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  • Writer's pictureSarah Jane Justice

Project Nightmare

In terms of writing, I’ve tried a bit of everything. I’ve made a name for myself in spoken word, put together a decent collection of original music, and started working my way through various genres of poetry and prose. It has been an exercise in exploring styles, developing skills, and finding my strengths. Recently, I’ve started carving my way into the genre of horror fiction. Frankly, I’ve been enjoying it far more than I ever would have expected.

Like a good superhero story, my work in horror has a surprising origin. In navigating treatment for a PTSD diagnosis, my night terrors proved to be the hardest symptom to overcome. Strategies for calming a waking mind were one thing, but when my subconscious was at the wheel, the darkness took over. My nightmares weren’t just graphic, but psychological. I joked to my partner many times that my own mind was forever finding new ways to torture me as I slept.

In what was almost an act of defiance, I decided to start writing these nightmares into stories. The idea was to take ownership of them, while removing the direct nature of the experience by confining them to fiction. It started with a little piece called ‘The Torment of Hope’, which was published in the first edition of a small online magazine by the name of ‘Bleached Butterfly’. Looking back at it, my style has developed a lot since then. Like many artists reviewing their earlier work, I cringe just a tad when I read it. However, despite being rough around the edges, it set Project Nightmare into motion. ‘The Torment of Hope’ was based directly on one of my night terrors, from start to finish with all the trimmings. Now, it was words on a page.

After that, I kept going. ‘Rain’, published in Lockdown #2 from Black Hare Press, was also taken directly from a night terror, as was ‘Storm Clouds’, soon to be released in ‘It Calls From the Sky’ from Eerie River Publishing. As I kept writing, I found myself enjoying the genre in general. I began to craft stories in a more intentional fashion, occasionally drawing on imagery that had appeared to my subconscious eyes. Not only have I been having fun with it, but I have been taken aback by how well my work has been received. Of all the horror stories I have sent out for consideration so far, there is only one that hasn’t been accepted on the very first time it was submitted.

These days, I have more ideas than I have time to write them. I have a number of short stories that are currently under review by various publishers, and I don’t plan to stop writing them any time soon. In addition to that, I've begun taking the first few steps towards something bigger.

Earlier this week, I sat down with some notes from a nightmare that I hadn’t yet written into fiction. Looking over them, I found a concept that struck me as extremely promising, one that I was excited to start sinking my teeth into. As I started putting the words on a page, I realised that this was an idea that couldn’t be contained in a short story. If it was going to be written properly, it would have to be a full-length novel.

And what better time to start working on such a thing 😉


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