Monday, February 26, 2018


Jo-Anne Russell is my Woman In Horror today! Jo-Anne writes, edits, formats, does art, and publishes horror. She is a busy lady for sure. I had the honor of working with her on the edits for Morbid Metamorphosis, a great horror anthology that was her Press' first published tome when she was at the helm of Lycan Valley Press. It received super reviews. It was a great experience for me. Jo-Anne picked some great authors for this anthology, and I merely made a few suggestions here and there.

Jo-Anne wanted to do an interview with me last year for her post, even after knowing I don't always ask the easy stuff. Here it is. I present to you, Jo-Anne Russell.

Blaze McRob

Jo-Anne Russell – Woman In Horror

Could you give us a bit of a bio before we get into the heart and soul of this interview,


Jo-Anne Russell is a dark fiction writer and a publisher at Lycan Valley Press. She is a member of the Horror Writer's Association, the Writers Guild of Alberta and the Edmonton Arts Counsel. Her work can be found in a multitude of anthologies, and as standalone stories. Her debut novel The Nightmare Project was republished last year with Book 2 to follow. She is a wife, mother of eight children, has numerous pets, and is legally blind.

You can find out more on her website at

Thank you. Here we go, my friend.

Q.   What is the favorite short story of yours that you have written?
A.  My favorite short story that I wrote was called Curious. It was one of the first stories I ever had accepted for publication.

Q.  Your novel, The Nightmare Project, is very intriguing. Where did you come up with such a wonderful concept?
A.  I actually wrote that novel for NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month) and completed it in the 30 day period. I never intended for it to actually get published. The concept developed from my experiences with nightmares, and the what if scenario a lot of writers follow.

Q.  Liquid Black, a short story you wrote, is one of my favorite short stories. Do you have plans to republish it? I honestly believe you should.
A. Thank you. Actually it’s out for submission right now.

Q.  I know for a fact you have a taste for the macabre and bizarre. My kind of stuff for sure. Have you always had this on your palate?
A.  Yes, I have. My Great Grandmother purchased a casket and kept it in her basement before I was born. I remember playing around it and asking her questions about it and death in general from the time I was very young. She was blatantly honest in her answers. I have always been very curious.

Q.  This might seem a bit strange to ask since we both love horror, but a lot of your promotional pictures of you in the graveyard settings look very sad to me. Either you're a great actress or something else is present. What say thee?
A.  I have done theater, so I will say a bit of both. I have had far too many early deaths in my family and close circle of friends to mention, and I guess that plays a bit of a role in my choice of photos. I do love the beauty of a good graveyard.

Q.  Have you had bad experiences with publishers in the past? Is this why you now have your own Press?
A.  I did with only one, and I believe it was not totally to their fault, but becoming a publisher was a sort of accident. I wanted to have a charity anthology created for a horse rescue and I could not find a publisher willing to give all of the proceeds away, so I did it myself. After that the writers were rearing to go with another anthology so I figured why not? (See what I did there? :D )

Q.  Tell me about Lycan Valley Press, please.
A.  Lycans are my favorite trope – thus the name. As a publishing house we strive to work together as a pack and bring the best and most interesting stories to our readers. So far the feedback on out titles and content has been amazing. We are a small press right now, but our members are growing by the day and we hope to expand and become a pro-paying market in the future with multiple divisions.

Q.  You have some non-fiction written as well as fiction. Was that a tough change for you?
A.  The change was profoundly welcoming! I started out freelancing for the CNIB, (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) writing stories about clients, and also for Dialogue Magazine. They were great gigs, but my mind would wander to the “what if” questions and my imagination would want me to tell a much different story. The transition to fiction was liberating.

Q.  Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite books?
A.  I love a lot of modern writers, but I must say my favorites are V.C. Andrews and John Saul. They are the ones who really got me thinking about being a writer, and the depths to which a story can be taken. I owe them a debt of gratitude.

Q.  Do you ever have writer's block?
A.  I wouldn’t say writer’s block as much as I would say life’s block. Distractions, interruptions, and life stresses are about the only blocks I get. Sometimes too many ideas present themselves all at once, and that can cause issues for me as well.

Q.  I love how you spread the word about other authors. You also tell the world about Canadian authors who would not get as much fanfare were it not for you. I admire that a lot.
A.  Thank you. I believe the horror community has enough competition with other genres as it is and we need to stick together and help each other as much as we can. There are a lot less Canadian horror writers than say American in my opinion, so I will always “lend a paw” where I can.

Q.  What's in your future?
A.  Death and taxes are the only certainty; however, my goals are to write more novels and contribute to making my press a critical staple in the horror community, and for readers of unique horror in general. I am in this for the long haul, and I believe that is imperative for many writers, editors, and artists as well, considering how many other small presses fold on a seemingly regular basis.

Q.  You and I both love children. Do you believe, as I do, that horror authors make some of the best parents?
A.  I’ll tell you when I get my kids therapy bills, lol. On a serious note I do. I believe because of the nature of a horror writer’s way of thinking that mindset contributes to the upbringing of our children, and maybe a more honest view of the world around us. We deal with horror on a daily basis, and so do they by watching the news, being exposed to bullies, etc. I personally am very open about everything with my children, and they seem to appreciate that.

Thank you for answering these questions, Jo-Anne. I'm leaving the floor open for you to add in whatever else you would like to say. Anything at all.

I would like to thank you, my friend for this wonderful opportunity to share some of myself as a woman in horror. Lycan Valley Press will be watching you.

Lycan Valley Press has something for every horror lover. Currently available titles are:
Morbid Metamorphosis
Simple Things, Collected by Franklin E Wales
Final Masquerade, Collected by Stacey Turner
Grey Matter Monsters, Collected by Rachelle Foss
Titles soon to be available:
Death’s Garden
Darkling Canadiana
Horror Reincarnate
Untimely Frost – Our first collection of Dark Poetry
Mortuary of Madness, by Roy C. Booth and R. Thomas Riley
Simple Things Volume 2
And much more!

Juice the place up with all your links, my friend!

It's been great having you here, Jo-Anne Russell!

Thank you, Blaze, and great job spreading the word about Women In Horror!

Jo-Anne's great novel!

Book description:

Julia Montgomery, a mother of two finds herself in a tug of war between the living and the dead when the asylum where she resides places her in an experimental therapy pilot program called The Nightmare Project.

Make sure you check out Jo-Anne's other great books!

As you can see, Jo-Anne Russell is a Woman In Horror!

Blaze McRob


Even though Jo-Anne is no longer running Lycan Valley Press, I left the posts about the press and the stories up. I believe everything is running well with MJ Sydney having taken over and most of the titles will remain. MJ has the interests of the authors and readers in mind, the same as Jo-Anne.

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