Paul Edwards was born and raised in Bristol and now lives in the Somerset town of Frome. He’s had around 50 short stories printed in various anthologies, magazines and webzines, and this year will see two books published, Black Mirrors (Rainfall Records & Books) and Now That I’ve Lost You (Screaming Dreams). You can find out more about Paul here.
What first attracted you to horror writing?
PE: I’ve always been a horror fanatic – I guess I find beauty in the weird and the grotesque, and actually get a real kick out of being scared! When I was a child, my parents bought me the Fighting Fantasy gamebook House of Hell and that had a huge influence on me; it really captured my imagination, awakening an insatiable curiosity for all things horror. I’ve also had this perpetual drive to create and write; the idea of contributing in my own small but unique way to the genre I love is tremendously exciting to me.
PE: Definitely my two books – Black Mirrors published by Rainfall Records & Books, and Now That I’ve Lost You, which is forthcoming from Screaming Dreams. I’m proud of both collections and they’re a good springboard (and confidence boost) for me to (hopefully) move on to bigger and better things. I was also delighted to receive honourable mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror for the stories ‘Highways’ (in Midnight Street) and ‘Painting Blind Circles’ (published in an anthology called Dark Doorways).
What are you working on now?
PE: My attitude to writing has changed recently and I think that’s a confidence thing; getting a couple of collections accepted by publishers has certainly helped there. A couple of years ago I was utterly convinced I’d never be able to tackle something as daunting as a novel, but now I’ve just finished the first draft of one (though I’m immensely fearful that I’ve failed spectacularly) and now well into the editing stages. The project was inspired by my love of The Exorcist, The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby, and revolves around the Antichrist (in the form of a child), the priest who captures him and Judas Iscariot’s thirty pieces of silver.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
PE: Stephen King, obviously. I thought his recent novella collection, Full Dark, No Stars, was a real return to form. Other writers I admire include Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Joel Lane, Poppy Z Brite, Ray Bradbury, Fritz Leiber, Simon Clark, Graham Joyce, Daniel Kaysen and Tony Richards. I read a lot of British horror and enjoy the work of Gary McMahon, Nicholas Royle, Simon Bestwick, Mark West, John B. Ford, Stuart Hughes, David Price and Conrad Williams. Some of these people I’ve been lucky enough to meet in person at FantasyCon. I love the universe Gary Braunbeck creates in his Cedar Hill stories and novels. I like how Jack Ketchum shows us the dangers of apathy; by turning a blind eye, his protagonists are taken to the very extremes of terror. I’m also fortunate to live next door to horror author David Gatward, and although he writes Young Adult stuff as opposed to adult, he’s very much influenced by the likes of Lovecraft and Clive Barker, so he’s great to chat with and bounce ideas off of.
PE: Definitely psychological. Don’t get me wrong, I like a gory and violent horror movie from time to time, but there has to be a point behind all the bloodshed and violence for it to really appeal to me. Take the movie Martyrs, which I adored. The ending validates everything that had come before it, although I know for a fact that some people find that film very hard to watch indeed. Fiction wise, Ramsey Campbell is terrific at truly getting under your skin; the way he unflinchingly explores our obsessions, neuroses and fears is second to none. I’m unsettled more by vivid, atmospheric prose, a telling word or phrase and striking, subtle imagery than passages of explicit, graphically wrought violence.
Why should people read your work?
PE: I like to think (and hope) my work is different, and my writing unique enough to stand out. I’m under no illusions that I still have a long, long way to go, but I hope people get a kick (or a chill) out of reading some of my stories.
Recommend a book.
PE: I think most people who follow This Is Horror will be aware of Richard Matheson’s classic I Am Legend; it’s my favourite piece of work in the horror field. It’s desperately sad and moving, filled with cruel false hopes and dark little twists of fate, with a wonderfully impacting twist ending. It’s positively claustrophobic in its depiction of loneliness. But for perhaps something a little less familiar I’d have to go for Joel Lane’s third (and my personal favourite) collection of short stories The Terrible Changes: ‘After the Flood’, ‘Every Form of Refuge’, ‘Face Down’, ‘All Beauty Sleeps’ and ‘Alouette’ are in my mind some of the best examples of the weird story out there, and although at times I can’t pretend to wholly understand the message Joel’s conveying, the prose is so strong, so poetic, so intense, that I keep coming back to it time and time again. Joel, like many of my favourite writers, gets the reader to work, to meet the author half way, and I really respect that.