Jess Hanna has written several Christian horror stories. His thriller Adverse Possession just released from The Crossover Alliance, and today he drops by to tells us about himself, his writing, and what's next on his plate!
Tell us about yourself.
I am a married white male in his mid-thirties living in the mid-west of the good old US of A. I also have a dog named Minnie and a cat named Willow. During the day, I manage eBook production for a large Christian publishing company. By night, I lurk about as an author of supernatural thrillers.
From my early days growing up in semi-rural Northern Michigan I had the bug to write. There are several fantasy adventure ‘books’ that I penned in elementary school filled with magical creatures that help humans navigate through foreign worlds. I also have at least one story about a demon or the devil that my mother recently told me she found while going through boxes of old stuff. I continued to write strange stories throughout middle and high school.
Following my sophomore year in high school, I pushed my inborn desire to write away. I was convinced that it was not an economically viable option for my life, and pursued academics with no real end goal in mind.
Tell us about your writing journey so far.
In 2011, I went back to my first love of writing after nearly twenty years of dormancy. I set a goal to write a thousand words a day until I finished a book. Several months later, I ended up with the first draft of The Road to Hell. My joy of actually writing a whole book’s worth of words was short lived as I dove into the editing process. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure, it is not a fun process. After that first edit, I did another round, followed by another, then another, and on and on it went until I decided enough was enough.
With great thought and care, I prepared my first book proposal and shipped it off to a variety of agents and publishers. Surely one of them would recognize my brilliance and take the opportunity to snatch up my masterpiece. And yet they didn’t. I had some nibbles, but the fish just weren’t hungry for a piece of Christian horror. My blood, sweat, and tears poured out onto the virtual page was reduced to another pile of paper for the slush pile.
My emotional devastation at the rejection of my best efforts was short-lived as I researched other options to get my work out into the world. Without flowing rivers of money, it didn’t make sense to have my book ‘published’ through a vanity press, so I spent countless hours researching how to publish my own book. And with the help of my graphically talented wife, put together a decent looking book.
After that, I tempered my expectations and realized if I wanted to write I had to do it just because I wanted to, even if nobody paid attention (which some people have and even seem to like what I write). Following that, I started on my second book, Adverse Possession. It was slightly easier to get to the end point with that one, but it was still and emotionally taxing venture, yet somehow still rewarding to know that I had more than one book inside my warped brain. I receive a little more attention with that title, and almost grabbed the attention of a major publisher, but still wound up self-publishing it. Fast-forward a couple of years later, and Adverse Possession has been revised and re-published through The Crossover Alliance.
In an attempt to ride the wave of inspiration, I wrote a third book about sleep paralysis and night terrors, that I ultimately shelved. The writing process was not as easy for that one, and it suffered due to the blunt force I applied to it. The story isn’t total rubbish; it just isn’t where I want it to be. Someday, I may revisit that book and clean it up. I still think it’s a story worth telling.
Shortly after that, Nathan James Norman of The Untold Podcast asked me to write a short piece to be presented through his imaginative audio platform. I accepted the challenge and wrote If it Causes You to Sin, which is a vivid literal misinterpretation of scripture. Writing that one scared me, and hearing it on The Untold Podcast brought my terror to another level. I remember feeling sick to my stomach researching and writing a pivotal scene that is not for the squeamish or the faint of heart. This story was also included in The Crossover Alliance Anthology, volume I, along with the tale of a mother’s courage to stand up against the dark forces that seek to control her and her baby in Spellbound
What are your sources of inspiration?
My primary motivation for writing is to lift the veil behind various supernatural mysteries, occurrences, and mythologies to expose the truth behind the lie. Or put another way, to find the light in the darkness. This includes ghosts, demons, aliens, and any other creatures or entities dreamt up by the depths of hell. With that king of source material I should be writing for a very long time.
The Road to Hell was inspired by a popular author preaching that God would ultimately redeem all souls, regardless of whether or not they accepted the truth of the Living God in their lives. Well-intentioned teaching, maybe, but we should all know where the path of good intentions leads.
Adverse Possession was inspired by countless ghost stories and movies that tell truly frightening tales that I enjoy with childish glee, but fall flat when explaining the source of the activity and how to get rid of it forever. My favorite of this breed is Poltergeist, and some similar story threads may be found running through Adverse Possession.
Tell us about some books/authors that you hold in high regard.
From the fifth grade I have read the likes of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Frank Peretti. The book that had the highest impact on my early years was It. I still can’t walk past a storm drain without thinking about that clown and its mouthful of razor sharp teeth. Intensity by Dean Koontz is not supernatural, per se, but is the frightening thriller that I use to gauge all the others. In my later years, I yearned for supernatural stories that reflected more of the spiritual truth. Frank Perretti’s This Present Darkness and The Oath filled that void perfectly.
Any upcoming projects?
I am in the process of editing a story about alien abduction and little grey men. With any luck, that should be ready to be sent into the world in 2016. I am also awaiting publication of another short story in The Crossover Alliance Anthology, volume II called The Reflecting Pool. It is a story of love, lust, loss, and betrayal.I have also started writing a stand-alone sequel to The Road to Hell, which explores that state of modern mental health care as it relates to spirituality.
Where can readers find you online?
I can be found online at the following places: