I first met Jenni Hill when she worked as an editor at Abaddon Books. (It was Jenni who saw Pax Britannia: Anno Frankenstein through to publication.) Jenni is currently Commissioning Editor for Orbit UK, but as well as guiding writers to publication she is also a writer in her own right...
What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks?
We’re fascinated by anything that can knock us off the top of the food chain. Us monkeys worked hard to get up here at the top, but we fall in the water with a shark and bam, another species makes us its dinner. We can’t help but be fascinated by it. People’s fascination with predators – from serial killers to endangered species, is a big part of the story I submitted for this anthology.
What was the inspiration behind your story ‘The Serial Killer Who Thought She Was A Shark’?
I enjoy shows such as Hannibal and Dexter but I wanted to write about a female serial killer, as they’re so rare in fiction. I also discovered that in Australia,sharks ‘tweet’ at surfers when they’re nearby, and I wondered how we might use that technology in future. I also started reading about shark fin soup, how we’re combating the cruel fishing practices around that, and how absurd yet kind of wonderful it is that some of us – charities, ecologists etc. – are often trying so hard to help all these endangered species that want to eat us alive.
What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story?
I discovered that death scenes, especially gory ones, can be really difficult to write. I think I put the manuscript away for at least a month or two, and only urging from Jon and from my husband made me pick it up again, grit my teeth and write!
If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be?
Stethacanthus, a.k.a. the anvil shark. He’s a prehistoric shark I saw on Walking with Dinosaurs and he looks absolutely ridiculous.
Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)?
I’ve a soft spot for another ridiculous shark –King Shark in DC Comics, especially when written by Gail Simone in Secret Six, where his battlecry was “I’m a shark! I’m a shaaaarrk!” Memorably, when the team were shown their personal hells by a supervillain, the rest of the team saw some pretty angsty, dark stuff, whereas King Shark found himself trapped in a restaurant where all the food was vegetarian.