Interview with Author Jackie Sonnenberg

We were lucky enough to get to promote ‘My Soul to Keep’ by author Jackie Sonnenberg a little more than a year ago. Now we welcome her back to the site, this time for an interview. Lets see what she had to say about her new book, ‘The Lamb Was Sure To Go,’ and her life outside of writing…

-PH: Lots to talk about so lets start with your second book of the YRESRUN SEMYHR horror collection, ‘The Lamb Was Sure To Go.’ What’s it about?

-Jackie: It’s about a little girl who is believed to be the Antichrist by a priest, Father Atticus. It’s a suspense-filled horror story that was created as a re-interpretation of the well-known nursery rhyme, Mary Had A Little Lamb. With this reference, it gives all readers a familiarity from childhood but this is sure to be a version they never read or thought about before!

-PH: So the story is based on the Mary Had a Little Lamb nursery rhyme? Why did you pick this nursery rhyme?

-Jackie: Because it is so iconic for all of us — learning it as children and being able to recite it even into adulthood. The Lamb Was Sure To Go is a story with recognizable characters but rather than feeling warmth as we do from nursery rhymes — readers will experience chills.

-PH: What more can you tell us about Father Atticus, and how you developed his character?

-Jackie: Father Atticus is a crucial part of the story: he represents the “good guy” in horror that is the very foil to the villain. He is mainly important for the religious undertones of the story. What would be the appropriate opponent to the Antichrist? Why a clairvoyant priest, of course. Everyone he tries to warn about his visions of impeding evil get dismissed as insanity which leads to serious tarnishing to his reputation.

-PH: Is there anything you can tell us about Mary and her lamb, or is that something readers will just have to find out themselves?

-Jackie: Both Mary and the lamb have something in common from birth: they don’t fit in and are rejected by their families. There is just something different, something unsettling, and something down right EVIL about them. Once Mary meets the newborn lamb for the first time, she recognizes him as her familiar…and that he was born for the same reasons she was…they were simply meant to be.

-PH: For those who might have missed your first book in the collection, ‘My Soul to Keep,’ what’s it about?

-Jackie: My Soul to Keep is about a mourning young girl who is looking for answers about the afterlife. She finds a spirituality group at her boarding school that just might give her the answers she is looking for, but at a deadly price. She will soon be in deeper than she ever expected with the group’s own paranormal encounters.

-PH: What is the biggest difference between the two books?

-Jackie: While both are developed from nursery rhymes, they are not sequels and can be read in any order. Additionally, the stories were written to give readers two completely different experiences. In My Soul To Keep the main character, Sky, is 13 years-old. Mary in The Lamb Was Sure To Go is only 8 years old. My intent in different ages is to communicate all themes of growing up with young teens and putting adult dynamics on a young child.

-PH: Can you explain the title of the collection, YRESRUN SEMYHR, in case readers didn’t catch what’s happening there?

-Jackie: It’s Nursery Rhymes spelled backwards! I wanted to have the same effect as “redrum” which has become so iconic from the book and movie, The Shining by Stephen King. Looking at the words, YRESRUN SEMYHR, feels both disturbing and strange and since all the versions of nursery rhymes in my books are all twisted and “backwards” — it feels just right!

-PH: Any thoughts on a third book yet?

-Jackie: I am actually working on more than one “backwards” nursery rhyme novel now….but I don’t know which will surface first!

-PH: You also seem to keep busy when not writing, as you run a haunted attraction called Zombie Outbreak. How did that come to be, and what exactly happens there?

-Jackie: My co-worker friends and I began performing at a local haunted house in Chicago. We have since started up Zombie Outbreak, a live-interactive experience. There is a summer-only location in the Wisconsin Dells and a year-round attraction in Orlando, where I currently work full time! I am a zombie actor who chases people that come through. They are armed with laser guns and shoot all the zombies that come out of the darkness. When they go into the next room, we have respawned…

-PH: You’ve also been a haunted house actor. How fun is that?

-Jackie: There is nothing more fun than improvising as an actor that involves scaring people, weirding them out, and getting into character for the theme and scene. I find my understanding of scaring in character in person helps create my characters in my books.

-PH: Speaking of dressing up for scares, you recently won a Best Craftsmanship award at Spooky Empire. What was your costume, and what was it like competing in that contest?

-Jackie: My costume was my character Bottoni, a puppet brought to life via dark magic and attacked by his Master. I wrote this character’s story for the Horror anthology CARNIVAL OF FEAR (Limitless Publishing; April 2018) that came out the same week as the Spooky Empire convention, so promoting came at perfect timing! Skilled in costume-making, I made it myself and entered the contest. I had a lot of positive interaction with people at the convention in character so much that he (the character) was already popular. As someone with a theatre background, I love being on stage, and I love that I got to showcase my very own creation and give it that promotion!

-PH: It’s obvious your a big horror fan. When did your love of horror begin? Did you ever imagine you would be so involved in it years later?

-Jackie: My passion for this genre did not happen fully until adulthood. I worked at my first haunted house in my mid-twenties and that was my “ah-ha” moment! It was about being completely immersed in the environment that got my creative juices flowing!

-PH: Here’s your chance to promote anything we haven’t talk about. Let us know something more about your books or haunted attractions that wasn’t mentioned, your next project, and/or anything else you would like to mention.

-Jackie: In addition to my book signings, which readers can find posted on my website at — I have just launched a blog on called “Get Your Scare On!” which is a Q&A interview series with leaders across the horror-haunt industry from actors to filmmakers to authors to special effects & make-up artists to entrepreneurs and more. Here is that link: And, for other events and book updates, readers can follow me on Twitter @sonnenbooks and on Facebook Author Jackie Sonnenberg

We would like to thank Jackie for taking the time to answer our questions. Hopefully you’ll pick up her new book, ‘The Lamb Was Sure To Go,’ available now at Amazon. And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for her in haunted attractions and conventions!

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