What first attracted you to horror writing?
I was lucky enough to grow up at a time when horror/SF and Fantasy were always on television. My favourite TV shows when I was a boy were Hammer House of Horror, The Tomorrow People, Shadows, Sapphire and Steel etc. It wasn’t unusual to be into this stuff back then. Well, not in my neighbourhood. My mother tells me that even in my pram I would reach out and point to creepy posters and books with garish monsters on the covers. Then I saw the 1977 BBC adaptation of Dracula, starring Louis Jordan as the count, and that just pulled me right into the literature I read Bram Stoker’s novel when I was twelve, and my family would buy me classic ghost story anthologies for birthdays and Christmases. I loved it all, and when I started to get interested in writing it just seemed natural that I write about dark stuff.
What is your most notable work?
That’s a tough question – I’m not sure if an author is the right person to answer this about their own work. I’m very proud of what I achieved in my latest novel, Pretty Little Dead Things (published by Angry Robot), and my recently released chapbook for indie imprint Spectral Press, What They Hear in the Dark, sums up my recurring themes perfectly.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just handed in a novel called The Concrete Grove to my editor at Solaris, and am limbering up to start the second book in the series. I’m contracted to write three books – a sort of rough trilogy, linked by the same location (a northern council housing estate that is also a doorway to another world) and certain themes and characters. And more short stories – always more short stories.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, Joel Lane, Conrad Williams, Michael Marshall Smith…and about a million other writers.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
Personally I prefer psychological chills. I find excessive gore to be lazy. But when I read horror I’m not looking to be shocked or appalled. I want to be moved. I’m not against using a bit of gore in a story, but if it’s used sparingly it’s much more effective. Gore is actually quite dull to write.
Why should people read your work?
Because reading my work will make you a millionaire. I made a deal with the devil, and he promised me that anyone who reads all of my novels will suddenly find a million pounds in their bank account. All it costs me is my immortal soul and a very sore bottom.
Recommend a book.
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski. If I have to recommend a horror book, I’ll go with Needing Ghosts by Ramsey Campbell – a novella that shows the master at the top of his game.