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 I’m 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. I’ve not looked back. I daren’t.
2. Have you written in any other genre?
I’ve 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 it’s quite flexible. We’ll 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, I’m not offended, that’s a good sign. If I wrote romance however…
5. Does your writing make you uneasy?
There’s 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. I’ve had readers contact me saying the same thing. I like it when my readers agree with me, even if it’s on something wrong.
6. Who would you say you write like?
I’ve been compared to Stephen King a bit, even though I haven’t 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 children’s 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 there’s 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, I’ve mentioned King and Dahl already, but Richard Laymon is a horror staple. I’m 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 it’s 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. I’ve 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. I’d 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?
I’ve already done a paedophile story, so I don’t 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. I’ve had four books published in three years whilst working (more than) full time and having two young children to entertain. I’m 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. I’m currently writing this sentence two hundred miles from home, travelling at sixty seven miles per hour. I’m not driving obviously.
13. If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?
I’d 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. I’m busy with work and family, so after that, it’s 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 doesn’t have to be something physical. I like making up stupid jokes, making people laugh, even going for a walk is creative because you’re creating a moment. Do anything instead of being sedentary. Don’t become stale. I fear that.
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