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.
Welcome to the tearoom, Paul. Let’s order our drinks first. What would you like?
Thank you for the invite. Today, I will choose a decaf latte with plenty of sugar please.
Great. Let’s start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I think it was always about what I read. When I was a kid it was all about fantasy, so that influenced what I wrote then. As I got older and into my teens, I discovered horror and was drawn more to that genre. Into adulthood, I fall a little between the two schools. I’m neither a straight ahead horror writer, and neither am I a fantasy writer. I get slotted into both categories pretty often, so I go with horror and dark fantasy to label myself. It seems easier that way, and I guess it stops readers making assumptions about how extreme (or not) my stuff is.
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I like to think I write a good, all round story. A comment that keeps coming back is that it’s easy to visualise my stories, and they tend to be quite cinematographic. That’s something I’m pretty proud of. I know my weakness is often around dialogue and dialogue tags. It’s either too much, or it’s not enough. It is something I’m always working on and experimenting with, but striking that balance is quite tricky.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
Well, I just released my short story, Defeating The Black Worm with Demain Publishing. I’ve had it around for about a year, but been debating whether to publish it because its quite a personal one. I wondered if it was a little too close to the bone. In the end I re-read it and figured it was a good story and should be read. It’s bleak, it’s dark… its pretty enjoyable. I also have a novel finished, which is the first in a trilogy. I’m holding that back until I have the second book done. I’m a little unsure of the order of the second and third books, so it’s a case of wanting to do it in the right order before I hit submit and become son of George RR Martin as I try and figure it out. I’ve been toying with it since I was a teenager, so a little longer won’t hurt. I also have a standalone horror with my editor right now, so that will hopefully see the light of day this year. And I have two works in progress that I’m actively working on. One of them is the second trilogy book, and another horror.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Too many. During the last lockdown I committed to looking through them and finishing a few. There was a lot of good stuff in there, and one is with my editor as we speak. There’s still far too much though, mostly stuff I lost interest in, or that I lost my way with. I handwrite all first drafts, so I literally have a box by my bed that’s full of partly written shirt stories and novels.
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 hate synopsis writing. Blurbs and synopses are the hardest part of writing for me. It really is the work of the devil. I start with an idea, usually a character name. Often I have a title, and I work from there. My brain is like a filter, so ideas tend to come and go, but the ones that nag at me for a few days are the ones that get written. In that filtration period, I’ll have built a good idea of how the story begins and how it ends. From there, I just write from point A to point B.
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?
That’s a bloody hard one because there are so many writers that I admire. Tolkien was the first writer I fell in love with. I read Lord of the Rings and didn’t want to leave Middle Earth. I wanted to live there, and then I wanted to create a world that would be just as loved. Of course, you have to write for that to happen. Stephen King was the next one that seeped into me. Again, he created some worlds that I didn’t want to leave. I loved the atmospheres he created with words and his characters. HP Lovecraft isn’t a great writer by any means, and viewed through a modern prism is pretty controversial with the views he espouses in some books. His ideas though, cannot be denied. He melded horror and fantasy, bringing it into the real world in a way that I really appreciate. Edgar Allen Poe is just poetry. I can listen to people read Poe, or read him myself and be transported back to his time. I was lucky enough to be included in a Poe tribute collection last year, which was a great honour for me to be able to pay homage to the man. Lastly, I have to reference my favourite author of all time: Clive Barker. He opened my eyes to many things around imagination. I term him my naughty nanny from my teen years, who raised his literary skirts and let me see everything. He taught me that nothing is out of bounds, and that there is beauty in the grotesque. He encapsulates everything that I love about the first writers I listed, and brings so much more. I aspire to use the lessons those writers taught through their writing to make me better, and it really is an ongoing thing.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Nobody that I know personally. I do crowd watch, and sometimes interesting people pop up on the streets and find their way into my stories. One example is a homeless guy I saw in the street when I was a teen, and he became the central character in my trilogy. He looked like a guy who had seen things, and so a story weaved itself around him.
How many hours in a day do you write?
It depends on the day. I try for a couple of hours each day, which is a challenge wit homeschooling through lockdown. If I get more than two hours in, that’s great. I don’t punish myself though. Any day that I get words down is a good day. The only real set rule I have is that I don’t work weekends. Those are for family and recharging.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
Names just pop into my head. I don’t really go looking for them. I generally have a sketch of who they are in mind, but as a rule they develop and gestate as I write about them. I find their voice through the dialogue, and they build into their own beings.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
How long is a piece of string? It really depends on the project. Some can take a couple of years, while others might only take a few weeks. As I mentioned earlier, I write every first draft longhand, so it always takes me longer than most. Again though, I have no set rules. They take as long as they take.
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