Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit the clubhouse is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
This is so lovely to sit down and chat with you, Reg. We have been online friends for many years. Were we bloggers first, or was it the early days of Myspace?
Oh Christ, too many years to remember now, Paula. 🙂
Before we start, what drink would you like first?
Oh, my beverage of choice is Chai Latte… I know, it’s ridiculous but tasty. I’d never drink it in front of my mates.
Right, now we have our drinks I start be asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
To be honest, I sort of drifted in to the horror genre. It started with my first book, “The Division of the Damned”, which didn’t actually start out as a horror at all. I felt it was more of an adventure, but it was really a culmination of all the subjects that had interested me throughout the 80s and 90s and though I wanted it to be thrilling, I never actually went out of my way to make it a bonafide horror story. One of those subjects included was vampires, and thus “Division” was stamped with the Horror label by its association with the children of the night. They do play a major role in the plot, but I still don’t see the book as being horror. I was never happy with that, as the book deals with Biblical folklore, Sumerian mythology, the Third Reich, the Holocaust, and so many other things. However, it is what it is. My second book was sort of written by request. I was asked if I could mix the television series, “American Horror Story” up with the film, “The Woman in Black”, and to write a book with that in mind. “The House in Wales” was written inside of three months, (due to the promise of the chance of a production company using it to make a series, which never materialised). I think it’s some of my best work and though I had a few One Star reviews on Amazon, mainly calling me a pervert, out of ninety seven reviews I’m okay with that. “House” marked my unadulterated jump into the horror genre, and I’ve sort of stayed there.
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
My strong points? That’s a toughie but I’ll try to answer it. I think my knowledge of military tactics has helped me enormously with action sequences, I also feel that I manage to draw out the sympathy for the main protagonist well in most of my books and short stories. I’m not really a writer of great prose, but I do see myself as a story teller, and that my stories entertain. Things I wish I could better… such a lot. Mainly I’d like to write women better. I’m a guy, not very in touch with his female side, I really am stumbling around in the dark when it comes to the fairer sex.3)
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Four. Four miserably cadaverous works in progress, wailing their anger at my inactivity. It’s like a parade of failure every time I open up the folder, one of which has been on the go since 2012. In my defence, I did wipe off 30,000 words from it in a fit of dissatisfaction once. The Division of the Damned part 2 is the longest running one of the four. Then I have one which is more fantasy than horror, involving dinosaurs and 18th Century Europe. Another is a short story/novelette about Hannibal’s army being a zombie horde, and the last one is the one I’m working on now, about the Minoans of Crete, and their downfall.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter or let the characters lead you?
For “Division” I had a beginning and an end, and a bowl of idea-spaghetti in the middle. It actually worked out well, believe it or not? For “House” I had everything worked out before I even started. I had to be fast, and I just wanted to have the information at hand. I did the same for, “The Sisterhood of the Serpent”, but unfortunately for the book, I was promoted at work and suddenly I didn’t have the time to write anymore, or the inclination either. Stress is a killer. For my novellas I do it the Division way. A start, and end, and a bag of concepts for the middle.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
Definitely. It never used to matter as I was simply a driver in a steelworks and if I had a bad shift I didn’t really care. Nowadays I think a lot more about work and if things are going wrong, nothing is done. Basically, if I’m happy I write well, (in my opinion), if not things go pear shaped rather rapidly.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Not really. I suppose on some subconscious level they were, but I didn’t actually go out and think that so-and.so would be a great character for my book. What I did do was use my workmate’s names for the SS in “Division”. They were okay about it, fair play; when you consider their names were being used for war criminals.
What did you learn when writing your book? In writing it, how much research did you do?
Research is part of the joy. I love it, as I try to cram as much real information is as possible. The plot for “Division” is hinged on Biblical folklore and I crammed in so much information into it that the original was over 160,00 words long. I cut it down horribly to sell it. I regret doing that now. I made an anthology of stories with Paul Rudd about the supernatural being involved in wars through the ages. Instead of the Three Hundred Spartans I had the Three Hundred Vampires, then The Wooden Wolf of Troy, Zombies on the Western front etc. I spent so much time researching for those it’s a wonder anything was achieved. As to what I may or may not have learned, I can’t tell you. I picked up loads of historical facts, dates, personalities, however if the question is what did I learn about myself, then the answer is nothing much. I pretty much know myself, to be honest.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
So, I mentioned I work in a steelworks, and we work a pretty brutal shift system, (seven days on, two days off). The shifts are earlies, lates and nights. Earlies are from five in the morning to one in the afternoon, lates follow on from then until nine at night, then night shift is from nine to five in the morning. This does not sound conducive to a healthy writing regime, and it isn’t. Nowadays, at aged fifty three, I find the system hard going. HOWEVER…Late shift is also when I do my best writing. It’s not too late, the world goes to bed and I have the computer to myself. I’ve written most of my work either on holiday, (writing is a big part of my holiday regime) or after late shift.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
For the Minoan story, if and when it’s finished, I’ve decided to distance myself from my horror persona. No real plans on what I’ll call myself, maybe something ancient and Greek, Ricardus of Knossos? Or a Latin name, one word to inspire interest, Octavian, Tiberius, Antonius?No, seriously, I haven’t given it that much thought, but I probably will use one. Richard Rhys Jones is my real name, by the way.
How long on average does fit take you to write a book?
Ah, I wish I could give you a definite answer, but I can’t. It’s all down to the variables in my life. “Division” took about four years, “House” three months. “Sisterhood” about two years. My short stories mainly take about a month, if I’m keen. The last short I wrote was for an anthology of Christmas ghost stories, which was a lot of fun actually. I wrote it in two weeks while on holiday on Crete. My poems, in which I do dally now and then, generally take about a week, two at the most. Though I’m rarely satisfied with my offerings and though I do put them out there for others to read, I wish I was better. If you’d like to know me better, then take a peek at my blog. It’s not about writing I’m afraid, or any of my books. It’s a rarely used collection of insights and happenings that I go to when I feel like it. Do not expect literary excellence either, I write as I am and that is definitely not pretentious, exact, or refined.
Thank you so much for joining me to chat about your writing, Reg.
Thank you Paula. x
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