SPOTLIGHT: Pamela Jeffs, Author of The Darkness Has Teeth

To give our Dead of Winter authors all the attention they deserve, we're going to highlight each of them on our news feed. We'll feature a new author each week.

First up is Pamela Jeffs. Her story about a time traveler desperate to correct the event that led to the end of the world leads off our anthology. Get to know Pamela a little better, see how the story came about, and get a snippet of her story at the end.

How did you get started with writing?

Writing for me began with growing up on a relatively isolated farm in rural Australia and also having a wonderful mother who encouraged my early efforts at storytelling. In being exposed to the Outback at a young age, I was inspired by the landscape that can at times be both terrifying and beautiful. Sparse red earth, dense bushland, vivid blue skies, bushfires, floods, snake attacks—so many stories to be gleaned from just having lived there! Then one day, when I was about ten years old, I took hold of a pen and a sheet of paper and from there, the words began to flow.

Do you tend to write in just one genre or do you like to write across multiple genres? And, if just one, what made you choose to focus on that particular genre?

I have been known to branch out from time to time to other genres but this is usually in response to a particular competition or anthology that I am interested in being a part of. My preference however, is to work within the realms of dark, speculative fiction. In particular, I like to explore paranormal or apocalyptic themes. I am not sure why, but these themes inspire me to write with a full depth of emotion, something that I think is imperative when storytelling. I believe that if people are willing to invest their time in reading my work, then it is my job to let them leave with an emotional response to the text. But the overarching reason I dark, speculative fiction? It is what I feel I am best at, and is a genre I really love!

What made you decide to write "The Darkness Has Teeth", which appears in Dead of Winter? Is there a particular backstory to it?

The Darkness Has Teeth began as prompt that asked for a dark tale featuring portals between worlds. I became enthused by the idea of exploring the contrast between typical ‘magical’ doorways, like a time portal, and those that could be potentially lurking behind the mundane. So the idea of a time traveler who had opened doorways within the cracks of the world was born. And why choose a homeless, time traveling protagonist? Well, I just liked the idea of a downtrodden person rising above failure and using their power to try and change the world.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

When not writing, I am an Interior Designer, a wife and a mother. My two, very clever, little girls keep me inspired in so many ways. I love to spend time with them making up stories, creating artwork and cooking. I am also a keen fisherwoman who hates boats, but realizes they are necessary if I want to be able to get out and fish. I also like to get away from the city and venture into nature. I am not a city denizen at heart and natural settings are where I feel most at home.

Where is the best place for readers to find out more about your work?

Readers are most welcome to visit me at my website: www.pamelajeffs.wixsite.com/pamela-jeffs

Or drop me a line via Twitter @Pamela_Jeffs or like/follow me on facebook: fb.me/pamelajeffsauthor

My website outlines my bio, all publications featuring my work and my awards and on Twitter, I am always happy for a 140 character chat! I promise I’m friendly and would more than love to hear what people think of my work or answer any questions.

Thanks, Pamela! And, now for a snippet from "The Darkness Has Teeth":

The Darkness Has Teeth

It’s 11:30 p.m., if the watch on my wrist is working correctly. A full moon, burning orange, hangs low on the distant horizon. A ruined highway stretches out before me. As I walk my boots catch edges of broken bitumen, but I ignore the distraction. My mind is elsewhere. At midnight, I will have another chance to travel back through time—another chance to put things right. My fingers toy with the weapon concealed inside my pocket. The knot of tension in my chest is the size of a fist. I’ve failed so many times.

A derelict house emerges out of the night, two stories high. It clings to the side of the highway like a pale ghost. The roof is shattered, tiles fallen away to reveal broken trusses. Twin verandahs smile at me crookedly with their gap-toothed balustrades. The once ornate windows behind them are shadowed.

I pause at the bottom of the splintered staircase leading up to the first-story verandah. I scratch at my beard, looking up at the old wicker chairs lying tumbled about, broken and crumbling. Dust covers everything. No footprints mar the even surface, but that means nothing. The things I fear don’t always leave footprints.

Dust billows around my ankles as I take the four steps. Everything is quiet. I make my way to the door which, like the roof, is shattered. But this time, it’s the embedded shotgun pellets in the doorframe that tell the story. Someone once made a final stand here.

I push my way past, splinters from door catching in the cuff of my jacket. I brush them away. I take a breath. I cross the threshold.

Inside, the foyer is dim. A fallen barricade of furniture spills out across the floor. My gaze sweeps the room.

More furniture.

An old ragged rug.

A male corpse, shotgun held in lax fingers.

The perfectly intact body lies fallen like a broken doll against a sofa. I shudder. I hate how bodies don’t decompose anymore. Demon toxins. The poison preserves the flesh. And the affected lie where they fall. That is, until their bodies are needed again.

I step closer. Thin moonlight streaming in through a window reveals his features to me. White hair, wrinkled skin, and blue eyes staring sightlessly into the distance. He has the look of an old timer, possibly one of the original sugarcane farmers who dwelt in these parts.

I take another step. The corpse doesn’t move. A good sign. I see an old leather wallet sprawled open on the floor. The license reads John Everton. I wish I hadn’t seen it. Knowing the man’s name only adds to my burden of guilt. My mistakes are why old John is lying here dead.

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Get your copy of Dead of Winter to find out how the story ends.

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