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 the 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
I started writing horror stories (although I
didn’t 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 Solomon’s 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 Pletzer’s Masters of Horror
Anthology. Since then I haven’t stopped.
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 children’s 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.
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
your family read your work?
I deliberately don’t encourage them to read my (horror) books for obvious reasons.
Although some of my newer work like the kid’s stories and science fiction I don’t mind as much. I’ve found it’s very true the old adage that the worst critics are family and
friends – I don’t 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 hadn’t 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 (don’t know where she gets
that from!) and it’s really good.
Obviously I’m biased (see above)
but it really is good and I’m looking forward to
publishing it for her when it’s finished.
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 character’s 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
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 don’t try to write like anyone but I do try to write like someone who
knows what they’re 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.
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: http://www.williamcookwriter.com/2013/08/favorite-books-list.html
influences you as a writer?
I find that I’m 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 Bloom’s ‘The Anxiety of
Influence’ and it really struck
home with me. The central tenet being that writers (specifically poets in Bloom’s 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 doesn’t
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 Monster’s Room (or Pete’s 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 Herbert’s The Rats at about
eleven years old, followed closely by Shaun Hutson’s Spawn, Stephen King’s
Carrie and Night Shift, and Robert McCammon’s Mystery Walk. Suffice to say by the age of twelve I was hooked on
horror in any shape or form.
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 wouldn’t let me listen to KISS because she thought they were ‘Satanic’! Go figure!
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.
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 King’s 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.
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 writer’s 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 Children’s literature. Oh
well, tomorrow’s only a day away – still time to alter direction.
many books do you read a year?
Between twenty-forty books now that I have a
Kindle. Before I started reading eBooks I’d 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
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 they’re 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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around the age of 13 or 14. I wrote hundreds of truly excretable short stories
in my teens!
2. Have you written in any other genre?
I write quite
a bit of suspense/thriller fiction, and even my horror writing tends to be more
psychological horror/suspense than pure gore. When I started Smart Rhino
Publications a few years ago, my intent was to publish both horror and suspense
fiction—that pretty much reflects my own freelance work. Those genres are also
what I primarily read, so it was something of a no-brainer to focus on them in
my publishing venture.
don’t know that I’ve also been a prolific garden writer. Over the years, I’ve
written for Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, and many other
3. What makes you uncomfortable?
Not much when
it comes to writing. Reading or speaking before crowds … yep, uncomfortable!
I’m just a mellow, easygoing, soft-spoken guy, something of any introvert.
Standing in front of an audience scares the bejesus out ofme.
4. Does your family read your work?
Yes, but not
everything. Most of the members of my family don’t read horror fiction.
5. Does your writing make you uneasy?
no. If anything, I work out problems—especially philosophical or psychological
issues—through my writing. I should point out that I think horror and humor are
kissing cousins, and I’ve always thought the best horror is interlaced with
humor, whether really dark and crawling around at the edges or gonzo and right
in your face. My own writing often contains subliminal humor. And many readers
of the Smart Rhino anthologies have commented on the dark humor sprinkled
6. Who would you say you write like?
have been compared most frequently with Richard Matheson’s—and I certainly
don’t have a problem with that! But I hope that my writing has a voice that is
uniquely my own.
7. Who are your favorite authors?
look at the bookshelves in my office: Clive Barker, Joe Lansdale, Harlan
Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, Graham Masterton, Neil
Gaiman, Joe Hill, Robert McCammon, F. Paul Wilson, Jeffery Deaver, Lawrence
Block, David Morrell, Jack Ketchum. Those are just some of my favorite writers—and
I’ve been lucky enough to have some of them contribute to the Smart Rhino
anthologies! Not that I’m a fanboy … but it’s so cool to work with writers
whose writing I’ve enjoyed for years!
8. Who influences you as a writer?
actually an excellent question, and my answer is probably one you’ve not heard.
As editor/publisher for Smart Rhino Publications, I’ve published more than 70
authors in the past three years, and have read stories from well over 100.
Selecting stories for anthologies is no simple task--but it is a learning experience. Working with
so many writers with such varied styles and voices has helped me fine-tune my
own writing. I see how some things work, how some things don’t work, and better
ways to improve the writing of those who submit stories for my consideration. I
always work with those writers who show great promise. And, by doing so, I
learn so much about my own writing. Sitting on both sides of the desk—as writer
and editor/publisher—is the best training for any writer. So, to answer your
question, the writers that I work with probably have the most influence on me
as a writer.
9. Do you remember what your first horror book was
that you read?
remember is my uncle’s enormous box of horror, suspense, and science fiction
comics from the late ‘50s/early ‘60s—especially the classic EC comics. He had a
huge collection, hundreds of comics, and I just loved that he shared those
wonderful comics with me. My love for horror fiction certainly started with those!
10. How old were you?
around 8 or 9. Way too young for such gruesome stuff (LOL!)
11. Is there any subject you will not touch as an
But I tend to stay away from gratuitous child and animal cruelty.
12. What was the best advice you were given as a
Write what you enjoy reading! Of course, you need to write to an audience. But always keep in
mind that YOU are your first audience. That sounds obvious, but I’ve run into
quite a few writers who have tried to write for an audience with which they’re
not familiar (or a genre they don’t enjoy reading) just to make a buck. No no
13. If you had to start all over again, what would you
sending out freelance material long before I did. The fear of rejection is,
well, silly and should never be a reason for refusing to submit your work. The
worst an editor can do is say, “No.” Continue to refine your work and always
keep your work in circulation until it finds a home.
14. How many books do you read a year?
editor/publisher, I read quite bit, mostly short stories for anthologies. That
eats into my time for pleasure reading, so I’m sure I’m reading far less than I
have in the past. I’m guessing I read 10-12 books a year for pleasure.
15. Do you write every day?
I work with
words every day—as a writer, as an editor, as a publisher. I’m always juggling
several projects. I just recently contracted with Lisa Mannetti to publish her
novella, THE BOX JUMPER, which is dark historical fiction about Houdini and his
battle with fraudulent spiritualists. I have a novel and short stories of my
own always percolating in the background. So, keep your eye on Smart Rhino
Publications—more amazing things are coming!
Today is a happy day for me. You would not guess that from the title, but it is. Have come to the understanding (finally) that all souls are not meant to travel with you throughout your life, whether you need them to or not, whether they are family or not, whether you gave birth to them or not. After grieving for months, I am okay with this. For today. Tomorrow is a crapshoot. But it always is.
I always thought, naively, that if you were family, you would stay together, you would love each other, and if you treated each other with respect, things would always come through in the end. I was wrong.
My husband and I raised our children with love and respect, valued their opinions, protected them, loved them beyond belief, and, I thought, created some strong familial values. Then, with peer pressure, strangers became more important. And nothing we said, nothing we did made any sense. We fell into a rabbit hole and we were at a loss. For years we tried everything in our power to undo the damage that society was doing, to no avail.
As a Dutch women with a strong sense of loyalty to family, and needing tight family connections, this was truly devastating. The one thing I yearned for, beyond all else, when I came to this foreign country, was the intimate connection with family that The Netherlands has and Canada has not.
So I fought, and begged, and conjoled, and cried, and gave in, and walked on egg shells, and sold myself, and finally fought back. The battle is lost, but the war may not be over. Or it might.
Then I thought about souls and the way we connect. Maybe there is a bigger reason for this. Maybe there is a lesson in this that I have not stumbled upon...yet. One day I shall wake up and I shall know why this happened and the why it played out the way it did. Until then, I can only ponder the wisdom of the universe and move on without hanging on.
I still check up, but do not expect anything different. And for now, this gives me some solace in a mad world.
I still love madly, deeply, and forever, because blood bounds are sacred to me. If it isn't the same for the other person, I need to understand and send them on their way and hope for the best for them, as well as myself. But I no longer will sell pieces of myself to get love back. Not at this stage of my life. And not after coming so close to dying.
So I wonder. And I contemplate. And I smile, because once, I had the greatest love of all for a brief, fleeting moment, when we truly were one person, with the same sense of humour, love of laughter and twisted sense of world view.
Goodbye my love. You still hold a space in my heart. But for now, the door cannot be opened for a while so I can heal.