Welcome to my guest page. Here, every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation, over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, if they are not driving, with a friend about their work in progress, or latest book release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Welcome to the Clubhouse Tearoom, Richard. I’m so glad you found us okay. I apologies for all the cloak and dagger, but our location must be kept secret. Let’s put in our order for refreshment early. What would you like me to order?
I’m not a drinker, so it would be tea. And nothing fancy, either. Just good old fashioned English breakfast tea, please.
So let’s start with asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I have very vivid nightmares, so it was only natural that I’d start writing horror. Nothing makes me happier than waking up from an absolutely ferocious bad dream. I reach straight for my notepad and start writing down the details before they fade away, as dreams often do. Pretty much everything I write now starts with a dream or a nightmare, so I guess you could say that the genre chose me, and not the other way around.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
I’m currently working on a sci-fi horror novel. I had a series of nightmares about UFOs and aliens. Wanna know something cool? I actually dream sequels to previous dreams! I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but I’ll have a UFO or an alien dream, and a few nights later I’ll have a dream that carries straight on from it. So, over a few weeks, I basically dreamt an entire story, and that’s what I’m working on now. It takes place on an unnamed island off the east African coast and in Arizona. The main characters are two sisters, refugees from Burundi, and an American metalhead, separated by thousands of miles and a ten hour time difference!
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
None, I’m proud to say. I never start a project that I’m not going to finish. I only start work on something if it excites me, and if it excites me it becomes self-perpetuating.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter or let the characters lead you?
I always get stuck straight into a first draft, and I rarely know how a story’s going to end when I start writing. When the first draft is completed, only then do I start thinking about the structure and doing research. I think of crafting a story as being rather like sculpting clay. You have to have the material to work with in the first place! As Sherlock Holmes used to say: “Data data data! I cannot build bricks without mortar!”
Choosing only five of your favourite authors. Can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
1. Dylan Thomas. No writer can evoke images, characters and feelings in me the way he can. He taught me that words have an inherent power.
2. Stephen King. When discussing storytelling, writers like to talk about “the voice”, but Stephen King goes one better. He has “the groove”. His writing style is like a great riff in a metal track that grabs you right at the start, drags you right the way through it whether you like it or not, and doesn’t let you go until the very end. Genius.
3. Zadie Smith. As a writer, I find that she has a lot in common with Stephen King. Not in subject matter, obviously, but in style. She’s got that “groove” too. When you start reading a Zadie Smith book, your eyes slip effortlessly over those words. She makes storytelling look so easy. Which, as we all know, it most certainly isn’t.
4. George Orwell. I’m talking specifically here of his novels set in the age in which they were written, such as Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Coming Up for Air and A Clergyman’s Daughter. His writing is incredibly evocative, brilliantly character-driven and fuelled by righteous anger. As a reader, you get dragged through the muck and grime and dirt and poverty with his characters, and by the time you put the book down, feel as though you’re in need of a bath!
5. Shirley Jackson. The Haunting of Hill House, in my humble opinion (well, actually in the opinions of a lot of people) is the perfect horror novel. Again, she’s an incredibly evocative writer, but what sets her apart is how deeply she delves into the psyche of the protagonist. Eleanor Vance is one of the most richly fleshed-out characters I’ve ever encountered in fiction, and we as readers feel everything she feels on her nightmarish journey.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Pretty much all of them. All my characters are bits of people I know bundled together to make a whole. Something I enjoy also is using a story as a means of character assassination. If someone’s pissed me off, you can bet they’re going to turn up in a story of mine in a not particularly favourable light!
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Packed. I work as a commercial scriptwriter in the radio industry, so I’m writing from 9-5 every day. Then I’ll come home, have tea with my girlfriend, disappear upstairs and write for an hour or two more.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
When I have a book on the go, I aim to get a thousand words done per day. Some people would consider this light, others would think it ambitious, but there’s nothing like that feeling of excitement when you start seeing your novel taking shape. It encourages me to keep going and to write more and more and more. Writing begets writing, in my experience.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I do write under a pseudonym, or an immortal name, as I like to call it. My real name, or mortal name, is fundamentally unspellable. In the age of Google, having an unsepllable name is a non-starter!
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I’m about 40,000 words into my current horror novel, which when completed will be my third. I spent a year each on the two that are in the can. But I never work exclusively on a novel, I always have other projects on the go at the same time, such as short stories, competition entries, scripts etc.
This has been fun, so thank you for thinking of me.
You’re welcome, Richard.
If you would like to know more about Richard, check out his website:https://richarderock.com/
Pre-order link: https://t.co/u6SoL1tbB4?amp=1
It you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.