Hannah Stevenson is the editor of the Official Inspector Morse Society’s newsletter, as well as an expert on Henning Mankell. She also has an MA in English Lit and a passion for reading crime fiction. Her blog contains many author interviews and reviews of crime books. It’s worth checking out!
Guest Interview: Eden Sharp
Eden Sharp is the author of the crime novel The Breaks: An Angela McGuinn Thriller, book one of the Vigilante Investigator Justice Series.
What should readers know about your writing?
I wanted to write the type of book I like to read. For me that’s a fast-paced thriller, with some sassy dialogue, a cool protagonist, and plenty of action. (And a little sexual tension is always a bonus!)
I love the way that crime thrillers give us an access-all-areas pass into an underbelly of society that is usually obscured, allowing the exploration of dark themes.
I also enjoy crime, mystery, suspense and the thriller genres in particular because of the way they often include social commentary. I find you can learn a lot about the time in which titles were written which is something I enjoy when I read classic detective fiction.
I like to mix it up: private investigators, good and bad cops, three-letter agencies, the government. Overall, my utmost priority is a focus on fast-paced prose with increasingly higher stakes that build towards an adrenaline-packed climax guaranteed to keep the pages turning.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve always written. I got a prize in primary school for a poem I wrote and I remember being so thrilled. Then when I was in high school, I invented what I thought was this really cool American TV cop show and my English teacher used to mark my scripts in his own time(God bless you wherever you are now).
Apart from reading, it’s the thing that makes me the happiest. Also I teach fiction writing and publishing to university undergraduates and they are so inspiring to me. We have some great discussions and workshops and they come up with some awesome stories.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Two things really. Writing is a vocation. It should be something you do because you love it and you should perfect your craft. It’s not an option if you think you can make a quick buck. It’s seriously hard work. You have to show up whether you’re inspired or not. The key I think with anything must be persistence.
Secondly, I tell all my students this from day one but sometimes it takes them three years to really get it: you have to give yourself permission to write rubbish. All first drafts are bad. Self-doubt is part of the process of being a writer but you have to switch this off when you’re first trying to get something down on paper/screen out of your head. I think writers’ block is actually when people try to get something that’s perfectly crafted from head to page. You need to mine plenty of dirt in order to find the gems in it. Writing is about what you take away not what you put down. You have to have the raw materials first so that you can fashion them into something good later. Self-criticism should only come at the editing stage not at the creating stage.
That is good advice. I’ve suffered from self-criticism while writing my stories and know it can be a crippling condition. I wrote this post about it: Writer’s Block and Edititis.
What are you working on now right now?
I’m working on book two in my series. It follows immediately on from The Breaks. It’s called GET9 and my investigator’s criminal past is catching up with her. The pressure is really piling on and now the government and a couple of three-letter agencies have got involved things are not so easy. People she thought were friends may no longer be allies and her relationships are complicated by figures from her past. The stakes are a lot higher!
Which writers are your favourites?
I love Andrew Vachss and how dark and visceral his Burke series is. Also Michael Connolly, Robert Crais, Dennis LeHane, Lee Child, and Barry Eisler. I mean, what’s not to love about Jack Reacher and John Rain?
They are great writers, Eden. Michael Connolly is one of my favourites, too. I always look forward to reading his Harry Bosch novels.
Thanks for the interview, Eden.
Eden Sharp can also be found here:
Facebook Page – Eden Sharp (Author)
GUEST INTERVIEW – NICKY PEACOCK
Today I’m doing my first guest interview with the author Nicky Peacock. Nicky writes horror, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and supernatural Young Adult fiction. That’s a wide selection of genres – but it’s just a part of what she’s written. Nicky also writes science fiction, fantasy, paranormal noir, urban fantasy and dystopian fiction. Her stories have been published in over forty anthologies in five countries, the USA, the UK, Australia, Ireland and Canada.
In 2013 her first YA novel Bad Blood was published by Noble Romance’s YA imprint Noble & Young. Bad Blood is a story of a four-hundred-year-old vampire fighting against an uprising of zombies.
Nicky also runs a local writers’ group called Creative Minds Writing.
QUESTION 1: Hi, Nicky. Why did you want to become a writer?
NICKY PEACOCK: I think, like most writers, it was to tell stories. I always loved to read, but sometimes found it difficult to find the stories I wanted – so I started writing them myself.
QUESTION 2: Yeah – I did that too. Every writer is deeply influenced by the work of others they enjoy reading. Which writer has had the most influence on you?
NICKY PEACOCK: I have a wide variety of fav authors, growing up I was fascinated by horror and was drawn to the works of Anne Rice and Poppy Z Brite. I think you have to be careful though, as a writer (especially starting out) that you don’t just become a poor echo of your favourite writers’ work – you then end lost in the realms of fan fiction.
QUESTION 3: That is a danger – but copying the work of writers you admire does help you learn – as long as you don’t do it for too long! Here’s my next question. If your house was burning down and you could only take one book with you, which book would you save?
NICKY PEACOCK: I know I’ll get hated for this – but I’d take my Kindle. It has more books on it than are on my shelf and it’s backed up – so if there’s smoke damage, I’m still good! I’d also grab my beloved memory stick, as it’s got on all my music and writing – back up people, you know it’s right!
QUESTION 4: Being a writer can be hard work, especially when you are starting out. What advice would you give new writers?
NICKY PEACOCK: Unfortunately there are no short cuts, you can only really learn writing by doing it, like most things in life. You have to put pen to paper, finger to keyboard and get on with it. I’ve met a lot of ‘writers’ in my time who don’t actually write anything at all! The best advice I can give is ‘knuckle down and get it done’. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work and you have to sacrifice parts of your life to include it in – but anything that’s worth having is hard work.
QUESTION 5: Often finding somewhere to sell a story is harder than the writing of it. What resources do you use to find good paying markets?
NICKY PEACOCK: I use Horror Tree and Dark Markets. There’s a great database called Duotrope (although you have to pay for that now). However, if you are just organised and keep a spread sheet of all the publishers you want to work with and keep an eye their submission pages for call-outs, then at least you are giving those publishers what they are looking for at the right time – which is half the battle.
Also, a bit of an odd tip is to join Netgalley, it’s a review site for publishers. Not only do you get to read and review free books, but you also get valuable publisher contacts and can see the genres they are interested in before their books are released to general market.
QUESTION 6: Horror Tree is a useful site. I’ve found new markets for my writing there. You have an impressive publishing history. Would you like to tell me about that?
NICKY PEACOCK: To be honest, I still don’t see my published history as impressive, I just submitted a lot of short stories (I actually became quite obsessed with it for a time.) Short stories are a great way to cut your teeth as a new writer, not only do you get to learn the craft of writing by actually writing, you get to work with publishers and editors and also build up a CV ready for when you sell that novel.
QUESTION 7: What horror films and TV shows do you enjoy?
NICKY PEACOCK: Oh, sooo many at the moment. I really like ‘The Strain’ and ‘Walking Dead’. I’m a big fan of ‘American Horror’ and am looking forward to ‘Freak Show’. I also just watched the whole box set of the first season of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ from Netflix – really addictive! I love ‘Game of Thrones’ (although who doesn’t?) and am curious about the new series of ‘Gotham’ – as I’m a DC rather than a Marvel girl.
QUESTION 8: In your horror fiction you have to scare readers. What scares you?
NICKY PEACOCK: Oddly, quite a few things. When you have an over active imagination, you can manage to scare yourself more often than other people! One thing that really gets me is being lost. I think it stems from when I was little, but the thought of driving or even walking around somewhere I don’t know on my own scares me. When I go some place new I have to do a dry run with a friend or family member – it’s odd, but as long as I’ve been somewhere at least once, I’m good.
QUESTION 9: What made you want to write your novel Bad Blood?
NICKY PEACOCK: I love vampires and zombies in literature, but rarely found them together. So I decided to see what would happen if I pitted them against one another – a monster of magic against a monster of science with humans caught in the middle. Once my characters were fleshed out, it almost wrote itself!
QUESTION 10: What are you working on right now?
NICKY PEACOCK: At the moment I am working on an urban fantasy retelling of a Hans Christian Anderson tale for an adult market. I’m also beavering away on the second book in the Bad Blood series, Bad Timing.
FINAL QUESTION: Where can readers find you online?
NICKY PEACOCK: I’m everywhere!
You can check out Nicky Peacock’s novel in the UK here:
Nicky Peacock is also at these web addresses:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NickyPeacockYaBooks
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Nicky-Peacock/e/B007UH2ACW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_4
Interview In A Mirror
Today I’d like to interview myself on the subject of horror fiction. I’m not keen on talking about myself – so I hope I won’t ask myself some personal questions. I sit down and stare at myself in a mirror. I don’t like the guy staring back at me. He hasn’t shaved yet. He looks like a werewolf with a hangover, but he’s available for an interview because he’s got nothing better to do.
Questioner: Hello, John. You write horror stories. What’s the first horror story you remember reading?
John Moralee: That’s a good question. Let me think. Uh – Slugs by Shaun Hutson. No – wait. There was one thing before that – a scary collection of stories for kids that included a disturbing drawing of a banshee. I didn’t sleep for weeks after reading that book. I was scared of opening it to the banshee picture. Its dark red eyes seemed to stare out at me like it was alive.
Questioner: Going back a sec. Slugs is a gruesome and violent adult book. How old were you when you read it?
John Moralee: Ten.
Questioner: That’s young for reading an adult horror novel, isn’t it?
John Moralee: Yeah. I think I borrowed in from my local library on my dad’s library card. There was no kid’s section for horror back then – but you could see them around the next corner with their excitingly frightening covers. As soon as I had my own adult card, aged eleven, I think, I read all of the scariest books in the horror section, which was large in those days, much larger than it is these days.
Questioner: You must like libraries, then?
John Moralee: No – I love libraries. When I hear good things about a writer, I always go to a library and borrow their first book to see if I like their writing. If I like what I read, I’ll buy copies of their other work – as long as they are not too expensive. I would never have read some of my favourite horror writers if I had not found them in my local library aged eleven. I remember being scared of the picture on the cover of The Keep by F Paul Wilson. I just had to read it after seeing it. The Fury was another. And all of the books by Stephen King.
Questioner: Do you like writing short stories more than longer stuff?
John Moralee: No – but it is easier to finish writing a short story. I have a dozen incomplete horror novels in progress – but I’ve completed dozens of horror stories. It is deeply satisfying to finish something. You can do that with a short story in a few days or a week. But a novel is a massive project. It’s much harder to keep going. I have dozens of manuscripts of about 200 pages each. I intend to finish them eventually – so it is not completely wasted time. I like short stories because they are more manageable projects.
Questioner: What writer influenced you the most?
John Moralee: There’s not one writer – but dozens of them. I’ve always wanted to write – so I read as much as possible. I don’t limit my reading to one genre. I’ll read books I think I won’t like just to see what the author does with another genre. I started reading crime novels because I read the Agatha Christie books in my library. And I would not have liked science fiction if I had not discovered Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Philip K Dick. I’m a binge reader, easily hooked on reading everything by an author before moving on to another one. I buy all of their work until they write a dud – then I might stop reading them unless they return to form.
Questioner: You must have a favourite of your favourites?
John Moralee: I suppose it would be Elmore Leonard. He wrote about seventy novels. I’ve got them all on my shelves. His economical style and wit were an addictive combination. Other strong contenders are Ed Gorman, James Lee Burke, Donald Westlake, Ed McBain, Martin Cruz Smith, Ian Rankin, Paul F Hamilton, Ian M. Banks, Douglas Adams, Haruki Murakami, Scott Lynch, Dan Simmons and Jodi Picoult. There are dozens more when I think about it. Hundreds more! Honestly, I don’t have one favourite over the others. I like them all.
Questioner: In the horror genre, which is your favourite?
John Moralee: Well – there’s Stephen King because Skeleton Crew got me writing my own short stories. His books always have strong narrative drive. He can turn a simple premise into a brick-sized novel that manages to hook his readers because he delivers realistic characters in nightmarish situations. Salem’s Lot is a classic. There’s also Clive Barker. His imagination is incredible. I loved The Great and Secret Show and The Books of Blood. I also admire Peter Straub for writing Koko and Ghost Story. I also read everything by Dean Koontz, John Shirley, James Herbert and Robert Bloch. I was also addicted to the books by Richard Laymon before he sadly passed away.
Questioner: What books don’t you like?
John Moralee: I don’t like books where the end is too predictable. Or contrived. If the end is what I expected in chapter one, I always feel disappointed, like the author wasted my time. And I dislike so-called literary novels with no plot. I like plot – which is why I like crime novels as much as horror. Crime novels have to make some kind of sense at the end. I don’t like to finish a book wondering, “What was the point of reading that?” It must have a purpose – the telling of a story. I’d prefer a badly-written crime novel with a great plot over a stylistically beautiful literary masterpiece with none.
Questioner: Back to horror. What’s your favourite horror movie?
John Moralee: The Thing.
Questioner: The original version or the remake with Kurt Russell?
John Moralee: The remake. John Carpenter did a brilliant job of creating claustrophobic paranoia. The soundtrack was truly eerie. Very effective shocks.
Questioner: Which author do you admire the most?
John Moralee: I admire any writer capable of finishing a long work. It’s the hardest thing to do.
Questioner: That’s not a proper answer. Name someone!
John Moralee: Wow. You’re getting a bit aggressive, Mr Interviewer. I admire Dan Simmons for writing Hyperion. That’s my favourite SF novel of all time, along with its second part, The Fall of Hyperion. The complex plot has so many interwoven strands that all come together in a superb way.
Questioner: What are you reading now?
John Moralee: I always read about twenty or thirty books at once. They include Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, IQ84 by Haruki Murakami, Heart-Shaped Box by Stephen King’s son Joe Hill, plus a load of non-fiction.
Questioner: Would you like to tell me about your own horror collections?
John Moralee: I’ve self-published two horror collection on Amazon. They contain a variety of horror and dark suspense fiction written over twenty years. Some stories were published in books and magazines.
Questioner: Why did you self-publish them?
John Moralee: I decided to give it a go when Kindle Publishing started. I saw it as a great opportunity because it was better than leaving my stories on my computer where they were doing nothing.
Questioner: Have they been successful?
John Moralee: Yes and no. I feel like I’ve done something with them – so I feel positive about that. In terms of financial success, though, I’d have to say no. I would not call my self-publishing venture a financial success yet – but I don’t regret doing it. At least my stories are no longer just on my computer.
Questioner: What do you plan on doing next?
John Moralee: I’ll keep on writing stories because that’s what I like to do.
Questioner: One final question. Are you going to shave today?
John Moralee: I will if you stop distracting me with questions.
Questioner: Okay. Thank you for the interview.
John Moralee: You’re welcome. Is that it, then?
Questioner: Oh – what’s the web address of your books?
Questioner: No. I just want to know so I can avoid it.
John Moralee: Hey! I’m ending this interview now. Goodbye.
Questioner: You can’t get away from me. I’m always there – waiting for you in the mirror.