Q&A with Dave JaggersNovember 2, 2018
CTTB: Your latest book, Down In the Devil Hole, is a collection of interlinked tales with an ever-present, malevolent storm, a living entity that influences people to lie, cheat, rob and murder. Evil storms have been done before, but not as a theme linking stories such as you’ve created. What gave you the idea for this?
DJ: I have always been a fan of Kurosawa and in particular Rashomon. The use of the rain in that movie to heighten the suspense and mood really stuck with me. For years I have tried to write that kind of thing into my short stories, sometimes to good effect and other times not so much. With this collection, when I started drafting the first sketches of what would be the outline, I knew that I wanted weather to be a main character. I don’t think I consciously chose a tornado, but as I wrote each short it just made sense to use one of the most dynamic kinds of weather that exists. Plus having the story set in Western Kentucky, which is in tornado alley, it just seemed natural. By the time I reached the halfway point, the storm really took on a personality of its own. Once I could hear its voice in the narrative, I went back and did rewrites to build the continuity that I think readers have reacted to.
CTTB: You receive a message from a reader. They want you to know how compelling your writing is. One of your stories has a scene of madness they can relate to – because they experienced the exact same thing during an intense storm that seemed to have no end. What scene are they referring to?
DJ: Well, there are many scenes that use the storm as catalyst for madness. But Russell Henderson in To Hell and Back definitely exemplifies that notion. He has buried a very bad deed deep in his subconscious and the violence of the storm brings it out in spectacular fashion. My favorite though has to be the Husband Stitch. The storm is not the cause of the madness in this case, but in the aftermath, in the calm after the storm, there is a moment where all normal reality and sanity have been blown way with the debris and what remains is, well, very unsettling.by