Shaun Meeks lives in Toronto, Ontario with his partner, model and Burlesque performer, Mina LaFleur. Together they own and operate their company L’Atelier de LaFleur. Shaun has been writing for many years now and is a member of the Horror Writers Association. He is the author of Shutdown and the novelette, Down on the Farm.
What first attracted you to horror writing?
When I was younger I found a copy of Night Shift by Stephen King. My brother had picked it up and I was intrigued by the cover. At the time, I already loved watching old horror movies like I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, The Blob and any of the Hammer flicks. I had never thought about writing though until I started reading that book. There was something in those stories that sparked a fire in my mind and I gave it a shot. This was all the way back when I was in grade four.
While I think my latest story, ‘And Midian Whispered Its Name’ is getting quite a bit of attention, I think my most read and well received work thus far is my first collection of short stories called At the Gates of Madness. Although I think that once this new book, The Gate at Lake Drive, starts to make the rounds and people get introduced to Dillon, they’re going to love it more than anything else I’ve put out.
What are you working on now?
I just finished up the next book in the Dillon series called Earthbound and Down. It picks up where The Gate at Lake Drive left off and goes more in depth with Dillon’s history, his friendship with Godfrey and his relationship with Rouge.
How much planning and research do you undertake before writing?
I tend to write more about what I know already or make up worlds where I create everything that exists. If a story requires research, something like ‘Miriam’ that takes place in the 1880s, I will read books, go online to research, and ask people who are well-schooled in the era, work, or other things I may need help in.
Describe your writing routine.
When it comes to writing a short story, I usually have no idea where I’m going to go with it. Most days I just sit down and start typing. I’ll have an opening line or a vague idea and let it run wild. With a novel, I take a little more time to flesh out the idea before I start to type. Most times though I have no idea where that will end up. I may have a bit of an idea, a loose outline, but when it comes to keeping a story organic and letting it go where it wants to, I’m all about that.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
So many people. There are those that I grew up with like Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell and Ray Bradbury. These were the writers that really shaped me early on and showed me a lot about how to write. Lately, though, there are some great writers popping up all over the place, but they’re more than just that; they’re people I can look up to and respect. Writers like Jack Ketchum, Tim Lebbon, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Yvonne Navarro, Nancy Holder, Brian Keene, Christian A. Larsen, Jeani Rector, Joe R. Lansdale, and I could really go on. For the most part the writers I’ve come to know and interact with, who I keep up with on social media, show me how great the community is.
There are also editors I’ve been lucky enough to talk with and work with. People like Del Howison, Weldon Burge, Joe Nassise, Ellen Datlow, Gerry Huntman, Stephen Jones, William Cook and Lori Michelle have not only been great to work with, but they’ve taught me so much about honing my craft.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
It really depends on my frame of mind. There are days when I want a slow burn, something that gets me at the core. There are other times when I want something that reminds me of the old gore flicks of the 80s. Some days I need to pick up something by Wrath James White, Shane McKenzie or Edward Lee and other days I want something that won’t make me make weird, grossed out faces on the bus. I don’t really think one style is better than the other. I’m one of those people that loves the variety the horror world has to offer. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Why should people read your work?
The reason I started to write was to offer people an escape from their day-to-day life. From the times when I was a kid until now, I’ve always written with the reader in mind. I do write for me, putting down on paper what I think I’d want to read if I hadn’t written it, but I also think of how others will take it. I want people to have fun, or be challenged by what they’re reading. I like to offer varying story types, giving everything from classic horror to extreme to psychological. I do my best to stay fresh and unique, taking the reader on a ride they didn’t expect and can’t predict.
Recommend a book.
It’s so hard to recommend one book. There are so many great writers out there, but I think the best I can do is offer one that isn’t as mainstream as Joe Hill or Graham Masterton. In that case I would suggest everyone go out and get a copy of Christian A. Larsen’s Losing Touch. This is a unique horror novel that reminds me of a superhero origin story that Tales from the Crypt or Creep might’ve told.