This is my interview with Tony at NFReads.com.
Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
My name is Jan L. Mayes. I’m an author from beautiful British Columbia in the Pacific Northwest of Canada. I write hearing health non-fiction and weird horror fiction.
My latest book Tinnitus Toolbox Hyperacusis Handbook is recommended by U.S. Review of Books, and was an award winning finalist in the Health: General category of the 2019 International Book Awards.
My horror medical satire book is the Doctor Bell Anthology of Tinnitus Terror Tales. My horror paranormal flash fiction and micro-story mix is Regretfully Invited. My one and only book of poems is Gossamer: A Poetry Collection.
What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
My non-fiction is based on my personal and professional life. I’ve had decreased sound tolerance for as long as I can remember including hyperacusis (sounds sometimes hurt my ears). Hyperacusis wasn’t named until about the 1990s.
In 1986. a car accident caused my tinnitus (screeching in the ears). Doctors told me “nothing could be done” so I decided to prove them wrong. I went into hearing healthcare as an audiologist, and specialized in tinnitus, noise damage, and hearing conservation.
Tinnitus Terror Tales was inspired by modern clinical trials. Researchers used noise damage on unprotected healthy human subjects to cause hearing loss so they could study a hearing loss treatment drug. I started to think about worst case scenarios for tinnitus cure research. The result is my favourite character—Doctor Bell—an optimistic psychopath with no actual medical training except what he’s picked up on the internet. He ignores ethics in his quest to make billions by finding the cure for tinnitus.
Regretfully Invited is loosely inspired by paranormal occurrences in my own life, along with inspiration from macabre news stories that spark my overactive imagination.
My poetry Gossamer is inspired by emotional highs and lows in my life.
What is your biggest challenge when writing in different genres?
There are two main challenges. Some readers think all my writing is non-fiction. After reading Tinnitus Terror Tales, they say, “I can’t believe you did that to your clients.”
The other challenge is my non-fiction readers sometimes expect my fiction to be hopeful and educational. Some are shocked at the mature content, violence, dark humour, and deathly disturbing twists in my fiction.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a crayon, starting with How the Bulldog Got Its Nose during a thrilling bank heist.
I love writing flash fiction. Very short stories that force me to choose every word with care. Hemingway’s 6 word story is a famous example. A 50 word Halloween flash fiction challenge inspired Doctor Bell. I like seeing what I come up with for different story ideas in as few words as possible. It’s great practice.
How do you deal with creative block?
I have more than one writing project on the go at the same time. So if I”m stuck on one, I switch to something different. I try to focus on what I’m in the mood to write. Some stories are better to work on when I’m feeling murderous than others.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I try not to read reviews because no book ever written is liked by 100% of readers. But when I do see a bad review or get negative feedback, my reaction depends on the book. For my poems and for non-fiction, I take it more to heart.
For my fiction readers, I have content warnings in the book descriptions at bookstores and for individual stories as needed. So people can avoid my more gruesome or mature tales…if they want.
For Tinnitus Terror Tales, bad reviews sometimes make me laugh. One of my favourites was the dreaded “wished they could give it zero stars.” I made a mockery of clinical trials and the book was a bloodbath. I like to imagine Bell responding. As he would say, “My dear, you are highly mistaken. I am not associated with clinical trials and clinical trials are not associated with me. And although one of my tinnitus cure studies did use a bathtub, it was not full of blood.”
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
For non-fiction, I aim to serve my readers. For fiction, I write for me. To capture the swirling stories in my head.
What are your plans for future books?
I’m working on a paranormal mystery novel. It takes place in a future where people are trying to survive on a warmed up globe. My graphic designer and I are collaborating on an illustrated collection of horror paranormal short stories. For non-fiction, I’m working on content about the health risks of environmental and community noise pollution.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I’m a quiet activist. I speak cat. I have a history of injuries from strange causes including the pogo stick jumping contest and the curling incident. My favourite virtual reality game is Beat Saber. My main hobbies are plotting murders and planning for a zombie apocalypse. I like cookies, deadheading, needlework, and reading, as should all right thinking people.
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