Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Horden, a coal-mining village on the northeast coast of England. There was always an abundance of outdoor adventures to be had - scouring the beach for fossils, climbing up and down the beach banks, venturing through the dene on quests to find the Devil's Rock, watching trains pass beneath me as I stood on the railway bridge, observing the peculiar creatures that lived in the water vats at my dad's allotment, and dreaming that one day I could go inside Horden Hall (a 17th century manor house on Horden Hall Farm that is steeped in history of smugglers' tunnels and ghosts and a visit from Oliver Cromwell). I'd say that my writing was most definitely influenced by Horden because my imagination was constantly fed.
When did you first start writing?
Pretty much as soon as I could hold a pen. I can't remember a time when I didn't enjoyed writing, or reading for that matter. All through my school years I'd write short stories and keep a diary, but this fell by the wayside when I started to work and got my own place. As is often the case, life got in the way and I didn't pick up writing again until around 2006 when I undertook a home-study writing course. This helped me to hone my skills and develop my style. I started out writing short horror stories and travel articles, then by 2009 I began work on my first novel, Slippery Souls.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Not the first one, no. But I do remember the first one I was proud of. I was six at the time, and it was a dark tale of murder and deceit called The Hound, The Wife & Vince. I wrote it on lined yellow paper and even though the storyline had serious flaws, I was incredibly ecstatic about having achieved a hefty five page novel. My folks laughed when I read it aloud to them, and they probably went on to light the fire with it, but this didn't deter me from wanting to be a writer. In a sense they gave me my first dose of constructive criticism, pointing out that a person most likely wouldn't feign death by using talcum powder to make themselves look pale and that this fundamental aspect of my story wasn't fooling anyone.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I was addicted to books as a kid and don't remember the first book I ever read, but I do remember the first story that had a real impact on me. I was about 10 when I got my hands on a copy of James Herbert's Fluke, by which point I was eager to move onto books that were geared more towards adults (they seemed meatier and suddenly more alluring than Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree). I remember that the level of emotion I felt whilst reading Fluke was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. From then on Herbert was put on a pedestal and I'd pretty much made up my mind that I wanted to be an author.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I search by genre (more often than not horror) and then it's a book's cover that's the initial deal maker or breaker for me. Only if a cover entices me will I go on to read the blurb. I guess I'm a very visual person. I don't particularly pay too much attention to reviews, we've all got different tastes and expectations.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The escapism. Creating characters and scenarios in my head and then bringing them to life on the page so I can revisit them whenever I want and share them with others. It's pretty magical.
What do your fans mean to you?
An awful lot. On gloomy days my fans, knowingly or not, motivate me to keep on keeping on. Without them I may as well keep my stories on the hard drive of my laptop or written down in biro in my notebooks. Reaching an audience is integral to the storyteller in me. When a person likes my stories it must mean we're on some similar kind of wavelength, and it's great to find like-minded people around the world.
Describe your desk
The dining room table. It's a heavy wooden table which usually has bits and bobs scattered about all over it. I use the chair next to the one I sit on as a sort of shelf for all the reference books and notebooks I need to hand. It's certainly not an ideal working space, but it'll have to do until the upstairs office space has been revamped and decorated.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have two whippets, Marvin and Delilah, and when I'm not writing I'm usually out walking with them. It's a good chance to clear my head and get some fresh air and exercise. Usually I'm always on the look out for photographic opportunities so that I can whip my IPhone out of my pocket and capture some cool imagery. Last week I saw a cloud that looked like an open mouth with large pointed teeth inside, and a yellow 'Danger of Death' sign on a pylon that had colour coordinated bushes around its perimeter.
I also love to read (usually horror fiction but I like thrillers too, and after reading George R R Martin's Game of Thrones books I may have to try more in the way of epic fantasy).
And travelling, I love going to new places! Even when I travel I've usually got a notebook and pen to hand - I become fretful if I don't document my experiences.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Tattooed Gods is my newest book, it's the final instalment of the Sunray Bay Trilogy. The three books are set in an afterlife seaside town, which is rife with vampires, werewolves and other monsters. Ultimately the story belongs to Libby Hood - she's pretty sick of her mundane life, but when she wishes for adventure she realises in more ways than one that you should be careful what you wish for. After her untimely death in a car accident, she discovers some shocking truths about her own heritage and starts to fall for someone who appears to be completely unobtainable.
What are you working on next?
My next project is a horror novel, which doesn't have a title as of yet. It'll be a dark tale that evokes feelings of claustrophobia and paranoia, about a man called John who becomes increasingly aware that somebody is trying to take his young daughter away from him. John is a single parent and feels isolated, socially and geographically, and his only source of emotional support comes from his younger sister. His past catches up with him when his ex gets in touch with him out of the blue, and it's only when this happens that he begins to accept that something supernatural might be at play. That something sinister is trying to steal his little girl away.
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