combination. I left home at seventeen and ran into even more horror on the streets of Detroit. It made me buckle down and grow the hell up, fast.
Only one thing kept me going through all that real-life horror and that was my career as a zookeeper. I used it as a security blanket and when it was ripped away from me, I lost my identity, my entire sense of self. I’m ashamed to say it took me three years to crawl out of the pit of depression I was in and start over.
I took to an old habit of mine, writing, to deal with the pain and anguish I felt. I’d never felt more alone in my entire life. I’d lost everything I ever was and had no clue what to do so I turned back to my old friend fiction to work through everything I was dealing with.
See, I was always writing stories as a kid. I loved making up entire worlds and people. It was something I used as an escape. This time it was something that brought life back into me when I didn’t think I had any left.
So, now I write with all my heart and all my grey matter. I listen to my peers and readers and pay close attention to what my mentors and editors have to teach me. Every single day I learn as much as I can to better my craft. I need to do the best I can to honor my work.
I need to honor it because writing saved me. It allowed me to find my way back to myself. It helped me remember who I was and reminded me of who I want to be. I don’t just write for a living, I write to live. It allows me to create and love these characters who become like family to me. It gives me a safe place to lay my fears and hopes and dreams.
In that spirit, I’d like to give a huge thank you to all of you. It’s because of you readers that we writers do what we do and it’s your feedback and love for our creations that keeps us trudging on during the dark times. Thank you for everything!
Jaime Johnesee lives in Michigan with her husband and two sons. She spent fourteen years as a zookeeper before shifting her focus to writing full time. Known best for her horror comedy series, Bob the Zombie, she is also currently authoring the paranormal-horror series Samantha Reece Mysteries for Devil Dog Press.