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 sorts 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 horror writer, Richard Meldrum. Welcome to the tearoom, Richard.
Thank you for the invite, Paula.
Now we have our refreshments let’s start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I’ve always dabbled in writing. My first serious attempt to write stories was way back in the 1990s, but after a number of rejections and no acceptances I stopped, only starting again in 2014 when I rediscovered my old stories on a hard disk and was surprised how good they actually were. That started me writing again. A self-published collection in 2015 was swiftly followed by submissions to a number of small presses and magazines. While I’m still getting rejections, I’m also getting routinely accepted too – to date, I’ve had about 175 short stories, drabbles and novelettes published, with more coming in 2021 and beyond
Which writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
Hard question to answer, but I’ll do my best! Let’s start with my weak points – I don’t use a huge range of character names – aside from my recurring characters, I use the same range for different characters, which I need to improve on. I also tend not to overly describe my characters, but that is partially deliberate, since I prefer readers to use their imagination, but, as the author, I could probably do with giving readers my vision of what I think the characters look like. I also don’t write much gore or horror, which might not actually be a weakness for some readers. In terms of strengths, I think I write dialogue well. I also feel that my stories and characters behave logically and that I don’t make them do anything that isn’t sensible or logical in order to simply progress the story (I’ve always been perplexed by movies and books when the character goes into that dark basement to investigate a noise or opens the front door to a creepy stranger on a dark and stormy night).
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
I’ve just finished a 10,000 word novelette which has been accepted and will be published in 2021. I had the idea a while ago, but it actually didn’t take long to write. I can’t give too many details, but the theme is eco-horror, an area that I’m writing more and more of. I’m also working on some Gothic style stories, again one of my favourite genres (to both read and write).
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
I’ve got a couple of longer short stories that I want to finish, plus a pile of completed work that I’m hoping to submit over the next few months. I’ve usually got something on the go, whether it be a drabble that I can write in minutes or a longer piece that might take weeks.
Do you write a synopsis first, or plan your short story or do you let the characters lead you?
I only really write short stories (although I have dabbled in novelettes and novellas). Sometimes I can ‘see’ the entire story, but in other instances I start with a single concept or image. Sometimes I’m not even sure how the story will end. One of my ‘rules’ is that my characters must act logically, and I try to avoid story lines or events that are illogical or downright incorrect – one of my pet peeves is watching a movie or reading a book when a character does something completely illogical just so the story can advance or if something happens that wouldn’t be possible or logical in real life
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?
Robert Aikman, M.R. James, Edith Wharton, August Derleth and Basil Copper. I love all these writers and try to emulate their styles (with my own twists of course.)
What did you learn when writing your book or story? In writing it, how much research did you do?
I don’t always do research, sometimes it’s not required. Instances when I have done research include investigating the history of the Rolls-Royce company to ensure I nailed the right model and year (for a story set in Edwardian times) and asking a couple of limnologists about lake ecology. As I said in the previous response, there are parts of a story that must be correct, whether that be historical details or scientific information and mistakes in these ‘unchangeable’ facts can ruin a story. An example of a pitfall I avoided was my story in the Feral anthology from West mesa Press, published in 2020. My story involved children being adopted by a bear, but it was set in England in a time period when there were no wild bears in the U.K. I didn’t want to change the story, so I had to add a part revealing the bear had escaped from a travelling circus. Disaster avoided!
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
My wife and I live on a hobby farm in Ontario, Canada and when I’m not writing and working, we’re looking after that. We have some rescue pigs and a kennel of sled dogs. In the winter, we’re usually out training the dogs for various events and races. I usually run a 4 or 6 dog team and we participate in the famous Sequin Mail Run, where specially designed ‘sledvelopes’ are carried by dog team.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I typically write in the morning, but I have no set pattern. I write when I have the urge or a deadline. If I don’t write, I try to edit. I always like to have something on the go.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I tend to use fairly ordinary (boring?) names for my characters. Occasionally, I use a name of someone I know (especially when they have said something to inspire the story). I do have a reasonable idea of who they are before I start writing – whether they are good, bad or just indifferent in terms of their characters and how they will interact with each other. I also rarely physically describe my characters; I prefer my readers to put flesh on the bones.
Thank you for joining me in the tearoom, Richard.
To find out more about Richard’s books and writing, please check out the link below:
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops, too.