In February, we got to talk to many amazing women for Women in Horror Month, including journalist, broadcaster, and now author Rose Zolock. Fortunately, we got a second chance to talk with Rose, this time about her new book, ‘Medium Wave.’ Find out what she had to say about it, how she came up with the book, and her experience with the paranormal…
-PH: Your book “Medium Wave” has just been released so lets start by talking about that. What’s it about?
-Rose: The dead can speak. You know that, don’t you?
Becky Moran will convince you. Listen to her radio show, see her on stage – bringing messages from the other side to compete strangers. Her celebrity, her gift, enables the dead to bring comfort to you, the living.
But Becky Moran is a fake, a good one, but still a fake.
One night, during her live radio show ‘Medium Wave’, the dead finally arrive. An inexplicable supernatural happening triggers a chilling chain of events.
Becky Moran no longer needs to feign her link to the departed. She is tuned in, switched on and what was once an act is now terrifyingly real.
You believe we can talk to the dead, don’t you?
Come closer – can you hear them?
A paranormal journey is waiting….
-PH: Is this more of a story where people are searching for the paranormal, or the paranormal is actively haunting them?
-Rose: The search for paranormal activity is Becky Moran’s job, especially as she begins to film her television pilot. On her radio show, she interviews many who believe they have experienced the supernatural. We meet a man who claims he is ex-CIA, a so called ‘psychic spy’. She speaks to those who claim to own the legendary 13th crystal skull, hewn by aliens. Becky films at a museum with a restored World War 11 bomber – a Lancaster – where there have been reports of hauntings by the crew who flew it on a devastating mission. What she experiences there is truly terrifying.
Once Becky Moran realises she can communicate with the dead, there is something haunting her which is malevolent and it’s hungry. It pursues her – the scenes in the book of near death experience are gripping and based on worldwide medical research of those who have come back from being clinically dead. Becky Moran is both hunting and the hunted in a world of the supernatural.
‘Hovering above her, emerging out of that gloom, being hewn out of the dense blackness, is a deep splurge of crimson as a shape opens up out of the dark air like a flower unfurling in front of her, casting aside shards of thick, textured dark matter as it billows and grows, pulsing, red and hungry, greedily towards her. The teeth emerge like venomous stamens in the carnivorous petals. Becky feels a droplet of drool, toxic saliva, fall on her face. She closes her eyes and prays for death.’
Medium Wave, copy write Rose Zolock and Caffeine Nights.
-PH: What else can you tell us about your main character, Becky Moran? Maybe a little about how you came up with her character.
-Rose: I have worked as a journalist and radio broadcaster – I know the world of the media well. This book is also a satire on that world, the people who occupy it and an examination of how self-serving it can be. Becky is a character who combines several sources of inspiration. Her looks come from a good friend of mine who is a striking red head. Her personality – well, she combines my journalistic skill on air with her own rather venal quality as she fakes her mediumship. One of Becky’s main dilemmas is living with that lie. She has a whole team around her who have perpetuated that myth – and they have to adjust when the myth becomes a reality. Becky is isolated in her new found ability to hear and see the dead. She has to adjust. I wanted a central character who, in the beginning, you feel very little sympathy for because she was exploiting the gullible. People whom she believes have this desire – for many reasons – to believe in contact from those who have passed. Then, she begins to realise the responsibility she now holds and starts to fear for her very existence. Will she survive? I hope, as the paranormal journey progresses, you will care very much that she does.
-PH: How long did it take to write the book? Was it easier or harder than expected?
-Rose: The book took over a year to write and then I found a superb editor. The thing I found the hardest was learning new techniques which are essential in writing fiction. As a broadcast journalist, my style is very specific. I discovered the agony of show don’t tell and point of view. Every new author will be familiar with those two basic concepts and are probably rolling their eyes right now as this they read this. Once I grasped them, (you can do it!) writing became much easier. The creation of my central characters I found a joy to write and they took on a life force of their own. The horror and paranormal elements were challenging and deeply disturbing. My imagination and personal fears could be laid out, dissected and stitched into a narrative which I hope is genuinely frightening.
I don’t do slasher horror although I don’t shy away from the gruesome. I am unsure if being a woman means my take of what is frightening in fiction is different from that of a man. I think women can do subtle, bone shivering fear, which plays in your mind well. I write the sort of novel I would want to read. Medium Wave is not prescriptive in explanation and explores our desire to believe in the paranormal. You can make your own mind up.
-PH: Is any of the book based on you or your experience investigating the paranormal? Did your story come from any specific investigation?
-Rose: I have spent a long time interviewing many who claim paranormal experiences. I have stood in icy crypts with ghost hunters, clutching their K2 meters, waiting for ectoplasm to appear and the machines to start flashing, indicating a surge of paranormal energy. I have talked to a man who had to move his entire family out of their home because of poltergeist activity. I have declined invitations to a séance because they were using an Ouija board and my rational mind just isn’t willing to risk what they may do. I have interviewed countless men and women who say they can talk to the dead. I didn’t believe many of them and those I do believe seem to have a gift for amazing accuracy doing cold readings. And those I do believe do not seek to exploit the vulnerable and grieving. Medium Wave was inspired by those investigative interviews. My interest has always been focused on those who want so desperately to believe they had had a paranormal experience, and why, as much as in the strange events they say they have witnessed.
-PH: How long have you been investigating the paranormal?
-Rose: I have had an interest for a long time. From being hooked on ghost stories as a child to exploring paranormal stories during the course of my journalism. I have been fortunate to speak with many who will happily talk to me, as I am not judging what they say. I may challenge them or try and offer an alternative explanation – even a rational one – depending on the nature of their story. My job has allowed me access too many famous people who claim paranormal powers, as well as letting me explore the places where the inexplicable happens. I once spent an hour with Travis Walton – the movie of his story was Fire in the Sky and he claims he was abducted by aliens. He totally believes it. He was charming and sincere and convincing. In the end, a bit like faith itself, you have to accept without proof, if you are so inclined.
-PH: Talk a little about your investigative process.
-Rose: I wish I could tell you I wandered around clutching a crucifix, wrapped in a black cloak and chanting incantations. I do not. I do write with a skull, indented with crystals, which sits here on my desk. What I do is find people with strange stories and we talk. Some of those interviews will soon appear in my podcast ‘The Guttering Candle’. I hear what they have to say. If invited, I look at their homes or the graveyard were they believe something happened. Most supernatural activity happens in the most mundane places, not in ancient houses with creaking rafters and towers. I took a pair of sensitives around a derelict lunatic asylum recently where hauntings have been notorious in the past. The spirits were quiet, but my photographer found his camera refused to work and his night vision lens disappeared. He was scared witless. I do all the research I can about what is being claimed and then try and take a rational view. All the incidents in Medium Wave are based on real objects, places and hauntings. I used that as my base for fiction.
-PH: Have you ever had a paranormal experience of your own?
-Rose: No. My mind is open but I have yet to personally encounter anything I cannot explain. I moved into my present home about a year ago. I hear noises which I can’t account for and in my guest bedroom, a large indentation will appear on the bed, just under where the pillows sit. I don’t have a cat but I have decided it’s just the way the bed sheets have settled. I close the door on that room all the time.
-PH: What is the scariest or creepiest paranormal story that has crossed your path?
-Rose: The Story of Kitty.
This, a true story, was told to me recently by a retired District Nurse, working in the small, close knit villages of the Pennines, in the north of England. This is a bleak place of beauty where families have lived for generations. The nurse was looking after Kitty, who was terminally ill and who had returned to the family home to die. The nurse’s job was to keep her comfortable and as pain free as possible.
Kitty didn’t want her husband near her. When he came into her bedroom, she shouted at him to leave. The nurse grew disturbed by this behaviour, knowing that Kitty didn’t have long and feeling that it would be better to be peaceful as she neared the end of her life. Kitty beckoned her nurse to her and told her, her eyes bright with anger, her husband had dallied with every woman in the valley. She hated him, despising his grief now she was dying.
When Kitty passed a couple of days later, the nurse went to lay the body out and prepare her for the attentions of the undertaker. She washed Kitty, put a clean night dress on her and brushed her hair while the family were grieving in the parlour downstairs. The nurse placed Kitty’s hands, folded, on her chest. The left hand flopped down. The nurse gently placed it back. Again it flopped down. She tried yet again: the hand would not lie in place. The nurse then got a piece of gauze and tied both thumbs together and arranged it so it was hidden by the hands as they were folded on Kitty’s chest. As the nurse stood up to smooth the sheet around Kitty’s lifeless body, the left hand flung itself outwards with such force, her wedding ring flew off. The nurse heard it clatter onto the floor. Kitty’s left hand flopped over the bed, the deep indentation of that ring marking her now dead flesh. The nurse knew that ring had been worn on her finger for years and had not been loose. In death as in life, it seemed Kitty wanted rid of the connection to the man who had betrayed her.
-PH: Besides the supernatural, what other types of horror do you like?
-Rose: I love the works of M.R.James and Edgar Allan Poe. Their creation of the supernatural, insidious and creeping into the subconscious is irresistible. I am beyond doubt, Stephen King’s most faithful devotee. The films of his work less so, but the 1978 TV series of his novel, Salem’s Lot was beautifully done. I like horror films with atmosphere – The Innocents, starring Deborah Kerr, based on Henry James story, The Turn of The Screw. The Others, The Exorcist and the original Carrie movie were truly scary. Outright slasher movies based at the teen market are alright – have you noticed they tend to feature an isolation of adolescents somewhere you wouldn’t send your worst enemy? I always hope if it’s a date night movie, it works for the couple involved. Finally, Ira Levin’s book Rosemary’s Baby is a classic as is the movie.
Maybe, looking at this list, my taste is a bit vintage? Time to make Medium Wave as the next big Hollywood hit. I am dying to write the screenplay.
-PH: Here’s your chance to promote anything we haven’t talked about. Lets us know something more about your book that wasn’t mention, your website, podcast, and/or anything else you would like to mention.
-Rose: My book Medium Wave is available now. Book, eBook and Audio Book, worldwide and on Amazon.
Follow me on Twitter: @rosezolock.
Visit my website: @rosezolock.com
Medium Wave in all formats available from Caffeine Nights
The podcast, The Guttering Candle, the series begins soon on all good Podcast Aps. Watch the trailer for this season.
And we would like to thank Rose for taking the time to answer our questions. Hopefully this gave you some good insight on her new book, how she came up with the book, and her experience with the paranormal. Again you can grab a copy of ‘Medium Wave’ at Amazon!