Oli Jacobs is a bearded chap who enjoys spinning a yarn or two. While now a hermit, he has been rumoured to be seen drinking beer and enjoying chicken in the wilds of Southampton. If seen, please approach gently as he has severe anxiety and may cry.
As well as Wilthaven, Oli has also wrote other Horror (The Children of Little Thwopping, The Station 17 Chronicles), Comedy (the Kirk Sandblaster series), Thriller (the Mr Blank series), and short stories (the Filmic Cuts series).
Oli can be contacted at:
Tell me what inspired you to write your latest novel, Deep Down There?
I was intrigued by the idea of mundane horror – where the terror exists within everyday, normal life. Whilst on a walk, I came up with the thought of a hole simply appearing, and worked it out from there.
What came first the characters or the world?
In the case of Deep Down There, it was a bit of both, but the characters helped shape the world around them. Their reactions to the hole helped craft the scenario and the environment the tale existed within, with the idea of a small, gated community with dark secrets making the whole story more tantalising.
How hard was it to get your first book published?
I will confess I had zero confidence in contacting agents when I first started, as I felt that was the only way to get published. I’m more aware of small press now, so think authors now have more options, but for me the idea of self-publishing made the whole thing easier than it had been in the past.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It largely depends on the story, but I try to do 1000 words a day when I’m in the zone. My quickest turn around was a week and a half. My longest was 2 years.
Do you have a writing playlist? If so do you want to share it?
I listen to a lot of ambient mood music, usually something quite dark and atmospheric. Latest albums/artists include Sabled Suns, Sleep Research Facility, Nurse With Wound, and the Donkey Kong Country 2 soundtrack.
How many publishers turned you down?
My lack of reaching out means I have saved myself from true rejection, but my short story submission rate is about 5% successful.
What kind of reactions have you had to your books?
The best reaction has been to have folk tell you that they don’t read, but then devour one of your books. Getting people back into reading is an excellent feeling. It’s also fun to hear when my horror tales give people nightmares.
What’s the favourite reaction you’ve had to your books?
One book blogger indirectly called me a “genius”. I’m riding that wave for a good long while.
What can you tell us about your next book?
I’m debating between 2 titles: one about a cult that revolves around a fatberg, and another about a book about a b-movie about a pulp horror book. Leaning toward the former.
Do you take notice of online reviews?
I do. I try to take any criticism as a tool to improve later works. Invariably, it revolves around my apostrophe blindness.
Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?
I’ve decided to concentrate on horror as I’m building a fair audience thanks to Wilthaven (Book Blogger Novel of the Year Award 2021 Finalist) and Deep Down There, but I have got a noir thriller series (Mr Blank) in the mix.
What did you do before you became a writer?
Worked briefly in film as a lackey, then worked as a library assistant for 8 years, before bouncing between jobs until my insanity gave me the time to write full-time.
Which author(s) inspire you?
Stephen King and HP Lovecraft are my main influences. The unique style and approach of Mark Z Danielewski (House of Leaves) has settled into me, and the indie spirit of Jason Arnopp excites.
Which genres do you read yourself?
Mostly genre fiction, with a tilt toward horror. Recently enjoyed some Philip K Dick (Scanner Darkly, Ubik) and the comedy stylings of Stevyn Colgan (A Murder to Die For, Cockerings).
What is your biggest motivator?
Entertaining readers, and getting the stories in my head out to share with others. There’s so many tales bubbling in my head it is a shame to keep them there.
What will always distract you?
Everything and anything. I’m a terrible procrastinator, and my mobile phone is the most powerful tool in dragging me away from my laptop. I tend to go through phases of literary intensity as well, limiting the power of those distractions.
How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?
I primarily use an award-winning graphic novelist named Elaine M Will (Look Straight Ahead, Dustship Glory) as my cover artists, and if I have a vague idea, I will share it. Invariably I trust her instinct, though.
Were you a big reader as a child?
I don’t think I was, truth be told. I was more a film person than book, although I do have fond memories of reading titles such as Day of the Triffids and Lord of the Flies.
Do you have a favourite bookshop? If so, which?
Big Green Bookshop, which exists primarily online but used to be in Wood Green, is my main indie place to go. Otherwise a scour through the charity shops sometimes provides some good finds.
What books can you not resist buying?
Any Stephen King I don’t own, I tend to grab. Also currently trying to fill up my Terry Pratchett collection with the classic covers.
Do you have any rituals when writing?
Apart from the obvious blood sacrifices all horror writers perform to get the inspiration, usually it is just a case of popping some music on and letting loose on a Word doc.
How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?
Approximately 80, all lying in wait on my shelves.
What is your current or latest read?
Last read was Former.Ly by indie author Dane Cobain. Very intriguing tale of the evils of social media corporations. Reminiscent of Faust in some ways.
Any books that you’re looking forward to in the next 12 months?
No exact titles, although I always keep an eye out on the various indie authors I am fond of, including Mark Allard Will, Andrew Lawston, and the aforementioned Arnopp, Colgan, and Cobain.
Any plans or projects in the near future you can tell us about?
Right now I’m concentrating on pushing Deep Down There into the world, but by the end of the year I should have made a decision on my next title. Hopefully there will be a few short stories popping into the world here and there too.
Any events in the near future?
Next up is being part of the Narratess blogs Indie April sale, where Wilthaven will be available for a mere 99p. After that is celebrating my 10th anniversary as an author. Anything else is whatever opportunity pops up.
What inspired you to write the genre you do?
I love to entertain, and horror is a fine way to entertain an audience. Much like comedy, which I try to infuse at times, it’s all about the reaction to the set-up. To tickle those primal feeling of fear or amusement is the ultimate joy for a creative such as myself.