Welcome back to my blog, Luke. What’s been happening in your part of the world?
All the sex, drugs and rock and roll that comes with being a writer. Not really. All the hard work, email checking, subbing, rejections and the occasional acceptance that comes with being a writer. Outside writing, decorating my house and wondering how soon I need to grow my winter beard.
I’ve already got my winter beard started! So, tell us about your latest release.
Mirror of the Nameless is a novella that owes quite a bit to writers such as HP Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. My original plan was to write something in their style, but I realised pretty quickly that wasn’t going to happen. Their style isn’t mine, and if I’d carried on with that first attempt, it would have been an insult to them and a terrible book. So I decided to use my own style but do my best to keep their atmosphere.
Basically, it’s set in a world not a million miles from our own. However, their world is ruled by three gods. Three not very nice gods. Because of this and because everybody knows the gods can destroy everything whenever they like, a lot of people don’t care much about rules or law. Crime is everywhere. Pollution is destroying the planet. And sacrifices are regularly offered to the gods by the authorities and by rogue worshippers. If you’re old or poor or seen as a trouble-maker, the chances are you’ll be sacrificed. My main character, Dave, is a forty year old dad whose daughter Ashleigh is away at university. Dave keeps his head down and stays out of trouble. But when his daughter’s boyfriend Tom finds him to tell Ashleigh is on a mission to rid the world of its gods, he knows he has to find her before she’s offered to the gods.
Sounds like a good read. What else are you working on?
I’m currently halfway through the second draft of a full-length horror novel. While I don’t like to talk too much about works in progress, I will say it opens with several people who have no connection to one another being kidnapped all over Britain and then transported to a remote location in Scotland. Once there, they find out the man who arranged their kidnappings has some nasty plans for them. If they’re going to survive, they need to find out if anything does link them all and then fight back against a man who has one more awful secret about who he really is.
I’m hoping to have to this draft done by the middle of October. While it rests for a month, I’ll work on freshening up a couple of older books which I think have some life in them.
You write both Horror and Dark Fantasy. What’s the difference between them?
Tough one. I class my first book, The Red Girl, as out and out horror. Its follow-up, ’Set, is a dark fantasy simply because it deals with more fantastical issues (angels, demons, and Heaven and Hell working together to prevent the end of everything) and there’s a lot less graphic violence than most of my other stuff.
Of course, there’s much more to the differences than that. It’s in the subject and characters and mood of a particular book. While I tend to head towards the darker side of fiction in whatever I write, I sometimes don’t know if I’m going to end up with a horror piece or a dark fantasy. In that case, it’s best to let the mood and characters decide.
What have you been reading recently?
I just finished Michael Logan’s Apocalypse Cow, which was great fun. The title made me laugh so I added it to my pile of books and enjoyed every page. It’s a funny, frightening and exciting story of a manmade virus which affects cows to start with, then spreads. Before long, Britain is overrun by angry animals all out to make a meal of us. If James Herbert and Robert Rankin had written a book, it would be this one.
Other than that, I recently read Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough. I love Sarah’s stuff and this was another winner. While the Jack the Ripper murders are happening, there’s another murder spree going on from a totally different killer. Sarah uses a shifting POV so you really get into the heads of the men investigating the crimes as well as those who are part of it in different ways. I’m currently reading Black Angel by John Connolly, and Dark Room by Steve Mosby. Enjoying both immensely.
Describe your dream vacation.
My wife and I went to Portugal for our honeymoon four years ago. We were a couple of miles outside the main tourist area which suited us perfectly. We didn’t want to be slap bang in the middle of a load of bars so having what felt like our own area but not being too isolated was very cool. Other than that, I’ve got some friends in Canada I haven’t seen in years so a holiday near Toronto would be fine with me. And if you’re talking somewhere in the UK, I like old places with character and history. England’s history hasn’t always been pleasant especially when it comes to other countries, but we do have plenty of places worth visiting. Give me a week in the Peak District or somewhere rural like Devon, (and as long as there’s a pub), and I’ll be happy.
What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring writer?
Finish what you start. It’s easy to say you’re a writer when all you have to show for it is a load of notes on books you’d write if only you had the time, or a bunch of books you’ve started and binned because you find that even when you get to 20,000 words, you’re not even halfway done. It’s hard work, but if you want to be a writer, you finish what you start. You also make a lot of sacrifices. You know all that time you spend online or watching TV or seeing your friends? It’s gone. Unless you don’t need to work a 9-5, you make sacrifices to get your stories written. That’s not to say you don’t need downtime. Of course you do. Just be careful that downtime doesn’t eat too much into writing time.
Join places like absolutewrite.com. Read what experienced writers have to say. Pay attention. And read published books. Half of being a good writer is reading widely. Read the classics. Read current stuff. Absorb words. Roll around in them. Live stories written by people long dead. Enjoy written fiction as much as you enjoy creating your own fiction.
The writing business can be pretty gruelling. What keeps you going?
A lot of coffee. And stubbornness. And a thick-headed refusal to stop. And the enjoyment of telling stories. And my wife. Always my wife.
Blurb: In a world controlled by three monstrous gods ready to destroy everything at any point they choose, Dave Anderson knows the only way he can survive is to do the same as everybody else – keep his head down, question nothing and hope he doesn’t end up sacrificed to the gods. That’s his plan until he discovers his teenage daughter is risking her life in an attempt to rid the world of its rulers.
Terrified of losing his daughter, Dave joins her boyfriend in a frantic search while trying to avoid the authorities eager to offer him to their dark lords. The men must fight their way through a country governed by fear towards a derelict manor where a weapon for change and hope awaits. Here, a long-dead writer has left clues pointing to an object that might free the world of its terrible masters…or lead to something far worse…
Thanks for joining us, Luke. Best of luck with the new release!