A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “horror”

Interview with David John Griffin

I am pleased to welcome David John Griffin back to my blog.  His new book, ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ was recently published.  I asked David some questions about it.

 

Your new book, ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ sounds intriguing. Can you tell me a bit about it please?

It is an imaginative novella with a selection of twelve short stories. The novella is a heady mixture of magical realism, the paranormal and a dose of sci-fi too.

The novella is unusual in as much as it’s laid out as the emails between the two women, interspersed with a science fiction writer’s journal. The story is strange and becomes stranger by the page, keeping the reader “ head-scratching” right to the end. Though eventually all of the jigsaw puzzle pieces come together to present a satisfactory and surprising solution.

The short stories cover a variety of genres including science fiction, magical realism, even a ghost story! All the stories have a “twist in the tail” to surprise and entertain the reader.

 

Have you been writing short stories for long?

Not for as long as I would like: I’ve been writing short stories since the early 90’s. Up until then I concentrated on writing novels. Interesting to note that the novella Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn started life as a short story: I was aiming for 5 to 6000 words. But before I knew it, it had gained a life of its own and came out to over 31,000 words. All of my short stories have one thing in common in the main – they start life without a genre. It’s only after I’ve written a short story do I know what type of story it is.

 

Is the paranormal a subject you are interested in?

Not in an everyday sense and to be honest, I’m surprised how many of my stories have paranormal themes. It’s crept up on me (which is spooky in its own way!).

 

What would your reaction be if you met any of the characters from your books for real?

If it was a few from my first novel, The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb, I’d run a mile! Not quite but some of them are despicable, in particular Theodore Stubb. If I met Donald Clement from Infinite Rooms I’d want to help him. He’s such a fragile personality. I would enjoy meeting Audrey and Stella from Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn, I feel I would get on well with them. Even meeting Gideon Hadley, the science fiction writer from the novella, would be an interesting experience and as he’s a writer, I think we would have a lot to talk about.

It’s strange to think I’d ever meet any of my characters; it’s an interesting question! Which reminds me: The One Dog Inn – the 17th century former coach house – is described in detail in Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn which caused my wife Susan to express a desire to stay there if only it had been real!

 

Do you have a regular writing routine?

No, is the short answer. I have bouts of writing interspersed with months of no writing, which is when I try to catch up on my reading. I tend not to read much when I’m writing – I don’t want to be overtly influenced too much. When I am writing, even that will vary day by day although most of the writing will happen in the evenings. I have just finished the first draft of a science fiction novel which I managed to write in the space of three weeks. That’s the fastest I’ve ever written in my life…

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

I’ve written my third novel, a fantasy tale which is currently under consideration. It’s byline is “A fantastical journey of imagination”. Then there’s my science fiction novel mentioned previously which I have to finish. After that, I have plans for yet another novel, a magical realism “Tall” tale. Plenty of work ahead for me!

 

How did you come to be published by Urbane Publications?

After pursuing literary agents without success, I tried a few publishers, and got a few “near-hits” but always they pulled out at the last hurdle… then I discovered Urbane Publications via Twitter. So I sent both my first and second novels to Matthew – and the rest is history, as they say. I was drawn to Urbane as they offer a refreshing and innovative style of publishing, particularly when it comes to the closer collaboration between publisher and author. Which means in my case, amongst other things, that Matthew of Urbane allows me to use my own cover designs. (I’m a graphic designer by trade). I also like the fact that Urbane realises that some authors aren’t overnight successes and that it take time and patience to reach a wider platform.

 

Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to write a book?

Write! I mean to say, too much thinking about it can spoil the flow, I think, you have to start typing/writing and keep at it. You don’t have to write every day necessary but even with the odd half an hour here and there, the words soon start building up. I’d also say, don’t worry about the quality of the first draft, plough on till the end without going back to amend anything, including word corrections. That can all be done in the 2nd and subsequent drafts. Write that first draft as if no one else on the planet will ever see it (which is often the case anyway). Finally, make sure your plot is watertight – it helps to have someone else read your final draft before sending off to a literary agent or publisher. Their fresh eyes will spot such things, as well as spelling mistakes which you might have become “word-blind” to.

 

If you had the chance to live your life all over again do you think you would still write books?

Definitely: I love writing. It’s a craft that can never be fully learned, I believe. Each novel is as difficult as the last one, I’m finding, each with their own particular quandaries/problems which need to be solved. That is part of the fascination of writing for me. Having said that, there are certain aspects which are easier the more experienced you are, the more “writing miles” you have under your belt. Who was it said that writing is like exercising muscles – the more you write, the stronger you will get.

 

Notebooks or Computers?

I always carry a notebook with me so that if I’ve a line or an idea I can jot it down straight away before it’s forgotten. For actual writing, I by far prefer the computer. I’m not one for longhand when it comes to actual writing, although I know of other authors who swear by this approach before they get anywhere near a typewriter or computer. For interest, I wrote my first two novels on a good old-fashioned typewriter.

 

Links

‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/two-dogs-at-the-one-dog-inn/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Two-Dogs-One-Dog-Inn/dp/1911331159

‘Infinite Rooms’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/infinite-rooms/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Infinite-Rooms-gripping-psychological-thriller/dp/1910692603/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1488574787&sr=1-1

‘The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-unusual-possession-of-alastair-stubb/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unusual-Possession-Alastair-Stubb/dp/1910692344/ref=pd_sbs_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=5K0V3BDFE4JZEVPJ3NZD

Website – http://www.davidjohngriffin.com

Twitter – @MagicalRealized

 

Interview with Bekki Pate

The Willow Tree

Bekki Pate has just had her debut novel, ‘The Willow Tree’ published by Britain’s Next Bestseller.  She kindly took the time to answer some questions for me.

 

Congratulations on having your debut novel published.  Can you tell me a bit about it please?

The novel is a dark, gory horror story that centres around several protagonists including a man on the hunt for his missing girlfriend, a young girl who loses her memory, and the demon that follows her. It is also about friendship and love, involving the young girl and the people she meets on her journey to finding out who she is. It is full of twists, and ends on a cliffhanger that I have already been told is really frustrating for the readers as now they have to wait for the next book!

 

What made you want to pen your first novel?

I have always loved writing, and as a child I loved scary stories such as the Goosebumps and Shivers series, which heavily influenced my earlier work when I was around eight! As a lover of books, I just wanted to write something that I would love to read, and I think I have accomplished that.

 

How long did it take you to write?

The whole trilogy took me around seven years, but this one has taken the longest as I have changed it so many times!

 

Where did you get your ideas from?

I love Stephen King and Richard Laymon, so I think I have been influenced by their way of storytelling, but I usually just ask myself “what scares me?” and I go with that.

 

What exactly does Britain’s Next Bestseller do to help those wanting to publish a book?

Once they accept your manuscript onto their database (you first have to submit a few chapters and synopsis, and then the whole book, and if they like that then you get onto their website) you have a few months to try and obtain 250 pre-orders so it became a campaign of pestering my friends and family, co-workers etc, to pre-order the book. This is harder to do than it sounds – not all authors hit their target.

 

Are you planning to write more novels?

I have written another two novels that follow directly on from this one, and after this I will probably be taking a break for a bit as I am expecting my first child which is really exciting 🙂 But it has made me a bit exhausted and less motivated to write recently.

 

Who are your favourite authors and did any of them inspire you?  

I love Stephen King, Sarah Waters, Richard Laymon, Elizabeth Kostova – I think all books I read inspire me in some way (unless they were really bad!) so I think I take something from each of them and carry that on to shape my own work. Every writer has their own voice, but they also have the voices of all the other writers whose work they admire.

 

Where do you do most of your writing?

Usually anywhere I can – at my desk in the spare room, on the sofa, in a cafe etc. – I don’t mind where I am too much as long as it is relatively quiet and I can sit comfortably.

 

‘The Willow Tree’ is available to buy on Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Fragment-Trilogy-Willow-Tree/dp/1906954372

Interview with Martin Pond

DarkSteps2

Back in April 2012 I reviewed ‘Dark Steps’, Martin Pond’s debut book of short stories.  My review can be found here:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/dark-steps/

Martin very kindly offered to take part in an interview.

How long have you been writing for?

Writing has always been something I’ve loved. I wrote a lot in my teens and early twenties, but that somehow fell by the wayside as the world of work got in the way. I started again in 2007, at the suggestion of my partner. I gained further impetus from taking a diploma in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, and haven’t stopped since then (though, sad, to say, the world of work is an ever-present obstruction).

Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

My career for the past 20 years has been in IT, in a number of different fields. And that is not without creativity – writing a program, designing software, building a user interface, these are all creative activities. But they don’t scratch the itch like writing always has. Also, I’ve always felt that I’m half decent when it comes to stringing words together – I won a big silver cup for a story I wrote as a child, and it sat on my parents’ mantelpiece for a year. That sort of thing makes you feel pretty good, I can tell you, and gives you confidence in your own abilities from an early age.

Have any authors influenced you in your writing?

Inevitably, I’m influenced by the authors I like to read. Fortunately, I like different authors for different situations and moods. I love Stephen King – one of my most treasured reviews described my writing as “like a British Stephen King”. I also very much enjoy Nick Hornby, with “High Fidelity” being one of my favourite books of any genre. And Margaret Atwood is simply incredible, as are Cormac McCarthy and Chuck Palahniuk. I particularly admire McCarthy’s concision, and try to bear that in mind with my own writing.

What are you currently working on at the moment?

I am trying very hard to finish my first novel-length work, Drawn To The Deep End. It charts a thirty-something’s decline in the wake of his fiancée’s death. No, it’s not a comedy. I have 65,000 words down, and I know how the story ends, I just need to get there… I also have three short stories that are crying out to be written but I’ve promised myself I won’t start them (beyond rough notes) until the novel is finished.

Can you describe a day in your life?

After a relaxing morning writing on my golden typewriter (sorry, younger readers may need to Google ‘typewriter’), I recline on top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies (sorry again, that line is for fans of Rainier Wolfcastle), to count my Booker and Pulitzer prizes. Then I wake up, stop dreaming and stumble off to work…

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to try their hand at writing a novel?

The hardest thing is to just make a start. So, to paraphrase King, just take a character, put them in a situation, and start writing. You’ll find the story as you go. Also… you’ll be forever thinking that what you’ve just written is rubbish. DON’T let that stop you. Just keep going, get something down. You can revise and improve it later. Also, and this is very important, the best way to catch errors and things that just don’t work is to read what you’ve written aloud. Those bits that catch in your mouth? They need changing.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I work full-time, three quarters of our house is in mid-decoration, we have a pre-school son and I try to write too… what spare time?

What sort of books do you like to read?

So many different types. Perhaps some examples would help: I very much enjoyed “Let’s Kill Love” by Mark Kilner, a collection of dark short fiction published earlier this year. I devoured “Joyland” by Stephen King whilst on a recent holiday, further proof, if proof were needed, that he’s not just a horror writer. And I’m currently reading “The Psychopath Test” by Jon Ronson – disturbing, thought-provoking and yet also funny in equal measure.

I would like to thank Martin for taking the time to answer my questions.  Below are some links:-

‘Sin’ by Shaun Allan

Sin

Shaun Allan asked me a while back if I would like to review ‘Sin’.  Being that I read a variety of books I thought I would give his novel a go, especially as I’m always eager to discover new authors.  Shaun has also written a number of prize winning short stories and poems.

Sin Matthews has gone missing from the mental asylum and Dr Connors is not happy.  He hasn’t got his lab rat to experiment on anymore.  Somehow Sin has managed to teleport himself out of the hospital with the aim of committing suicide.  But he wakes up on a beach instead.

You see, it all started when Sin picked up a two pence coin thinking it would bring him good luck.  The only thing is it didn’t, quite the opposite in fact.  The first time he flipped and caught the coin something awful took place and people died.  Flip, Catch; every time Sin did this more tragedies occurred.  There was only one thing for it, he would have to dispose of the coin.  Yes, that was the answer.  The problem?  The coin kept coming back.

Sin began doubting himself and ended up admitting himself into a mental asylum.  In order to forget things, he would sometimes become violent so that he was drugged up to his eyeballs.  But is Sin actually insane?  That’s for you to work out!

This story has been told from Sin’s viewpoint and it’s certainly different to any other book I’ve ever read.  I really like Shaun’s writing style, the wonderful wittiness and word play throughout shows Sin as having a good sense of humour.

‘Sin’ is an intriguing read which keeps you guessing to the end.  It’s a dark and quite often disturbing read, but that’s what makes it so great.

Whatever you do, don’t pick up any two pence coins off the pavement!

I give this book 5 out of 5.

‘The Passage’ by Justin Cronin

The Passage

I would like to say thank you to Lovereading.co.uk for very kindly getting a copy of ‘The Passage’ sent to me, even though they already had the required number of reviewers.  I have a copy of ‘The Twelve’ which is the follow up to review and really needed to read this book first.

‘The Passage’ is the first in a trilogy by Justin Cronin.  At nearly 1000 pages long it looks like a daunting read.  But believe me, it isn’t!  Divided into eleven parts, this book takes you on an epic journey full of shocks and surprises.

Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and has been abandoned by her mother.  Little does Amy imagine that she will become the most important person in the world.  Anthony Carter is a prisoner on Death Row who is waiting to be executed for murder.  FBI agent Brad Wolgast can feel that something out of this world is about to happen, but he doesn’t know what.  Unaware of each other’s existence the three of them are about to be linked together.

After a military experiment goes badly wrong, America finds itself hit by a major vampire epidemic in which many states are destroyed and masses of people are killed by the virals.  Amy and several survivors embark on a very dangerous and courageous journey together, fighting these creatures along the way.

I thought this book was truly amazing and I felt as if I was in another world when reading it.  I never once lost interest in the story.  There were so many characters throughout, each with their own story to tell.  A brilliantly written book, ‘The Passage’ will keep you reading for hours.  It is horror at its best!

I give this book 5 out of 5.

‘The Well’ by Peter Labrow

Firstly, before writing my review I would really like to thank Mr Peter Labrow himself for sending me a signed copy of his book.  I feel totally honoured.

I enjoy horror fiction so was really looking forward to reading this book, and I have to say I haven’t read anything this good in ages.  ‘The Well’ is Peter Labrow’s debut novel.  It is a darkly gripping tale about how we respond to the hand fate has dealt us and the consequences of our choices.

The story follows fourteen-year-old Becca Richards and her stepbrother/nearly lover Matt Bradshaw.  Their parents are going away for the weekend which means Becca and Matt will be alone together.  After school finishes on the Friday, Becca thinks its best that they take their time going home in order to ensure that her Mum and Matt’s Dad have left.  So they go somewhere quiet for a while to pass the time.  What happens next is shocking and will change things forever.  They both fall to the bottom of an ancient well where they are trapped and since their parents are away its likely that they won’t be missed for at least a couple of days.  Over the course of a week, family, friends and strangers are all drawn together by a terrible shared fate, from which not all will escape.

I found this novel to be extremely gripping and exciting all the way through.  It was very hard to put down and even involved a very late night!  The author has provided such detailed descriptions of all the characters and the circumstances surrounding them and has really captured what it must have been like to be stuck in the well for days.  I also thought the editing was excellent.

As I was reading this story I could really picture it in my head and I think it would make a fantastic film or even a TV drama.  I am so looking forward to seeing what Peter Labrow comes up with next.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

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