John Llewellyn Probert's latest book is the British Fantasy Award-nominated The Last Temptation of Dr Valentine, the second sequel to his British Fantasy Award winner The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine. He won the Children of the Night Award for his portmanteau book The Faculty of Terror and his current projects include two more titles utilising the same structure. He is also at work on two novels and two non-fiction film books while continuing to write about current releases at his site, Houseof Mortal Cinema. After all six books have been finished he intends to sleep for a bit. But he probably won't.
1. Tell us three things about yourself. (If you’ve done this previously, ideally tell us three different things than last time!) I started wearing a monocle for a bit of fun but I actually find it incredibly practical. I wear a lot more waistcoats than I used to, but not all at the same time I own more shoes than my wife does.
2. Many writers have said the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown have made it harder for them to create. Have you found this? Has the outbreak affected you as a writer and if so, how?
It hasn't, really. My writing has always been an escape from the real world and there's no reason for that to have changed. Obviously I'm still going to work and as work is even more stressful than ever the need for release is all the greater and so when I get home the keyboard has been on fire most evenings. Let's see if anything any good comes of it all!
3. What was the first thing you had published?
When I was in school I wrote for the school magazine (and was one of the editors for two years) so my first published piece would probably have been a review of the annual organ recital in the school chapel.
4. Which piece of writing are you proudest of?
I don't know about proud, but the writing 'thing' I'm perhaps the most pleased I've ever done is my film review site House of Mortal Cinema. I had been tinkering with the idea for some time & eventually decided to go for it, especially once Thana supplied the title. It will be nine years old this year and I still love doing it. It's made me friends and industry contacts, plus the odd book contract, as well as causing me to watch a lot of stuff I would have been on the fence about otherwise.
5. …and which makes you cringe?
On bad days everything.
On good days nothing, because if I don't love my stuff how can I expect anyone else to?
6. What’s a normal writing day like?
I rise with the wind, remembering that high fibre Jacobs Crackers should be consumed one at a time and not by the packet load. Then it's into the bathroom and...
7.02am Champagne! Champagne for Everyone!
10.30am Get off the phone to the Queen after listening to her woes.
11.00am Lunch! Champagne and Truffles for everyone!
3.00pm Sit down at computer. Decide what films to watch for the rest of the day.
5.00pm Tea! Champagne and escargots for everyone while watching creaky Monogram 'classics' from 1942. Midnight. Think I should have written but it can wait until tomorrow.
7. What work of yours would you recommend for people on lockdown and in need of a good book?
I'd suggest Dead Shift from Horrific Tales Publishing. It's an easy read (I like to think all my stuff is) and lots of fun, even though it's set in a hospital. I'm planning to revisit that world with a longer book, by the way
8. What are you working on now?It has to be kept secret I'm afraid – all six books! One has been delivered to a US publisher and I'm waiting to hear, another that I've been contracted for I'm getting finished right now. The others are in various stages of scribble but suffice to say they're all more of the same kind of thing I've been writing for years because I'm old now & I can't change, nor would I want to. Oh, I do have a new story coming out in...oh dear I don't think I'm allowed to talk about that either. What about my 'British Kolchak' story in...no. It's all a bugger this pre-publication secrecy thing, isn't it? Anyway plenty of stuff to come and if I'm the only one who likes any of them well at least they have one friend.