Thursday, 26 November 2015

Grief is a Spiral

Learned something valuable today, which I should have guessed at because of my education, but still managed to catch me off guard. After being estranged from my son for 14 months, I ended up back in the same city where, three years ago we had an amazing talk about his life moving forward, my past, our lives growing up together. I was a young mom and I am still waiting to grow up, so I think of my time as a parent of young children as growing up with them. It was a blast! We had tons of fun and I remember making up stories about them, where we had great adventures and saw magical things; the fabulously, crazy birthday cakes and parties and running with them chasing soccer balls. I loved having kids and being with them. The innocent times were care free.

Now, back in the same city, I broke down and sobbed for all that I lost. I have told my husband that this rift between us feels to me like he has died. Two months ago on the anninversary of this tsunami that tore through my life, I did a ritual to let it go or let me deal with it so I wasn't such a mess. It worked. I felt lighter than I had all year and I could rationalize the pain and the anger.

Being here broke that illusion. I remebered being with him again and all the great times we had together. He is very silimar to me in personality, music tastes, bad sense of humour and the the dark things we find funny. Losing him in this way makes no sense to me, emotionally or psychologically. And the damn broke. 

After dealing with the fallout of a horrific, soul crushing childhood, I learned that dealing with grief and anger was a spiral. You deal, you grieve, you get angry, you get depressed, you coast and you start all over again.

This has been the same way. And, Ironically, the course I was on was dealing with critical incident stress. So I learned this is normal, this will change and this will ebb and flow as I go on. I knew that from my psych nursing days, from all the self help books and from my own couselling days, yet this still hit me like a bomb blast. 

I guess this is what makes people resilient. And what makes life hard to endure and painful. One day I shall move past this. One day the cuts to my heart will heal. I know that. It is how I choose to journey there that will make the difference.


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Post Paris and Mali

It's been a week of strangeness; Paris was attacked and a week later, Mali was in the grips of terrorism. The focus between the two events could not have been more polarized. When Paris was hit, Facebook screamed in defiance and raised its collective fist in the air with shouts of stop terrorism. When Mali was attacked 7 days later there were crickets...nothing. Nothing at least on my feed and I have a fair amount of friends that post everyday.

I found that odd. I admit, I have been deleting hate, racism, propaganda and victim bashing-victim propagating memes, posts and news reports because Facebook is my happy place. I have enough damn reality in my life. I don't need it when I come home from work. And last year I was in the seventh circle of Hell for most of it from illness, dealing with children, and a high stress job.

I seldom socialize. I work, come home, sometimes eat, but more often than not, climb into bed to get ready for another day. Such is the life of someone with multiple autoimmune deficiencies; so to be bombarded with hate and fear just is not what I want in my life on Facebook. But I could not be more astounded by the deafening silence on the Mali attacks. Granted, fewer lives were lost, but why the contrast? Even the typical #blacklivesmatter crowd was silent. If anything, I thought they would be protesting this vile act of psychopathic cowardice, because some of the victims were black, in a predominately black country, but no.

Does that mean only #blacklivesmatter in North America? I really hope not because that is an ugly thought to contemplate. If #blacklivesmatter, then they should matter regardless of geography. If terrorism is ugly, then it should be ugly everywhere, not just in a predominately white culture. Then I wonder if racism is a luxury of a culture that lives in the comparative affluence of North America and Europe instead of a country where the life expectancy is only 53.

And I am still trying to wrap my head around the thinking and the hatred that perpetuates these crimes, and I am at a loss. Young, able bodied men attack and kill indiscriminately in the vein of psychopathy disguised in a nebulous veil as religion. But that is an excuse to kill people. Not religion. I do believe, regardless of faith, these people would kill others, even those of the same faith because the glory is in the kill. Not the faith, not the religion, not in spreading the truth. It is about ruling the world through the genitals of a man. A weak, misguided, uneducated and unethical, simple man. We all know that women in this culture have value less than an animal and less than children. Women are repeatedly murdered, raped and stoned to death, on a whim. Children suffer the same fate. Daily. Mutilation of women and children is a side effect of thinking that genitals dictate how well you live your life and the freedom you have.

The latest reports from Washington show that these young adults take something called fenethylline, a drug that keeps them awake, angry, and ready to tear people apart with their bare hands. Exactly what these rebels need; a drug akin to PCP, massive bombs, explosives and the angry young man attitude. Another side effect of the drug is the ability to mask pain. Effectively, fenethylline turns a person into grizzly bear; an 800 pound, rabid, enraged bear that feels no pain and carries explosives. 

It makes me sad and reflective to think that on the other side of the world there is a mother with a dead child, a sister that is raped, a grandmother that is stoned to death and that 26 year old boys rule their world and are now affecting ours. 

Terrorism, fanaticism, sexism, racism, it all needs to stop. The thinking that I am better human than you because of my skin colour, my religious beliefs, my gender or my sexual orientation is exclusionary, an act of cowardice and morally wrong. 

Monday, 2 November 2015


Another new year has begun for me. Halloween always strikes me as New Year's Eve, November 1 as a day of remembering your ancestors and November 2 as the start of a New Year. Makes much more sense to me than December 31.

This year has been difficult, mentally, physically and emotionally. I do not want a repeat.

I lost my child. No, not to death, not to miscarriage, not to drugs. He is still alive and very healthy and probably very happy, but he is gone. He was married to a wonderful girl about five years ago. Her family had issues (who's doesn't), but unfortunately her issues took over my son's life, soul and spirt.

My son is kind, compassionate, caring, and also ADD to the nth degree, which can make him selfish, self-centred and not able to think about the further consequences of action. Sometimes I think he is more 15 than 30.  I can say these things because I am the same way. Growing up, my middle child and I were identical. We loved the same music, we laughed at the same jokes, we told the same stories and we were happy. Except for when we were down. Then that took over our lives.

At work, however, he is conscientious, resourceful, bright, funny, inventive and gifted. Actually, I think he is extremely gifted. He could be an outstanding artist if he chose to work at it, or an outstanding tattooist. He has many talents.

But like some people with ADD, he is also extremely stubborn, strong willed and listens more to friends than family. He's been like that since he was 13. His friends had more of an influence and power over him than my husband or I ever did.

As a teen, we tried to keep him centered, but as with most people with a mental illness, he chose to self medicate and act out. Got into trouble, acted out more, got into more trouble. It was a horrible time for us as a family as we had a special needs child, and another teenager. At one point I lost my job and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and a mild form of MS. Life was crazy. 

He did get his life together. He is very successful in his career, is responsible and, I believe, happy. Unfortunately, he chose to blame all his bad decisions as an adult on me. When I got the phone call, I was in shock. My son and I had a great relationship growing up, so this was so out of left field for me. I still do not know how or why he chose to say the things he did, but it's been a year and I feel like my child has died. I grieved for months.

I cried myself to sleep for more nights than I care to remember. and I questioned everything I did as a parent, a mother, a wife. When I found out he moved back to the province and then practically across the street from us, it crushed me. Completely. I still have no contact with him, do not know his phone number or his address. And I still think about him every single day.

My husband and I had horrible childhoods; torture, rape, abuse, starvation, psychopathic parents, and we both swore if we ever had children we would not do to them what was done to us. We would listen, we would ask questions, we would talk and discuss, and love. And we foolishly thought this would make a difference. A teacher once told us, having kids is a crapshoot. You never know what you are going to get. And he was correct.

My husband and I still talk to our parents. And then, when I thought we did all the right things, we are abandoned.

All I can do is try to move on. And not let this tear me apart.


Well you packed me away in the trunk of your car.
You drove me so fast and so far.
I tried to fight but its so hard.
The only momento is this scar.

Where were you when i needed you?
Somethings missing, and I can't breathe.
Where were you? Where were you?
Somethings missing.
You abandoned me.

Oh when you look deep into my mind.
That is so tired and weak from this life.
On the verge of fear all the time.
I feel like you left me here to die.

Shaking in my boots, you shook me down.
You really took me down.
Shaking my foundation, not to be found.
Never to be found.

Where were you? Where were you?
You abandoned me.
You abandoned me.
You abandoned me.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Thanks to Lakeview Gimli and Michael LAZER

Yesterday was one of the happiest days of my life. My beautiful, intelligent, strong, caring and wonderful daughter got married. She is a mom, a wife, a person with a family and she is loved beyond belief.

It was a small wedding with their children,  his parents, her brothers, and a sister in law. 

We had spent the entire day running around getting makeup and hair done, being goofy and generally enjoying the moment. 

The wedding and vows were beautiful. Kyle is very creative and worked his butt off to pull it all together, babysit and stress out, while Selena and I had fun. 

The pictures were beautiful and the photographer took them to the lighthouse to get further photos taken while the rest of us went back in to dinner.

Dinner was incredible! Shrimp Alfredo is a spicy sauce, Chicken Alfredo, Steak, Ceasar Salad, Chicken Wings and more. The Lakeview Gimli went out of their way in terms of service and food.They genuinely care about thier guests and they made sure my daughter and family had an outstanding day. 

My thanks goes out to Michael LAZER, Hotel Manager, and Teegan, our server. You guys rock. Thank you for being a part of our lives.

Yup, we spend nearly every four to six weeks in the Gimli Lakeview during the Winter and run in and out to have breakfast during the summer. They are part of our clan and they did a lovely job.


Monday, 1 June 2015


February 5, 1944 - May 19, 2015

Mr. Fish led an auspicious life when he made a fatal decision to alter his path, in his mid twenties. He decided to indulge in his personal predilections and proceeded on a path to destruction. The people in his life survived. He did not. 

He died alone, stinking, rotting from the inside, far away from the family who used to love him and even farther away from anyone who cared. In his senior years, no one pretended to notice whether he lived or died and no one bothered to visit, send flowers or even pop in to ease his pain. All this brought on by one stupid decision which carved a path of destruction started when he was 25. 

Imagine for one moment, making a decision, causing irreparable damage at 25 that would cause a painful, rotting, stinking, despised death 50 years later. 

His carnage included a wife that loved him in the beginning, a son that loved him, in the beginning and a stepdaughter that despised the very earth he touched. He went on to destroy other people along the way: Another family, other victims and created a path of destruction so long and so wide, hundreds of people are affected by his one decision at age 25. People have thought about suicide, murder and just disappearing because of his one choice. Others became alcoholics, drug abusers and mentally ill. His victims chose silence because that was the only choice at the time. His victims chose to destroy themselves a piece at a time rather than hurt others. His shameful existence is a pound of ash, left in an unclaimed box, sitting on a shelf in a forgotten room. His soul, however, will be eaten, a piece at a time, ripped to shreds and fed to the demons in Hell. 

He destroyed people, he destroyed the good in himself, and he never thought about the effect on others because he was a psychopath. And he is where he should be. Do Not Rest in Pieces. 

Humans in Horror: NATHAN ROBINSON

Nathan Robinson quickly became a favourite of mine after reading STARERS, DEVIL LET ME GO, and finally KETCHUP ON EVERYTHING. 

STARERS is a great, intriguing tale with a new, refreshing twist on an old genre. DEVIL LET ME GO is a collection of stories, and KETCHUP ON EVERYTHING is everything great horror is about. I read this and could not put it down, and the ending broke my heart. Second time I cried during a horror book: Passionate, heart-warming (I cannot believe I used that chick word), entertaining, commanding and gripping. Even today, with my short term memory splatter, KETCHUP is in my head. This is a standout story from an author who knows how to keep it real. And that is how great horror is done.

1.     When did you start writing horror?

My horror first story was written in English class when I was about twelve years old. It was called The Charnel House, and Im pretty sure it had Xenomorphs in it. It was set in a monastery and they had a deal with the monks where they could eat the bodies of dead. But then they run out of bodies. I started writing proper horror when I found out my wife and I was expecting twins. I decided then if I was ever going to get into writing seriously, I needed to do it then. Having worked in a chicken factory in the past, I decided to draw on that for inspiration and knocked up a story about zombie chickens. I sent it off and surprisingly I won first prize and £100 cash. Ive not looked back. I darent.

2.     Have you written in any other genre?

Ive dabbled in crime (the genre, not the vocation), and I managed to get a steampunk story published in and anthology despite never having read any steampunk in my life. I like horror because its quite flexible. Well always have death and the road to it.

3.     What makes you uncomfortable?

Tight boxers on a hot day, and the blatant idiocy of some folk, who chose to revel in their stupidity, proudly defiant in their refusal to learn anymore.

4.     Does your family read your work?

My parents are fans (my mum gives my books out as presents) and so is my mother in law. I gave my brother in law a copy, but after one story he had nightmares and ended up locking the book in the shed. As a horror writer, Im not offended, thats a good sign. If I wrote romance however

5.     Does your writing make you uneasy?

Theres one story called If you ever meet a girl named Maisie Mae, that still makes me feel a little queasy when reading it back. I often think what was I thinking, as it involves a sexual predator and his pursuit of a young girl. But the twist ending resolves all the unease, but the build up is excruciating for me, even now. Ive had readers contact me saying the same thing. I like it when my readers agree with me, even if its on something wrong.

6.     Who would you say you write like?

Ive been compared to Stephen King a bit, even though I havent even read half his stuff. When trying to flog books to potential readers at conventions, I sell myself as Roald Dahl meets Stephen King on crack. It seems to work.

7.     Who are your favourite authors?

Weirdly, I read more childrens books than anything else, and often finding myself enjoying them just as much as novels. My boys (four year old twins) are in love with everything Julia Donaldson has ever written and could recite The Gruffalo off by heart by aged three. I love her stories as not only are they a joy to read because of the lyrical content, but theres message in each story that relates not just to being human, but to being alive and having the capacity for joy. I read them The Iron Giant by Ted Hughes a few years back and they fell headlong in love with it. They sat and listened whilst I read the whole novel.
In terms of adult writers, Ive mentioned King and Dahl already, but Richard Laymon is a horror staple. Im also a collector of James Hadley Chase novels, who writes pulpy crime novel. I could just order them off Amazon but I like finding dusty old books on my travels. When a book finds me personally, it feels like fate that I should read that book. I enjoy the physical chase as opposed the convenience of online shopping.

8.     Who influences you as a writer?

My children, and my fear of losing them plays a big part of how my stories are shaped, even if no children are involved. I think its about losing that next step of mortality which drives me.
Friends, strangers and coworkers influence me as well. Little sayings or characterisations are without guilt or permission, slipped into my next work.

9.     Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?

Killer Crabs by Guy N Smith, the second in the Crabs series. I fell in love with the cover and pretty much read it in a day. Ive still got it.

10.  How old were you?

About eleven or twelve. I found it at a car boot sale. I used to get up at six am on a Sunday to go with my dad around them all. Id Star Wars and G I Joe figures for a steal and old, yellowing paperback for about 10p. To my young mind, it was like finding gold. They meant so much to me.

11.  Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?

Ive already done a paedophile story, so I dont think I could go any lower. The torture of child perhaps, unless I could justify it of course. Random violence against anyone is okay in horror, as long as you can justify it in the end.

12.  What was the best advice you were given as a writer?

Write no matter what. Ive had four books published in three years whilst working (more than) full time and having two young children to entertain. Im extremely lucky to have a driving job where I have a co-pilot, enabling me about three-four hours a day to do what the hell I like. I read, I review, I edit, I write on the road. Im currently writing this sentence two hundred miles from home, travelling at sixty seven miles per hour. Im not driving obviously.

13.  If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?

Id start writing earlier. I wasted my early twenties more than I should have.

14.  How many books do you read a year?

I try to read one every week. But it depends on the length (said the vicar to the tart.)

15.  Do you write every day?

Again, I try. Im busy with work and family, so after that, its sleep, basic hygiene and sustenance. Writing comes after. I try to create something every day, be it writing, drawing, or even a book review. It doesnt have to be something physical. I like making up stupid jokes, making people laugh, even going for a walk is creative because youre creating a moment. Do anything instead of being sedentary. Dont become stale. I fear that.

Twitter       @natthewriter

Monday, 11 May 2015

The Shortness of Life

Twice in one year I have been confronted with the death of a friend and once, the death of family member. Before that, the death of a close friend, and the death of a spouse of a close friend. All five deaths were not precipitated by anything. One minute they were here, and the next, gone.

All their deaths left an impact and left me wondering the why behind it. At this stage of my life I should be used to it but it still unnearves me beyond belief at the fargility of life. No one gets to plan their demise unless you are dealing with chronic illness or disease. But I am still astounded at the weakness of the human being. 

I remember when I was a kid: Summers lasted forever, we took all kinds of stupid risks and survived, and we all grew up feeling invicible. Now, I am overly cautious. I admit, I love life. And, when I can, I play life to the fullest of my being. Most days, it's not that much, but I still want to see my grand children grow up. I still need to own more dogs. I still want more years with my spouse. I still have to live on the ocean. And I still want to use up my retirement savings. 

Death laughs at all of these simple plans and just like "Dead Like Me", lightening could strike me tomorrow. Like it did my friend Kat, and Michele, Donna, Wanda, and Olof. 

I know I should be used to this.....

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Psychopathy and Children

Psychopaths are a big hit these days: Dexter, Secrets and Lies, Hannibal, Games of Thrones, Criminal Minds, House. The list could go on. But the one thing that people cannot agree on is the psychopathy of children.

Psychiatrists and other learned professionals will argue that children cannot be psychopaths. Their brains are not fully formed, emotions are not fully developed and the DSM V does not recognize it. Instead, children are labelled as unemotional, callous, unresponsive. Which is interesting, because you can also label an Autistic person as such. And Autistic children are no where near the spectrum of psychopathic children.

Psychopathic children will hurt and bully others, manipulate and control anyone they can, much like the adult version, but of course on a different level. Autistic kids do not. They have no concept of lying, manipulating or bullying. What's interesting though, is the inability of people to think that kids can be deliberately hurtful, deceitful and out to kill others.

Anyone who has been a teacher, a parent or a relative of a psychopathic child will tell you otherwise. Think back to the school shootings, the killers of James Bulger and Reena Virk, and the gang rapists of the 13 year old in Alberta, or the football player rapists in the US.

I think people find the idea abhorrent that children and young teens can be psychopaths, much like thirty years ago females could not be sexual predators. Given time and enough evidence however, law and science have discovered that female predators exist and for the same reason male predators exist.

According to the Canadian Rights Council, 86% of victims of female sexual predators are not believed so crimes go unreported and un-prosecuted.  (see link).  Women account for 25% of all sexual abuse cases, but as a society we still find that hard to believe. Granted, cases like Karla Homalka, Crystal Henricks, and Terri-Lynne McClintic have paved the way to more and more people believing in the psychopathy of females.

Now, we need to convince doctors, parents and others that psychopaths can also be children. This is more important because maybe with enough treatment and counselling we can reverse this trend. Ignoring it will not make it go away.

Psychopathic children do exist. And they get better at it when they get older.

What got me started on this was two things: First, the show Secrets and Lies, which is only 10 episodes long and is provocative and entertaining, and a story I wrote about a psychopathic 10 year old. The editor at the time would not believe that a 10 year old would speak and think like the character in the novel. I was surprised, because after all, I write horror, not romance. But also at the naiveté of the editor to think this child would not speak the way my character did.

I did not change the voice of my character and the piece was published, but that conversation always stuck with me.

I know in this child-centric version we have of the world today, that little Bobby and Suzie can do no wrong. Failing kids is bad, everyone gets a trophy and working hard in school is too difficult. But trust me, we are not doing kids any favours. In fact, we may be harming the good ones, by protecting the bad. And please, kids will be kids is just a poor excuse.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Men in Horror: WILLIAM COOK

I first read William Cook a couple of years ago and was immediately enthralled with his writing and his style. The book I read was BLOOD RELATED. I loved it. It was intense, creepy, dark and twisted.   For some reason, my review of this book has disappeared from Amazon and Goodreads, so I dug it up and reposted it.

Be warned, this tale is not for anyone who dislikes gore and violence.

This is a brilliant tale of fathers and sons, serial killing at its finest and the legacy families create. Charlie and Caleb Cunningham are twins and serial killers, following in t
he footsteps of their father and grandfather.

The story is told through letters, news articles and from the points of view of the killers, the police and the doctors involved. All the pieces of the story are woven together beautifully through the the magical way William Cook has with syntax. Well worth the read....if you can stomach it.

William Cook

1.     When did you start writing horror?

I started writing horror stories (although I didnt know they were horror stories) when I was about ten years old. The first one I wrote won a school competition it was about a boy who gets lost in a strange desert where he witnesses giant heads falling out of the sky. He discovers that the heads are being fired out of a cannon by a voodoo witch-doctor who has somehow reversed the process of shrinking heads. I think I got the idea after watching King Solomons Mines and seeing the scary witch doctor in the movie. My first real horror publication was a story called Devil Inside which was published in 2010 in Lee Pletzers Masters of Horror Anthology. Since then I havent stopped.

2.   Have you written in any other genre?

Yes, I have recently ventured into Science Fiction, Young Adult and even had a story published in a collection of childrens Christmas tales. I also write a lot of poetry too much perhaps, and my first ever book published was a limited edition release called Journey: The Search for Something way back in 1996.

3.  What makes you uncomfortable?

Bad reviews! Seriously though, I am not a fan of needles absolutely hate getting jabbed, especially at the dentist when they use those syringes and stick them in the roof of your mouth etc. Bullies also make me uncomfortable and I quite often write about them. Usually really bad things happen to them in my books.

4.  Does your family read your work?

I deliberately dont encourage them to read my (horror) books for obvious reasons. Although some of my newer work like the kids stories and science fiction I dont mind as much. Ive found its very true the old adage that the worst critics are family and friends I dont know why the hell it is but I can count the friends and family (you know who you are) who have bothered reading my books on one hand! I used to actively seek feedback on my writing from friends and family in the early days, but gave up when I realized any critique from such quarters was largely pointless as it was either biased or I could tell they hadnt actually read the work in question. Sort of related to the question . . . I am working on a small kids book with my seven-year-old daughter who is a keen writer herself. She has written about ten pages so far of a story about zombies (dont know where she gets that from!) and its really good. Obviously Im biased (see above) but it really is good and Im looking forward to publishing it for her when its finished.

5.  Does your writing make you uneasy?

Most of the time, no. However, it really depends on the subject matter though and I must admit to getting a bit nervous about some of my research subjects for stories. Not so much in the subject material but in what other people or readers will think of the finished stories. I am a bit paranoid about the NSA and their monitoring of certain taboo subjects that are common to the grist of the horror mill. Subjects like terror, murder and serial killers, for example, are common research subjects for horror authors and red-flag search strings that are actively monitored by the powers that be. I used to feel uneasy when writing about topics (such as described above) but I think that I have largely become desensitized to the emotional effects of dealing with this material on a daily basis. Writing Blood Related, my novel about a family of serial-killers, definitely made me pretty strung-out and slightly disturbed due to having to project the main characters stream of consciousness on to the page via a first person narrative. Five years of my free-time went into this book and I researched just about every case of serial murder that I could find which definitely impacted on my psyche but paid off in the final presentation of the story. Suffice to say, I now have an encyclopedic knowledge of these weirdos whether I like it or not!

6.  Who would you say you write like?

I write like me of course! My writing style or voice is a collage of influence and styles everything from the way I learned to write at school, the accent of my written voice (a combination of UK and US spelling and theory), the authors I have read over and over again, and the evolution of my own style and development as a writer. I dont try to write like anyone but I do try to write like someone who knows what theyre doing (hopefully). Over the past five years I have been intentionally writing in the (north) American vernacular and it was a decision that I worried about for a while but it largely came down to the way certain words were spelled and styled and now it is like second nature to me. My schooling was based on a U.K. education system and we were taught to spell and write according to the commonwealth rules and style-guides of the day. 

7.  Who are your favourite authors?

I have many favorite authors and it will be no surprise that writers like Stephen King, James Herbert, Robert Bloch, Robert McCammon, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe and Ramsey Campbell are at the top of the list. Over and above horror the authors I love to read again and again are Sherwood Anderson, Roald Dahl, James Ellroy, Colin Wilson, Charles Bukowski, Ray Bradbury, Peter Carey, Dostoyevsky and Thomas Harris. For a full rundown on my favorite books and authors, check out my list here:

8.  Who influences you as a writer?

I find that Im not really influenced by people directly but that I am more influenced by the things that people create. Art influences me greatly in my writing, film and music particularly, but graphic art and, obviously, written works conjure up emotion and IDEAS that definitely inform my own work. Probably the biggest influences on me have been Stephen King and Ray Bradbury. King for his amazing and prolific output and superb writing style and advice (On Writing really changed the way I approached my writing), Bradbury for his simplicity and story-telling ability that encourages original and creative thought (his stories influenced my dreams for a long time) a very inspirational pair. Ultimately though, without being too modest, I am my biggest influence. It is up to me to drive myself forward and to push hard with my writing. The outside world is full of influence and affectation, but at the end of the day, it is my will-power and my mind that allows me to sift through all the detritus and glean the remaining gems and pearls of wisdom and apply it to my own style and philosophy. One of the works I studied at University was Harold Blooms The Anxiety of Influence and it really struck home with me. The central tenet being that writers (specifically poets in Blooms discourse, but equally applicable to writers in general in my opinion) are inspired by writers that have come before them and that this somewhat inescapable influence inspires a sense of anxiety in authors attempting to forge new and original works. I believe it is true to a large extent and I work hard to try and create work that is as free from the influence of other authors styles and subject matter as much as possible. However, when you write genre fiction, this is a nearly impossible task. No writer creates in a vacuum and for every style we have a representative genre (or sub-genre) and a group of influential writers and works at the helm of such literary movements, regarded as exemplars and pinnacles by which up-and-coming authors should somehow emulate to attain the same success. Unless an author doesnt read, influence is unavoidable but, in my view, not necessarily a bad thing.      

9. Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?

The Monsters Room (or Petes Angel) by Hope Campbell introduced me to Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolfman when I was about seven years old. Loved it! The first real horror book I read was probably James Herberts The Rats at about eleven years old, followed closely by Shaun Hutsons Spawn, Stephen Kings Carrie and Night Shift, and Robert McCammons Mystery Walk. Suffice to say by the age of twelve I was hooked on horror in any shape or form.

10.  How old were you?

See above. I used to watch Hammer House of Horror on Sunday nights with my Mum when I was eleven/twelve years old. Still cannot work out why mum used to let me watch those shows but wouldnt let me listen to KISS because she thought they were Satanic! Go figure!

11.  Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?

Graphic descriptions of pedophilia are something I have no interest in portraying in my work. I have written stories about these creeps before but I feel it is unnecessary to portray the acts for any reason. Implication is far more subtle and effective than graphic description. I write horror that attempts to confront readers with their own fears, not make them sick in the process.

12.  What was the best advice you were given as a writer?

If you want to be a writer, just write. Pretty simple really, but a no-brainer (obviously). The best advice about writing I have read/received is Stephen Kings excellent memoir/writing guide On Writing. It is a wonderfully inspiring book for a budding writer, and more so for the writer of dark fiction. Highly recommended.

13.  If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?

I would begin writing as soon as possible, at any age. Self-doubt is one of the biggest killers to a writers self-confidence and career. In retrospect, I see that I could have had established myself as an author a lot earlier than I have if I had just given a go instead of doubting my ability and listening to naysayers who were mostly inexperienced or wannabe writers themselves. I would probably not restrict myself to genre fiction as I have up until now. I think I would have made more of an attempt to develop my story-writing skills in Science Fiction and Childrens literature. Oh well, tomorrows only a day away still time to alter direction.

14.  How many books do you read a year?

Between twenty-forty books now that I have a Kindle. Before I started reading eBooks Id probably only read ten books a year while I was writing. Before I started writing seriously I used to read about forty novels/books a year at least.

15.  Do you write every day?

In one form or another. I do a lot of blog posts and marketing which cuts into my writing time but I try and write at least 1,000 words a day. Life is very busy as I look after two primary school age kids when theyre no tat school and I have a couple of casual jobs that bring in a little bit of cash. Luckily I have a very supportive wife who earns a good salary and who encourages me with my work from home. Without her support, life would be very tough as a writer.

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