Tenacity is just as important as talent. It is very easy to want to give up and lose faith in your work, particularly after rejection. But experiencing rejection and dealing with self-criticism are part of earning your stripes as an author, and I’m definitely a stronger writer for it.
Anything can inspire me. Movies, series, or a well composed soundtrack. Music in general. It can even be a single word I like, or a sentence. Sometimes it’s a sensation I want to recreate and build a story around. It’s rarely the same.
Filmmaking has always been my first love. But I love to write in any format, and short stories are just easier to bring into the world than films are (not to mention cheaper), so I end up putting out a lot more prose than I do short films.
What inspires you? The world. This crazy, beautiful, evil, unpredictable world.
What does literary success look like to you? Holding a book with your name on it. Everyone’s definition of success is different, but if you’re only writing with the aim of getting rich and famous, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Literary success, to me, would mean scoring serious novel contracts with major publishers—mainstream circulation in the higher five figures and upward, with international reach, including foreign language editions and screen rights sales. This definitely calls for agency representation, and I’m hoping my track record, built up since 2016 in the short story market, will open that particular door. I’ve dabbled in screenwriting for the last twenty years, too, and a cross-pollination of success between fields is always possible.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? FINISH IT. Don’t give up, don’t stop creating. And stay away from so much beer.
I used to read books secretly during classes. I remember crying quietly during math because Sirius Black just died. After school, I’d usually visit the library. There’s this cherry tree next to the building. In summer, I’d borrow a book, climb the tree until I found a good branch, and I’d read while snacking on the cherries. Good times.
Place of Caves was my coronavirus lockdown project. I’d had the idea of a Nottingham-based horror novella bouncing around my head for years, with a secret order of priests and nuns sent to investigate demonic goings-on in the caves. But somehow, I’d never got around to it. Being inside for months and seeing the Black Hare Press call for underground-themed horror spurred me into action.
To start a piece of work, it takes what I call a glimpse. A glimpse of something that is interesting, unique, and worth building a story around. Being a horror writer, for me that glimpse is usually something terrible. But that terrible glimpse leads to the idea for a suitable protagonist, antagonist, and goal. Then details of the story follow. For Underworld Games, that glimpse was of a kid in a flood tunnel vault in pitch darkness tracing the word “Loser” that was carved on his forehead, and then the terror when he saw light down the tunnel, and footsteps coming towards him. So, that is how this story starts—with the glimpse of terror.