Hello and welcome!
Much like I have done two years in a row now with Andrew Pyper and Pyper-May-Nia! I decided to reach out to some other authors I love and admire and see if they’d be interested in doing a similar celebration.
My awesome friend, J.H. kindly agreed and so I decided she would be the first ‘other’ author to showcase!
So, just what can you expect?
All this week, I’ll be going through Moncrieff’s awesome bibliography and sharing her phenomenal work. Buckle up, hold on and be ready to discover a fantastic author!
Today, I’m pleased to share an interview J.H. kindly did!
When you sit down to write do you have a writing process?
I light a scented candle—that’s about it. In the summer, I write outdoors on my deck whenever possible. I recently watched Dan Brown’s Masterclass, and was inspired by his process, so I’m giving it a try for the month of July. He writes from 4 am to 11 am every day. I’m writing from 4 am to 9 am, and then marketing for the final two hours. It’s early days, but so far it’s going really well.
Your GhostWriters series has been a lot of fun! Do you have them planned out as to which places are next, or do you write them based on places that interest you and spark your imagination?
When I wrote the first one, I didn’t know it would become a series. I was touring China, and struggling to come up with an idea for a book set in that country. When the idea of Jackson and his crazy scheme of staying overnight in haunted places and writing books about them came to me, I went with it. An author friend liked Kate, Jackson’s partner in crime, better than Jackson and wanted me to rewrite the entire book from her point of view. I wasn’t willing to do that, but decided to give Kate her own book instead. I’d just visited Poveglia, the world’s most haunted island, so that location was an easy choice. Same with Egypt—I wanted to set a book there soon after I got home, so I wouldn’t forget the details and the feeling of being there. With Forest of Ghosts, I had my readers vote on the location out of a selection of places I’d been. They chose Romania. I’ve traveled to every single GhostWriters location.
You grew up in Northern British Columbia. Did you have a haunted house or spooky myth from that area?
There was a house not far from mine that was rumored to be haunted. People said they saw blue lights in the window. When I was a child, I convinced a friend who was sleeping over to explore it with me. The house was at the top of a huge hill, and we were in the process of climbing the hill when my mom saw us. She’d panicked when she’d discovered we weren’t in the yard, and was freaking out. So that put an end to my early ghost-hunting experience.
Being a Canadian writer can come with its own set of challenges. From your experience have you discovered any advantages of being a Canadian writer?
I don’t identify myself as a Canadian writer per se, even though I am Canadian, and a big reason for that is that most of my readers are American, British, and European. There are a lot of challenges that come with being a Canadian writer—writers of genre or popular fiction are mostly ignored and/or disparaged by the literary establishment. It’s almost impossible to get any funding, mentorships, residencies, awards, or festival slots in Canada if you write popular fiction—those spots are reserved for poets and literary writers, so that can feel devaluing. As for advantages, our tax laws regarding writers are a lot more favorable, and we don’t have the added burden of having to pay for health insurance.
You’ve been to some of the spookiest places on Earth. Is there a place that you would refuse to spend the night at?
If there is, I haven’t encountered it yet. Aokigahara, or Japan’s “suicide forest,” would be emotionally and mentally challenging.
‘Those Who Came Before’ was a truly emotional look at wrongs towards Indigenous people. I remember you and I having some in-depth conversations about writing that book. Now that it’s been out for some time, have the emotions around writing the book increased due to world events?
The plight of Indigenous people has always been close to my heart, so I don’t think my emotions could be any more heightened in that regard. However, during the Wet’suwet’en protests that were happening right before the pandemic, there was so much open racism and hatred toward Indigenous people throughout Canada. This was heartbreaking and enraging, and I ended a few online friendships over some of the horribly insensitive things that were being posted. It’s disheartening to see that we haven’t come very far at all.
I truly loved ‘The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave.’ I think it speaks to that fear we had growing up of when the lights went out and the darkness moves. Did you have a treasured teddy bear or toy who would’ve come to your rescue when you were young?
I’m so glad you enjoyed that book. It was actually inspired by the opposite—this creepy bear that used to be my dad’s when he was a child. It was this stiff, ugly panda bear with beady eyes and a snarl on its face. Very creepy.
Your website and Hidden Library is amazing. Quite possibly the best author site out there. What was the inspiration for putting that together?
Thank you! I worked in marketing for a long time, so I know how important a good website is. I was somewhat inspired by author Toby Neal’s in the beginning, but then Elise Epp, the designer, went a completely different way, and I loved it. The Hidden Library came from wanting to give my readers an incentive for signing up to my email list. Rather than a single free book, I thought, “Why not a library?”
‘Return to Dyatlov Pass’ seems to be the book that introduces you to a lot of people. It is an amazing book and the only book I’ve ever read and reviewed that I think I’ve messed up my rating! (Steve’s note – I initially gave it a four star rating and ever since have realized it should’ve been a five star book!) When you wrote it did you expect it to be a book that became a Moncrieff springboard?
No, not at all. I’ve long been fascinated by the unsolved true mystery of Dyatlov Pass, and liked the idea of revisiting it with modern-day characters. The publisher, Severed Press, was the one who decided what the “antagonist” would be, because they know their readers best. I just put my own spin on it. I had no idea it would do as well as it has.
‘Monsters In Our Wake’ was such a unique take on creature-features. I adored that book. Fantastic female main character, water creature POV and environmental message. If you were to tackle another creature-feature which creature would you want to write about?
You are too kind. I’m working on a follow up to Return to Dyatlov Pass that features sasquatches, so I guess that’s your answer. But other than that, I’d love to write about a creature that hasn’t been featured in fiction before, or very often, and there are plenty of those. The Mothman intrigues me, but of course that’s been done.
You had an experience a short time ago in a haunted house in Winnipeg. Did you ever have a ghostly experience before? You mentioned that the incident has inspired your writing for a new book through Flame Tree Press, which is amazing. How is that progressing?
Yes, I’ve had several. My best friend passed away when we were seventeen, and she’s visited me a couple of times in obvious, terrifying ways (though I don’t think she meant to scare me). I also used to work at a haunted museum, and my house is over a hundred years old, so the odd thing happens at home too. My cats certainly think our house is haunted! Thanks to the Dan Brown project, the new novel is progressing very well. If I stick with it, I should finish the first draft by the end of July, if not before.
Dragonfly Summer recently was released through Audible, which is amazing! Has this inspired you to write more Audiobook specific releases?
Thanks. I would like to write some true crime for them, but nothing’s in the works yet.
Any J.H. Moncrieff screenplays in the works?
Thank you so much for doing this J.H.!
J.H. Moncrieff’s City of Ghosts won the 2018 Kindle Book Review Award for Best Horror/Suspense.
Reviewers have described her work as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure.
She won Harlequin’s international search for “the next Gillian Flynn” in 2016. Monsters in Our Wake, her deep-sea thriller with Severed Press, hit the top of Amazon’s horror bestsellers list, beating King’s re-released It to the top spot. Her supernatural suspense GhostWriters series has earned rave reviews from Kirkus, BlueInk, and Library Journal.
Moncrieff began her writing career as a journalist, tracking down snipers and canoeing through crocodile-infested waters. Her articles have appeared in many publications, including Chatelaine, FLARE, Writer’s Digest, and The Globe and Mail. She also spent years working in marketing, public relations, and communications, and now teaches workshops all over the world.
When not writing, she loves exploring haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.
To find out more about J.H. Moncrieff and to visit her amazing site and discovery the Hidden Library, please visit;