What inspires you as a writer? All kinds of things. All the books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, things that have happened to me, or happened to people I know. Good work of any kind is inspiring. I am very interested in the setting of a story and so I am constantly inspired by places I visit. I was in Venice this Christmas and that has so many possibilities as a setting: beautiful, but also very creepy at night or in the fog. Then again, I’m often inspired to write something by looking at drawings or paintings.
Where do you write? I write at a computer in the front bedroom of our rented terraced house in Cambridge. It’s not ideal, but it’s ok. I also write on a laptop at a studio I rent across town. I carry notebooks and scribble away in those as things occur to me or when I see something interesting.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Read lots of books. Try and craft everything you write, even if it’s an email or whatever. Vary what you write – don’t just stick doggedly to one pet project. Don’t be precious – be prepared to edit drastically or even ditch something entirely. Get it down on paper – don’t write books in your head and expect them to come out fully formed. Believe in yourself.
What are you working on at the moment? I’ve just finished with the final draft of a Victorian-set spooky novel I have coming out this October, published by Bloomsbury. It is the first straight novel I’ve written in a little while, having been hard at work on the Tales of Terror books for the last few years. My new book is about a boy who goes to stay with his guardian in a creepy house in the fens one snowy Christmas. It is called The Dead of Winter.
What was the last good book that you read? I’ve just read Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer to my son. I read it when I was at school but hadn’t appreciated how good it was. Great stuff. I’ve been dipping into a compilation of Ray Bradbury short stories, every now and then, for ages. Brilliant. Bradbury is a genius and a big, big inspiration. The last book I read for myself was great; The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It was made into a movie in the sixties called The Haunting (the book is better).
Interview by Andy Jamieson, Editor
Please note: This interview was originally featured in issue 6 of the Edinburgh Geekzine, published in the summer of 2010.
To read Andy’s review of Tales Of Terror From The Tunnel’s Mouth, click here.