1. Tell us three things about yourself.
Hmm…background: I’m 38, live in England with my wife and our two cats and I’ve been writing for years while working full time.
When I was 11, I wrote a letter to James Herbert for a school newspaper. From what I remember, the questions were completely random in the way only a kid can manage – everything from his writing life to his favourite colour. He replied and I still have the letter.
Rachel’s sister in Pet Sematary still scares the shit out of me.
2. What was the first thing you had published?
I had five or six poems featured in anthologies around 2000 – 2001. Back then, I wrote predominately short fiction with a poem every now and again although I haven’t written any poetry in best part of seven years. The last one was for my wife on our wedding day and that seemed like a good place to call it a day on my attempts to rhyme. Fiction wise, it was a short story called 'I Could Murder A Good Book' which featured on a horror website in 2008, I think. It was a black comedy (very black) narrated by a wannabe writer who’s had enough of what he thinks of as inferior writers wasting publishers’ time when those publishers could be reading his stuff. So he decides to kill as many writers as he can. Well, it made me laugh.
3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of?
Tough one. Although I’ve written several books since the first draft of my soon to be published book Hometown — and I try to improve with every new book — that one was the first that felt as if all the things I’d been trying to say with my fiction came together. Character-wise, it was the most honest up to that point and felt closest to the story I wanted to tell. Since then, I’d probably say an as yet unpublished novel called The Dead Room which, again, is pretty much the story I wanted to tell right from the start. Putting together a collection of short fiction and publishing it myself last year (Die Laughing) was a lot of fun, too. Seeing the finished result was a nice moment.
4. …and which makes you cringe?
Just about anything I wrote between 1996 and 2007. Poems, attempts at novels, short stories…all crap with the only positive being it taught me what worked and most definitely what did not. A lot of the time, I (without realising it) tried to say something with that stuff when I should have concentrated on just telling a story and letting anything deeper come by itself.
5. What’s a normal writing day like?
With a 9-5 job, I have to make use of evenings and weekends to write and take care of my social media stuff. Generally, I work for a couple of hours on three weeknights and more over the weekend. Depending what I’m working on, that could be outlining a new book (I have to outline rather than making it up as I go), reading a finished draft or working on a new book. I aim, roughly, for two thousand words a session if it’s a new book. A first draft takes anywhere between two to four months depending what else is going on in writing or my personal life.
6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up
I’d probably say either my collection Die Laughing to get a taste of my stuff (Lovecraft, Jack the Ripper, witchcraft, zombies, the horror of the future etc) or a novella called Mirror Of The Nameless which the editor described as ‘Lovecraft meets Mad Max’ — a comment I loved because that’s what I wanted to write. Either should give a new reader a fair idea of what I’m like before Hometown is published.
7. What are you working on now?
Now that all the final edits for Hometown are done, I’m reading through the second draft of my last book – Winter Graves. It’s a murder thriller thing that takes place over a few days. Teenage girls are being killed by someone the police can’t identify, and the person who might be able to can’t face what’s happening because he knows he has a connection to the killer – a connection that isn’t possible because the killer is dead. After that, I’m very probably going to edit an older book that was published as an ebook a couple of years ago by a company that has since closed and perhaps publish it myself. It’s much more fantasy than horror so we’ll see how that goes. Then it’s a new book…cannibals, nuclear war. All that fun stuff.