Today sees the publication of James Herbert’s latest novel, Ash. This is the third and final novel to feature parapsychologist, David Ash, who was previously seen in Haunted and The Ghosts of Sleath. To celebrate the publication of Ash we are delighted to bring you a preview of Michael Wilson’s interview with James Herbert which will be revealed in its entirety in issue 13 of Scream Magazine out on 6 September.
The Rats release day
“The first day it was published I went into my local WH Smiths and couldn’t see it on their shelves. I spoke with the manageress who must have known me by then as I would often buy three to five books at a time and asked her if she had a copy of a book called The Rats by James Herbert. She said, ‘No and we’re not likely to either’. And there it was in a nutshell, the idea that the establishment didn’t like me or what I was doing and it persisted for years.”
The critics in the early days
“They really knocked me but I just carried on doing what I loved. I always thought I must have written The Rats badly because of all the putdowns, but a journalist told me early into my career that he’d read the first three books – The Rats, The Fog and The Survivor – and they were very well written. Of course, I carried on trying to master my own writing – I haven’t yet, but I’m getting close.”
On Roy Plomley and Desert Island Discs
“My publisher wanted to get me on Desert Island Discs and so he asked an editor to sort out a book to send to Roy Plomley to see if I was worthy of going on the show. She sent him The Dark which is the hardest, meanest and most horrific book I have ever written. It was so foolish, she should have delivered Fluke which is a fairly gentle and humorous book. Even the name, The Dark, sounds unsuitable for Roy Plomley and Desert Island Discs. But she did it anyway and I received the message, ‘James Herbert will get on Desert Island Discs over my dead body.’
And then he died, so I was on. Michael Parkinson interviewed me and we had a good time. It’s something I’m very proud of, it’s just a shame that poor old Roy Plomley had to die for me to get on air.”
Advice for new writers
“If you’re a first time writer make sure you’re going to write about something you know, because if you don’t you’re going to have to research like mad. If your story is set in a certain location and it’s possible then go to that location. It will throw up more other ideas for the story you’re doing.
My second piece of advice is to just get on with it. I’ve met so many people that are writing books who when I next see them say ‘I sort of ran out of steam, so I didn’t do anymore.’ The trick is to keep working and to get things done – just bloody well do it! Yes, you might be writing rubbish but you can always go back over it and make it a better read. With every book you do you may get to a stage where you think ‘this is silly’. That’s happened to me a number of times but I’ve persevered and got on with it.”
If you like what you read and wish to read the full interview, you can pre-order a copy of Scream, issue 13 here.
If you enjoyed our interview and want to read James Herbert’s fiction, please consider clicking through to our Amazon Affiliate links and purchasing a new book today. If you do you’ll help keep the This Is Horror ship afloat with some very welcome remuneration.