Wednesday, 23 November 2011

'Bedevil' - An Interview with Kiran Hunter

Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Kiran whose Erotic Horror Story, ‘Bedevil’ is published by Etopia Press.
If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:

‘A dream inheritance, a dark legacy, a new beginning...
When Gareth Balaam inherits Harbinger House, he thinks his problems are over. But unfortunately, they've only just begun. Harbinger House has a dark past. Shrouded in mystery, what may have occurred within its walls is still a matter of conjecture. The locals at the pub talk about the place in whispers. Gareth's partner, Tim, thinks the house is haunted.

Gareth doesn't believe in ghosts, but he does believe Tim is using the house as an excuse to not work on their relationship. Their trip to the country to bring them closer seems to be doing the opposite. Tensions and resentments flare, and through it all, someone is watching...

Luka is lonely and bored. Confined to the shadows of the house for decades, he has driven all the previous occupants insane with lust. Except the last. The one man Luka had loved had broken his heart and had left rather than lose his mind. The house stood empty, and Luka was alone. But not anymore. There's life in the house again, two delicious lovers, two new humans to seduce. Except one refuses to play...’


Catherine:  Welcome Kiran and congratulations on ‘Bedevil’. It’s your first published book, I believe. What attracted you to this genre and what inspired you to write this particular story?
Kiran: I’ve always been intrigued by anything paranormal – both fictional and real. I grew up surrounded by esoteric books. As a kid I’d like nothing more than reading about spontaneous human combustion, ghosts... or tales of demonic possession. I still have a fascination with the idea of thoughtforms, which I’m kind of exploring in the ‘Bedevilled’ stories.
I also have an interest in probate research, which is where the idea for Bedevil came from. People often dream of inheriting something out of the blue – money, or property. But what if that dream inheritance has a sting in the tail? 

Catherine:  On your website you say that you have been writing for as long as you can remember, can you recall who were your earliest influences?
Kiran: I was always drawn towards any book that looked ‘otherwordly’. I remember reading Mr Corbett’s Ghost by Leon Garfield at school, and then trying to write something with a creepy atmosphere. I moved on to the Pan Horror Story collections (I bought one book every two weeks. I think I had to save up for them) and James Herbert.

Catherine: You say you are attracted to the dark side of human nature. Why does this hold such fascination for you?
Kiran: I like mysteries. I like people who intrigue me...you know, there’s a hint that there’s more to them than they let everyone see. My peers growing up were very ordinary – I’d always find myself gravitating towards people with darker personalities.... or they’d gravitate towards me.

Catherine: ‘Bedevil’ is a short story, but do you have any plans for a novella or full length novel? If so, will you stay with this genre or diversify?
Kiran: I have a full length novel, which I’m about to start submitting to publishers – it still has a paranormal theme, but is not erotic. If it’s accepted it will probably be published under a different pen name.
I’d like to write novellas - I’m a big fan of short fiction. I love quick, dramatic reads. 

Catherine:  What are you currently working on?
Kiran: I have a few short stories in progress (I work on different projects according to my mood).There’s the follow-up to Bedevil and a contemporary M/M suspense, as well another erotic short. I’m mulling over an idea for a novella but it’s still just a glowing ember... 

Catherine: Who are your favourite authors and why?
Kiran: James Herbert, Stephen King and Clive Barker are the authors I ‘grew up’ with. Now, having been epublished, I’m discovering new authors all the time. The thing I like most about my own publisher is how they’ve expanded their range to include different genres. A lot of epublishers focus on romance, whereas Etopia also provide suspense, horror, YA etc. 

Catherine: What advice (if any) do you wish someone had given you before you started looking for a publishing contract?
Kiran: I think I was pretty well prepared for what I’ve experienced so far. 

Catherine: A light-hearted question now. If you could live at any time or anywhere in history, where and when would it be? Who would you be?
Kiran: Actually, I’m going to cheat – I think I’d like to be one of The Doctor’s assistants (Dr Who) and be able to nip in and out different times and places in the Tardis. I’m not sure there’s a particular time in history I’d like to stick around too long in. And... I’d also have a companion with a definite dark side with me. Of course Captain Jack Harkness would be more than welcome to hitch a ride.

Catherine:  Thank you very much for joining us today, Kiran. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your book? 
Kiran: You can find out more about me here:
Bedevil can be found here:
All Romance

Here’s an excerpt from ‘Bedevil’:

“Where the hell are we?”
Gareth braked hard as yet another blind bend approached. Each tight corner had him holding his breath as he anticipated a too-close encounter with a local driver hurtling the other way. He swore at the satnav, then instinctively ducked his head as the trees overshadowing the narrow road suddenly reached down even farther. Low-hanging branches tried to pluck the car from the tarmac, and rampant brambles flailed across the road as if trying to snare foolhardy travelers and drag them into their spiky embrace. For a second he wondered no traffic had actually come this way for years and nature was trying to reclaim the road.
“Not sure it’s the satnav’s fault, Gareth. You kept telling her to shut up. I think we went wrong at the junction back there.” Tim smiled at him. Gareth had bought the damn thing because it was preferable to his partner’s map reading skills, and to save the arguments. Didn’t stop Gareth from arguing with the ever-patient gadget instead, but at least it merely calmly recalculated the journey every time he ignored it, instead of throwing a terminally battered map book into the back seat and sitting in resolute silence as Tim was prone to do.
“Where in God’s name are we?” Gareth repeated through clenched teeth.
“Ask the satnav.”
“According to the satnav, this road doesn’t exist—we’re driving across a wasteland.”
“We are somewhere near Rippington.”
“And you know that how?”
“There was a sign.”
Gareth sighed and braked hard again. The trip wasn’t going well. He had hoped the day would herald a fresh start. Fingers crossed, they’d soon be moving to a new place away from the city and he would be able to spend some time with Tim without distractions. To try to get to know each other again. A new beginning.
But even with the prospect of a change of scenery, they were still bickering.
The tiny hamlet gradually staggered into being. The scattered cottages, almost hidden in the hedgerows on each side of the road, became closer together, merging into the High Street. The small and almost imperceptibly beating heart of the community sat huddled around the small village green. The place was deserted. The only sign of life was a cat wandering, tail up, across the road. No kids playing soccer on the green—no senior citizens leaning on walls and talking about the weather.
It’s almost pretty, Tim thought. Almost, but not quite. A bit isolated. Christ knows where the nearest wine bar is. Maybe that’s a good thing? The idea of moving into the country because Gareth couldn’t keep his dick in his trousers rankled—but better that than climbing into the car in the early hours to retrieve him when he phoned from a club unable to drive or, worse than that, wondering where he was when he didn’t phone and didn’t return home, either. No temptation—and no social life…
“There’s a pub,” Gareth said, as if he’d been reading Tim’s thoughts.
“Looks closed.”
“Well, it says ‘food,’ so maybe it’ll open shortly. It’s turning into a nice evening; we’ll check out the house and maybe take a walk. Kill some time before the pub opens and then get something to eat.”
“Walk where? Around the green? That should take us all of five minutes.”
“For God’s sake, Tim. At least try.”
“Okay, okay.”

Gareth slammed the car door shut and activated the central locking system. It was later than he’d hoped; the sun was setting, a flock of birds wheeling up into the sky before turning back on itself and settling in the trees surrounding the village church. Almost pretty, he thought, turning on his heels to take in the rest of the scene. Almost, but not quite… Good God. He cleared his throat. Tim wasn’t going to like this. “Well, there it is, I think. Somewhere in there,” he said.
“What? That?” Tim followed Gareth’s gaze across the road. “No! Look at the place!”
The gate squealed in protest, as if it hadn’t been opened for decades. The sun had almost disappeared, the tops of the trees surrounding the house now brushed with a pink glow and the garden beneath consumed by shadow.
“I suppose it could have been beautiful once upon a time. It’s a little overgrown,” Tim said.
“Adds to its charm.” Gareth hoped he sounded convincing.
“Erm, not sure charm is the word you’re after.”
“Let’s take a look. Reserve judgment until we’ve seen inside the place.”
With Tim a footstep behind, Gareth made his way up the path, negotiating crumbling concrete and easing past rampant shrubs. Beside the front door, a plaque was just visible through the ivy clinging on to the building. He pried the stubborn stems away from the wood to read the carved words beneath.
“‘Harbinger House.”
“Well, that’s reassuring, Gareth. Harbinger of doom, and all that.”
“Curious the place isn’t called that on the deeds…just 20 Willow Green.”
Gareth slid the key into the lock and turned it. There was a moment’s hesitation before the catch clicked and the door eased open an inch, as if the house wasn’t quite ready for them. He smiled at Tim and, with a dramatic flourish, gestured for him to enter first. Tim shook his head.
“After you. The place is yours.”
“Ours, Tim. It’s ours.”

The warning cry from the rusting gate ripped his senses awake, but his mind was slow to follow. All Luka was aware of at first was the agony of sound and the warm trickle of blood from his ears. His muscles stretched as he moved, tendons almost tearing from the bone as he unraveled his body from its fetal position. He wailed with the new pain—a feeble echo of the metal against metal outside. His first intake of breath rasped down his throat and burned into his lungs. He clamped his mouth shut and breathed in deeply through his nose. The house was different—the odor of dust and mold and damp was still there, but something else too. The protesting gate had heralded the arrival of new flesh. He could smell it.
A river of cold air flowed across his pain-wracked body, caressing his arms, his chest, his legs—the outside world finding a way through a crack in his prison and reawakening his nerve endings to remind him of what he had been without for so long.
Touch. Skin against skin. Breath on skin…

Friday, 18 November 2011

Of Devils and Dark Forces...An Interview with Steve Emmett


Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Steve who has recently published his chilling short horror story, ‘Kid’.
If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:
‘Born hideously ugly, his mother never even named him. When illness made him deaf he was cast out to live alone in the forest. The sheriff found him ideal as torturer and executioner. Then, one night, a visitor called bearing a gift. All Kid had to do was choose.’ 

Catherine:  Welcome Steve and congratulations on ‘Kid’. It’s a very different story to your first novel, ‘Diavolino’ and is set in medieval times. Where did you get your inspiration from?
Steve: Blimey, start with a hard one, why don’t you! You know, I don’t know precisely. The thing is, my mind never stops absorbing the world around me, be it literally what is going on in my vicinity, or some news report, or some slip of the tongue by someone who should know better. Every little thing is filed away in my brain. When I’m supposed to be relaxing or falling asleep, I rummage through all the drawers and pick out bits to hang stories on. The notion of some poor soul whom luck has avoided all his life seemed a good start for a bleak tale. As for the setting, well I’ve always had a thing about medieval times and, if you remember, Diavolino opens in that period. It also seemed a very appropriate time for the story; I mean, Kid wouldn’t suffer the same now, would he? Well, maybe in some remote hellhole, just about, but the world does seem to be disposing of the despots at last.

Catherine:  Both ‘Diavolino’ and ‘Kid’ are highly visual. Do you think your experience as an actor has any influence on your style of writing?
Steve: Perhaps it would be more accurate to say my love of film and my desire to act have influenced my style, because I haven’t done a lot of acting yet (hint to all casting directors). At the same time, I am a very visual person – that’s why I was drawn to study architecture. I am very aware of my surroundings and it’s always me who notices the little things others don’t. When people read my stories I want them to see where they are and feel what is happening. At the same time, I detest over description; my goal is to paint the picture and the action with as few words as possible.


Catherine: In addition to writing and acting, I believe you are also a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books and Suspense magazine. How did this come about?
Steve: Both publications were looking for reviewers. I applied, submitted a piece of work to them and they both accepted me. I should review more books for them but time is tight.


Catherine: You are a very busy person, Steve because I also happen to know that you are a writing coach. Tell us more about that.
Steve: Oh, for a moment I thought you said ‘you are a writing couch’! Well, I have the padded seat and arms; maybe it was Freudian intervention made me name my writing website. Since I became a writer I have helped others to improve their work. It seems I have a natural ability to explain. I hadn’t thought of doing it professionally until my own tutor said to me, ‘You should offer coaching, Steve’. So there you have it; www.thewritingcouch.com was born.


Catherine:  Whose writing do you most admire and why?
Steve: It’s my lucky day that you’re not doing the old ‘yes or no’ business. The thing I find more and more is that I might love one or two works of a writer, but not like all their works. For example, when I read Alan Hollinghurst’s ‘The Line of Beauty’ I would have said that I admired his writing. Later, I read ‘The Spell’ and loathed it. I didn’t like the lack of plot or the characters (I wanted to strangle them all) but above all I found his writing tiresome and contrived. So, I can say that at times I admire Stephen King for his economy with words; Clive Barker for his ability to conjure up hell on earth; and Karin Fossum for her cool directness. James Hamilton Patterson deserves a medal; I admired him across the entire ‘Cooking With Fernet Branca’ trilogy. Patterson is a bit niche and it surprises me, because he is so incisive and makes you laugh so much you gasp for air.

Catherine: Now the great debate.  E-publishing and print publishing. Can they have a symbiotic relationship, or do you foresee the demand for print books diminishing over the next decade?
Steve: How many stone tablets or scrolls do you have at home? It’s the same. We are at the dawn of e-books, the revolution hasn’t even started. One of my friends has spent her life working with libraries, books and promoting reading. She said to me many times that she would never read e-books because she liked paper books – the feel, the smell, the interaction she had with them physically and emotionally. She called me yesterday to say she’d just unpacked her new Kindle. “I just can’t be bothered carting all those bloody books around anymore,” she said. So, I have no doubt that e-books will take over for general literature. I feel that print books will prevail for specialist graphic and illustrated works, but you never know what technological advance lies around the corner. The only possibility I can see of paper winning is if mankind ends up living in a world where electricity is a thing of the past.

Catherine: What is on your ‘To Be Read’ pile at the moment and what attracted you to those books?

Steve: My TBR pile is very small because I never know what the New York Journal and Suspense Magazine are going to toss my way. I’ve just read your own ‘Cold Revenge’ (I loved it) which was on the pile, and Kiran Hunter’s creepy ‘Bedevil’. I’ve just started ‘Lenin’, a biography by Robert Service and then I will read ‘Caligula: The Corruption of Power’ by Anthony A Barrett. Caligula is for pleasure but also research for my current novel. I can also feel myself being drawn to ‘The Borgias’ by Christopher Hibbert.

Catherine:  What are you currently working on?
Steve: If you can believe it, a vampire novel. Not sparkly, cuddly, truck driving vampires but the real blood-thirsty variety. I already gave you a clue above with Caligula. It’s very Roman, very hellish and, I hope, very different to anything you’ve read so far. At the same time I have a dark, psychological novel well underway, and the Diavolino sequel.

Catherine: A light hearted question now. If you could live at any time and any place in history, where and when would it be, and why?
Steve: But for the state of medicine and dentistry at the time, I would opt to be someone comfortable but obscure in ancient Rome. Otherwise, I’ll say 2,000 years in the future, around 4,000 AD, but I’d have to be World President so I could travel through time and space continually. Well, you asked!

Catherine:  Thank you very much for joining us today. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your books, ‘Diavolino’ and ‘Kid’? 
Steve:  
My website: http://steve-emmett.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/emmett.steve
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/chukkie58
My Publisher: http://etopiapressblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/meet-author-steve-emmett-2/

 Diavolino is available from:

 Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Diavolino-ebook/dp/B004NIFIC0/

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004NIFIC0/
Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/Diavolino-ebook/dp/B004NIFIC0/
Diesel ebooks: http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000046082/Emmett-Steve-Diavolino/1.html
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/diavolino
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Diavolino/book-o1O_cIyXOUu_GUqb864gsg/page1.html
OmniLit: http://www.omnilit.com/product-diavolino-514790-241.html

Kid is available from:

Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/KID-ebook/dp/B005HE159O/
Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/KID-ebook/dp/B005HE159O/
Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/KID-ebook/dp/B005HE159O/
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/82069
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kid-steve-emmett/1105098655?ean=2940011468988&itm=1&usri=steve%252bemmett
Sony e-books: http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/steve-emmett/kid/_/R-400000000000000484028
Here’s an excerpt to give you just a flavour of each:



‘Diavolino’

Before long, they were all back in the car with Paolo, hurtling down the serpentine road from Cortona to the main route that led back to the lake. Poggio del Lago rose in front of them; the sun glanced off the surrounding water and animated the pale stone walls of the old fortress.

A motor launch waited for them at the jetty. Paolo took the wheel and started up the engine. The diesel motor chugged away, and the vessel edged forward in a cloud of blue-gray smoke, forcing ripples across the otherwise still water.

“Are there any monsters in the lake?” asked
Alice, peering intently over the edge of the boat.

“No, darling,” said Tom, “there are no monsters. Only fish.”

“And not too many of those, I gather,” said Roger. “The water is shallow, about seven meters at the most, and centuries of overfishing have done nothing for the stocks, so they say.”

Tom stood in the stern and looked back. Poggio del Lago was the highest point for many miles, surrounded by agricultural lowland. The slopes below the old walls were thick with ancient olive trees that once must have reached almost to the shoreline. At some time, they’d been cleared to make way for the scattering of buildings that scarred a landscape otherwise unchanged for generations.

As they approached Diavolino, Roger pointed out the temporary landing. Paolo slowed the engine and brought the vessel alongside, leaping onto the pontoon with the agility of an athlete, securing the boat fore and aft.

“Where did you learn to tie knots like that?” asked Tom, climbing onto the pontoon.

“My father. He was a fisherman. When I was little, I used to help him.”

“You should have a talk with
Alice. She’s something of a knot expert,” said Elspeth. Alice ignored her and marched on, eyes fixed firmly on the ground.

“I thought you said something about temporary accommodation being nearly ready,” said Tom, his mind distracted by
Alice’s uncharacteristic temper. He reached out to her. “Alice, please don’t—”

“Everything we do here must be within the woods.” Roger was not to be diverted. “It has to make as little visual impact as possible. Follow me.”

Tom hesitated, distracted by Paolo, who was settling himself on an upturned log with a pack of Winston One and his mobile phone.

“I’ll be here if you need me,” said Paolo with a smile.

Tom ran to catch up with
Alice and took her hand. Dark veins laced the sand-rich earth. A fleshy, leafless weed formed a patchy covering over the surface. Tom had never seen such strange vegetation. The shadow of the towering canopy cast a darkness as they entered the wood, and Tom felt something astringent on the back of his neck, a creeping chill, like frozen pinpoints marching across his skin...



Kid
Kid watched the cart sway down the track. The driver appeared headless as he hunched over to urge the oxen along. Once the cart had slipped out of sight, Kid sat down on the fallen tree trunk and stared at his hands. The blood had dried, leaving a thin dark crust that fragmented around the knuckles and wrists like earth baked under an unrelenting sun. He flexed the joints and they worked free, dark crystals swirling in the rays of sunlight. Doom motes, he called them.
He had long ago given up asking the driver to slake his thirst with him. The old man never stayed, always in a hurry to turn his cart around and get back to town once he’d delivered Kid to the cabin in the forest. Kid had grown used to it. No one ever stayed. If anyone did happen to pass by, they ran into the woods as soon as they caught sight of him.
He sighed, dragged himself to his feet and stumbled into the cabin for a tankard of ale. The single room had been his home for almost as long as he could remember. He’d been about eight years old when he realized he was destined for a solitary existence. His father had fled the day he was born. His mother said the sight of Kid’s face had scared him off. So traumatized was she by the creature to which she had given birth, she never named him, and he had been known simply as Kid ever since. He was kept out of sight and, after long nights of fever left him deaf, moved in with the pigs down the yard. This cabin, albeit filthy and stinking, was paradise in comparison.
As he headed outside with his ale, he caught sight of himself in the looking glass he kept on the back of the door. It hung there lest he forgot what others saw. Some of the townsfolk said the gargoyles on the new cathedral were there because the head mason had stumbled upon Kid before he’d learned his way around the place. Kid smiled at the thought. Would his mother have been proud of him?
The smile faded and his lips resumed their tight line across his face. For all that she had treated him worse than an animal, she still lived in his heart. What curse had been put on him to be born this way? To be rejected by his own family? He shook his head, stepped out and slammed the door.
Kid returned to the tree trunk with his eyes fixed on the ground, raising them only when he was almost at his destination. He stopped short. His heart beat against his ribs. The light shimmered over the log and a figure appeared.
From the back it had all the semblance of a man, sitting down in Kid’s usual place. But what man, and from where?
“Come and sit with me, Kid.”
Kid lost control of his muscles, dropping his ale to the forest floor. His pants felt warm and wet and, as the sensation crept down his legs, he knew it was not the ale. How could this be? He hadn’t heard a voice for years. The singing of the birds, the clatter of the oxen, even the cries of pain as he went about his work had all been denied him. Yet now this voice spoke to him? He looked up into the trees, his mouth gaping as if to corral the sounds into his head.
Silence. The same deathly silence as always.

Friday, 11 November 2011

'The Ghost of Bluebell Cottage' - An Interview with Claire Voet

Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Claire whose novel, ‘The Ghost of Bluebell Cottage’ has recently been published.
If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:

An eerie mist surrounds the castle. Its icy fingers are curling and lingering between each stone wall. In the village, the locals are restless as they toss and turn in their sleep. The clip clop of horse’s hooves can be heard on cobblestones and shouts of angry drunken men in the far distance. The mystery man with his dog is back again, but who is he? The village of Corfe Castle is harbouring a dark secret stemming back to the 17th Century when Lady Bankes fought to protect the Castle and when Anthony Dickinson, a follower of the witch finder Mathew Hopkins, tortured scores of unsuspecting women throughout Dorset.

Drawn to a photo of Bluebell Cottage in a real estate window, Greg has an unusual, yearning to give up his high-flying career in
London and live in the cottage. It seems that Greg is not the only newcomer to the village, as Helen, who has recently left Bournemouth after breaking up with her fiancé, moves into Lilly’s, an old 17th century cottage not far from Bluebell Cottage. She too is drawn into the past with strange dreams and paranormal experiences.

It becomes clear that three hundred and sixty seven years on, a story of love and treachery becomes hopelessly entwined with the past and present.
Catherine:  Welcome Claire and congratulations on publication of ‘The Ghost of Bluebell Cottage’. This is an atmospheric, ghostly love story, just perfect to curl up with on cold winter nights. Is this an idea you worked on for a long time or did the inspiration suddenly come to you one day? 
 Claire: Thank you Catherine.  My inspiration normally comes to me when my mind is relaxed and more receptive to ideas. It took a couple of days to pen the storyline and the rest came when I started writing it. 

Catherine: Have you ever seen a ghost – or had any paranormal experiences?
Claire: Yes twice. The first ghost I saw was about 6 years ago. A young girl dressed in 17th century clothing.  I saw her standing in the curtains.  She scared me half to death but disappeared within seconds of me seeing her.  It was a most bizarre experience.  The second time was late at night. I was living in another house then. I was in bed, rolled over on my side and a man appeared dressed in safari clothing and with a rifle gun hanging over his shoulder. I was so terrified I screamed the house down and almost gave my husband a heart attack! I don’t think I have ever been so scared in all of my life. Some would argue it was a dream but it was so real and very different from a dream. Both experiences had something in common; they were standing a few inches off the ground. It’s something that has always stuck in my mind. I have had several paranormal experiences over the years where I’ve heard and felt a presence. It’s a subject that fascinate me.

Catherine:  What made you start writing and when did you begin?
Claire: About 3 years ago I was teaching English as a foreign language in Spain and started writing short stories for my students to read during my lessons. They enjoyed them very much and encouraged me to write. Shortly after that I wrote ‘Whittington Manor’, my first book.

Catherine: ‘Whittington Manor’ is a historical novel. Can you tell us more about it?
 Claire: ‘Whittington Manor’ is based during the 2nd world war, in a small town in Hampshire. It’s a love story with a difference. The story focuses on two different families brought together by Sarah, the daughter of Lord Whittington and Joe a land worker. It becomes clear that during war time social status carries no bearing and money certainly can’t buy love or happiness. With war comes conflict and not just on the battle field. The characters have been carefully crafted and the story is packed with emotion, appealing to readers of all ages.

Catherine:  What are you currently working on?
Claire: I’m about a third of the way through my next novel “The Other Daddy.”  It’s about a little boy called Callum. His parents fail to understand his abnormal behaviour and after many medical tests, they seek help elsewhere and take him to see a parapsychologist. After spending time with Callum, Dr Andrew McGregor recognises certain landmarks in nearly all of Callum’s drawings that lead them to a little Scottish Orkney Island. In a startling turn of events an unsolved mystery prior to Callum being born is solved.  The story is very spiritual; it explores ideas about the paranormal, reincarnation and life itself. I’ve tried to express my views through characters we can relate to. It’s mysterious throughout and just as your think you know the answer of what’s wrong with Callum, there is yet another twist.
As well as writing “The Other Daddy” I’m co writing Whittington Manor as a screen play for television. Episode One will be sent out to production companies in the New Year.  Television is definitely the direction I want to follow and will be turning all of my books into screen plays over the next couple of years.

Catherine: This all sounds very interesting. You’re certainly going to be busy! Now, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to get their story published?
Claire: Be prepared for rejection. The publishing world can be unkind and unfair to new authors. In this economic climate they tend to stick to the authors they know they can make money from, but this doesn’t mean to say your work is not good enough. Always believe in yourself and never give up or let anyone bring you down. Take all criticism as positive and try to use it to better yourself.  I think it’s important to write daily and you will see your writing grow from strength to strength in the months and years to come.  Writing is not about money. As a new author you earn very little these days but it should be a way of life, a passion within you. Keep on writing until you reach your goal.

Catherine: Now a more light-hearted question. If you had your own TV chat show and could interview 3 people (living or dead), who would they be and what would you want to talk about?
Claire: There are so many people I admire and would love to interview on a chat show, although mainly in the film industry. Stephen Spielberg would definitely be on my list. He is such an incredibly talented person.  Julie Walters, a great actress and John Sullivan who sadly is no longer with us and who was truly a fantastic writer in the comedy world.  It would be lovely to chat with all 3 of them about their careers.

Catherine:  Thank you very much for joining us today. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your books? 
Claire: You can find more information about my work on my website www.clairevoet.co.uk
Whittington Manor is available through most high street book shops such as WHSmiths, Tescos, Waterstones also on line at Amazon and will soon be available on Kindle.
The Ghost of Bluebell Cottage is currently out on kindle and will be available through the normal channels in paper back on the 20th November 2011!
The Other Daddy is due to be released in March 2012.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

‘A Spark In The Darkness’ – An interview with Peter Giglio


Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to bestselling author, Peter Giglio, whose Vampire Horror novella, ‘A Spark in the Darkness’ has recently been published by Etopia Press.
If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:

On the final day of her second life, Edie returns to the family she abandoned five years earlier. Edie is not merely a vampire, she’s a Goddess…one of the vanishing race of beings the vampires need to keep their kind alive. But being dead has taught her much about life, and Edie’s determined to destroy the evil thing she’s become. For something has changed within her, something almost alive in her dead soul. But can a single spark in the darkness be enough to save all she holds dear?
Catherine:  Welcome Peter and congratulations on ‘A Spark In The Darkness’, which I found unputdownable. With the plethora of vampire tales around, how difficult did you find it to be fresh and original and where was your starting point?
Peter: Greetings Cat! I’m honored to be your guest today. Originality can be achieved in any subgenre of horror, but the author must approach the story as a story, not a gimmick. When someone tells me their story is about zombies or about vampires, I shudder. Good horror should never be about devices. Monsters are devices, a way of escalating conflict. But they should never be the subject. My starting point was an abandoned vampire novel titled Never Mine. The reason I didn’t execute with that novel is that it wasn’t original enough. Some of the elements of A Spark in the Darkness were present, but the heart was missing. Writing that book would have been an exercise, not a labor of love. One day I started writing a short story that began with a woman in a bar, a story that was never conceived as a vamp tale. The opening bits of A Spark in the Darkness poured out, my muse singing in my ear as my fingers clattered keys. Then my muse whispered, “Never Mine.” I snatched the outline of that long forgotten novel and changed course. I merged the two concepts and found a story with pulse. I really love the result and I hope others will too.

Catherine:  You are said to be fascinated by ‘institutional evil’. Your earlier novel ‘Anon’ was centred on this. Could you define this for us and tell us more about why this fascinates you?
Peter: My father’s a historian so I’ve always been fascinated with the past. Most forget that Hitler was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1938. Germany loved their Führer, because, as it has been said many times, the trains ran on time. These are hard pills to swallow in light of how history played out. But this example raises serious questions about the nature of humanity. Put simply: if we have what we want and need, we tend to be complicit to institutional evil. And like the frog in boiling water, we don’t realize the dire impact of inaction until it’s too late. Looking at the world banking issues in the last few years, I started thinking about this more. People got loans for houses they couldn’t afford, so who was complaining? Immediate gratification speaks volumes in today’s society. The mantra “Too big to fail” feels like a cheer for Godzilla or King Kong.  As long as things are well in our back yards, we turn blind eyes on our fellow man. I’m simplifying, of course, but you get the point. Institutions—companies, churches, governments, etc.—have great influence over people. Sometimes these powers are good and might is used responsibly. But too often the opposite is true. I like moving institutional evil into horror. It fits. But it’s not likely something I’ll keep exploring. I’ve done it, now I’m ready to move on. Bentley Little is a brilliant author who has explored these conceits. His novel The Store took on Wal-Mart indirectly. The Association took on those nasty little home owners associations. The Policy took aim at insurance companies. With Anon I wasn’t as direct as Mr. Little. Instead of focusing on the entities of power, I focused on us. How do we react? What mistakes do we make? The lesson: the more evil we allow, the more evil we become. 
 Catherine: Looking ahead, what do you think the future looks like for Horror writers and where do you see the genre going?
Peter:  Hard to say, Cat. Things are cyclical. The ‘70s and ‘80s were very good for horror. In the ‘90s, horror all but vanished. In the last ten years horror has made something of a comeback, but the same problems of the ‘80s have crept in—oversaturation! There will always be an audience for horror, but authors must focus on good storytelling. I’ve read many books in the last few years that left me cold—that felt like exercises rather than soul searching. Writing isn’t just a job for me—it’s how I express myself. If I was a better artist, I’d paint. If I was a better orator, I’d give speeches. I don’t express myself: Jack and Jill went up the hill. I write: Jack considered the hill. And Jill considered Jack, realizing just how much she hated him.  As a reader, I don’t want three hundred pages of story beats. I want something deeper. Depth takes time, but if more writers take the time it will solve the oversaturation problem, and give us all better material to read. If we collectively get this, the future is bright. But immediate gratification looms large again, doesn’t it?

Catherine: You have  written novels, novellas, short stories and a screenplay. Do you have a preferred medium and, if so, what is it and why?
Peter: No. Storytelling is storytelling, regardless of medium. There are different considerations and techniques with each form, but I love the processes equally, the intent always the same.

Catherine: What about a film of ‘A Spark In The Darkness’? You would write the screenplay, of course, but who would you love to direct it – and who would you like to play Edie?
Peter: I’d love Stanley Kubrick to helm the project, but he’s dead. Realistically, I’d like John Skipp, Eric Shapiro, or Charles Pinion to direct. They’re all brilliant indie filmmakers who I respect and admire. And I want to write the screenplay with my writing partner Scott Bradley. We wrote a feature-length adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale’s “The Night They Missed the Horror Show,” and getting financing for that project takes priority. The script has been endorsed by Mr. Lansdale and has received high praise among a small circle of filmmakers. As for casting the role of Edie, I like comedic actress Aubrey Plaza—she’d bring the right sense of apathy and bitchiness, but she’d also light up the screen with her eyes and talent. 

Catherine: Here’s your chance to enter into the great epublishing v print book debate. Who will be the winners and losers? Can they co-exist happily? In 30 years time, on what medium/media will we read stories?
Peter: They can co-exist. I don’t see eBooks as an end to print. I see it as a new delivery system for words. Words have always come first, and since we’ve long been in an electronic age, the eBook is really overdue. Booksellers fight the eBook, and I understand this reaction. But I think a better solution exists. I’d like to see a way for indie bookstores to effectively sell eBooks. They could plug Kindles and Nooks into the register and conduct point of sale transactions. But this takes patience and innovation on the part of booksellers and publishers, many of them struggling right now. Patience is a hard virtue to demonstrate when creditors beckon, so action is needed now rather than later. Personally, I’ll always surround myself with print books—the smell, the spines, the cover art, the thrill of opening an old first edition and finding it inscribed. But how one reads the words is irrelevant. Look at how movie studios bundle—Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital Copy. What if a digital copy came with the print book? This would provide the desired portability of many titles at once while promoting the print book. It’s not one or the other—that’s what people don’t understand. It’s about integration and giving people more options. One price, all formats. Think about it publishers and vendors. Is it really such a crazy idea? Print books in stores could have a disc inside. Seems like a no-brainer to me, but who am I?    

Catherine:  What are you currently working on?
Peter: Scott Bradley and I are working on a novel under contract. The novel is called The Dark, and it’s coming along nicely, nearing completion. Also, Scott and I are continuing efforts to get our screenplay made. I’m the Executive Editor with Evil Jester Press and I’m currently working on several editing projects. I stay very busy, but I always have time for readers at www.petergiglio.com. 

Catherine: Who is your all-time favourite horror author and if you could interview them, say, on a TV chat show, what questions would you want to ask them?
Peter: Stephen King is my favorite, but he has given so many interviews that I’d be hard pressed to ask original questions. I’d like to interview John Farris, a bestselling horror author that has been out of the limelight for more than a decade, and a far more reclusive man than Mr. King. I’d ask him a lot of questions about working with Brian De Palma on The Fury, but I’d, more pointedly, want to know what he made of Alan Parker’s Angel Heart. Angel Heart was based on William Hjortsberg’s brilliant novel Falling Angel, but I’ve always contended that it’s equally influenced by Farris’ All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By, my favorite horror novel ever. I’d share this observation with him, breaking down the changes Parker made from Hjortsberg’s novel and how they parallel the structure and story of Farris’ novel. I’d like to see what he made of these things, and if he’d ever considered the subtle (and alternately glaring, in my opinion) similarities. Everyone watching, Farris included, would probably be confused, and the interview would implode. This is why I don’t do TV interviews—not in my wheelhouse.   

Catherine:  Thank you very much for joining us today, Peter. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find ‘A Spark In The Darkness? 
Peter: A Spark in the Darkness is available from all major online retailers—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. You can also find my anthology, Help! Wanted: Tales of On-the-Job Terror (featuring Stephen Volk, Joe McKinney, Jeff Strand, Gary Brandner, Vince Liaguno, Amy Wallace, Eric Shaprio, Lisa Morton, Scott Bradley, Mark Allan Gunnells, Henry Snider, and many more), and my novel Anon at these places. www.petergiglio.com is a great place to learn more about me and my work, watch book trailers, and contact me personally. I’ll see you there. 

Here’s an excerpt to give you just a flavour of ‘A Spark In The Darkness’:

   They stopped in front of an eighteen-wheel monstrosity. RANDY’S TRUCKING, Ravenswood, West Virginia was stenciled in blood-red letters across the clean, white cab.
“Your chariot awaits, milady,” he said.
“You’re a truck driver?” Shit-faced drunk even by her own quasi-alcoholic sensibilities, she couldn’t hide the surprise in her voice. He didn’t look like any trucker she’d ever met. Not that she had anything against truck drivers. Hell, if it weren’t for the lonely working men and women of the road, she never would have made it this far.
This far? she asked herself, grimacing at her own deluded sense of reality.
“Why else would I hang out at a dump like this?” Randy said. He opened the door, and threw Edie’s suitcase into the back of the cab-over. Wrapping strong arms around her waist, he helped her into the passenger seat. “Besides, Brandi,” he said sternly, “I’m hauling freight bound for Toledo and Cleveland—Omaha’s right on the way.”
Edie admired her surroundings: black leather seats, a red cab liner, and video screens mounted above both ends of the windshield. The opulence of the cab spoke to Randy’s impeccable taste, making it easy to shake off his increasingly uneven demeanor, swinging wildly between gentleness and prickishness.
She marveled at the dark tint of the windows, barely able to see the dusk-lit prairie through them. The pleasant scent of sandalwood and cinnamon tickled her nose as she ran her fingers across the plush liner, the finest velvet she’d ever touched.
“Best digs you’ve seen in a while, huh?” he said, climbing into his seat.
Mouth agape, she nodded.
“If a man’s gotta do this work then he might as well do it in comfort.”
The engine roared. Lights dimmed. Video screens came alive with pulsing, blue-hued shapes.
Lovely, she thought.
Then the hectoring twang of country music sliced through the calm.
“Eww.” Her smile turned into a frown. “Seriously, Randy, what’s with the fucking hoedown?”
Bathed in azure light, he returned her glare, images from the monitors dancing like hell-bent angels in his eyes. “Come on now, Edie,” he growled. “I know they have country music in Los Angeles.”
A rapid series of mechanized clicks pinged through the cab.
“How did you…?”
Suddenly cold, she pressed herself against the door, desperately seeking the latch with her right hand. Trembling, she gasped, unable to breathe, unable to form words. She found the latch, frantically tugged on it. No use. It was locked.
She pressed her face against tinted glass, looking for someone—anyone—and managed a thin scream that ricocheted around her.
Above the din of her own distress, she heard a hollow cracking sound. Dead tree branches? No. Bones. Wild animals invaded her mind’s eye, pulverizing dry limbs with sharp-toothed jaws.
She whirled on Randy, ready to fight. But what she saw froze her blood. Randy’s cheekbones grew large and sharp. His eyes—silver orbs—widened, chin burgeoning downward. Hair receded. Tanned flesh quickened to pallid gray.
She screamed again, this time louder, but knew it was futile. The resonance of her voice told her the space was soundproofed.
His mouth grew impossibly wide. Rows of silver, razor-sharp fangs sprang like switch knives from behind his teeth.
Reflexively, she swung at his face.
He caught her arm in a tight grip, and then twisted it. Admiring the inside of her wrist, his eyes ran along the veins as if he were an archeologist studying a rare fossil. His long, pale tongue waggled like a puppy’s tail.
Her heart hammered a fierce tattoo against her chest. Nerves thrummed violently between each beat. Bile burnt a trail up her throat, and she pushed back on it. But the force of fear won. She bowed her head, gin-rich vomit cascading into her lap.
He sniffed her arm.
“What are you?” she gasped.
In response, Randy bit down on her wrist. Blade-like teeth sank into flesh and muscle with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Then, fangs planted, he shook his head. A fierce, almost mechanical, sucking hummed from his mouth.
Intense pain. Millions of jagged needles stabbed every nerve. Throwing her head back, Edie screamed and cried in spastic intervals. Soon, reduced to a writhing mass of agony and fear, gravity faded. She drifted. Tendrils of psyche shattering brutality, ravenous slurping, and steel guitar, united into a singular hum, prosaic and painless. Terror still burned at her core. But numbness ripped through every fiber of her being, extinguishing the human condition.
Growing cold, Edie thought about her daughter for the first time in months.
“Gail…”
The name fell from her lips like a dying dream, eyes rolling into the back of her head.
Then, without so much as a gasp, Edie fell into an empty, timeless sea of despair and nothingness.