Cover Reveal: Joan Tierney's THE KILLING GROUNDS!
It's gruesome, it's heartwarming, and it's coming very soon!
Have you heard of the small press Neon Hemlock? If not, you’re about to. They’ve been putting out some of the most interesting stuff I’ve read lately, including Joan Tierney’s The Killing Grounds, which comes out April 4th.
When the Southern Tier Strangler, a serial killer taking victims across the Rust Belt, winds up dead on Bina Morton’s autoliner, she finds herself caught in a murder mystery in reverse:
This murderer is an estranged man from her rural New York hometown and the mother that abandoned her might have been one of his early victims. The events that follow force Bina to confront buried memories of home, the woman her mother truly was, and everything Bina herself left behind.
I got the chance to ask Joan a couple of questions about this creepy and compelling novella of family trauma and family healing, so stick around after the big reveal.
Neon Hemlock will be holding an online crowdfund for the entire 2023 Novella Series soon. Sign up here to get notified when it goes live!
Now, without further ado, the cover of The Killing Grounds:
LD: Thank you for the opportunity to read this novella! Novella is a form I feel like I'm still learning to understand, but one of the things I love about it it's...I don't want to say disregard for more traditional structure, because it doesn't feel like disregard. Rather, the length of a novella seems to call for a structure that won't fit into the shape of a short story, and can't fill out the shape of a novel. The Killing Ground felt like a perfect example of what makes a novella special, and I'm curious about the process of conceiving and writing the story--did you know it was a novella when you started?
JT: Originally, it was meant to be a short story. But then ten pages became 20, 20 pages became 50, and I realized that this wasn't a story I could tell in short form.
LD: I found the choice to set this very rural story in the high-tech near future really compelling. It almost feels like a story that could have been historical--company towns and subsistence farming and a single general store. But it also felt so sharply critical of our present that it verged on satirical. It's very science fictional in its iteration on and critique of technology, but in story content it's purely thriller. Tell me more about your development of this world and what fascinated you about it!
JT: The Killing Grounds started as a dream I had–in the dream, I was an autoline attendant. I'm a flight attendant in real life, so I started wondering: what would lead to there being no commercial airlines anymore? I decided air travel must have become completely privatized. Well, what would lead to that? What if everything in America was completely privatized? Sometimes it feels like we're halfway there already. While driving across the country, I saw a few water fountains that looked like public fountains, but up0n closer inspection, I found that you had to pay through an app on your phone before the water would come out. Private prisons make over 7 billion dollars per year. The world in The Killing Grounds doesn't feel so far off to me after all that.
LD: What books are you reading right now? What shows are you watching? How can I fill the void in my life left by The Killing Ground?
JT: I'm watching The Last of Us on HBO, and reading Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Neither of them really have much in common with The Killing Grounds–or each other–but I enjoy a variety. As for novellas, I recently read Hybrid Heart by Iori Kusano and The Labyrinth by Catherynne M. Valente, and loved them both a great deal.
LD: Are you working on anything now? Do you have any projects you want to plug?
JT: My second novella, The Second Law, comes out later this year from Kristell Ink. I also recently finished a retelling of Aeschylus' Oresteia set in the American south following the Vietnam War, so please keep some room open on your bookshelf for that!
Joan Tierney is a writer and flight attendant based out of Philadelphia. Her works can be found in a variety of magazines and airports, and her science fiction collection Letters From the End of the World can be found on Lulu. Her novella The Killing Grounds is part of Neon Hemlock’s 2023 Novella Series.
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