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Neil Williams

Neil Williams
What first attracted you to horror writing?

It’s something that has fascinated me for as far back as I can remember. At primary school they had an encyclopaedia with a section on mythical monsters. The accompanying illustration featured Beowulf in Hrothgar’s hall and forcing a way through the bolted doors the taloned hand of Grendal. It’s the first English horror story. I’d read Stoker’s Dracula by the time I was ten.

Growing up in the seventies, most of my exposure to horror came through television and cinema. The first film I remember seeing at the cinema was the still remarkably dark The Golden Voyage of Sinbad when I was seven. On the small screen there was Doctor Who, creepy children’s dramas like King of the Castle and Children of the Stones. BBC2 had their horror double bills and ITV showed films under the title Appointment with Fear.

ill at ease by Mark West Nei Williams and Stephen BaconWhat is your most notable work?

I’m a complete novice; probably better known for my cover art for the Spectral and Pendragon Press chapbooks. You can count the stories I’ve had published on one hand. So I was really thrilled to have been asked by Mark West and Stephen Bacon to join them on their Ill at Ease project. I also have a story ‘Pestfurlong Hill’ due to be published in the Our Haunted World anthology from Whitlock Publishing. As this will be my first story in print I think of it as an important step.

What are you working on now?

I’m notoriously undisciplined in my approach to writing, far too easily distracted and have several half finished stories lying about the place. But I do have one novella The Derelict on its final draft. Once that’s done I need to finish my ‘weird bird’ story that showed so much promise.

Who do you admire in the horror world?

The usual suspects; I count Ramsey Campbell, H.P. Lovecraft and M.R. James among the most influential.

On family holidays to Wales I used to buy the Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories edited by Robert Aickman and later by R. Chetwynd-Hayes. I think Chetwynd-Hayes seems, sadly, rather forgotten these days. But he was very important to my education in horror fiction.

Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?

Regardless of how much blood you splash about, the most important aspect in all good horror is the build up. Psychological chills are compulsory.

Why should people read your work?

It won’t take them very long.

Recommend a book.

As it’s about to be reprinted, I’d like to recommend Kim Newman’s magnificent Bloody Red Baron. I’m obsessed with First World War aviation and Richthofen in particular. Also William Hope Hodgson’s classic The House on the Borderland; a dizzyingly cosmic novel that influenced the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Clarke Ashton Smith.

Neil Williams

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