We are ecstatic and honoured to be able to showcase our talented authors committed to the Kickstarter "The Earth Bleeds at Night". in these small and fun interviews.
We are delighted to introduce the talented Ai Jiang. Hello Ai, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a chaotic writer of whatever it is my brain feels like that particular day or for that particular project, born in Changle, Fujian and was shuttled to Toronto, Ontario. I’ve loved reading ever since I could read English and understand the context rather than just the words without truly knowing what each sentence meant—although it all started as a ploy to get the accompanying toys with my Scholastic book orders rather than actually being interested in the books themselves, until my mom forced me to finish the books before she would allow me to order more. I could have just pretended to read them, yes, but my guilty conscience wouldn’t allow it.
How and why did you pick up the pen and start writing? Have you always been drawn to the creative arts or is this something that started later in life?
My first love was visual arts, but what I enjoyed most was creating narratives for my artworks, and so it became a combination of the two. I also loved music as a child, and playing the piano specifically, but I’d be drawn to learning pieces that were popular pop songs or the ending and opening music to different cartoons, animes, and shows because it was much easier for me to connect those to a story than the classical pieces. Back then, it was hard for me to appreciate their beauty because I didn’t understand it. I can’t say I understand music any better than I did before, but I definitely appreciate much more the artistry and craft that goes into creating every piece.
What are some of the challenges or benefits of writing in the horror genre?
I think what I find most difficult is really bringing out the feeling of dread, the clarity of setting descriptions, and the emotional core of my stories—in that I have to ask myself what I’m truly afraid of and why and draw on the darkest places to infuse into my narratives so it might read true. As for the benefits, I’d say it is similar to the challenges, where digging within ourselves to inform our writing allows for a level of self-discovery that might be very eye-opening and unexpected.
How do you cope with criticism or feedback from readers or editors who may have different expectations or preferences for horror stories?
I think something I’ve come to terms with recently is how subjective not just the definition of different genres, in particular horror, are, but how subjective writing itself is. As others might say, take what you personally find useful and toss everything else.
What are some of the influences for your horror stories?
Nonfiction articles, documentaries, studies, research, movies, artwork, music, other writers—anything really. But I think some of my favourites include movies such as Get Us, Us, and Parasite, and books like Haunting of Hill House, Never Let Me Go, and Beloved.
If you were in a horror movie, which character would you be: the final girl, the comic relief, the first victim, or the killer?
I am extremely clumsy and always manage to say the wrong things at the most inappropriate times, so I think I would likely be the comic relief. Reference: that time my family and I were on a tour in China, and we were climbing up a mountain where the staircase into a mountainside cave sat at almost 90 degrees. When we looked down, we could only see the person below us, and if one person fell/tripped… well… I recall looking down and shouting, “What if I fall? Looks like there’s a high chance we’ll all become dominos.” Needless to say, I received an earful from many angry elders on the tour with us, though I’d like to think we all felt a little less afraid after that moment—oddly.
Tell us about your recent works and where we can find them and you!
I’ve had three main publications this year along with short stories and poems across various magazines: LINGHUN, my debut novella; I AM AI, a novelette; and SMOL TALES, a mini collection—all of which can be found on my website. You can find me mostly on X as @AiJiang_, Instagram as @ai.jian.g, online at www.aijiang.ca, and as @aijiang everywhere else.
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