Who’s your favorite author?
Whilst it is hard to pick just one from a small group, the most influential writer for me is James Herbert. His books are the ones that have spoken to me the most and shaped my own work as a result.
Which book or books have most informed you as a writer?
‘Ghosts of Sleath’ and ‘Others’, both by James Herbert. And also ‘Odd Thomas’ by Dean Koontz. There have been elements of each of these books, and each writer’s style, that I have molded into something within my own work to date. Herbert’s writing is so crisp and chilling, so to-the-point, that I wanted there to be similar moments in my books where people read them and have to do a double-take, asking themselves ‘Woah. Did he just say that?’
When did you realize you wanted to write?
When I found out that I was going to be a Dad. As simple as that. When my wife called me to tell me that she was pregnant, so many things went through my mind - so many emotions came to the fore - that I just had to write them down. It started as a diary that I could one day show my kids, so that they could see the kind of person I was, how their existence was already changing me. Through it all, the kernels of several stories that had been manifesting within me over a number of years started to come through, sending me in a slightly different direction.
What was your last completed project?
My latest release was ‘Blackgang: The Trickerjack Trail’, which is my second novella-style book, comprising three shorter tales under one roof. The book centers around one of my previous creations, a dark and twisted character called the Trickerjack.
What are you working on now?
I am currently writing the final part of my Wildermoor Apocalypse trilogy, entitled ‘Of Gods & Insects’.
What is your writing “process” typically like?
By definition I am what they call a “pantser”, meaning that I do not necessarily have a plan when I start writing. I just sit down with a blank page on my laptop, maybe with only a vague idea of a character that I want to develop or an event that I want to write about – however large or small – and let the story write itself. I suppose my current project is the most structured one so far, but again I have only provided loose bones for the story to hang from. I am largely still just letting it take me on a journey, rather than the other way around.
I guess you could say that I write from within the story – I start with the smallest detail and work my way out, exploring and discovering the place or time that I am writing about just the same as the reader will.
How do you combat writer’s block?
It’s funny that you should ask that really, as I am slap bang in the middle of writer’s block at the moment. I have been lucky enough not to have fallen victim to it too many times along the way, but when I hit that invisible wall, I just have to force myself to step away from it. I may even leave writing alone for a few days or weeks at a time, finding something else to distract my mind. Maybe listen to some music, read someone else’s book, go for a walk or a drive. Anything to take me away from my story, but at the same time putting me in touch with the things around me that could potentially provide the trigger that will set the wheels in motion again.
It is not necessarily that the story is not there or that we fail as writers if this happens. I’m sure it happens to all of us, and happened to the greats in their day too. You just need to recognize when it is time to walk away, even for a moment, so that you can look at your story from a distance.
Where do your ideas come from?
Music, films, books. I would say everything around me. The slightest little thing might happen during my day-to-day routine that sticks with me and provides me with the starting point for a chapter, which will then lead to the development of the story as a whole. I have been a horror fan for many years too, which I’m sure has something to do with the nature of my work. I also have a love for folk tales and history. I have picked up ideas from films, books and songs along the way, all of which have played some part in creating ideas behind my books.
What’s your greatest challenge as a writer?
Remaining focused, for sure. I have ideas going through my head every day of new stories or if I am working on a book, different plot twists or character traits that I feel MUST be included. It is hard to juggle all of these and still come out with a story at the end that flows perfectly, makes sense and evokes the emotions from the reader that you want them to. Achieving all of this whilst living your everyday life can be a massive undertaking.
But at the same time, it is just as hard not to beat yourself up if you need to put something else before your writing, as you constantly feel like you are letting someone down – whether it be your readers, publisher or even just yourself.
And what has been your greatest triumph (so far)?
There have been a bunch of moments along the way where I felt like patting myself on the back. Putting the obvious one aside for the moment – that of becoming a published author - I would have to say it would be the day that I saw ‘House of Courtenay’ get the #1 in the Free Horror Short Story chart on Amazon.
Yes, it is a pretty niche category and it was a ‘Free’ chart, but to me that meant that it still stood out amongst a crowd of quality titles and when people don’t have to part with any cash to download your book, I believe there is in fact more competition.
‘House of Courtenay’ was my first self-published title, and was more of an experiment than anything else at the time. But it is the book that I still get the most memorable reactions for. In a sense it is my baby, the title that I nurtured the most at the start and I was over the moon to see it up there in the top spot, even if for a short time.
Either that or the day that I managed to put a copy of ‘Acolyte’ in the hands of one of my horror heroes, Robert Englund. I have a photo of him posing with me, pretending to read my book whilst wearing his famed clawed Freddy Krueger glove. And he kept the book! That will be hard to beat, for sure.