Sunday, 3 July 2011

Open House Day 34 - Joan de la Haye

Horror Down South

When Steve asked me to write a guest post for his blog, I have to say I was rather surprised and incredibly honoured. Then I realized I’d actually have to write something that made sense and that was intelligent and witty. I was, after all going to be doing guest posts alongside authors like Gary McMahon, Peter Mark May, Steven Savile, and David Niall Wilson. Bugger! The pressure! I have a hard enough time writing blog posts for my own blog, let alone coming up with things for other people. I think my main problem is coming up with what to write about. I thought about doing something about women in horror, since Steve had specifically said he was looking for some of us female writers. But let’s face it, the whole girls versus boys things is so boring and incredibly irritating. The fact is there are quite a few of us women horror writers out in the world and making a name for ourselves. Some of whom will be showing up on Steve’s blog soon.

And then I came up with the brilliant idea of introducing you to South African horror! I am, after all, one of the very few South African horror writers. There are far more female horror writers than there are South African ones. David Barnett recently wrote an article on South African Science Fiction for The Guardian UK ( and in the article he was kind enough to mention, yours truly as well as S.L Grey and Lily Herne as the leading lights in South African horror. Yes, while the article may have been predominantly about Science fiction and Lauren Beukes he did touch on the other spec fiction genres, including horror.

So … my book is called Shadows ( It’s set in Johannesburg, a city that has one of the highest crime rates in the world. It’s a city that’s as twisted and as disturbing as my book. In other words it’s probably the perfect setting for a horror novel.

Here’s the basic blurb for it:

Sarah is forced to the edge of sanity by the ghosts of her family’s past. Suffering from violent and bloody hallucinations, she seeks the help of psychiatrist and friend, Michael Brink.

After being sent to an institution in a catatonic state covered in blood–from stabbing her unfaithful boyfriend–Sarah is forced to confront the truth about her father’s death and the demon, Jack, who caused her father’s suicide and who is now the reason for her horrific hallucinations. Unlike her father, Sarah refuses to kill herself. She bargains for her life and succeeds.

In Sarah’s struggle to regain her life and her sanity, she discovers there is more to the world than she could ever have imagined, and it leaves her seeking the answer to the nagging question, “Who is really mad?”

Deadlands by Lily Herne is set in Cape Town! It’s also the first zombie novel set in Cape Town. It's unfortuantly not readily available internationally yet.

Here’s the blurb:

Ten years ago, a war erupted in the beautiful city of Cape Town. There was no time to warn anybody about the rise of the living dead ― zombies who preyed on the bodies of the healthy. Those who survived have been removed from the heart of Cape Town’s suburbs, an area now occupied by zombies and better known as the “Deadlands”.

A lucky few live on farmlands, whilst the rest reside in fenced-in enclosures and blindly follow the Guardians: mysteriously cloaked figures who keep the terror of the living dead at bay. They only ask for total devotion and to rebel is deathly.

Each year a Lottery is held and five lucky teenagers are picked to ensure the compound thrives and that the Guardians remain happy. To be one of the chosen five is a highly sought-after and prestigious accolade – that is, until the wrong girl is picked. And all too soon something more sinister is revealed.

The Mall ( by S.L Grey is set in; you guessed it – a mall! A Johannesburg mall to be exact.

And here’s its blurb:

Dan works at a bookstore in a deadly dull shopping mall where nothing ever happens. He’s an angsty emo-kid who sells mid-list books to mid-list people for the minimum wage. He hates his job.

Rhoda has dragged her babysitting charge to the mall so she can meet her dealer and score some coke. Now the kid’s run off, and she has two hours to find him. She hates her life.

Rhoda bullies Dan into helping her search, but as they explore the neon-lit corridors behind the mall, disturbing text messages lure them into the bowels of the building, where old mannequins are stored in grave-like piles and raw sewage drips off the ceiling. The only escape is down, and before long Dan and Rhoda are trapped in a service lift listening to head-splitting musak. Worst of all, the lift’s not stopping at the bottom floor.

Plummeting into the earth, Dan and Rhoda enter a sinister underworld that mirrors their worst fears. Forced to complete a series of twisted tasks to find their way out, they finally emerge into the brightly lit food court, sick with relief at the banal sight of people shopping and eating. But something feels different. Why are the shoppers all pumped full of silicone? Why are the shop assistants chained to their counters? And why is McDonald’s selling lumps of bleeding meat?

Just when they think they’ve made it back to the mall, they realise their nightmare has only just begun…

So … my friends I would suggest you rush out and grab a copy of these books by authors that are as exciting as the country they live in!

Joan De La Haye and was born in Pretoria, South Africa, on the 17th of January 1977 at 7pm. She is the author of Shadows and several short stories. Joan is deep, dark and twisted. So is her writing.

You can stalk her on her blog. ( )

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