We are delighted to include this indie author into the Eerie River family. Her dark and creepy story "Storm Clouds", will be featured in our upcoming release "It Calls From the Sky" available now for pre-order. Learn about her writing journey and get a sneak peek at her dark story below.
Sarah Jane Justice is a South Australian writer whose work has been commended across a wide variety of fields. Her poetry and prose have been published on four continents, including in releases from Caustic Frolic, The Blue Nib, and Black Hare Press. As a spoken word artist, she has won a tidy number of awards, and competed as a National Finalist at the Australian Poetry Slam. Her other achievements include writing and performing an original one-woman cabaret show, creating four studio releases of original music, and curating the mixed-media exhibition ‘Cracks in our Shadows’.
Have you always written, or was there a catalyst that prompted you to begin this journey?
I have been writing since I was old enough to hold a pen, and it was always my greatest dream to get my work published. I still have vague memories of poems and stories I wrote as a young child, and I feel very lucky to have been surrounded by people who encouraged me with every step. I can still remember my great-grandmother gifting me a blank notebook and a pen, while telling me that she never wanted to hear me say I was bored when I had the means to write a book.
Do you have an author that has influenced your writing the most?
Not one in particular – quite the opposite, in fact. I believe that it’s important to explore as many different creative styles as we can, in both reading and writing.
Do you remember the first piece of writing shared publicly? What were people’s reactions, but more importantly how did you react getting it out there?
I have been sharing my writing since childhood, so its hard to pin down an answer to this one.
What is your workspace like? What kind of atmosphere do you need to write?
I have a nice desk at home, but as someone with a young child, versatility is the key for me. I’ve learned to write wherever I can, sometimes even with the baby asleep on my shoulder. Technology has really helped with this. I am truly blessed to have a handheld device that can provide me with word processing apps, note-keeping apps, and all the books I can read.
Horror occasionally veers into the paranormal or supernatural, that’s what makes it fun in my opinion. Do you believe in the supernatural, and if so is there a story?
I am a hardened skeptic to the core. I believe that everything has a rational explanation, even if it might be hard to see it. Dana Scully was a real role model of mine growing up.
Without giving too much away, tell us about the short story you have featured in “It calls to the Sky”. What inspired you?
I have quite an origin story for this. I have PTSD, and while I manage it well, I still get quite vivid night terrors. At one point, I decided to reclaim them by writing them into horror fiction. ‘Storm Clouds’ was inspired by one of those night terrors, with the concept and opening taken straight from my dreaming mind. However, given that I woke up before the story was resolved, it was up to my waking self to figure out the ending! It certainly is a strange way to create a narrative, but it has worked well for me, and I have found it empowering as an added bonus.
And now for your reading pleasure, a snippet from "Storm Clouds" by Sarah Jane Justice
Sarah Jane Justice
The thunder from the incoming storm howled like the voice of an angry god. When Lydia heard that sound she knew it was coming.
Her eyes snapped open from sleep, replaced by a rush of hurried breath. With shaking hands she pulled herself up, struggling to fight against the force of her own panic. She knew that taking a moment to slow her breathing stole valuable seconds away from any attempt at escape, but without it she was sure to fall with the rest of them.
“Come on, Cider,” she urged the dog whimpering at her feet, “We have to run.”
On the horizon the clouds were shifting into a shade of green that was both dazzling and sickly at the same time. It provided a captivating display, but Lydia knew better than to fall into the trap of watching it. As soon as the thunder announced its booming presence every second became a precious commodity, and Lydia wasn’t about to waste any time watching the shapes of the clouds when they started rolling towards her.
Cider howled at the discomfort of being woken up too soon, but even he seemed to realise the importance of urgency at the current moment. Lydia clapped her hands several times in an effort to push them both into vigilance, cursing the remnants of sleep that still clouded her eyes. As soon as she and Cider were both ready Lydia began to run.
The storm moved too quickly to allow anyone the luxury of choosing their shelter. Under the appearance of dark clouds, which cracked with neon lightning, the survivors were the ones who weren’t afraid to use force. The first roars of thunder would always be followed by desperate voices shouting into the nearest closed door, and fists hammering windows in the hopes of breaking them open.
Lydia never allowed herself to stray too far from shelter. She had seen how suddenly the clouds could set in, and how fast they could speed across open sky. More importantly she had seen the consequences of not running fast enough away from them. The strongest of men had collapsed in front of her eyes, struck down with a pain they couldn’t withstand. Lydia couldn’t erase those images from her mind, but she could at least be thankful that they kept her running.
Since the storms had first started cracking through the sky communication had become more challenging. Radios fizzled into static, while phone lines burned with noxious smoke. Those who lived in the path of the storm knew only that they needed to escape, and the specifics of planning any further had proven impossible. Lydia needed to believe that safety was hiding somewhere, but she was stuck with no way of knowing where to look for it.
Gasping, Lydia forced her aching legs into a dive as the clouds began to close in behind her. She landed under the low awning of an abandoned store with scratched knees and burning joints, but the relief of prolonged survival was worth any temporary pain. She looked down to see that Cider was still with her, and she pulled him to her chest as her relief began to muddle with fear. In the crack of a sudden instant, heavy rain began splashing onto the roof.
Struggling to pull herself together, Lydia steeled her mind for the screams she knew would hit any minute now. Despite her best efforts no amount of preparation had so far succeeded in dulling their impact. She bit her lip as voices cried out in garbled tongues, sounds of anguish that bled through the storm in every direction. She pushed herself against the front wall of the store, but her survival instincts wouldn’t allow her eyes to stay shut. Under a brow that was dripping with sweat, she looked out into the rain.
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Terror reigns the sky, and there is nowhere left to hide.
Ferocious storms, winged beasts and falling angels are just some of the dark tales locked within these pages. Discover a world where carnage falls from the sky, and delve into the frenzy of a world gone mad as Heaven opens and all Hell breaks loose.
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