Catherine Gracey

Interview: Selah Janel

In American, Author, Costume Designer on November 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

Selah Janel is a dark fantasy author and costume designer. Based in Ohio, she is a study in contradiction. She is a self professed scaredy cat who writes horror stories such as her novel, In the Red. She cites the Monster Mash as her favourite Halloween song, but isn’t sure if she’ll find the courage to dance. And she longs for the day when someone is able to find the Loch Ness Monster, but is freaked out by Bigfoot. Selah managed to unwind from Halloween long enough to answer my questions.

1)   What is something you do in your professional or artistic life that you think is really cool, and why do you think that about it?

I’ve always had my own distinct point of view, and since I was little I really connected with the stories people told or the books I was reading. My playtimes as a kid were elaborate, detail-oriented adventures and I was always inventing stories about places when my family went on trips. To be a published author is not only an extension of those imaginative tendencies, but it’s a dream! I’m also lucky to work in costume design and construction, and to be able to create characters and creatures and tell stories through their looks.  At the end of the day, everything for me relates to imagination and story, so being able to work in fields that directly feed that is amazing.

2)   How did you come to be in the career position you are currently in?

I’d been writing for myself for a long time, but was too down on myself and afraid to really give myself a chance. One or two rejection letters and I’d decided that that was it. Then, I finally reached a point where I realized that I was letting fear get in the way of something that could make me truly happy. I promised myself that I’d submit as much as possible for a year and a day, and if I got a rejection notice I’d immediately turn around and submit that piece somewhere else. I was hoping for one, maybe two, acceptances. At the end of the time frame, I ended up with three e-book acceptances, two stories in magazines, a poem in an e-zine, and a story in an anthology.  Sometimes you really need to get out of your own way and agree to learn from disappointment and fear.

3)   What is something from your personal life that you are very proud of, and why are you proud?

I’m a fairly tenacious person. Some of that was instilled to me by my parents, some of that I picked up by falling into metaphorical ditches and climbing back out. I suppose it’s more of a quality than something in my personal life, but I’m very proud of this trait. I may come off as stubborn sometimes, but if I truly believe in something, then I’m going to be dedicated and do all I can to bring that idea to fruition. I may get frustrated, but I don’t back down easily.

4)   What is a personality trait you possess that other people might not notice, and how would they miss it?

I am socially shy. A lot of people don’t believe this and think I do well with people, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not scared to death at some point. I’m fine if I have something to talk about…speeches and performing don’t bother me, but just mingling or walking around in crowds on my own makes me nervous. All my theatre training comes in handy, though, and helps me to work through it. And I genuinely like meeting and learning about new people, so that helps, too. I work very hard to not let it show, but sometimes I clam up or over-talk if I’m nervous around new people.

5)   If you could change just one thing about the world, what would it be and why would you change it?

I feel like people are always trying to be right. It could be about politics, religion, class status, intelligence,  what superheroes they prefer…it doesn’t matter. It’s become almost stylish to put others down instead of informing them or trying to meet somewhere in the middle. People are allowed to have differences of opinion – it doesn’t make them wrong or bad people.  We all share common traits. We all have families, we all have dreams and passions. We should be focusing on what we have in common instead of trying to be right, or separate ourselves from others.

And if someone notices someone that truly is wrong about something – I’m thinking about the internet memes where it’s funny to slam someone or rant on them for getting facts or grammar wrong – then have a conversation with them. Try to inform them; don’t go off on them just to prove you’re right or better! How is being awful to people funny? How is that going to help anything? I suppose I’d just like people over all to be more tolerant and to try to appreciate each other for all the great qualities we all possess.

6)   If you could give a young person one piece of advice, what would it be?

The same piece of advice that a friend gave to me a few years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. Just keep working. Just keep trying, keep progressing, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’ll get to where you want to be if you keep at it. It sounds simple, I know, but it’s dead-on right.

7)   What is something that you would like to do in your life that you haven’t done yet, and why haven’t you done it?

Learn to cast and mold for prosthetic masks and that sort of thing. Mostly because I haven’t had time to really sit down and play with technique or find a class. It’s definitely something that I want to do for myself soon, though.

8)   What is something that you have sworn to never do again, and why won’t you repeat it?

I haven’t sworn not to do it again, but I very reluctantly go on roller coasters. I’m not a fan of plummeting from heights, and I just can’t help but think that with my weird luck, I’d be riding one on an off day or something.

9)   If you could break one personal habit, what would it be and why would you break it?

I have the tendency to be a late sleeper if I can get away with it. Sometimes this is truly because of the schedule I have to keep, but others, it’s not. I’d like to be able to keep to normal human hours when I’m able to for once in my life.  I feel like it makes other parts of my life out of whack – I don’t stay as organized as I’d like because I’m either sleeping in or up late to compensate and get work done. I feel like I’m just a little bit out of alignment in that respect and I’d really like to correct that.

10)   If you could take up a new hobby or learn a new skill, what would it be and why?

Salsa dancing, or ballroom dancing in general. I’ve always wanted to learn, and there’s such a romantic element to being able to move well and being close to someone on the dance floor and expressing yourself with your body to music. I’m in the process of getting more comfortable with myself, so this is something I’d like to finally tackle. Lord knows if I’ll ever work up the nerve to learn, but it’s on the list!

11)   Is there anything from you that we should be looking out for in the future?

I have an e-release slated for December with Mocha Memoirs Press called Holly and Ivy. It’s a Christmas-themed story about a “stuck” woman who is forced to move back home, and becomes re-acquainted with her childhood dryad friend who lives in the trees of her family’s Christmas tree farm. I like it because  not only is it set against magical and holiday elements, but it explores the nature of choices, of what’s more important: friends and keeping a promise, or being true to yourself and moving forward. I don’t claim that there’s a right answer, but the characters definitely surprised me with this one. I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone!

Thank you, Selah, for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to know more about Selah, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Goodreads. You can also read her blog and Fandom Scene column, or follow the Facebook page for In The Red.

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