Guy Adams is the author of the novels The World House and its sequel Restoration. He gave up acting five years ago to become a full time writer. He has since written bestselling humour titles based on TV’s Life on Mars, Torchwood novels and two new Sherlock Holmes adventures, The Breath of God and The Army of Doctor Moreau. He also recently novelised the Hammer film Kronos and his latest book, Hands of the Ripper, is another in the same vein. When This Is Horror’s John Llewellyn Probert found out that Mr Adams may have included him as a thinly-disguised character in the latter, he wasted no time in getting to the bottom of things with Mr Adams, as the following interview testifies:
What first attracted you to horror writing?
GA: The hours. Unfortunately I was misled and haven’t seen daylight since 2006.
What is your most notable work?
GA: Notable or best? Either are subjective I guess and I’ve written over twenty books so it gets hard to think straight about most of them now.
As a writer you always hope it’s going to be the next one, the book you haven’t started yet. It’s the untainted potential, the sparkly idea before the shitty realism of confusion and deadlines and clunky sentences you just can’t fix gets in the way. The next book is like a beautiful vintage car, all gleaming chrome and sexy curves, then you pop the bonnet and find the engine is full of worms.
I’m proud of parts of all of my books. Moments when I think I hit ‘it’ (whatever that may be). If I thought any of them were perfect I’d be fooling myself and in the wrong job.
Then we are our own worst critics. I did my first public reading at Fantasycon in Brighton last year and was able to see a section of my novel, Restoration, through the audience’s eyes rather than my own. I liked how they saw it much better.
What are you working on now?
GA: I’m finishing off a novel called Makes You Stronger, the first in the Deadbeat series being published by Titan Books from next year. It’s an expansion of a novella I wrote in 2005 (a rather major expansion, like building a mansion house onto the side of a caravan). It’s been strange going back and hearing what I used to sound like. At the time the books were described as being “just like every other pulp crime/horror/zombie/comedy ever written”. That feels like more worn territory than it was when I first wrote it so the joke no longer works, but if nothing else that’s forced me to find even more fresh things to say. It’s something of an autobiography, but with more monsters.
I’m also finishing off my third Hammer novelisation, a version of Countess Dracula that I’m setting in 1930’s Hollywood. Hopefully this one is going to surprise people, it’s rich and perverse! I want to imbue it with the atmosphere those late Hammer’s had when I first saw them, illicit and thrilling.
Finally, the wagon that is The Heaven’s Gate Chronicles well set off on its trail. These are weird westerns that I’ve wanted to write for years. Imagine Brigadoon as directed by Sergio Leone. They’ll be coming out from Solaris next year.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
GA: Everyone. And I don’t mean that as a glib, silly answer. Writing horror is a gruelling and often thankless task. We’ve been flying in the face of judgmental attitudes and shifting favour in the market place. Is there a single author working in the industry today that hasn’t had to really struggle to tell the tales they want to tell? I know that’s not the sole province of horror but, God, we’ve had it harder than most. The conviction to stick to your guns, to write the work that comes from the gut not the wallet… I certainly haven’t had the luxury of being able to maintain that philosophy, and I have nothing but admiration for those who have.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
GA: These days psychology is everything. When I was young I relished the subversive and fleshy now it has to work harder. I don’t mind body horror when it’s done well and contextually right – we can all sever a literary artery, cheap prose flows thicker than blood – but to rend flesh when it’s right, when it’s absolutely the dramatic way to go… that’s a skill. Still, the head is the scariest thing to open up on the page.
Why should people read your work?
GA: Hopefully because they might enjoy it. I can’t ask for any more. Writing is personal but it still needs to be shared. I just want to tell stories that people enjoy hearing. My stuff is a mixture of genres and flavours, like life, but I hope I entertain.
Recommend a book.
GA: One book? One of mine or someone else’s? Either is difficult. Of my own I’d say The World House and Restoration (I’m not cheating, you really couldn’t read one but not the other). Of someone else’s? My answer would be different at each passing moment. That said, I challenge anyone not to adore Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith. I’ve met him several times and I always end up tongue-tied because that book is so damned good it intimidates the hell out of me.
WORDS: JOHN LLEWELLYN PROBERT
PHOTOGRAPHY: DEBRA WILKINSON
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