<![CDATA[Ginger Nuts of Horror - INTERVIEWS]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 08:31:11 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[GINGER NUTS OF HORROR PLAYS CHAPPIE KNOCKIE IN AUCHTERMUCHTY: AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JOHN KNOCK]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/ginger-nuts-of-horror-plays-chappie-knockie-in-auchtermuchty-an-interview-with-author-john-knock

John Knock has spent the last 20 years masquerading as a teacher, husband and father but all the time a horror has been growing inside him, one with a distinctive Scottish accent.
If you are ready for a Caledonian tour of our darker locations, locals you would die to meet and scenery that could very well take your breath away, think of him as your slightly manic driver. 

Ready? You've arrived, left the genteel surroundings of auld reekie and we're aff! Here's hoping the brakes are fixed eh?
First stop, the historic Kingdom of Fife!

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

I’m just starting out on actually publishing but I’ve spent all my life with stories: from study, to job, through different mediums I’ve been working on stories and with people. 
I’m married with kids and like most fathers am really busy. I live in rural Scotland just now but I’ve lived in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, not to mention London, Sheffield and even Northern Ireland.  I used to be a real gypsy before the kids came along.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I’m working and I have a family and an old house all of which takes up loads of my time when I’m not writing.  I find myself reading or watching films. I like cooking but I really need to find time to get better at it. I love walking.  It’s the best for working things through.  I seem to enjoy a lot of solitary activities just now as they give me time to think. I’m getting into podcasts in a big way now. 

Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
I’ve got to say Christopher Brookmyre of course.  Chris really got that in your face style of writers like Carl Hiassen (who I also got into) and gave it a really Scottish flavour, like a Billy Connolly stand up or Irvine Welsh’s The Acid House is something I really go back to again and again.  I know, everyone loves Trainspotting but The Acid House is a work of genius, you can always go back to it. Really dark humour, like a kick in the balls that also makes you think about existence.  Get it and read it today.
Before I got into all of these, it was the late genius of Iain Banks.  I was luckily enough to start with Complicity, which is a truly unique book, opening in the second person. If you haven’t read him, go and do so now.  Start with something like Espedair Street if you want a good laugh and work through them.  Ross, who does my covers, loves his Sci-fi.  Banks really pushed what you can do with a novel without losing narrative. 
The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations.  What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?
Horror is a very subversive genre.  I once heard it described as science fiction in a contemporary world.  If you read Peter Straub’s novella Pork Pie Hat, you’d think where’s the horror for ninety percent of the novel but the atmosphere is really compelling.  King is always moving towards fantasy but then reins it back to our world. He’s great on the inhumanity of man and the trials of friendship. 
I’m mixing up investigation, horror and comedy.  I remember watching Sam Rami’s Evil Dead 2 (not the remake) at a packed cinema and the audience rollercoastering from laughter to screams. 
I’m not really fond of the romantic teen vampire genre but I’m not the audience for that.  Yet  Suzy McKee Charnas’s The Vampire Tapestry and Richard Matheson’s I am Legend are brilliant interrogations of the creature.  It’s a question of actually having something to say through the horror.  In both cases, the debate like Shelley’s Frankenstein is about whether man or the creature is worse.
I’d hope that publishers will stop chasing trends and look for authors who have a really original idea and who mix it up.
A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?
Big Ideas have a great youtube video about Zombies and technology.  I reckon that the zombie survival movie is coming to an end and maybe we will see some move towards separation mutation, something like tribal difference.  Maybe generational horror, where the kids have mutated into a hive mind and the adults are trying to avoid their wrath, like that old Twilight Zone episode with the kid that terrorizes his own family.
The humanity out of control of The Purge is still very compelling.  We have two of the most powerful countries in the world run by egomaniacs, who are more interested in power than what to do with it.  Cult of personality or political horror maybe, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Each version has been a barometer of its time.

What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?
I think I’ve mentioned a lot of Scots authors, so I’d like to start with Brookmyre’s One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night.  The mix of high-octane action and school days reminiscing was very influential in finding the John Knock style.  It was when Chris really got into his stride and found his voice. 
Ian Rankin was an influence on the background plot. Let it Bleed is a really well paced thriller about corruption and I saw DS Jimmy Melville as a take on Rebus. He has the same disrespect for authority and self-interest but without any drive to solve the case.
The most influential film in terms of plot is the Oliver Reed 1961 Curse of the Werewolf.  I saw the first twenty minutes over twenty years ago and it stayed with me as it gave a different reason for the werewolf origin.
I would also mention Out of Sight, 1998 with Clooney and Lopez.  Great chemistry, snappy Elmore Leonard plot, fantastic dialogue, really sexy.

How would you describe your writing style?

That’s really hard.  Pacey, that’s for sure, I want to get on with the story but I know I have to set the scene, so that’s why I like using a prologue as a teaser.  My new novel has the same device.   I have a real feel for character. I keep making them and jumping into their heads to keep up the pace and let them talk or rant, to the reader.  I like giving just enough and let the reader work.  Someone, I think it was Leonard, said treat the reader or maybe it was viewer, like they are smarter than you think they are.  The best work comes of a real respect for the reader, to let them put it together.

Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?

One of my test readers told me she laughed out loud when reading it.  I’m happiest with that.  I really hope I get a good review that I can learn from to strengthen my style.

What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?

Avoiding telling the reader the plot.  I had to re-write one chapter again and again to avoid a bond villain style explanation.  In doing so, I really opened up a character.   The words on the page, where the hardest for me to begin with, so I looked around a few articles and learnt how to avoid poor sentence structure. 

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
I don’t want to write something that doesn’t feel real.  I like to believe in the world I’m creating, especially when the supernatural comes into it.  You need to believe in the characters, so I’m not going to write people who just wouldn’t exist in the real world.  Having said that I don’t really want to gross the reader out or make him or her stop reading because it is too disturbing because that would work against the comedy element.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
A bit of both.  I like putting some hidden jokes in some character names or Scottish references but they always have a life of their own, even characters that don’t outlive a chapter.  I think names are important.  I used to struggle with them but now they come thick and fast,

Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?
I can’t really answer this except to say I have found my voice. I just need to get on a do the donkeywork.  Ask me again in five years.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?         

Just enough research for the place, the feel of the place.  Knowing a few key things about an actual place before you make it fictional.  Keep listening, watching and reading.  Paying attention to detail both when collecting material and when writing.  Voice notes are good on your smart phone or notebook or anything to keep an idea when it comes to you.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

Lee Child talks about the importance of the first paragraph, then the first page, then the first chapter.  The job of the writer to grab the reader.  I think that’s something I always want to do.

Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you tried to approach this subject?

Social media is a great tool for the writer. I’ve tried to approach the launch of this book on twitter and Facebook and other platforms.  I am actively looking for my readers.  I want them to devour this book and be hungry for the next one.  I see it like trailers for a movie.

To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favourite child, and who is your least favourite to write for and why?
I can’t answer this.  I like them all, even the ones I enjoy killing.  I want the readers to enjoy them and decide whom they like.  I love jumping between them. 

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Too early to say but I’m still fond of the prologue for Wolfman that I wrote a long time ago.

And are there any that you would like to forget about?

I could mention early attempts at fantasy but they got strangled at birth.

For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?

That’s easy, The Wolfman of Auchtermuchty as it started everything.

Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us?
That’s really difficult.  There’s a line here and there that I’m really proud of but often they only make sense when you get the second meaning. So, I’d thought about a short passage that hopefully gets the flavour of the book. Spoiler alert!
He was still cursing and stamping when he heard the growl from the pines behind him. In anger, he turned and called on it. ‘Come on then ye shitty wee-’
Hamish stopped dead in his tracks and stared at the beast loping towards him. Fifty years of hate dissolved into a little boy pushed up against the gate of fear.  His paralysis broken by the warm liquid trickling into his sock. He turned and lunged for the shovel as a hillock of fur, teeth and claws sprung, catching him at chest height, splitting his side.

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

The Wolfman of Auchtermuchty is a dark comedy set in Fife.  Craig Miller, tabloid journalist returns to his hometown trying to create a piece about wolf sightings. He’s thrown into events concerning his old friends and dark secrets from their past.  Meantime DS Jimmy Melville has found a finger that points to a dodgy solicitor and his missing planning officer wife. When the body parts start mounting up it’s more a case of what dunnit than who dunnit.
Next up is set in Glasgow and features some senior citizens and some actual coffin dodgers.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
Clichés need to be played with.  Imagine the stalker in the house and the frightened babysitter.  Now imagine the stalker gets cooked by the babysitter and eaten by the kids.  I hope that doesn’t make me sound to sick?

What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
I’m reading Michael Connelly just now, having watched the Amazon adaptions of his books avidly.  I like his style. He’s a real wordsmith, really evokes the temperature of the place, so I hope it doesn’t disappoint in terms of story.  A lot of fantasy disappoints.  Here’s the opportunity to really create a totally imaginary world and yet they are often so formulaic.  If anyone can recommend a fantasy book that doesn’t have an evil lord in the east or a bunch of mixed races on a quest, please do.
 The greatest book I ever read was probably Lanark by Alasdair Gray. He really understood how to play with the words on the page like a visual artist, which he is.

What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?  And what would be the answer?

I’m not a big fan of fantasy but I like how his books comment on our world and our hang-ups, so I would love to be asked to write a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett’s estate.
Yes of course!
Social Media Links :
Facebook: JohnKnockAuthor
Twitter:    @JohnKnockAuthor
Website  - 
20 years ago, Craig Miller escaped suspicion and rumour in the kingdom after his mother's disappearance. Now an out of favour tabloid journalist, he returns to restart his career with a sexed-up piece about wolf sightings. What he didn't reckon on were old friends with dark secrets and a conspiracy that he might well have helped to start.

When DS Jimmy Melville finds a finger near the sleepy town of Auchtermuchty, it points him to a missing planning officer and her shifty solicitor husband. When more body parts start turning up on the eve of a royal visit the brass start to panic. Can he make sense of it all while holding off his officious young DC and avoid his IBS flaring up?

Dr Susannah Martin should be sorting out myth and reality but the distractions of a mysterious, albeit handsome student are about to lead her astray. She needs to keep her head on her shoulders, literally, when Craig Miller turns up on her doorstep with tale of a werewolf...


<![CDATA[Ginger Nuts of Horror chats with actor and director oliver park]]>Wed, 13 Dec 2017 04:51:49 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/ginger-nuts-of-horror-chats-with-actor-and-director-oliver-park

Oliver Park is an award-winning British actor from Bath, England. Oliver started on stage at Bath's Theatre Royal and went on to achieve lead roles in numerous short and feature films including the multi-award winning 'Shank'. As a result of this performance, the production team behind the film, Bonne Idee Productions, wrote parts especially for Oliver in their two follow-up productions - "Release" and "Buffering", both of which went on to secure US and UK distribution on DVD, as well as critical acclaim from festivals around the world. 

More recently Oliver has had lead roles in a number of films including Neil Oseman’s ‘Stop/Eject’ (shortlisted for BAFTA 2015), Simon Pearce's 'Watch Over Me' (Winner of 'Best Action Short' (New York 2014) and 'Platinum Remi' for best drama (Houston 2015)), Jack Searle’s ‘Fratton’, Darren Flaxstone’s ‘Dark Vision’ and Devon Avery's Action/Drama 'Synced'. Oliver is also the writer, director of the horror film 'Vicious' due for release 2016 and upcoming horror 'Still'. Alongside his acting career, Oliver was also awarded a degree in Architecture (BSc). 
Hello Oliver, could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself? 
I’ve been writing scary stories since I was old enough to pick up a pen and always had a deep passion and fascination for horror. I am lucky in that I have very vivid dreams almost every night. Many of my ideas are lifted almost beat for beat from my nightmares – instead of turning over and trying to forget them, I write them down. By the time I studied Architecture at University, I'd written various short novels, ideas and feature scripts. Then, any down-time that I had whilst doing my studies, I would write. I would often bug my housemates to read my scripts.
Having been an actor for the last fifteen years, I always knew I wanted to move into making films but I was in no rush. There was a lull in my schedule in 2015 so I decided to make the short version of the feature script I had written for Vicious. I loved it so much that I knew it was going to be the first of many.
Other than the horror genre, what else has been a significant influence on your career?
Ray Harryhausen! I loved his films when growing up. I am just a huge lover of film and grew up watching things like The Goonies, Escape to Witch Mountain and the ‘Carry On’ collection. Oliver Twist (1968) scared me a lot when I was young… Maybe that was the first ‘scary’ film I ever saw.
The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations.  What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?
I spend a lot of my time trying to explain what ‘horror’ means to me when meeting new people. Horror is not about blood/gore/violence/monsters in my head. I use the question ‘are you afraid for the character or for yourself as an audience member?’ Horror is not an easy thing to get right and a real depth is needed to truly get under someone’s skin. Horror audiences are among the smartest film watchers out there and they know what to expect – so having to raise your game to try and outsmart them is not easy!
As far as breaking past assumptions of horror, I think genre just needs to be seen as what it is – genre simply means the style or category of the film, so why people jump to conclusions about what the subject matter will be is a shame. I don’t think we need to break past assumptions though as it will evolve on its own and I look forward to seeing where horror goes in the future.
A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?
I don’t make a point of shaping my stories around current climates. There are enough real life horror stories today that people don’t need to be reminded of them in my films. I write what scares me most and what I would want to watch as an audience member. I am sure subconsciously, current trends and climates play a part in my mind but I don’t consciously focus on them.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
Haha – none whatsoever! I love clichés as the more of them that exist, the more I can use to subvert the audience expectations! Nothing is off the table if done right.
You have a fascination with real-life ghost stories and urban legends, where did this come from? 
The unknown is what scares us the most and I love stories, so urban legends and ‘based on true events’ stories are always going to be the ones that intrigue me the most. We like to identify with the characters in the stories we’re told so what better way than to suggest that the story is or was real. Whether I believe in ghosts or not doesn’t matter. It may have come from my dreams somehow but that would be for a psychotherapist to work out. I’m usually too busy trying to keep up with them to wonder where they came from!
What's your favourite urban legend? 
I honestly don’t have a favourite as there are so many great ones and new ones written all the time. I’ve a few that I’ve written myself so hopefully there’ll be some on screen in the not too distant future…  The ones from my childhood that spring to mind are ‘The Licked Hand’, ‘The Dripping Tap’ and ‘The Hook on the Car’ and I am a huge fan of Clive Barker’s ‘Candyman’ too.
Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for an emerging director to achieve, how have you approached this?
Nowadays with all the countless films that are being made, short, feature, series, experimental, narrative, fact, fiction – you have to ask yourself ‘why am I making this one?’ and ‘how can I be the diamond that shines through the rest?’. I said to everyone on the set of Vicious that I didn’t want to make it unless it was going to be the best short horror in the world – not in the literal sense, but in the sense that I wanted to make sure that the film had whatever traits a film needed to have in order to have the chance of attaining that.
What have been the primary influences on you as an actor and as a director?  As an actor and a director, how does having a foot in both camps help you as an actor and a director? 
I am always striving to do all I can to help make the best film possible so as an actor I will give myself completely to the character and the team, and I would say the same when it comes to directing. I will ask myself what is needed of me on the day and shoot for that. It certainly helps to understand different points of view when working as a team so the more you know about what it’s like to be doing a different role, the better equipped one will be to handle their own role in that group.
And what's the one thing that annoys you that directors do, from the actor's viewpoint, and the one thing that directors do that annoys you as an actor? 
I touched on it before but it would be cutting corners or working at half-sail. You’re only making this film once, so give it all you have or why bother. Whether I am acting or directing I will always support others and if anyone needs help I will be there for them. If you really don’t want to be there on set, don’t be.
The world of film and TV is in turmoil at the moment with all these allegations hitting the headlines, how do you keep yourself safe from these going ons?
I think it’s disgusting that any person would abuse another for any reason.
Do you have any advice for actors just starting out? 
Some actors look to others (directors, producers, casting directors, agents, writers, etc) for work and in that scenario, it’s not up to you whether or not you work. The best piece of advice I can give is to create your own work with others and as you work, invite others to see it. The catch 22 of ‘you can’t get a good part without an agent but you can’t get an agent without a good part’ is a difficult one to get around but if you create your own work (which is a great benefit of the times in which we live), then you are already ahead. Work with others, challenge each other and always learn.
Your first short film has gained some awards from the horror film circuits, how do you go about getting your films shown at these festivals? 
There are many sites that help submit to festivals now so I used those. They’re all online and easy to find and use.
VICIOUS is a rather compelling horror short, simple in concept yet very effective in execution, what do you think is the key to the success of the film? 
Thank you. I had no idea Vicious would be so well received. I just wanted to make the best film I could and to test some of the ideas that I had for it. I can remember being in the sound design stage and getting very excited when the final moments worked so well. From that point I was just excited to see how others felt. I hoped that everyone liked it but I understand that we all have different tastes. I’m still so happy that people liked it and I hope people like my next projects too.
As someone who knows nothing about the filmmaking process, I was fascinated by the opening shot, how does a director working on such a limited shot get that smooth continuous shot when going over a bed? 
I worked with some amazing people to get that shot. It was shot on a MOVI rig and the operator Karim Clarke had his work cut out as not only did he start inside a bedroom, he had to navigate out onto the landing, down three stairs then up two stairs, then through my bedroom (the lead bedroom was actually my room as I was living there at the time) and then on to my bed, then off the other side, to the window. He had to raise and lower the camera to keep it the same height in going up and down stairs and stepping on and off the bed.  He was incredible and did it about seven times in order to get it perfect. It’s the shot of our lead walking up the stairs that was the REALLY difficult one to achieve – that one took us about twenty takes to get right! It’s down to the awesomeness of the team that I was able to get the shots that I saw when writing the film. I can’t wait to work with them again. I also worked with the same MOVI team on my second short film ‘Still’.
What is the most significant restraint on a director working on films with those sort of budgets, and where do you think it is most important to spend the money on?
Vicious was about being trapped. She as a character was trapped in her grief and the tight, tall house she lived in so it was about showing that of and really immersing the audience in her world. We needed to find the right way of lighting and shooting it, which mean we needed to spend money on the right kit. For me, it’s all about quality so I pushed for the best quality in every area I could. I insist on paying people as those I work with are gifted professionals in their fields and I wanted their focus and their complete time as long as they were with me. I didn’t want them stressing about other jobs or having to work in between. I saved up a lot of money to afford to do it which ran out very quickly - and it never occurred to me that I would be making another so soon after! ‘Still’ was done for almost half the price.
How did you cast the film?  Did you have any preconceptions about the type of actor you were looking for? 
I had a very specific look in mind for Vicious but each project is different. I don’t always cast the same – it is project dependent. I put various casting calls out on some casting sites and on social media. I got hundreds of replies but few had the right look or level of experience which I expected having been a first time director. So I sifted through over eight thousand headshots on some casting sites to find people with the eyes I was after that also had good qualifications. I then narrowed the list I had found and those who matched what I was after from the casting calls I did. I was left with fifteen. I contacted them all and managed to get ten to audition. I wanted someone who could really portray being afraid and have the confidence to let go and be in the moment. There were various subtleties I wanted and Rachael played the part beautifully. I’ve since been in contact with several of the others as they were all great in their auditions and I will hopefully work with them all in the future.
Would you have changed the style of the film if you had gone with a male lead actor? 
My original plan was to be the lead but as I develop the story and characters, it was clear that the lead I was writing was a young woman and not a young man. I let the characters dictate what the film and story end up being.
Your latest film is about to be unleashed, what can you tell us about STILL, without giving too much away? 
You’re home along one night and there is a knock at your door… You answer and there is no one there… But someone has left a note… You lift it up and it reads: ‘you left the back door unlocked’. That is the beginning of ‘Still’. It’s shorter, darker and hopefully even scarier than ‘Vicious’.
What lessons from Vicious, did you implement on STILL?
I adore Vicious so my one task was to try and make something scarier! I like beautiful cinema so I pushed for even darker, even more mesmerizing cinematography with an even darker story. I knew that everyone that liked ‘Vicious’ would just want the same but different – another ‘Vicious’ so I decided to twist the knife - Still isn’t based on the supernatural. It’s based on fact. I know that ‘Still’ won’t be to everyone’s taste and that many won’t find it scary, but that’s fine – I’ll have to find out how to scare those who were unaffected with the next one I do instead.
The Home invasion/ your house is not the castle you once thought it was has always been an effective horror trope. Why do you think these films are so compelling?
It gives us a great way to relate in that we can imagine ourselves in our own homes going through the same things. Fear gives me the chance to take the things that you take for granted away from you and leave you cold and afraid. The closer you are to something and the safer it makes you feel, the more afraid you’ll be when it’s taken away.
The trailer features a distraught woman being terrorised by a constant knocking at the door?  Who would you least like to have knock at the door? 
Haha – in a film sense, probably Jason Voorhees, Leatherface or any of the villains from ‘The Strangers’. That’s the interesting thing about fear – the fact that the ones we should really fear are the one that would patiently knock on your door and wait… Creeps with ulterior motives! At least we can all sleep soundly knowing that Sadako from Ringu isn’t the type to knock… Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing though!
When is STILL out and how can we see it? 
I am in the process of planning a release date for ‘Still’ with Eli Roth’s ‘Crypt TV’ channel so watch this space. It’s going to get a great release and it’ll be soon – within the next month or so! If you give my facebook page ‘Oliver Park Horror’ a ‘like’ you’ll get told exactly when and where you can see it very soon.
What's next for you? 
More horror! I am in the process of working on various scripts and projects with several production companies and I am hopefully moving forward with a feature film next so I can use some of the terrifying set-pieces I am desperate to try.  I’ve recently returned from Los Angeles in the U.S. so there are a few things in the works – again – watch this space.


<![CDATA[ENTER THE CROW GARDEN: AN AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH ALISON LITTLEWOOD]]>Thu, 07 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/enter-the-crow-garden-an-author-interview-with-alison-littlewoodInterview by Jonathan Thornton 
Alison Littlewood was raised in Penistone, South Yorkshire, and went on to attend the University of Northumbria at Newcastle (now Northumbria University). Originally she planned to study graphic design, but "missed the words too much" and switched to a joint English and History degree. She followed a career in marketing before developing her love of writing fiction. 

She now lives in a house of creaking doors and crooked walls in South Yorkshire, with her partner Fergus. She loves exploring the hills and dales with her two hugely enthusiastic Dalmatians and has a penchant for books on folklore and weird history, Earl Grey tea and semicolons. 

Alison’s short stories have been picked for Best British Horror, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthologies, as well as The Best British Fantasy and The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime. They have been gathered together in her collections Quieter Paths and in Five Feathered Tales, a collaboration with award-winning illustrator Daniele Serra. She won the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for Short Fiction. 

Her website is at www.alisonlittlewood.co.uk.
Your latest novel, The Crow Garden (2017), is out now in hardback from Jo Fletcher. Would you be able to tell us a bit about it?
The Crow Garden is a tale set in Victorian times, and it's about a mad doctor who becomes obsessed with one of his patients. Mrs Harleston's husband has accused her of hysteria and she's accusing him of something much worse and saying that he's trying to put her out of the way to save himself from being accused. It’s set soon after the mania for mesmerism went across the country, so the doctor has her mesmerised and it unleashes dark forces – she begins to find a way out of a situation where she's completely out of control of her life.

The Crow Garden explores the horrific real life history of the treatment of the mentally ill. Was this a difficult subject to write about?

It was, but I expected it to be harrowing when I went into it, and that question of who's in control of people's lives really fascinated me and drew me into it. As a woman Mrs Harleston is very much in a paternalistic society, she goes from living under her husband's roof to an asylum that dictates where she lives, what she does and what she wears. I began with an image of a woman who starts to regain the upper hand - so that fascinated me.
The history of care of mental patients and the treatments used was quite disturbing as well, although we have an image of Victorians locking their wives away in asylums, and actually there were steps taken throughout the century to make that more difficult. So Mrs Harleston had to be examined by two physicians before being certified insane, but since she’s claiming to have an ability to speak to the dead, she does give them grounds for accusing her. At the same time the book is looking at the spiritualism movement that swept across the country and asking, who's mad here? Is there an empirical line that you cross where you become mad, or is it a question of how many people you have on your side and how many people are buying into this?

And that gothic tradition rooted in the madwoman in the attic from Jane Eyre (1847)....

Yes indeed, that whole wonderful tradition of Victorian literature was very much in my mind as well. And I was reading into the history of the interest in the occult and the ‘marvellous’ as they would have called it, the Victorian spirit of inquiry. The fact that somebody like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the rational detective and was very much into scientific progress, could also believe that science might one day prove the existence of fairies . . . it’s absolutely fascinating.

The Crow Garden, The Hidden People (2016) and Cottingley (2017) explore what happens when our modern rational perspectives come into contact with these beliefs from the past, whether they be the existence of fairies or discredited medical theories. Was this something that interested you?

It was, and the fact that things like that could be seen as a part of science. Arthur Conan Doyle was very interested in spiritualism, and saw it as putting religion to a scientific test. So for him it was all part of a rational approach, whereas for us sitting on the other side of a century it seems absolutely crazy. I found it interesting that there was this sense of possibilities . . . and it wasn’t that long after the development of microscopes and the discovery that if people examined a drop of water they could suddenly see all these tiny ‘animalcules’, as they called them, living inside it. So there were tiny beings there that they’d never suspected existed – it was kind of a similar idea that they might be able to discover fairies in the air.

What is it about fairy mythology that makes it so fascinating to us in the modern age?
I think the longevity of them is because they're so evasive, and have been seen in different ways to suit different centuries. The Victorians liked to picture them as animal spirits, the flower fairies and so on, all very sweet and lovely. People were moving to the cities as part of the industrial revolution, and feeling as if they'd lost a golden age of the countryside. Fairies always seem to be part of a nostalgic vision of something that's being lost. But they have a darker side – going back further still there's a tradition of trickster fairies, where encounters with them might be perilous as well as beautiful, and the idea of changelings where they stole people away and replaced them with a doppelganger. That’s just so creepy . . .

Which of course forms the central mystery of The Hidden People, has she been replaced, is everybody mad, or is there some kind of manipulation going on behind the scenes?

That's it . . . once you start to suspect somebody, anything they do that’s out of character or any words you can seize upon can be taken as proof that they're not the person you think they are. The idea of living under the same roof as somebody but not being sure of them, and who they are, that unknowability, is deliciously creepy.

Both novels use folklore and mythology to explore the constrictions around women's agency in the time they're set. What makes horror and the fantastical a powerful tool for exploring these issues?

Well I think it goes back to history, and the use of stories or concepts of something like witchcraft as ways for someone who’s powerless in the world to gain some control. As a writer I used them as a way of evading patriarchal structures by using something that's outside the regular norms of society.

How challenging was capturing the two distinct tones of the dialect of the townsfolk and the Victorian tone of Albie Mirral's voice in The Hidden People?

I guess it was a challenge, but I really enjoyed the use of language in that book. I immersed myself in research but also in Victorian fiction to help create Albie’s voice – he speaks in a Victorian-esque way. The Yorkshire folk speak in an accent which, being from Yorkshire, I encounter quite a lot! I often meet people when I'm out walking my dogs who speak like that. I couldn't have set it somewhere else I don't think. It's based around a court case that happened in Ireland but I couldn't have carried it off with Irish accents – it had to be somewhere that was close to home, where I knew the voices. I did research some historical Yorkshire words because it's set in the past as well as in the countryside, so there were various challenges around the language, but interesting ones.

Both The Crow Garden and The Hidden People make great use of their Victorian settings. How much work goes into getting the historical details right?

An awful lot, but fortunately I became quite obsessed with it! The difficulty when I started out was that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So I could be writing something about daily life that I assumed was right and actually things could have been done completely differently. So I read very widely – things about domestic life, about life in the city, rural Victorian life, Victorian farming, all sorts of things. Then there was the folkloric side, which I love reading about anyway . . . so I've got quite a book collection after all this!

What was the thing you found while researching that surprised you the most?

There were all sorts of interesting things. One that always sticks in my mind is about Victorian churchyards and funerals – churchyards could be actually very overcrowded and gravediggers could be chopping through half a body to make room for the next. There might be paupers' bodies stacked on one side, waiting till they had enough that it was worth digging the pit to bury them in. And so generally, women did not go to funerals in Victorian times, as is often shown in Victorian TV and film – Queen Victoria apparently didn't go to Prince Albert's funeral.

Both Albie and Nathaniel are unreliable narrators, whose perspective prevents them seeing things the reader can...

I loved playing with that, and it's very much deliberate. The stories are seen through the male character’s eyes because they had the agency and ability to go and start investigating and changing things around them, but at the same time they’re flawed characters. So the women are also viewed through that filter, but it's interesting when the reader can start to make their own judgements about who's in control of the situation, and are things really as they seem. I like to read books where the reader has to do some of the work and draw their own conclusions and really enjoyed that aspect of it.
Path Of Needles (2013) explores the connection between fairy tales and the darker side of human nature. Where does this connection come from?

Yes it combines crime with fairy tales – probably quite strange bedfellows! The thing is I was always obsessed with fairy tales as a child, but I find some of them more shocking to read as an adult. The Red Shoes for example, where a girl is punished incredibly harshly for thinking of her shoes while she's in church – forced to dance to the point of exhaustion, until she's begging someone to chop off her feet – it’s a tad harsh! Kind of a horror story for kids . . . but it didn't bother me when I was a child. And I started thinking, what if some of these things actually happened in the real world? What would be the result of that? And of course, quite often, the police would get called in . . . so I started with a girl’s body dumped in the wood, posed as she might have been in a fairy tale death. There are slightly strange things going on in the book too, as if fairy tales are coming out of the woods and pulling people into a magical world.
Do horror and crime fiction fulfil a similar role to fairy tales in our culture?

Possibly! For me, my writing certainly comes back to fairy tales. I love those stories where there's a little bit of magic somewhere in the world, so I guess the presence of the supernatural in horror – in a darker, more twisted way, it’s a reflection of that.
Your writing has a strong sense of place. Is establishing a vivid atmosphere and environment important for making the horrific or fantastic elements effective?

That's certainly something that interested me in Path of Needles, because it was very much about what if the fantastical was actually happening now. So I used settings that were around me at the time – I basically turned all the pretty areas south of Wakefield into body dump sites, sorry about that! And A Cold Season (2012) very much grew out of the landscape, because I was crossing the Pennines every day at the time and I was immersed in that place, so it very much became part of the book.
The Unquiet House (2014) plays with the haunted house genre. Was this something you always wanted to write?

Not especially – it was a book that seemed to take form organically. We were house-hunting at the time, and going into different properties and stumbling across some quite odd things. In one place I opened a door and found a cupboard with just an old suit hanging in it, which worked its way into the book. And we stopped off at a graveyard in Tong, near Bradford, where there are benches inscribed with biblical verse. One of them was "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" – What a thing to put on a bench! –and that worked its way into the book too. I thought it would be incidental at first but it grew into part of the plot. So the book was a process of discovery, one with various threads that were down to my subconscious to pull together!

Your first novel, A Cold Season, deals with Satanic cults in a small village. What was the inspiration behind this?

Well I was working in Saddleworth at the time, so the environment was very much part of it. I started writing it one winter when I was struggling to get home over the hills, so that was where a ‘cold season’ came in. That combined with thinking about what exactly would it take to make someone sell their soul, exchanging something eternal for something worldly. I didn’t envisage where it would all lead!

So that was a bit of a surprise, just how much it took off?

Oh absolutely. At that time I was drafting novels and treating them as learning exercises, trying to write a better one each time. It wasn't until A Cold Season, which I think it was my seventh, that I thought I’d polish this one up and maybe send it out somewhere. I never imagined it would get a mainstream book deal and then get into the Richard and Judy Book Club. It was wonderful but completely surreal, and still feels like it happened to somebody else!

And it's the only one you've written a sequel to so far...

Yes it is. And I was asked for the sequel, but the reason it came out three books later was because I didn't just want to write one for the sake of it. I wanted to give it some thought and make sure I had something that would make another book. So it is a sequel and gives an ending for those characters, but it’s also quite different.

Was that a very different experience from creating everything out of whole cloth the first time?

Yes it was, although there are new characters in it as well, and new places and things, so it had its own new beginnings!

You also write short stories. Do you always know what length a story will be when you start it?

Yes pretty much, because a short story is such a concise thing I tend to have quite a crystallised image of what it's going to be before I start. I've never really had that thing where one's grown longer and longer and longer until it’s something else. There are concepts I've used in short stories that fed into novels – Path of Needles, for example, but I tend to know what kind of size it's going to be.

Your short story 'The Dogs Home' won the Shirley Jackson Award. What was that like?

Fabulous! Because it was an American award it was especially nice to get a look-in, and really unexpected that it went on to win. The downside was that I couldn't get over to the awards ceremony. That would have been really nice, but yes, it was fantastic.

And they are very different markets it feels, sometimes...

Yes quite – there is quite a lot of overlap, obviously, and I do work with American editors as well which is one of the great things about the short story market. It does take you to different places and give you different experiences.

You wrote Five Feathered Tales with illustrator Daniele Serra.  Was that conceived as a collaboration from the beginning?

It was, very much so. I met Dani in 2010 at Fantasycon – one of the lovely things that can result from conventions! He'd illustrated an anthology I was in so I met him at the signing. We stayed in touch since and he emailed me a couple of times and said, "Ali, how are we going to work together?" So we had an idea to do a mini collection with his illustrations, and the concept bounced around for a while and evolved into Five Feathered Tales. It was absolutely lovely to see him producing such beautiful illustrations around my work.

You've also written Acapulcalypse Now (2015), set in Stephen Jones's Zombie Apocalypse world. What was it like writing in a collaborative universe?

It was great actually. I mentioned it to Jo Fletcher, my regular novel publisher, and she said, "Oh, it'll be great, it'll be like a writing holiday." And that's exactly what it was. The concept of zombies overrunning a Mexican hotel was great fun – I'd been thinking for a while that I'd like to set a novel overseas. And Steve was great as well, he gave me a brief but also plenty of space to be creative within it, and he was really great to work with. So it was a lot of fun.

What's next for Alison Littlewood?

I'm working on another novel around fairies and folklore and changelings, but it's partly historical and partly stepping back into the contemporary world. So it's a little bit different again, though with some familiar themes. And it’s really rather dark!

Thank you Alison Littlewood for speaking with us!


<![CDATA[SPLATTERPUNK: RICH HAWKINS IS FIGHTING BACK]]>Wed, 06 Dec 2017 04:41:22 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/splatterpunk-rich-hawkins-is-fighting-back
To celebrate the launch of the new charity anthology Splatterpunk: Fighting Back from Jack Bantry's Splatterpunk Zine Ginger Nuts of Horror brings you a series of interviews with some of the contributors to the anthology. Today Ginger Nuts of Horror is honoured to welcome Rich Hawkins  to the interview chair.   

Rich Hawkins hails from the depths of Somerset, England, where a childhood of science fiction and horror films set him on the path to writing his own stories. He credits his love of horror and all things weird to his first viewing of John Carpenter’s THE THING back in the early Nineties. His debut novel THE LAST PLAGUE was nominated for a British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel in 2015.

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m a horror writer with a love of Cheddar cheese, beer, crisps and pizza. My favourite film is John Carpenter’s THE THING. I like to mostly write apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic horror. I’m a stay-at-home dad and house husband.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to read, exercise, watch films and TV. But mostly I like to spend time with my family.

What does Splatterpunk mean to you? What attracts you to writing in this genre?
To me, it means gore and vivid horror without limits, and that itself attracts me to it. There are so many possibilities with the subgenre, and it’s a lot of fun.

A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?

I can see even more apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic stories being written, which is not surprising considering where we’re heading these days. Whether it’s nukes, viral pandemics, climate change or natural disasters, it’s always at the backs of people’s mind. The human race is never far away from complete annihilation.

As a horror writer, do you consider any topic off limits? Is there a topic or subject you would never write about?

Not really. But I think a lot of it depends on how it’s written.
What do you most enjoy about the short story format? What do you find challenging?
I like the challenge of writing a plot – a mostly coherent one – within the confines of short story. Helps sharpen the writing skills. It’s both the thing I most enjoy and the most challenging.

Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
Sci-fi action films, like ‘Aliens’,Predator’ and ‘The Terminator’ have been a massive influence on my writing. I love those films, and they’re a big part of why I write in the first place. They’re an inspiration, even now.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?
I can’t remember who said it, but someone told me to write what I want to write and not chase trends or markets. Write what you care about. It’s advice that’s worked pretty well for me.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of? Which book or story do you think is a good ‘jumping on’ point for new readers?

I would say either ‘Black Star, Black Sun’ or ‘King Carrion’, as they’re both novellas, and can be read relatively quickly. They’re also two of the favourite books that I’ve written, and sum up what my writing is about! I’m most proud of my debut novel ‘The Last Plague’; it’ll always have a special place in my blackened heart.

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

My cosmic horror novella ‘Maniac Gods’ will be released very soon by the Sinister Horror Company. It’s a story about a man searching for his wife and daughter, who went missing along with the rest of their village. It involves alien gods, monsters and hellish dimensions.

I’m currently working on a novella called ‘Rising from Black Water’. It’s part of a two-novella collaboration with my writer friend William Holloway. It features Cthulhu and mutant squid, so I’m enjoying writing it.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?  And what would be the answer?

Would you like this megabucks publishing contract, Mr. Hawkins?
And, yes.


<![CDATA[DARE YOU ENTER THE GHOST CLUB: AN INTERVIEW WITH WILLIE MEIKLE]]>Tue, 05 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/dare-you-enter-the-ghost-club-an-interview-with-willie-meikle
Ginger Nuts of Horror is honored to have fellow Scot Willie Meikle feature for a special interview to mark the launch of his new collection The Ghost Club.  Willie has been one of my favourite authors for more years than either of us probably care to remember .  I came across his novel Island Life in the now sadly gone Waterstones in the east end of Edinburgh.  A classic love letter to the Lovecraft Mythos, that contained all the elements that makes Willie's writing so engaging.  

Willie also holds a place dear in my heart, for it was Willie who first gave me the idea of setting up Ginger Nuts of Horror, whilst I was recovering from a nasty bone graft / wrist fusion.  So here we are almost ten years later, and I could never have imagined running a website that has become so popular and successful.  For that I will always be forever grateful to Willie.  So please read on and please share this interview and purchase a copy of Willies book from the universal Amazon link at the end of the interview. 
Hello Willie, it's been 12 years since you sold your first appearance in a professional publication.  Looking back on the day you had a mass signing at Blackwells in Edinburgh where you stood side by side with Charlie Stross, Ken MacLeod and Hal Duncan, do you think you have made it? 
Hello again, Jim. Nice to be back here. You're right, that day was a pivotal point, and made me think I could do better than hang about in the small press as I had been doing. Since then, in one way I have made it, in that I've since sold eighty professional short stories to great markets, and I've been supporting Sue and I on the writing since 2008. I've also got a lovely shelf of limited edition hardcovers of my work that make me very happy.
But in my own mind I haven't quite made it on the novel front, not yet anyway. Sure, I've had books with some of the biggest of the genre publishers, and some of them sell relatively well. But others vanish without a trace, and the big breakout book eludes me, the one that would get me a mass market deal into all the shops and get talked about by everyone. I'm not sure I have one of those in me, but I'll keep trying.
I thought I'd hit on something unique to me that might do it in the Sigils and Totems idea. Although it had me excited and BROKEN SIGIL in particular got great reviews, neither of the other novellas, or the SONGS OF DREAMING GODS novel have, as yet, caught the readers' attention the way I'd wanted. I've got one more novel and another novella coming using the idea and although I have many more ideas ready to go for the mythos, I'm not sure I'll write them, unless interest picks up.
It was at that signing that you thought to yourself "that you could do this", how important do you think this attitude is to a writer?  And what other attributes do you think are key to a writer's success?
I was very cozy placing short stories in the small press to tell the truth, and had sort of resigned myself to the fact that I was destined to stay there, as I hadn't found a voice for my stories that would move them on to the next level. The "I can do this" thought definitely helped me push through that barrier. My story in the Nova Scotia anthology was looser than my usual work, more Scottish too, and that led me to write more stories where I just let it flow and let myself believe I was doing the right thing.
So I think, to answer your question, it's more a case of trusting yourself to do it and getting the words out of your head and into the work. It was only when I stopped thinking too much and started doing that my output, and my quality I think, improved dramatically.
Boiled down? Words are good. Lots of words are very good.
Over the past 12 years, you have sold your work to some of the biggest names in genre presses, however, sadly this year has seen many of these presses, unfortunately, close their doors.  What impact did this year have on your writing?
It certainly knocked me back, both in confidence and in the bankbook. I had been loving, in particular, the quality hardbacks from Dark Renaissance, and the combination of lovely hardcovers and good ebook sales from DarkFuse, so when both of them folded, (and DarkFuse went owing me back royalties) I was a bit lost for a wee while.
I considered, as I'm fast approaching sixty, throwing it all in for an early retirement. But I found I don't particularly want to do that, so I set about rehoming the lost babies and luckily have found new homes for them at Gryphonwood Press, Lovecraft Ezine, and Crossroad Press, all of which are small presses I trust to do the right thing by their writers. The sorting out process has meant that this year has had a lot of the admin / business end bollocks in it, which is a pain.
Coupled with Sue being very ill and almost dying in the early summer, my head's not been in the game as much as it has been in the past. But I've managed to get some work done that should see fruition next year.
I'm still really going to miss the limited edition hardcovers though.
Looking forward what impact do you think these closures will have on the genre, in particular, how do you think we regain confidence in the genre once more? 
The DarkFuse one has had the biggest impact I've seen, as it wasn't well handled and left a sour taste in a lot of people's mouths, and bad blood across a swathe of social media. But I think the confidence is still there, with people like Journalstone still holding the fort, and the new wave of self publishers doing well for themselves.
These things come and go in waves over the years and I'm sure we'll be back on the up soon enough. One thing that worries me is the power Amazon now have over nascent careers, in that, as the big boy in the market, they can take all your hard work away and stop any momentum you have dead in its tracks by simply switching off your listings. I think that's going to make a lot of people reconsider their use of Amazon as their sole point of sale, and that's going to have repercussions in the days to come. I'll certainly be keeping an eye on that.
As for regaining confidence, that's a step at a time job. We need to write good books, and get them into people's hands.
Same as it ever was.
This year has also seen you and a fair few other writers who are held in high regard come under attack for writing what certain factions feel are less worthy texts. Why do you think that even now in this so-called enlightened age some people feel the need to shoot others down for just being successful?
Because they're bawbags.
That's the short answer, and the only one I really give any time to. As Brian Keene said, I'm not writing for them. Another answer is that they're crap at research and usually haven't read the work of the writer they're castigating.
There's also the fact that some people have been up on pedestals for a long time and have just noticed they're not king of the dung heap any more, and I think it makes them fling shite for attention. Then there's the folks who see their dung-heap former king flinging shite and decide they need to join in. There's plenty of them around too, and they are also bawbags.
Another answer, sadly in my view, is that a lot of people just don't get pulp fiction and think it's beneath them. That's their problem, not mine.

During your time as a writer, the horror genre has changed, fractured and diversified to a point where most big name publishers don't know how to market it unless it has lovesick vampires or some other such teen-friendly protagonist, how do you as a writer navigate this new horror playing field? 
That's been a problem for years now. Some writers get over it by focussing tightly on a chosen subset of the genre and making a name there, whether it be in the weird, paranormal romance, bizzarro or splatterpunk. Me, I go for the scattergun approach.
I write out of the horror genre quite a bit these days, and have been making strategic alliances with fantasy writers in things like the Veil Knights cooperative. I have been writing science fiction short stories to sell to the likes of Nature Futures and to a children's market in China that nobody has heard about but who pay better than anyone else I've ever published with.
On the horror side, my own particular brand of a mixture of nostalgia and pulp is a tough sell in the most part. It's not helped by the fact that people know me for different things. Some, like Joshi for example, only know I write Carnacki pastiches, others know me only from the Sherlock Holmes stuff, others only from DarkFuse, or Dark Regions, or the Lovecraftian anthologies, or from Derek Adams, and some only know me as 'the pulp monster guy'.
It makes marketing myself a bit of a nightmare at times, and I'm sure it has scared off more than a few potential leads over the years.
You have previously said that one of the things you dislike about being a writer is the isolation, with that in mind why did you move to Newfoundland? 
We came over on holiday in 2005 and loved it. When my job in Edinburgh went tits-up in 2007, it was just when I was starting to get some serious pro-level story sales, and we knew we could get a house dirt cheap over here. So we sold up in Scotland, whacked some money in the bank, bought a house on the shore here, and I tried writing full time.
It's been working so far in that we haven't starved. And as you know, I'm a country lad at heart, and have always had a hankering for the sea. I've spent 20 of the last 25 years near the water, and it's where I want to be.
Plus there's the weather, which is spectacular in its variety, as is the wildlife. I've been close enough to touch moose, beaver, sperm whale, humpbacks, dolphins and orca, and bald eagles circle overhead most days. We even had two visiting polar bears last winter.
The people are very friendly, mostly of Irish descent around here, and it's lovely and quiet, which suits me just fine.
In this always switched on and hooked in era, do you ever feel truly isolated? 
That's been the good thing. My Facebook buddies, and that means you too, make sure that I'm never far away from a fine mixture of news and nonsense and gives me a small sense of being part of the wider community.
I do get jealous when I see all of you at various cons having a good time. But looking out the window at our view usually sorts that out fast.
As a Scotsman living away from the motherland, what do you miss the most? 
Family, mostly. My mum and dad are both in their eighties, and my sisters both have families of their own that are growing and multiplying without me seeing them. I need a decent book deal to come along and make me rich enough to afford our airfares back for a holiday soon.
Apart from that, I miss real ale – there's not a handpump within 100 miles of me. And I miss bridies. And old stone buildings as it's all timber houses over here. So, a lovely peppery Forfar Bridie, and a pint or three of Harvieston's Bitter and Twisted with my auld ma and faither in St Andrews would suit me just fine about now.
Scotland has always had a history of great storytelling, particularly with regards to stories filled with high adventure and derring do.  What is it about the Scottish psyche that brings this out? 
Some of it is the countryside, the history and weather. All those lonely hillsides, stone circles, ancient buildings and fog are ripe for stories to be creeping about in.
Then there's all the fighting. A country that's seemingly been at war with either somebody else or with itself for most of its existence can't help but be filled with stories of love and loss, heroism and betrayal.
The fact that we've always been England's scruffy wee brother, and have been slightly resentful of the fact for centuries adds another layer – the wee chip on the shoulder and the need to prove yourself is always a good place from which to start an adventure.
Added to that that we're a melting pot of Lowlander's, Highlanders, Islanders, Scandanavians, Picts, Irish, Dutch, English, Indians, Pakistanis and Chinese and everybody else who has made their way to the greatest wee country in the world, all with their own stories to tell and to make.
And when it's raining and dreich, what better than to sit by a fire with a stiff drink and tell some stories?
You can see a lot of influences on your writing but the ones, for me that are the most evident Doyle, Maclean, Barrie, Stevenson and Scott.  Having grown up in an era where the likes of king and Campbell didn't feature in your formative years as a reader, what impact do you think these writers had on your writing style? 
As you say, my formative years were pre-King. I didn't start writing until '92 but my reading habits were voracious from the late '60s onwards. And yes, Doyle, MacLean and Stevenson in particular were all huge parts of that, Scotsmen who made their way in life as storytellers, and all in rip-roaring adventures.
Doyle and Stevenson of course dabbled in the horror and supernatural genre. MacLean didn't but reading something like The Satan Bug, I think you can see that he'd have made a damn fine pulpy horror writer in different circumstances.
All three of them have a way with character and action that speaks to me, probably that Scottish psyche thing again, and all three have followed me all the way from that early reading fifty years ago, and out into my own writing.
You have written in many different sub-genres and styles, but you always seem the most comfortable with the historical weird fiction/occult detective genre. From your excellent Holmes versus the supernatural to you deeply entertaining Carnacki stories and your own brilliant Midnight Eyes files series of novels, what is it about this type of story that endears you to it? 
There's a couple of things that draw me to it. I discovered I like writing serial characters for one, and the occult detective genre is a perfect home for recurring characters that you can hang story hooks on and see how they react to different situations.
Carnacki in particular speaks to me as he's got his wee drinking and smoking club of mates that come around and listen to his stories. Sitting around a fire drinking and telling stories with old pals is pretty much my idea of a good time, so writing Carnacki just reinforces that for me. Plus, as an ex-smoker, it lets me vicariously indulge in old habits.
Again, my writing in this genre is a form of nostalgia for me, taking me back to the roots of my reading as a lad as I mentioned earlier, and the club story for Holmes and Carnacki. For Derek Adams, it's a different nostalgia, one for my student days in Glasgow, on the grounds of the old University, tramping the bars of Partick and Byres Road and walking the slightly seedy 70s streets of the old city. Derek lets me indulge the fantasy that I never grew up and moved on, so maybe there's a bit of J M Barrie influence there rather than the others.
And what is the one thing that really annoys you about these type of stories?
For one thing, you know there's never any ultimate fatal peril coming for either Carnacki or the Dynamic Duo in the Holmes' stories. I'll admit they're prone to coziness and predictability, and Holmes' general arseiness often annoys me even when I'm writing it, but for a lot of people that's the charm of them.
And with Derek I'm trying to subvert that a bit with his sarcasm and humor. Cozy and predictable are two words not usually associated with Glasgow.
Have we seen the last of Derek Adams and his Midnight Eye Files?
Not at all. I had the Deal or No Deal novella last year, and there's a new one coming soon in an anthology OCCULT DETECTIVE QUARTERLY PRESENTS. I've also recently finished a "Derek meets the Mi-Go" story that'll be looking for a home.
In the "file of things to make and do" there's a wee list of about half a dozen novel ideas for Derek that I hope to get time to get round to before I'm done. It would go faster if somebody gave me a big sack of cash, but I'm not holding my breath.
He was sleeping for a while, but it looks like he's awake again. Like me, he's getting older now, and needs more kip between his drinking sessions.
You have recently released INFESTATION, Russian Spy boats sweary Scottish heroes and things scuttling about eating everything in their path, this seems to be the most Meikleistic book of your career. Drawing on such greats as Alister Maclean, Saturday matinee movies and the landscape of where you live, what was the inspiration behind this story? 
You've mentioned a lot of it already. Severed Press approached me and asked if I was interested in writing a pulp monster book, and it was at exactly the right time for me to jump in to something escapist and fast moving that would keep me busy but not overwhelmed.
As a big-bug novel, its antecedents are obviously 50s B-movies, Guy N Smith novels and, as it's in the Arctic, and with a British Special Forces team, the Alistair MacLean influence is up front and center. Plus, it's got giant, giant isopods, and I love those wee beasties.
As I said, I wanted to do something fast – my better selling books have always been the ones that came out hot, like The Invasion, Crustaceans, The Valley, and The Hole. This one came out in a rush in less than a month, and it reads like a big silly monster movie on paper, which is what I wanted it to read like.
I love it, and I hope my readers do too.
While some might infer that your stories are pure adventure stories much of your work has A message between the lines, does INFESTATION have a message like the one in THE CREEPING KELP?
As we've both got Biological Sciences degrees, you know that the conservation stuff creeps in here and there in my work. There a wee bit about the perils of drilling in the Arctic, which is something that I think is going to be a story in a few years time, and I've got a few things to say about friendship in there too but…
Nah. It's just sweary Scottish soldiers shooting the fuck out of really big bugs.
Next month sees the launch of your latest collection THE GHOST CLUB, can you tell us about this book? 
It's a simple premise.
In Victorian London, a select group of writers, led by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Henry James held an informal dining club, the price of entry to which was the telling of a story by each invited guest.
These are their stories, containing tales of revenant loved ones, lost cities, weird science, spectral appearances and mysteries in the fog of the old city, all told by some of the foremost writers of the day. In here you'll find Verne and Wells, Tolstoy and Checkov, Stevenson and Oliphant, Kipling, Twain, Haggard, Wilde and Blavatsky alongside their hosts.
Finding the right voice for each different story was a challenge in itself. There were times when I really thought that my pride was telling me I could do it, but that it was going to bite me in the arse if I thought I was going to get away with it.
It's probably the most ambitious thing I've attempted, ever, and I might have overreached myself a tad, but the blurbs and feedback I've got from writers I admire like Simon Clark, Nancy Kilpatrick, Stephen Laws and Scott Nicholson suggest I've got something right :-)
It's out on 9th December,  in ebook and paperback from Crystal Lake Publishing.
Your stories always seem to be best suited to reading next to a roaring fire with a glass or two of good spirit, what would be your ideal pairing of spirit for The Ghost Club? 
It has to be a single malt, and something not too fiery. I really love Talisker, but that's a bit too in your face for a long bout of either talking or listening. So something smooth and lingering. Highland Park is a contender for a good all-rounder, or The Glenlivet.
But I'd probably go for an Ardbeg. I have fond memories of walking the road in the pishing rain to the distillery on Islay many years ago, and it's smoky and peaty and just right for Ghost Club stories too.
The book is being published by Crystal Lake Publishing, what does a publisher like Crystal Lake bring to the table? 
Crystal Lake are small, but they're going places, as evidenced by their recent run of top-notch anthologies with some of the biggest names in the business getting on board. They're putting out good quality books with good quality work in them, and getting a name for themselves as a small press that's doing things right.
They also did a fine job with my SAMURAI and Other Stories collection of reprints a few years back, so I trust them to do the right thing by me.
Ben Baldwin's doing the artwork for the cover again, which is always a plus, and Joe seems to have a head for the business side of things, both in admin and promotion, that's going to stand him in good stead through his publishing career.
The Book is being supported by a Facebook Book launch on Dec 6th, 2017, what can the attendees expect from the launch? 
There's a blog, podcasts, reviews and interviews tour that's up to over twenty stops, where I'll be talking about THE STONE TAPE, Scottish supernatural fiction, the influence of London on my work, my five favorite ghost stories and much more.
I'll also be doing live readings from the stories on the Facebook Page, so there will probably be beer and silly voices and maybe even some singing. We're working on arranging some competitions and giveaways of signed books and stuff too. It's coming together nicely.
Join us here à https://www.facebook.com/events/1980022735543624/
Have you done one of these before, and if so what are the key elements to make them successful? 
This is my first, so I'll answer this question once it's finished. J
I'm interested to see if it has a significant effect on early sales of the book, but I think I'm going to enjoy it anyway, being a bit of a performer at heart.
You have never been known to sit on your laurels, so what next for Willie Meikle?
I mentioned earlier about forging alliances with fantasy writers – this has taken me into the writing of a big historic fantasy trilogy along with a name writer. We're two books in and I'll be working on the third this winter, then we'll be setting about finding the right publisher for it. I haven't tried anything like it since the Watchers trilogy more than fifteen years ago, and my writing has moved on a tad since then. It's been great fun so far.
We've also got the VEIL KNIGHTS fantasy series to finish off, and although my novel in the series has already been published, as a collective we've got the big finish to coordinate and advertise coming up.
There's that, and another book for Severed Press with the Scottish soldiers and another menace to face.
I've got three new novels ( and a big batch of the DarkFuse reprints) coming from Crossroad Press, which includes THE BOATHOUSE, another in my Sigils and Totems works, RAMSKULL, a new Scottish Hammer horror tribute about satanism and bloody mayhem on a Hebridean island, and DEEP INTO THE GREEN, a Newfoundland based dark fantasy about miners delving where they shouldn't.
One thing I'm quite excited about is a novella appearance in I AM THE ABYSS, a huge anthology from Dark Regions, mainly because I'm sharing page space with some great writers, and I get a double page color artwork from the great Les Edwards. I spoke earlier about feeling as if I'd made it? This helps.
I've also had a whisper of interest about a new Victorian ghost story collection. Don't know if I have time for it, but you know me…
I'll be 60 in January. I always thought I'd either be dead or slowed right down by now, but I’m still here, and it seems I still have stories to tell.
Thanks very much for having me on.
Willie Meikle The Ghost Clun Interview Confessions of a reviewer Picture
Writers never really die; their stories live on, to be found again, to be told again, to scare again.

In Victorian London, a select group of writers, led by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Henry James held an informal dining club, the price of entry to which was the telling of a story by each invited guest.

These are their stories, containing tales of revenant loved ones, lost cities, weird science, spectral appearances and mysteries in the fog of the old city, all told by some of the foremost writers of the day. In here you'll find Verne and Wells, Tolstoy and Checkov, Stevenson and Oliphant, Kipling, Twain, Haggard and Blavatsky alongside their hosts.


<![CDATA[FIGHTING BACK: MATT SHAW]]>Mon, 04 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/fighting-back-matt-shaw
​Matt Shaw is the author of over 200 stories (shorts, novellas, novels). Known primarily for his extreme horror range of books, he also works in other genres such as thriller, psychological, erotica and even children’s stories.

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

I’m pretty sure everyone knows me by now. I mean, the reports on Crimewatch were very thorough although they still haven’t found me yet. Even so, can I skip this? How about “arsehole” or, as hinted at in someone else’s interview “talentless”? I’m just me, happily working as full-time author for the last five years and now moving over the world of films with my feature length directorial debut filming this coming January. Won’t lie, kind of shitting myself about that one…

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I’m always writing or working. Sadly, that is my life. Well, I say sadly but I’m having fun. It’s just I do miss playing Xbox, you know? Occasionally I get to play on the HTC Vive because they’re quick to play games but – yeah – it’s very occasionally. I seem to be travelling a lot in both the UK and US for book signings so, really, time to myself is rare.

What does Splatterpunk mean to you? What attracts you to writing in this genre?

A genre that has lots of explicit descriptions detailing horrific, violent and sexual scenes. People think it’s all about writing for shock value but I don’t feel that. To me, it has to have a plot and a reason to the horrors. You can write them as extreme as you want, but they need a point otherwise it’s just dull.

A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?

Down the drain. Because extreme horror has popped up again over the last few years, everyone thinks that they can write it so the market is oversaturated with books that are – as mentioned above – shocks for the sake of shocks. Readers don’t really want that and seem to be moving away from the genre again. Or rather, this branch of the horror genre. I’m still trying to see where they are heading. I think with any genre it has its day, you know? People LOVE it and can’t get enough, then they like it and then they’re bored of it and find something else. Later on (weeks, months, years) they come back again and the cycle begins again.

As a horror writer, do you consider any topic off limits? Is there a topic or subject you would never write about?

There is nothing I haven’t written about. So long as there is a point to it, anything is fine. I do, however, tread more carefully. For example, there is a scene in one book that details with a child being sexually assaulted by an adult. I wrote about it because it is what shaped the character. I did not go into massive detail though because it is not needed. I also don’t like writing about animal slaughter but – again – it has to have a point and it’s not something I dwell on. If a dog needs to get run over, it gets run over. If a person needs to get run over, their guts are spread down the road, we describe their facial expression, the noises made as they gurgle blood… People get really sensitive with animal stuff.

What do you most enjoy about the short story format? What do you find challenging?

This is going to sound arrogant but I don’t find it challenging. That’s not to say my stories are amazing and perfect but, I just enjoy the whole process of a short. It’s quick so you can skip all the padding and boring stuff and get straight to the point before slapping in a twist. I can write a short story in a day, or less, and then refine it over time. Sometimes I just leave it and move onto something else. For me they’re training exercises that I do before I start a newer, longer project.

Other than the  horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
My mind. I saw doctors when I was younger for anger. I don’t know why my imagination is active and leaning towards the darker side of life. No one has told me and I can’t figure it out for myself – as pathetic as that sounds. Given that stories are always in my head though, it’s not something that I want to question too much. What if I figure it out and then lose it?
What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

“Keep it simple” – this was advice at film school but I think it works in my writing world too. I get straight to the point of the story, keep the worlds small. I make the characters detailed and throw them in a situation that is simple in the set-up but detailed in the execution and twists. I think if I were to be one of these writers who builds huge worlds within the one book, I would get bored and lost! I don’t have the attention span to be a Stephen King!

What piece of your own work are you most proud of? Which book or story do you think is a good ‘jumping on’ point for new readers?

I’m most proud of the book “Tears”. It’s not horror. They’re actually stories touching upon human emotion, grief and loss with a hint of the supernatural. They’re tragic, they’re moving and I just love them. A good starting point for my work – for horror lovers though – would be “Sick B*stards” as it’s the book that made me who I am. I released it as a joke, thinking it would upset loads of people and they lapped it up. Reviews were positive, film rights sold and I quit my job. That was when I realised there was a gap in the extreme horror market.

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

I just finished a thriller called “How I Die”. It’s about a man who can look at a stranger and foresee their death. People come from all around the world to see him, so they can learn what is to become of them. Curious people who want to know, for example, is it worth living a healthy lifestyle – after a heart attack – if they’re to die of a heart attack anyway? There’s more to it than that but I don’t want to ruin the surprise although – because it’s so different to my usual stuff – I’m not sure if it will ever be released. I might keep that for me. As for what I am working on now all I will say is that it is disgusting and the title is “Dribble”. I’ll leave that there other than to say you won’t look at your Gran the same way again.

What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?  And what would be the answer?

I want Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron to ask if I am up for a threesome. The answer would be “no” because I am happily married but it would be great to be asked. That’s a lie. I so would.
A row with a boyfriend leads to unexpected and bloody consequences... A high powered CEO undertakes a highly unusual therapy to take his career to the next level… A mother frantically searches for her child as the world burns… Featuring new fiction by Adam Millard, Matt Shaw, Bracken MacLeod, John Boden, Duncan Ralston, Rich Hawkins, Glenn Rolfe, George Daniel Lea, Tim Curran, WD Gagliani & Dave Benton and Kristopher Rufty. A charity anthology. Edited by Jack Bantry & Kit Power


<![CDATA[KIM NEWMAN: DRACULA AND ONE THOUSAND MONSTERS]]>Wed, 22 Nov 2017 04:44:35 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/kim-newman-dracula-and-one-thousand-monstersBY JONATHAN THORNTON 
Ginger Nuts of Horror's Jonathan Thornton attended the book  launch for Kim Newman's latest novel Anno Dracula: One Thousand Monsters, where he was managed to catch up with kim, for this fascinating and hugely entertaining interview with one of the most important names in the genre fiction and genre criticism.   

Kim Newman is an expert on horror and sci-fi cinema (his books of film criticism include Nightmare Movies and Millennium Movies), Kim Newman's novels draw promiscuously on the tropes of horror, sci-fi and fantasy. He is complexly and irreverently referential; the Dracula sequence--Anno Dracula, The Bloody Red Baron and Dracula,Cha Cha Cha--not only portrays an alternate world in which the Count conquers Victorian Britain for a while, is the mastermind behind Germany's air aces in World War One and survives into a jetset 1950s of paparazzi and La Dolce Vita, but does so with endless throwaway references that range from Kipling to James Bond, from Edgar Allen Poe to Patricia Highsmith. 

In horror novels such as Bad Dreams and Jago, reality turns out to be endlessly subverted by the powerfully malign. His pseudonymous novels, as Jack Yeovil, play elegant games with genre cliche--perhaps the best of these is the sword-and-sorcery novel Drachenfels which takes the prescribed formulae of the games company to whose bible it was written and make them over entirely into a Kim Newman novel. 

Anno Dracula: One Thousand Monsters, his most novel sees his world of vampires take a trip around the world to Japan.  In 1899 Geneviève Dieudonné travels to Japan with a group of vampires exiled from Great Britain by Prince Dracula. They are allowed to settle in Yokai Town, the district of Tokyo set aside for Japan's own vampires, an altogether strange and less human breed than the nosferatu of Europe. Yet it is not the sanctuary they had hoped for, as a vicious murderer sets vampire against vampire, and Yokai Town is revealed to be more a prison than a refuge. Geneviève and her undead comrades will be forced to face new enemies and the horrors hidden within the Temple of One Thousand Monsters.  
Your new novel, Anno Dracula: One Thousand Monsters, sees you returning to the Anno Dracula series, and the return of Geneviève Dieudonné. What new monsters and challenges are she facing this time?

When I first wrote about her, which is not in Anno Dracula (1992) but in the Jack Yeovil novels, word processing was so crude that although I could do accents on my machine, the printers couldn't use that file without getting a block, so I was under orders not to put an accent in her name! So it's quite useful, it now differentiates the Anno Dracula Geneviève from the Jack Yeovil Genevieve. I assume she will have accepted multiple pronunciations over the years.

Well, one thousand of them! Actually not quite one thousand : that's just the name of the temple. But there are upwards of seven hundred new monsters. And the definition of monster is elastic, as indeed the definition of vampire or indeed the definition of human, or ordinary person. In the world of the books I think of monsters as a subset of humanity, rather than something separate from or different from, so I don't often use the term human to signify ordinary people. Cause quite a lot of my monsters are ordinary people. But one of the main motivations for doing this book was to embrace a different type of monstrousness. I really love far eastern folklore and legendary and Japanese ghost movies and all that kind of stuff. So I just wanted to bring on those monsters which aren't particularly well known in western literature. Lafcadio Hearn wrote this book Kwaidanin the early 1900s, which was a big influence oddly.  A lot of Japanese versions of their own folklore are based on this Irish American guy's take on them. He was sometimes one of the first people to write down the stories. So a lot of the films are based on his versions of Japanese ghosts. But there are a bunch of other really amazing strange things. The Japanese monster or ghost tradition is familiar through weird distancing filters like Pokémon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and some of the Godzilla films. It was interesting looking back and finding what lies under those kind of cute monsters. There's even a weird term for that, kawaii, or super-deformed. And you find that there was something scary there originally.  Even some of the ones that seem really unthreatening like the umbrella monster, or the vampire who comes to your house and drinks your tea have something terrifying about them.
I wanted to address that, but also I've been trying with each of the Anno Dracula novels to go somewhere different. And in most of them the locus is still sort of Britain and probably Transylvania, although we haven't spent that much time in Transylvania. But obviously I've done Italy, I've done France, America... This time I thought it was time to go somewhere else and Asia seemed like the next place to go. This isn't the book I set out to write, as anybody who's been following this on Amazon will know. I originally set out to write a book set in 1999 in Japan, but it was going to have this little prologue.  Then when I started writing the book, I realised I was 40,000 words into the prologue, and I really wanted a flashback in the prologue. Because I'd never let Genevieve tell her own backstory and there were various things going on in the real world that made me want to address that moment which is implied in Anno Dracula, where everybody wakes up and finds that the most powerful military country in the world has been taken over by the worst person imaginable. Because that obviously had huge resonance for the way things have been going lately. So I wanted that in there. And then I realised that if I split the book in half, if half way through it leaped a hundred years to the rest of the story, and there'd be a change in protagonist and a complete change in style, there was a risk both halves would seem really crammed. But also maybe some people who were really into the first half but not so much into the second, or the other way round, so I deciced to make them separate things which can stand on their own. And that meant that this book suddenly had a lot of extra room to play around in. Which allowed me to bring back a character from the very first novel that I'd been thinking of occasionally, he's been mentioned once or twice since.  He he was a character that had a lot of good response, people seemed to like him, and I thought he was interesting and there was potential. This is Kostaki, he's like the honourable Carpathian, and I realised he made a really good partner for Geneviève.  They played off each other really well. They'd sort of met, and I thought that that, rather than go back and use some of the other characters that I'd been developing in the series, who've got their own histories - because this is a book that fits in  after the first novel and the comic, and before the second novel -, going back and reviving a character we hadn't seen gave me another fresh voice in it. And also this is the first time I'd written an Anno Dracula book that is primarily told in the first person. All the other books have first person sections, but this time  again it allowed me to have Geneviève talk directly, and since she's the moral conscience of the series, that again gave it a different feel. Cause one of the things I try and do with this and the other long running things I do is make sure the books aren't too like each other because it would be really easy to just write the same book over and over again. And it's possible that what I'm doing is writing the same book over and over again but disguising it. Tthere are things that in my mind have to happen in every Anno Dracula story. I'm not sure if I tick them all off this time! But as long as they're there then I can do anything else, and it allows me some scary stuff, some funny stuff, some social comment and social satire, and the thing that always comes in last but really surprises me is the emotional stuff. I suppose it's the soap opera aspect. That I sometimes think yeah but what would people feel about this, rather than gosh wow amazing monsters. Obviously I'm not immune to that as an appeal for writing a book like this, but there's the sense that these people can be hurt, but also that they can make jokes, that they can be fun.

The first collection of the Anno Dracula comics is also out now. What were the challenge in adapting the story for a new medium?

I didn't adapt a story, that was one of my insistences. Obviously I started being published by Titan, and they are a publisher with a comics division. And they've done comics which are licensed properties based on novels, and TV shows and whatever. So they were set up to do that. And I think this is the first in house book they've done. Ttechnically I am the licence holder.  Titan say I'm a lot easier to deal with than all the others, which is probably true. But I had two conditions for doing a comic. One is that I write it, and various people over the years have asked if they could do it, and I've said no. And the other is that it not be an adaptation of a novel, that it be a new story. And they were very receptive to that. It was fully scripted before an artist was assigned. Paul McCaffrey lobbied for the job, and I'm really pleased with his work, and I can't see any other visual of it now, it's not quite the first comic I've done, I did Witchfinderfor Dark Horse in collaboration with Maura McHugh a couple of years back, so I'm not a complete novice, but I still feel new in the medium. You'd have to ask the editors whether I was that difficult. There's something in both the series I've done, I've felt that the last issue needed to be longer than it is. Titan gave me three extra pages, I would have liked ten. Because you put all these balls in the air, and some are paid off in a panel, I would have liked a page to pay off. But writing a comic, the first thing you do is accept the limitations. It's like writing a TV show. It's got to be 42 minutes long and there's no way around it, and in some circumstances you have to break for commercials. Comics are very like that, it's 22 pages, five issues. I clawed my extra three pages for the last issue. After that, I was just concentrating on the story. And I thought since this would be introducing the series to a new audience, I wanted to do something relatively close to the original novel in time and place, so it's London in 1895, which is seven years after Anno Dracula. I didn't want to use all the characters from Anno Dracula, there's a huge canvas....

And you kill quite a lot of them as well!

Many of them die, you're right. In the first issue there's a page which is the story so far. If you haven't read the novels, this tells you what happens and why we're here. What it doesn't do is spoil the novel if you go back and read it. That was quite tricky, because big things appen in the novel that everybody in the world would know, and you have to do a whole comic in which no one mentions them. And I talk around them, but you can go through weeks and weeks without mentioning 9/11 or the death of Princess Diana, you know, big events. It is possible to dodge around that, and so far no one has pulled me up it. And I wanted to spotlight slightly different characters from the novels, so I used one of the main characters from the novels, one of the minor characters from the novels, and some new people. One of whom has gone on to be a big character in One Thousand Monsters, and will be an even bigger character in the cyberpunk book. So I have linked this into the continuity in such a way that Anno Dracula readers will need the comic if they want the whole story.

You've written a script for an Anno Dracula movie...
Oh, once yeah.
 Is there any chance of the movie being made soon?
At the moment the rights are back with me, but it's been in and out of option for many years, and every time it gets close to happening, somebody comes along and makes something terrible that's a bit like it. Or even worse if they make something good! To this day I've never watched Penny Dreadful because it killed an Anno DraculaTV series.
How much research goes into recreating the period detail and the fictional references in an Anno Dracula story?

A lot. More than is strictly necessary! I tend to steep myself in literature of the period, if available film and TV, music. I listened to a lot of Japanese music, and most of it is sort of ambient, proto-plunking sounds, but I also listened to a lot of Japanese rock as well. And the soundtracks to samurai films and Godzilla movies. I watched a lot of Japanese cartoons and samurai movies and really terrific 1950's Japanese horror films that I'd not seen before and I know a lot about horror films right. And before embarking on this project, I had seen all the Ring type movies, and I'd seen Kwaidan (1965) and Onibaba (1964) and a couple of the other famous ones. And researching this book opened up a world of wonderful scary strange magical things, I realised that in the west we saw all those Ring movies and didn't understand them because we didn't have the cultural context. You know, The Ghost Story Of Yotsuya (1825) is the key Japanese ghost story, that's like the Japanese version of Wuthering Heights (1847). There are 15 film versions of it, not counting the silent ones, it's done over and over and over again. Sort of really obsessive. I ended up not using her, Oiwa, as a character because there's a similar character who's more fun. So I steeped myself in that, and for the Kostaki strand I read Kipling and watched The Man Who Would Be King (1975) again. And read up on some Masonic stuff. 
I've always felt that these books needed a lot of material. They're very idea intensive. They involve lots of characters, lots of settings, and lots of thought. Because it's a whole world that's being explored.  Sometimes I want to take little byways and look at what the wallpaper is like, what popular songs there are, or what the jokes people are telling. And always, then there's a certain tussle because the editors sometimes want to trim irrelevant passages. People say things like, well what's the story? Which is fair enough. And in this book there is a lot of story, but most of it doesn't take place where our viewpoint characters are. And I thought that was interesting, to tell an epic story from the point of view of someone who's in jail for quite a bit of it.  She takes a couple of days in the cell and comes out and finds everything has changed. Which I loved but it's not something that Robert McKee would advise in a movie! And so I wanted to do all the little detail work and I have enjoyed that ever since the first novel. And maybe what differentiates this series from other roughly similar things is that I try and bring a bit of context ... It's not strictly speaking an alternative history or a dystopia, because it's a reflection of what actually happened and is happening. And there's almost a sense that the underlying message is that the world is awful and overwhelmed by a terrible fear of chaos and the worst people are in charge of it, but it's still possible to struggle to find some kind of honourable and decent way of living a life. Which is what my main sympathetic characters do. It's also possible to let that go away and just give in and become part of the problem. Which some of my other characters do.
You describe Anno Dracula as 'literally a vampire novel'. How did the idea to write about vampires in this way first occur?

It's something I was doing at university. It was an essay on turn of the century science fiction, Victorian science fiction. And I wrote a section on invasion narratives like The War Of The Worlds (1897) and The Battle Of Dorking [by George Tomkyns Chesney, 1871], When William Came [by Saki, 1913], The War In The Air (1908), all these wonderful Victorian novels about the French taking over or the Prussians marching through London. I recognised that this was very much the origins of that kind of 'Nazis won the war' genre, SS-GB (1978), The Man In The High Castle (1962), It Happened Here (1964). And just in a footnote to that section I said that Dracula could be considered an invasion narrative. Because Dracula's got this speech about his conquering powers, and Van Helsing has a speech where he says that what Dracula will do if he gets any power, it's going to be really terrifying. And of course in the book he then doesn't. That lingered in my mind for years and years obviously and at some point, a long time before I wrote the first novel, I must have done like a page of notes. Remember those Marvel comics What If …  you know, what if Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four? And I think I wrote What If Dracula Won? Which might well have been the original title that thankfully I didn't use! Although I like question titles.  Once that was there I realised it was such a big idea that a single novel wasn't going to be enough. Because it was the era when everybody was writing trilogies, so my original thought was a trilogy. And it for a while was.  The first three booksthere are kind of a trilogy but then there are these bits and pieces that still are unanswered, there was room for much more. By the time I wrote the third book I'd already written a big chunk of the fourth so, I realised it wasn't a story that had a beginning and an end. It was a world I could return to at intervals.
As for battening on other works of literature, obviously I was stuck with Dracula.  The idea of using other characters from other fictions came in quite late. The first chapter of Anno Dracula has Dr Seward as Jack the Ripper, and he murders a victim. Every single Jack the Ripper movieopens with this scene of fog, gaslight, top hat, bloke with a bag full of knives.  You're walking through the cobblestones, then there's like Barbara Windsor saying, "Lawks-a-mighty, ducks." She turns round, a knife comes out, scream. I thought I wanted to write that scene, but when the girl turns round she has fangs. Then, it was a question of, who's the girl? I looked at all the actual Jack the Ripper victims and none of them fit, and also I reached a point where I thought well they've suffered enough. Then I remembered that in Pandora's Box (1929), the Pabst film from the Wedekind plays, Lulu, the Louise Brooks character, is a Jack the Ripper victim. And I thought, great, her, she's perfect! And she's got a great look and she's an iconic character.
Then I thought well in that case that opens up the possibility that this is a world inhabited by everybody from Victorian literature or indeed subsequent literature. And I realised that that solved a problem I'd been struggling with, that Dracula couldn't be a government on his own. And I thought well obviously his gang would be all the other vampires. Great! And then, I think, it was one of those things it must have taken literally five minutes I thought, oh yeah, Lord Ruthven - prime minister, Varney the Vampire - viceroy of India, and just ticking them all off. So many vampires in literature are imitations of Dracula, or Dracula wannabes. Count Iorga – from the film Count Yorga – Vampire (1970) - is one I've used quite a lot, because he's like a shorter fatter Dracula. And I thought, that makes perfect sense.  He'd surround himself with people, he'd set a fashion.  Other vampires would try and be like him, and none of them would be. But also they would start to resent him for it. You've got this frothing pack of envious, useless things. I had a bunch of anthologies of Victorian vampire stories -  Christopher Frayling compiled a really good one. And I went through and picked all those characters. And one of the things I've really enjoyed with this, is sometimes you take a character just to fill a gap, like I needed someone to be prime minister, Lord Ruthven was there. I read a story, it's called A True Story Of A Vampire (1894) by Eric Count Stenbok, which is this weird decadent gay vampire story from the 1890's with a really horrible predatory character, so I took him and made him one of the nastier characters in the books. In the comic and the current novel, the big character I've been playing with who isn't strictly a vampire but kind of is, is Christina Light, the Princess Casamassima, who's the only character Henry James wrote two books about. Roderick Hudson (1875), and then a follow up called The Princess Casamassima (1886),which is about radicals and anarchists in London in the 1890's. It's a really underrated book, really good on terrorism. It's all about how someone's friends slowly force him into becoming essentially a suicide bomber. The Princess Casamassima is this improbably glamorous yet ruthless socialist, and everybody who gets involved with her suffers horribly and dies. So I thought that if I actually made her a vampire she'd be cool.  I had a character who was snobbish and nasty and a vampire in the first book, but over subsequent books she sort of softened a bit and became almost likeable.  So I wanted somebody who was really awful, and Christina came in for this. Also I like the weird thing of taking characters you wouldn't necessarily think of and trying to find tragedy in their lives, or wondering how they would fit in to a fantastical universe. I've done it with James Bond, and I do it in this book with some other familiar characters who aren't named.

I love Dr Moreau and Dr Jekyll hanging out in Anno Dracula, sitting there vivisecting vampires because of course they would!

Scenes like that, I could just write forever. I really had to cut that down because I do like just having people talk to each other, I write plays as well. And there are scenes in One Thousand Monsters of Geneviève and Christina talking that I really had to stop, because if it was up to me, it's like all the samurai fighting and stuff would stop, and we'd just have this. And in the comics, there's a whole issue which is basically two people having tea. But I always like those. Because life stops sometimes and people talk things out. It's not what you're told to do but I like it as a way of conveying all kinds of stuff. Conversational trivialities can tell you an enormous amount about the world. And in fantasyworld building is a big thing. And I work hard at that. Just talking about what the current edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica would be like. That tells me what's going on in the world.
In The Bloody Red Barron (1995) Dracula becomes involved in the First World War. In Dracula Cha Cha Cha (1998) he crosses paths with an undead Bond in Rome. Johnny Alucard (2013) follows the vampires to America. How does each new time period and setting change your approach to writing the series?

Sometimes it changes completely the writing style, obviously.  I don't go overboard on that sort of crusty Victorian writing the way that some people writing period books try and write like Dickens or Conan Doyle or whatever. But I certainly think a bit about how people talk and the pacing. Obviously for Rome in 1959, I wasn't looking at Conan Doyle or Bram Stoker, I was looking at Patricia Highsmith and Ian Fleming.  Two Weeks In Another Town(1960) by Irwin Shaw was another book I looked at. There are lots of external things that change with each period. But because I've been tending to stick with a relatively small number of viewpoint characters, I try and convey how they change if the world changes around them. The story I wrote in London set in 1968 has a Victorian vampire main character and so she sort of is adapted, but she's also sort of a little old lady. Geneviève has ended up being quite a modern character although she is literally medieval. But my feeling was if you were going to live that long and not go mad you'd have to be very adaptable. There was that trend in the 80's for stuff like The Lost Boys, where you'd have ancient immortal vampires hanging out in goth clubs. And you think, why would they do that? And I see how it fits the audience, but it just doesn't seem quite right to me. I may well play a bit more with that in the book that's set in 1999. Although it won't be set strictly in our 1999 but the 1999 that William Gibson imagined in 1983. Cause we can now be nostalgic about that.
Geneviève has appeared in different stories across your work, in your Warhammer Books and in the Diogenes Club stories. What makes her such a compelling character?

I like her and people like her, I think. It's weird because in some ways she has to be a passive observer character rather than absolutely central to what's going on. Cause she needs to be held a bit out of it. She has a profession, she's a doctor. Although I've been recently edging her towards being a medical examiner, a coroner. And she's been a detective as well -- my version of Jim Rockford. She's just somebody who is continually amused and exasperated by how insane everything around her is. But doesn't completely let it get to her. She's somebody who won't be driven mad, no matter how bad everything else is. I think she's fun, Wwhen I first started writing her I was thinking a bit of Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, although Emma Peel is unflappable in a way that Geneviève isn't. But at that time there weren't that many heroines in fantasy and horror who had that model. And of course, because I created her for the Jack Yeovil books, which were young adult books, I was thinking of her as a teenager, although I slightly changed that in the Anno Dracula books, because I wanted her sometimes to have proper jobs that, you're not going to have a 16 year old coroner. And so I think maybe her resilience and survivability, and the fact that she won't put up with stuff. And it may also be that people just identify with how put-upon she is.

Your first novel The Night Mayor (1989) uses noir tropes to explore the fixations of film noir in a science fictional context. Was this good practice for writing about Dracula using vampire fiction?

Yeah, there's a similar thing going on in it, yeah. I wrote it before there was much virtual reality cyberpunk type fiction around. There were precedents I was thinking of, stuff like The Singing Detective (1986), and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), that kind of melange, consensus version of what film noir was. And that, I think I was more interested there in the idea that fantasy is seductive. The epigraph is from a really interesting book on 1940s cinema by Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg -- a really potent description of what film noir is.  The thing that really stuck with me from that was that it's a world of despair, darkness and terror, but in its own way it's as glamorous as Paramount musical comedies. And you realise that yeah, it's a world you'd like to live in. Who wouldn't want a world where you go into a night club and Hoagy Carmichael's playing the piano and Lauren Bacall is singing? And Bogart's in the corner. It was the fantasy of film goers in the 1940's. It was the fantasy of film fans in the 1970's when I was getting into it. But it's something still enormously appealing. And the idea that that can also be a trap, and maybe, yeah, I've in subsequent books surrendered to that trap a bit more. But the idea is, you know most genres offer worlds people would like to visit. The consensus vision of the West in Westerns is a fantasy.  People like playing Cowboys and Indians. But they don't want to get shot. Or dragged through the desert, eating their own horses, all that kind of horrible stuff that happens in westerns. But at a certain remove, it's still an exciting and enjoyable thing. And most of those forms interest me.

And the whole thing of having to play by the rules of the genre if you want to beat the guy at his own game...

Obviously that's an amusing conceit, or it was when I came up with it. It's a strange little novel. It's too short, for a proper novel, I'm amazed that it got published, cause it's a long novella.  I remember that the editor who first took a chance on it said, yeah you could easily put another hundred pages in it, but that's all you'd be doing. And she was exactly right. I could easily have had another bunch of chapters of running around, meeting new and interesting people, cool things happening, but it's a book that makes its point. Which is why when it was republished it's got a whole load of short stories at the back.

The idea of the boundaries between dreams and reality crumbling crops up again in your novels Bad Dreams (1990) and Jago (1991). Is this a big theme for you?

Yes it is. That's also, yeah. It was a bit, Bad Dreams has a slight spin on it, in that it was originally a film outline I did with Neil Gaiman, Phil Nutlman and Stefan Jaworzyn, and the brief was to write something a bit like Nightmare On Elm Street(1984), so there are dreams in it because that was what we were asked for. In the end I took it away and made it my own, but yeah that was fun. But it's in Jago too and there's no excuse for that.  I'm a huge admirer of Philip Dick and I like all those rubber reality-ish stories and yeah I did want to play in that.
The Quorum (1994) is your take on the Faustian pact trope. Was this something you always wanted to write?

That was one of the few books I had where I literally woke up in the middle of the night with the title and the plot, everything. And it's not like I had a dream or anything. I'm going to have to be quite circumspect about this, but somebody had told me something about a mutual friend that I thought was quite disturbing, and made both of us worry about this other person, whom we thought was becoming paranoid. He thought that people were deliberately sabotaging his life and his career in a way I suppose that anyone who's having a hard time starts to think, and I woke up and I thought, what if they were? What if people actually did that? And then I thought, oh yeah, what if you made a deal with the devil and sold somebody else's soul? And other ideas came like dominoes tipping over, and I thought oh right I know exactly how this fits together. And then it all came out of that.
Your novel Life's Lottery (1999) uses a Choose Your Own Adventure format to ask questions about free will. How was writing that different to writing a normal novel?

It is the most difficult book I've ever done, yeah. My front room was full of bits of paper with post it notes and arrows and numbers. For months. I think I actually drove people out of the house while I was working on that. I could still be writing that book if I hadn't decided to limit it to 300 segments. I was surprised nobody had done it before, I'm surprised so few people have done it since. One or two people have. Those Choose Your Own Adventure books were really popular.   but all about the choices you were given were simple material ones.  Turn left, turn right. Axe or saw. But I thought, what if you were given moral decisions? And that would mean that your adventure would be through not so much corridors but your own character. And it was a very difficult book to get the character arcs. Because each arc, each development was contingent on the choice the reader had made. So when you had two different paths, I had to write each path as if the main character were the kind of person who would have made this choice. But beforehand, not nudged. And so there was a certain neutrality of voice. It's the only book I've written in the second person, which is another thing you're not supposed to do. And so that was more complicated than keeping track of all the wives and children, jobs and the plot stuff, and there's a murder mystery bit in it I really like, and there's a kind of horrible social commentary, and there's a nightmare fantasy element and time twisting to justify the whole conceit. I'm very proud of it.  It is an oddity and one of the books that ties together my universe.
An English Ghost Story (2014) is Gothic horror but set in the present day. What are the challenges of recreating the atmosphere of the traditional gothic novel in the age of the Internet?

Well it's not, it's set in the 1990's, but I wrote the first draft in the 1990's so it was the present day, yeah. The reason it's set in the 1990's is because mobile phones would ruin the story. I've seen a couple of other things that have done the same trick, used the setting just before mobile phones fuck up every story ever written beforehand. Alfred Hitchcock always hated the question ‘why don't they go to the police?’ And he always answered, ‘because then there wouldn't be a story!’ Now it’s why don't they just look it up, why doesn't he just phone? And you have all these stories that have to start with them saying oh there's no reception. There was something about that period that was interesting and fit in with the story I wanted to tell. And I did want to do a traditional ghost story, rather than a haunted computer story, which most modern day ghost stories have to devolve to. A couple of years back I went to ghost story slam for charity, where ten people got up and read five minute ghost stories. And nine of them were about mobile phones, social media, the Internet, various other gadgets, and then the last guy – Kevin McNally, the actor - got up and read a story about pirates in the 18th century and it was like, yes! Thank you!

I mean arguably the Internet and social media are frightening enough without ghosts!

Sure. And I've written stuff about that too. I am interested in that and it is a subject on its own. But for this I wanted to do a traditional ghost story. It's got its own things going on in it, and it is strange in ways that, yeah, it's a Kim Newman book, it's not an M. R. James book. Again it's a book I'm pleased with. I try every time to do something I've not done before, and it's weird that I always seem to end up with things I want to go back to, I really want to do a follow up book to it but I'm not quite sure when I can fit it into my schedule.
An English Ghost Story also inhabits that space between the supernal and the infernal, and taps into the sense of awe that characterises much horror at its most haunting....

Yeah, and I that, I wanted something magical and frightening, rather than just brutal and frightening.
The Secrets Of Drearcliff Grange School (2015) first appears as a series of books in An English Ghost Story written by the character Louise Magellan Teazle. What made you want to turn it into its own novel?

That's right, yeah originally it was a pendant to An English Ghost story, I thought it might end up being a strand in it, but I'm glad I didn't because it fits into the way my world has been going. So it's another type of writing I'm interested in. I went away and read a lot of 1920's girl school stories. And I grew up with Billy Bunter and Jennings and the last of those school stories. Harry Potter has brought all that back. And obviously J. K. Rowling's a socialist, and people say to her, why are you writing these books about public schools? And she said, it's simple, it's got to be a boarding school or you can't have adventures. And she's right. I liked doing that. And I am going to be doing another Drearcliff Grange School next. So there's series potential in it.
Is there any fictional or historical character you would like to include in your work but haven't found the place for yet? 

I don't exactly have a hit list. I'd like to do a Western. I was going to do an Anno Dracula Western, but the thing I set up in Anno Dracula about Billy the Kid being a vampire has been used, Uwe Boll made a film called BloodRayne Deliverance which had a vampire Billy the Kid. I can't really be accused of ripping off Uwe fucking Boll. I can take a lot of things, but not that. So I satisfied myself slightly by putting a bit of Western stuff in One Thousand Monsters, but I doubt if I'm going to do a full on Anno Dracula Western. It would have to be set before Anno Draculaand I don't want to do too much to suggest that the world before Anno Dracula was openly fantastical. I try and show a bit of what it was like to be a vampire in a world before Anno Dracula, cause that was interesting to me. So at some point I'd like to do a Western. I'm not quite sure what. There's a historical occult mystery set in the 1940's I want to do, which is classic Hollywood days, Beverly Hills.

Were there any characters you felt nervous about using or doing justice to?
No, it sounds terrible doesn't it! I suppose what I do is I just treat them all as if I'd made them up. I've written a book about Professor Moriarty. He's a major fictional character and displaces a lot of cultural water but he's only in the Conan Doyle stories for about three pages. And Colonel Moran, who's my narrator in that, is in even less. However those pages are gold. Every single thing in it is brilliant. And I just kept thinking, there's a book here. And the really good stuff, the stuff that really clicks with me lets me spin off.

You are also known for your critical writing on the genre, especially on horror in film. Video Dungeon, a compendium of your writings on horror cinema drawing from your column of the same name, is out now as well. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Yeah, it's not a collection of my columns from Empire magazine, although it has the same title. It's the material that got subbed down into my column. If I spent a sentence reviewing a film in Empire, I probably wrote 400 words. And so this is that 400 words, slightly tidied up. And I just wanted to do something that was, that covered a lot of films that people hadn't spent much time being written about, the stuff that you couldn't find reviews of easily on the Internet, or not useful ones. So that was it really. It's a book that I've been working on for quite a while. And we've got enough material to do many more. And it was a fun project and I really like the packaging on it. It's not something that just anybody would sit and read, although I know people who do.  I find this kind of book compulsive as well. You look something up and then three hours later you realise, why have I read forty reviews of shark movies?
How does your criticism feed into your fiction, and your fiction feed into your criticism?

Well, my fiction quite often spins out of popular culture. And obviously I've seen a lot of movies in my spare time. I spend a lot of time thinking about movies and watching movies, so, that's how it works. I get ideas while doing that, and sometimes I can sometimes look at specific things and think oh while I was watching this I had that idea. And sometimes you watch 400 movies and it all comes together.  Same for TV shows or other books, or whatever. The other thing is that with my non-fiction writing I just try to work on the prose And it's really simple. It's something that makes it distinctive, to try and make it readable, try and make itnot amusing and with some substance. Not so much in the Video Dungeon book but in other things, it’s about trying to find a story.
What's next for Kim Newman? 

Oh, I can tell you. It's The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School. It's a year and a half later, and Amy is in the fourth form, and the school is haunted. There's other stuff. It's going to be partly about her relationship with a new teacher. And there's something I couldn't quite justify historically, but one of the great school stories is The Happiest Days Of Your Life (1950), That’s about a girls school and a boys school that accidentally have to have the same buildings for a term, and so I'm going to do that. I'm going to bring some boys to the school because I think that will make things interesting. And then, the next Anno Dracula book, which picks up a hundred years after One Thousand Monsters.  There's a tag at the end which sets it up. And it'll be set in 1999, in a Tokyo that's like William Gibson's idea of the future. In a giant building shaped like Godzilla. Rather, not like Godzilla, like a giant fire breathing lizard not copyrighted by Toho Pictures. And it has a new viewpoint character, someone I've built up a bit in the novellas ’Vampire Romance’ and ‘Aquarius’. She's called Nezumi and she's a Japanese vampire schoolgirl. In that manga way. So a thousand year old chick in a sailor suit with a sword. I felt for a while that the series desperately needed a non-European, non-White viewpoint character and this is her.

Thank you Kim Newman for speaking to us!


From London to Tokyo...

In 1899 Geneviève Dieudonné travels to Japan with a group of vampires exiled from Great Britain by Prince Dracula. They are allowed to settle in Yokai Town, the district of Tokyo set aside for Japan's own vampires, an altogether strange and less human breed than the nosferatu of Europe. Yet it is not the sanctuary they had hoped for, as a vicious murderer sets vampire against vampire, and Yokai Town is revealed to be more a prison than a refuge. Geneviève and her undead comrades will be forced to face new enemies and the horrors hidden within the Temple of One Thousand Monsters...


<![CDATA[SPLATTERPUNK: DAVID BENTON  IS  FIGHTING BACK]]>Thu, 16 Nov 2017 06:00:40 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/splatterpunk-david-benton-is-fighting-back
To celebrate the launch of the new charity anthology Splatterpunk: Fighting Back from Jack Bantry's Splatterpunk Zine Ginger Nuts of Horror brings you a series of interviews with some of the contributors to the anthology. Today Ginger Nuts of Horror is honoured to welcome David Benton  to the interview chair.   

David Benton is the bass player for internationally renowned heavy metal novelty act Beatallica, as well as performing in one of the Milwaukee area’s most sought after original music groups, Chief. Published fiction collaborations with W.D. Gagliani have appeared in The X-Files: Trust No One, SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror, SNAFU: Wolves at the Door, Dark Passions: Hot Blood 13, Zippered Flesh 2, Splatterpunk Zine, The Horror Zine, DeadLines, and others.

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Outside of my creative endeavors I work days as a janitor at a nursing home. In the past I’ve been employed as a bricklayer, a cheese maker, forklift operator, I’ve worked on a printing press, and those are just the day jobs that readily come to mind. I have two grown daughters who I’m very proud of. And I’m currently living with my mother who is being treated for lung cancer (so participating in the Fighting Back anthology really hits home)

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I actually don’t spend nearly enough time writing. Writing is what I do when I’m not at my day job, maintaining the house, making music, or upholding my social obligations. I suffer from the consequences of serving too many masters. If I had the option I would spend more time writing.

What does Splatterpunk mean to you? What attracts you to writing in this genre?
Splatterpunk is a sub-genre that doesn’t flinch away from graphically depicting sex, violence, or often a combination of the two. I don’t think I’m specifically drawn to Splatterpunk so much as I’m drawn to horror fiction in a broader sense, and what draws me to it is its dark and imaginative nature. I guess I can’t explain exactly why. I grew up a huge fan of Universal, Toho, and Hammer monster movies, as well as Warren Magazines. From there I was drawn to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons which exposed me to a lot of fantasy and horror fiction, and I guess I just liked the darker fork in the road better. Basically, I like monsters.

A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?
I think the ease of self-publishing, POD, and electronic publishing will end any large scale movements in publishing, and instead we will be able to find new work (and a lot of it) branching in every direction. The age of the gatekeepers and tastemakers is over. In much the same way that home recording and streaming has changed the music industry, technology will continue to challenge the status quo. As a fan it will be a great time to find new works from a wide variety of voices representing every sub-genre and style. Unfortunately it will also make it more and more difficult to earn a living wage as an artist.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?
I’m a big fan of the Joe Konrath quote: “There’s a word for an author who doesn’t give up… published.” I think that, not just in writing but in life, giving up is the only way to ensure failure. As long as you stick to it and keep pushing forward you will improve.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of? Which book or story do you think is a good ‘jumping on’ point for new readers?
I’m proud of all of them for different reasons. I don’t think I can pick a favorite. I think the story W.D. Gagliani and I wrote for the Fighting Back anthology, Feast of Consequences, is a fine place to start. It’s actually a self-contained excerpt from a longer piece of fiction we’re slowly picking away at between other projects.

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
I recently finished my first novel and I’ll be self-publishing it soon, hopefully before the end of the year or early in 2018. It’s an apocalyptic tale of nature run amok entitled Fauna. Now I’m working on a longer piece of fiction about reincarnation.



<![CDATA[SPLATTERPUNK: GEORGE DANIEL LEA  IS  FIGHTING BACK]]>Mon, 13 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/splatterpunk-george-daniel-lea-is-fighting-back

To celebrate the launch of the new charity anthology Splatterpunk: Fighting Back from Jack Bantry's Splatterpunk Zine Ginger Nuts of Horror brings you a series of interviews with some of the contributors to the anthology. Today Ginger Nuts of Horror is honoured to welcome George Daniel Lea  to the interview chair.   

George Lea is an unfixed oddity that has a tendency to float around the UK Midlands (his precise location and plain of operation is somewhat difficult to determine beyond that, though certain institutions are working on various ways of defining his movements).

An isolated soul by nature, he tends to spend more time with books than with people, consumes stories in the manner a starving man might the scattered debris of an incongruously exploded pie factory, whilst also attempting to churn out his own species of mythological absurdity (it's cheaper than a therapist, less trouble than an exorcist and seems to have the effect of anchoring him in fixed form and state, at least for the moment).

Proclaims to spend most of his time "...feeling like some extra-dimensional alien on safari," which he very well might be (apprehension and autopsy will likely yield conclusive details).

Following the publication of his first short story collection, Strange Playgrounds, is currently working in collusion with the entity known as "Nick Hardy" on the project Born in Blood.

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

Maybe a little. It always feels like this part of the interview has a confessional quality to it.
I'm...a fairly isolated soul by nature and inclination; I work in a field that is incredibly social (care and social support for individuals with learning difficulties), thus I find that moments of silence and separation from humanity are rare.
Those moments are more precious to me than almost any commodity I can identify: I need that silence, that schism, in order to not only rejuvenate myself, but to process the daily maelstrom of information and experience and input that my work requires.
Those are the moments when the weirdness makes itself apparent; when the images and visions that swill around my skull almost every waking instant (and otherwise) insist on themselves and demand to be expressed.
If I didn't indulge them or found myself in a position where I could not, then I fancy that the next you'd know of me would be through some headline or TV news report, though in what capacity I wouldn't like to conjecture.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Beyond the standard “thinking about writing?;” I've inherited from my Mother a love of all things media, from written fiction to art, comic books to video games...and there's very little parameter or restriction in that, though I tend to favour the bizarre or the surreal, I try not to limit myself or my input based on nostalgia or traditional prejudice:
Recently, for example, I was introduced to the highly theatrical absurdity that is the Julie Andrews vehicle, “Victor Victoria;” about as far from the kind of material that I produce as it's possible to get, but I adored it, because it's beautiful and brilliant and farcical.
Video games are a principle passion, though it's rare these days that I get the time to indulge them to their full.
I'm also what would probably be described as an inveterate geek; I enjoy lots of insular hobbies such as science fiction war-gaming, fantasy and horror tabletop roleplay, boardgames, strategy games et al.
I've also recently found myself getting into all forms of podcasting, which I enjoy immensely.

A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?

Very, very difficult to predict: recent shifts have seen more or less the entire genre move to independent markets and flourish there, with numerous forms and sub-genres of horror available that mainstream markets struggled to find niches for (if they bothered at all).
The financial success of the recent adaptation of Stephen King's “IT,” the efflorescence of various forms of horror on the small screen, means that there might be another upheaval occurring in which the genre becomes popular and profitable again, but that remains to be seen:
With horror being so reflexive of cultural climate (at its most ideal), I can imagine there being something of an efflorescence in coming years, particularly in areas where it overlaps with other genres (for example, we've already seen the mass proliferation of dystopian horror/science fiction in response to certain political situations).
As to what forms it might take, who knows? Personally, I'd love to see the genre transcend itself a little and trespass into more surreal territory, but that's a matter of personal taste and inclination.

As a horror writer, do you consider any topic off limits? Is there a topic or subject you would never write about?
Off limits? No; not in and of itself. Any and all subjects, situations etc potentially have merit and are worth expressing or exploring, but I do feel they have to be earned, by which I mean: they must be treated with due attention, if a writer is going to tackle them.
For example, if one is going to approach subjects of emotional extremity and resonance such as abuse or neglect, abandonment or trauma, one doesn't necessarily need direct experience of such things (that's what imagination is for), but one should have enough respect for the subject matter and one's own writing to put in the necessary research and/or contemplation and to present those subjects/situations in such a manner that they maintain verisimilitude: there is nothing worse than a writer presenting experiences or situations in their work that they clearly haven't considered or have little understanding of, if only because it has the effect of diluting and potentially destroying the fiction.
There is also the danger of rendering atrocity banal through repetition or the manner in which we present it: in that regard, I'd say we who dare broach such subjects in our writing do have a degree of responsibility, if only to ensure that such things are treated with weight and significance, rather than blandishment.
Are there any subjects I wouldn't write about? Not for moral reasons, rather because they either don't interest me or I don't think I have anything to say about them. But there is nothing in and of itself I would consider forbidden: if anything, I'd say that my writing principally concerns itself with transgression and approaching those very subjects and concerns that culture at large denies or sublimates: I don't particularly see the point in art, fiction or any created thing that doesn't do that in some way, shape or form: we are so enjoined by the systems we are born into to look away, to deny, to take the easiest or proscribed road...art and fiction allow for alternatives; for questions to be asked where they traditionally haven't but sorely need to.
In that, a certain degree of courage is necessary in order to write well and truthfully; we need to be willing to approach what others will not or actively disavow; to explore subjects, situations and phenomena that culture at large might seek to suppress or “protect” us from. This means that many will react strongly to the situations and subjects we present; we may trigger association with their own experiences, traumas etc, but this is what art and fiction are for: without that resonance and arousal, it becomes meaningless; like chewing already-masticated gum or eating a meal synthetically shorn of flavour or nutrients: fiction should not seek to protect any of us. Quite the contrary; to be hurt, to be soiled, to be wounded by art and fiction, are worthwhile experiences; it allows us to explore those contexts in arenas of imagination, without significant harm or consequence occurring, and thereby to develop our own emotional and imaginative conditions.
What do you most enjoy about the short story format? What do you find challenging?

Elegance. Elegance and concision; short stories require a degree of consideration and refinement that novels or larger works simply do not; there isn't any space for redundancy or deviation in a short story: they must tell what they have to tell within the allotted framework and do it well, or fail.
That is the beauty and challenge of them: they must be concise and stylised in the manner of poetry, yet weighty and significant in the manner of a novel.
For my money, the very best short stories are those that make best use of implication and inference; that trust the reader to fill in the spaces between words and paragraphs with their own assumptions and projections.
The very best short story writers know how to utilise silence and empty space in the same manner as the best composers of music.

Other than the  horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?

How long have you got?; Everything, everything ever; every experience, every iota of input, everything that has ever engaged or disturbed or inspired or distressed...all of it has had impact upon the state of my mind and imagination; all of it continues to, and will do so, I would presume, until consciousness itself flickers out (assuming it will).
But, in terms of specific media influences, I'm fairly broad in what  I consume and always have been: as a child and adolescent, various forms of dark fantasy were my principal loves, as were traditional mythologies and folktales (I could do a fairly decent take on Hesiod as a kid). From there, I diversified into more or less any and all kinds or forms of fiction you might care to name: I adore various forms of science fiction (cyberpunk maintaining a particular  fascination), murder mysteries, detective noir; certain forms and sub-genres of erotica and romance...there is very little I will reject out of hand; if it is passably well put together, I'll likely get something out of it.
Another MAJOR influence on the state of my imagination would be video games:
a format that I feel somewhat privileged to have witnessed the birth and evolution of, certainly in terms of home computing, from the cassette-driven crudity of the Sinclair Spectrums and Commodore C64s to their current state of “Virtual Reality,” almost total immersion.
As story telling devices, video games have developed their own traditions, mythologies, tropes and techniques, and are fascinating in that regard; they inform  new modes of storytelling even as they are themselves informed by more traditional ones. Some of the most engaging, distressing and influential stories I've ever experienced are through the medium of video games, which has, in turn, profoundly affected the state of my imagination and the nature of my own storytelling.
This is an example of what I'd call an impossible question, in that there are so many answers and none at all: it asks us to pretend objectivity regarding the states of our own imaginations, and therefore our own states of mind: mind and imagination being both the subjects under and instruments of scrutiny, the analysis itself therefore becoming paradoxical.
And also lots of fun to play around with.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

I can't say I've ever been given a great deal of good advice on writing, as so much of the self-proclaimed “advice” out there is presumptuous, subjective nonsense.
The very best examples I can think of are non-didactic, but exemplary; those that demonstrate rather than telling.
There is definitely a “nuts and bolts” workmanship to the crafting element that takes time, experience and failure to learn. Stephen King talks quite eloquently about it in his book “On Writing” (one of the ONLY books about writing itself worth reading): much of it is simply a matter of getting out of your own way, not allowing yourself to get away with excuses and putting pen to paper (quite literally, in my case, as I write all of my first drafts longhand). Even if what you produce is shit, you are refining the craft by doing; you are teaching yourself what works and what doesn't.
Beyond that, I tend to look to the work of writers I admire as example: how did or could anyone have produced anything as mythologically complex as, for example, Barker's Imajica or Weaveworld? How did Mervyn Peake conceive and render the gothic immensity of Gormenghast? How could William Gibson have conceived of Neuromancer in a time before the internet was even a popular concept, much less a reality?
For my money, the very best form of self-education for a writer is simply to experience what others have created; to look at what works for them as a reader and become somewhat surgical in their analyses: How does this work and why? What is it about this element of the work that resonates?
But advice? Very little sticks with me or resonates profoundly. The lessons of experience are as paramount in this area as they are in any art or craft; the only way to learn is to do it and fail and do it and fail and do it and fail ad nauseum until you get halfway good at it, and not to abandon the effort because the first five or ten or twenty or a hundred efforts don't work.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of? Which book or story do you think is a good ‘jumping on’ point for new readers?
I'm very proud of anything I've managed to finish and refine to a legible -let alone publishable- standard. I take a LONG time to refine my stories from the sprawling tangles of ideas and images they originally occur as, meaning that my output is not -and is likely never going to be- anything approaching what others manage.
That said, anything I DO put out there for consideration has usually been worked on and considered and refined to the utmost possible degree. I place a high value on the “craft” element of the exercise, as I am asking people to lend me their time and attention; to lend me territory in their minds and imaginations. That places an onus of responsibility on me to give them the very best I can; to treat them with as much respect as I demand as a reader; to not treat them as lesser or as merely consumers for my material.
My first short story collection, Strange Playgrounds, somewhat serves as a manifesto of what my writing is about: that is, to transgress beyond proscribed boundaries, upset certain enshrined or proscribed traditions and demonstrate that material ostensibly labelled as “horror” can treat its audience with enormous respect; that it can be smart and profound and beautiful and moving, rather than what general audiences seem to assume (i.e. that it is universally “low brow,” catering to prurience and indulging in cheap shocks etc).
I'd say that would be an excellent start, as it more or less sets out what comes after; what I intend as a writer, and will determine whether or not readers will have a taste for my work (NOTE: it most certainly isn't for everyone).

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

My last book was the aforementioned Strange Playgrounds. Recently, I've been involved in a MUCH vaster project in the form of Born in Blood; a joint project with the photographer Nick Hardy, involving the creation of six volumes of Nick's photographs and my short stories inspired by themes of madness, mental illness, distress, abuse etc.
The full short story collection will also be published separately next year by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, so that readers can get a grasp of the wider mythology before the full set of visual volumes are published.
All proceeds from the project will be going to mental health organisations, most notably the charity MIND.
It has proven to be an immense and immensely rewarding project, and has garnered some attention from some interesting sources, not to mention opened up a number of doors for Nick and myself.
If you like horror that is not wry or sardonic, but intends to genuinely unsettle, distress and disturb, then check it out.

What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?  And what would be the answer?

Question: Are you okay?
Answer: Probably not.




<![CDATA[Splatterpunk: bracken macleod is  Fighting Back]]>Wed, 08 Nov 2017 06:46:06 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/splatterpunk-bracken-macleod-is-fighting-back
To celebrate the launch of the new charity anthology Splatterpunk: Fighting Back from Jack Bantry's Splatterpunk Zine Ginger Nuts of Horror brings you a series of interviews with some of the contributors to the anthology. Today Ginger Nuts of Horror is honoured to welcome Bracken Macleod to the interview chair.  
Bracken MacLeod has worked as a martial arts teacher, a university philosophy instructor, for a children's non-profit, and as a trial attorney. He is the author of the novels, Mountain Home, Stranded, and Come to Dust. His short fiction has appeared in several magazines and anthologies including LampLight, ThugLit, and Splatterpunk and has been collected in 13 Views of the Suicide Woods by ChiZine Publications. He lives outside of Boston with his wife and son, where he is at work on his next novel.

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
A: I’m the author of a short story collection titled 13 Views of the Suicide Woods, and three novels. The first of those, Mountain Home, was just newly re-released in an author’s preferred edition by Haverhill House Press in October. I’ve done a lot of things before I came to be a writer, but whatever I gave up previously, I’m presently an insufferable bastard.

What does Splatterpunk mean to you? What attracts you to writing in this genre?

A: Splatterpunk to me started as a reaction to traditional quiet horror, the same way Punk music was a reaction and an answer to the love and peace music of the ‘60s. Given that the Splatterpunk subgenre is thirty years old now, I think it has evolved from a reaction into a heated conversation with quiet horror. But it’s still an inversion of the inherent conservatism of traditional horror where the status quo is what has to be restored in order for the protagonists to prevail. Splatterpunk (if it is truly to retain its punk credibility) has to be about how the horror of the world changes us and forces us to live differently (if we can live at all), instead of how do we get back to those quiet days before the shit hit the fan. If there isn’t something that its in an argument with, it’s not fucking punk! You don’t lace up your Dr. Martens to go on a garden tour. You put ‘em on to go kick shit down.

What do you most enjoy about the short story format? What do you find challenging?
A: What I enjoy about short story writing is the challenge of creating well-realized situations and characters in very little space. I think of myself primarily as a novelist, and when I’m writing novels, I have hundreds of pages to stretch out and let this person’s dilemma unfurl. A short piece forces me to think in an entirely different way about problems and solutions and about what makes a person interesting enough to want to know what happens to them. You have to use big knives for short story writing. This is no place for a leisurely dissection; you gotta hack at the meat to get to the bone in short time.

Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
A: Strictly limiting myself to written fiction, I’d say that the crime and literary genres (yes, “literary” is a genre with its own tropes and reader expectations) are my biggest influences as a writer along with horror. Books by Cormac McCarthy and James M. Cain taught me that the real heart of any story is always about people, not situations. Not monsters. Without real, well-fleshed out people facing terrible adversity, I don’t care about your monsters. And if the characters at the center of your story aren’t interesting enough for me to feel invested in either their success or failure, then I don’t give a shit about how many clever kills or unexpected twists an author can throw in.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of? Which book or story do you think is a good ‘jumping on’ point for new readers?

A: That’s hard. I’m proud of everything I’ve done for different reasons. I think Mountain Home is my best expression of the idea that the villain is the hero of her own tale, while Stranded captures everything I ever wanted to do with a paranoid supernatural thriller. But I’d have to say that Come to Dust is probably my favorite thing I’ve written so far. It’s the book I had to get closest to in order to get it out. I went deep into some really dark places to make that book have the kind of feeling I was going for.
For a new reader, I suppose it depends on what they’re looking for. Mountain Home is an all chiller, no filler siege novel. Come to Dust is a meditation on family and death in the context of dead children coming back to life (not zombies). And Stranded is my sci-fi horror love letter to stories like John Carpenter’s The Thing and Jacob’s Ladder.  Pick your poison!

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

I discussed my last book in the answer above, but what I’m working on now is a home invasion thriller about a couple who buy a house with stolen money from a man who isn’t ready to give it up. His secrets and theirs collide in a way that could cost all of them everything. It’s about all those little expenses that aren’t part of the asking price, and can sink the deal if you aren’t prepared for them. The book is tentatively titled Closing Costs. This one’s a “secular horror” thriller more like Mountain Home than either Stranded or Come to Dust

check out bracken's books on amazon 

purchase a copy of splatterpunk fighting back here