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 it 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.
Today I’m chatting to Callum about his writing. Welcome to the tearoom. My first question to you is what refreshments would you like?
Thank you for inviting me, Paula. Since it is winter, and I normally go everywhere on my bike, but today you sent a car to pick me up, I would still like to have a nice hot chocolate with squirty cream, please.
Of course, you can. Now we have our drinks let start by asking you did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No I’ve never considered writing under a pseudonym. At sixteen, I chose my own name and changed it legally. It would seem a shame not to use it after spending so much time picking just the right one for myself. I wanted a name that spoke to what I wanted from life at the time. I chose Callum as it is Gaelic for Dove, a symbol of peace. Then the surname so that I can drop a few letters in my signature.
Callum – Pearce
Ca l m – Pea ce
When you first began your writing journey, what drew you to your chosen genre?
I write mostly fantasy and horror. This is largely because that is the kind of entertainment I have always been drawn to. I’ve done a few science a fiction stories and some factual articles but fantasy and horror are my comfort zone. Even when working on other styles of stories, I think I bring those elements along with me.
I think they both work really well together too. The best fantasy stories have elements of horror and the horror I enjoy the most has elements of fantasy. I’m not too interested in extreme horror as I like a bit of magic in mine. I think for me, when you go really dark, it’s important to have some lighter elements too.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
Now and into the next year I am working on a lot of projects with other authors. Most of them I can’t talk about yet. We recently finished work on Zero Hour 2113 though so I can finally speak about that one.
The others are similar. Zero hour 2113 is a cyberpunk novel set in the future in London. It was an idea by David green for the 13 series by Black Hare Press. 13 chapters, 13 authors each telling their own story within the world that he created. This was the first of these projects that I was invited to work on. I really enjoyed working with the other amazing authors to add to this world and share feedback with each other. I have since been invited to join lots of similar projects and am thoroughly enjoying working with so many talented people.
I’m also working on a novella which will be a new idea. It’s a dystopian novella. So far it’s called “The beautiful ones” but that could change.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
I have a few larger stories and some anthology ideas that I keep adding to as I go along. As far as my short stories, I’ve actually managed to make sure that most are finished and sent off. I’ve been very lucky to find homes for most of them. I have one or two that are finished that I haven’t come across the right place to submit them yet. Sometimes I’ll write something tailored for a specific call-out. Other times I will just write something to entertain myself and then go looking for somewhere to send it afterwards.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? If you only write short stories, do you plan your story, or let the characters lead you?
I tend to have a fairly good idea of where I want the story to go for the short stories. I know what points I need to hit along the way and usually where it will end. Then I just let the characters live in my head a bit. After that, I prefer to just hit the page and see what happens. As long as I have a good idea of the characters and the world then I find that works best for me. I often put notes on my phone as a reminder of stories that I want to tell or something interesting that I want to add. Still, I prefer to let the characters lead me really. For longer stories I tend to add notes as I’m writing for important details that I don’t want to mix up. But I will still jump in the deep end first and see where that takes me.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
I don’t think they are. I think with any job you kind of have to put that side of things away and get on with your work. I’ve always worked in bars and clubs. It didn’t matter what was going on through the day. When it was time to work I’d fix my hair. slap on any make-up I fancy and play the lovely, camp bar man.
Also, when I write I’m not really engaged in anything but the story. It would be extreme to call it a trance state but that is the closest comfortable description. It’s like sitting at the computer or with a pad and paper and letting the story happen through you. I’m often surprised by what I read back at the end of the day.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Not really. Sometimes they will be loosely based on a few people that I know from the bars rolled together. Usually when you have a certain character type that you seem to meet again and again wherever you go. That will just be a type rather than any real details about those people. I have added friends names to stories for fun. They always know before I do it. These characters will sometimes take on small traits of the person who’s name I give them. I’m careful no to get too close to the real person. Writing horror, my characters tend not to be having too good a time. It wouldn’t be right to do those things to friends.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I started pretty much working as a writer full time this year. I also have to read for a couple of things and have started writing book reviews for The bold mom website. The projects also involve a lot of reading. If there is a lot of that to get through I will read in the morning, then write all afternoon until my husband comes home from work. When there isn’t much reading to do, then it’s basically nine to five writing with breaks. Sometimes I will take time off for work in the allotment but its also quite nice to write there when the work is finished.
What was your hardest scene to write?
I’ve written a couple of things that involve suicide. Those scenes are hard to write because I know that it’s a triggering subject for people and you have to be careful how you go about it.
Sometimes though, a character will really grow on me when I know that I’m going to do something horrible to them later. I do get a little pang of guilt as if they were real people that I’ve grown to like. I do it anyway of course.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
Never, some days you can really labour over a very small fraction of a story whilst the rest seems to fall onto the page. Other days it is more steady. Sometimes I’m running up against a deadline so I have to be sure that I’m writing enough but I don’t have a set word count in mind for the day.
Thank you for join us today, Callum. When you’re ready to leave just let Brutus know.
If you would like to know more about Callum’s work check out his blog
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.