I really enjoyed your short story collection “Hoffman’s Creeper and Other Disturbing Tales”. I noticed that–although each story is dark in its own way–there is no specific genre. They ran the gamut from mystery to suspense to horror. If you had to choose, what genre would you say is your favorite?
I’d have to say that suspense, in a rather broad sense, is my favourite genre. I certainly prefer both mystery and suspense to pure horror. What I find myself doing, often unintentionally, is using horror settings and symbols to give a gothic edge to many of my suspense stories. I think that Jenny’s Dream, with the budding creature-feature director, is the most obvious example of this.
Most of the tales in this collection fit more comfortably into the genre of suspense than either mystery or horror and when they are clearly horror stories, they lean more towards psychological horror. Only a couple of the tales in this collection hint at the supernatural and, even then, it’s largely a matter of interpretation. I am working on several traditional mystery stories at the moment, but I have to say that my new work is mostly turning out to be what I would label as suburban suspense.
What is your novella “Let Darkness Take Hold” about?
Let Darkness Take Hold is another example of how I sometimes straddle genres. It’s a tale of suburban suspense that uses a generous sprinkling of both horror and mystery tropes. It’s ultimately about revenge and seeks to keep the reader wondering not only how the protagonist is going to react to the opportunity fate gives him, but also how he or she would react. I had a lot of fun writing this story, especially with the costume party… you’ll see what I mean.
How do you come up with new ideas?
Every story has a different history. Often, I’ll have an idea while I’m watching the news – not surprising for a dark fiction writer. I also get ideas taking a shower, walking to work, listening to music, watching a movie, reading, having a conversation with somebody, or just observing people in the street. Some stories work themselves out quickly while others require patience and periods of incubation.
What is your writing process? Do you plan ahead, outline each scene? Or do you prefer to let the story unfold on its own? Do you stick to a daily word count, etc?
When I have an idea, I jot it down in a paragraph or two. When I start writing the story, I usually just start at the beginning and let it unfold. From time to time, I’ll write the climax first and then go back to the beginning and work my way towards it. I don’t stick to daily word counts. Some days, I just can’t write, especially if I have something else on my mind. When I have time and the words are flowing, I just go with it. I often put some music on and kick back with a glass of scotch… thus the frequent alcohol references in my work.
What are you currently reading?
At the moment, I’m reading from several anthologies of ghost and detective stories. I try to keep a record of what I read on my Goodreads page.
If you could invite any five authors from any time period to dinner, who would they be?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Edgar Allan Poe, Ruth Rendell, Guy de Maupassant… oh, we need another lady… Agatha Christie, there you go. I’d have just a handful of candles for lighting and leave the window open to the night. Hopefully, a thunderstorm would come rolling across the city to add to the dramatic effect.
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
Not really… Just wait while my hypnotist puts me into a trance… All right, I knew I’d repressed something. When I was a kid, I wrote some kind of Celtic fantasy story about a hero who saves his village from giant monsters. I tried to include some kind of romantic subplot but it wasn’t easy for a ten year old who’s only experience in the field was when he’d kissed a girl on the cheek and got slapped for his trouble.
Besides the titles we’ve discussed, where else can we find your work? Are there any anthologies or magazines you’d like to mention?
Most of the short stories from Hoffman’s Creeper and Other Disturbing Tales were first published in ezines, magazines and anthologies. Since then, I’ve had other pieces published. One of them is Old Mabel’s Stray Cat, an extremely weird tale in volume one of FEAR: A Modern Anthology of Horror and Terror. Another is The Lutwyche Carnivore from the ezine, Fever Dreams #2. Also, I have two new stories being published soon. I post all of my news on my blog (refer to the final question) and on my Facebook page.
What scares you?
I used to have a thing about grasshoppers, but I’m over that now. People scare me, especially once you put them in a car. Have you read Crash by J.G. Ballard? It’s only a slight exaggeration of reality.
What do you enjoy doing outside of writing?
I like walking and bushwalking (not sure what you call that in the USA) and playing chess. I like traveling and discovering new places too. I’m not particularly sporty. I used to go jogging and do chin-ups and so forth. I really ought to get back into that. Socially, I don’t like nightclubs at all. I prefer going to restaurants, pubs and rock concerts. I bet you weren’t expecting an exciting answer like that! Hmm, let’s go back to talking about writing.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m doing a lot of rewriting and editing but also working on three new short stories, an urban adventure / suspense novel, and a mystery novella. Yes, I’m one of those writers who switches back and forth between different projects depending on the alignment of the moon and what colour socks I happen to be wearing.
Where can we find you on the web?