Suffolk-born Terry Grimwood started his working life as an electrician and is now a college lecturer, having travelled full-circle from doing the job to teaching it (which he prefers). Along the way he has been a quality assurance manager, project manager and technical author. He is the author of numerous short stories and reviews which have appeared in Midnight Street, Bare Bone, Murky Depths, All Hallows, FutureFire and Eibonvale Press's own Blind Swimmer anthology among others. He has written and directed three plays and runs the Exaggerated Press which started when he published his first collection, The Exaggerated Man. Terry's web site can be found here.
1. Tell us three things about yourself.
I teach electrical installation (I used to be an electrician) and GCSE English at a further education college.
I play harmonica and sing blues - usually at open mic sessions, mostly at the Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues bar in London (last Sunday of each month, between 4pm and 8pm, love to see anyone there, I’ll buy you a beer if you come), and anywhere else where they are foolish enough to let me onto a stage.
I am knee-deep in amateur dramatics - currently a member of the mighty Knebworth Amateur Theatrical Society (KATS) - as an actor (ham), Director (drama queen) and writer (hack).
2. What was the first thing you had published?
In 1987 it was, a bitter short story called A LAND FIT FOR HEROES, which is about an old man having a flashback of fighting for his country in WW1, while he is dying of hyperthermia because he lives alone and unwanted, and is so poor he cannot afford to heat his home. It was published in a local newspaper as part of a short story competition they were running. I had to go to their office to have my photo taken. I felt as if I had finally arrived, was gracious to everyone there and struck a suitably authorish pose. It was a little bit of an anti-climax. The picture was taken on a compact camera by a junior office gopher, who made me squeeze into a corner by a rubber plant, because he felt it would give the picture…something or other. But then everyone knows the picture anyway, because, of course, it has become so iconic.
My first published horror story was JOHN, which appeared in the legendary Peeping Tom magazine, back in 1998. Now that was exciting, and something I will never forget!
3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of?
Hard question! I would never launch any work into the world unless I was proud of it. My play THE BAYONET, set in the wake of the First World War (there’s a pattern here) was performed by the Masque Players in my native Suffolk back in 1994. It was not only a new play, it was also directed by a bumbling fool who had never directed before (me) and, miraculously, was a resounding success that earned a standing ovation on its last night. It stills bring a lump to my throat, and the hairs are up on the back of my neck just remembering it, so I suppose that THE BAYONET is something of which I am inordinately proud.
4. …and which makes you cringe?
Another bit of theatre. It was called MARITAL ARTS and was a comedy sketch, written for a revue performed by another Suffolk group. It was (was, all copies have been destroyed) about a married couple, caught out by their neighbours, in the middle of a sex game that involved handcuffs and a telephone. Good idea, or so I thought (the play, not the game!) and it seemed funny when I wrote it, honest guv. Then it was performed…Oh the pain, the pain. Why did you have to bring this up again? Hang on a moment, I need a drink and a good cry…There, that’s better.
5. What’s a normal writing day like?
I write most evenings, which can be a bit wearing because I’m not as young as I was. At weekends I will, at least, write for one whole day. I am a disciplined writer. I don’t wait for inspiration, that comes at other times, ideas, snatches of dialogue, even a title without a story. I write whether I feel like it or not. Even if I manage to write one paragraph, I’ve written something. I also read my last few drafts aloud. I find that really helps to catch any awkward sentences or phrases. If it tangles the tongue or sounds wrong, then it needs an edit. I have been known to read aloud in some awful faux accent, American or upper class, for example, just to hear the words in a different voice. Yes, eccentric I now but I am British after all, so eccentricity is second nature to me.
I hate writing first drafts by the way. I seldom plan a story in any detail, unless I becomecompletely stuck, then I’ll scribble a plan or mind map or somesuch, then go for a walk and worry at it until I untangle the knots. Otherwise, I like to start and simply see where the story takes me.
6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first?
Another tough question. I’d like everyone out there to read all my work. They haven’t? Why not? I tend to recommend my novel BLOODY WAR (Eibonvale Press) to people who are not horror readers because it is an angry political thriller, rather than a horror story and one that people seem to find compelling. Even my son liked that one! For the horror fan, AXE (Double Dragon), described by Peter Tennant in a Black Static review as “balls to the wall horror”, it is a novel set in the world of pub rock and seedy bedsitters (like my own, back in 1980-82). It contains a number of themes that I find myself revisiting often, a heroine I actually fell in love with*, and it took twenty years to write. But, as I said, I hope all my writing is accessible and compelling. I like people to be able to read my work, get what I’m trying to say and above all, find themselves enjoying a damn good story. That’s my intention anyway. Only those who read my work will be able to tell me if I’ve succeeded.
*It is widely believed that Dorothy L Sayers was in love with her creation, Lord Peter Whimsy, so why shouldn’t I fall in love with the lovely Lydia Walker?
7. What are you working on now?
Two things. The first is a novella for Pendragon Press, which is a non-genre tale, based on a true, and very sad, story about an acquaintance of mine. I’ve made a start and it is a difficult piece to write, but he deserves some sort of epitaph for what he went through. He was the subject of a Channel 4 documentary many years ago. I don’t want to say more than that, but it is a grim, heartfelt work.
The second is a short story for the Joel Lane story notes anthology. For anyone who doesn’t know about this, the late Joel’s notes and scribblings for future (and, sadly, unwritten) stories have been compiled by Peter Coleborn and are to form the basis of a new anthology. The stories are to be inspired by these notes though not necessarily written in Joel’s style. A challenge and a responsibility, I have to say, but an exciting project, nonetheless.
After that? A science fiction novella and also a novel. No space opera though. I’ll leave that to the experts. I’ve had a trio of sf short stories published in recent Allen Ashley anthologies and it has reawakened my love of the genre, which was the second genre I read ad loved when I was a youngster (the first was westerns). I am interested in what I call social sf, the work of Ballard, Dick, Silverberg, those people.
Other than that…Well, I am reminded of the immortal phrase uttered by that great thespian, Michael Caine:
“Hang on a minute, lads. I've got a great idea…”
Books by Terry Grimwood
THE EXAGGERATED MAN AND OTHER STORIES - theEXAGGERATEDpress
THE PLACES BETWEEN - Pendragon Press
BLOODY WAR - Eibonvale
AXE - Double Dragon
SOUL MASQUE - Spectral Press
Plays (those that have been performed and are available for performance - contact Terry here)
THE BAYONET - Drama (full length)
TATTLETALE MARY - Horror (full length)
JAR OF FLIES - One Act Horror (based on the short story of the same name)
THE FRIENDS OF MIKE SANTINI - One Act Supernatural (based on the short story of the same name)