What first attracted you to horror writing?
When I was around eighteen and studying creative writing at London Metropolitan, a friend of mine gave me a copy of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood, because he said there was a story in there that the film Candyman was based on (I’m a big horror film fan, Candyman being one of my favourites). That story, ‘The Forbidden’, was written in such a ridiculously elegant style that I became insanely jealous of Barker and wanted to write something really outstanding and inventive and creepy and weird and scary. Since then, I’ve really tried to study the genre by eating as many horror stories. I’ve lived on a diet of horror books ever since.
What is your most notable work?
My debut Playground is my most notable work. It’s a about a teenager in London that is influenced by all kinds of satanic and demonic stuff while hanging out with his old neighbourhood friends during the hottest week of the year. It’s really a horror disguised as an ‘urban drama’. Because I knew that that kind of thing was really popular, I decided to write a gang story but with a supernatural core, so it’s a bit of a novelty. A publisher read it, liked it, and I signed a publishing contract at the age of twenty-three. In the two years since its release we’ve had meetings with different production studios interested in buying the rights and turning Playground into a feature.
What are you working on now?
We are just getting ready to release Someone’s in the House through Pen Press on January 21. It’s about a psychotic homeless woman that dabbles in witchcraft and begins stalking an unfortunate teenage mother and her child. It’s a horrible and scary book. I recommend it.
Other than that, I’m writing the first volume in what I hope will be a long running series of dark and disturbing (non-patronising) children’s fantasy books, called Black Flute.
Jack Ketchum is my favourite horror author because he’s fearless and the master of splatter punk; that guy has created his own strand of violent, explicit books and has really been a big inspiration to me. That being said, The King gets a notable mention as my favourite author overall. However, I’m yet to read an author that writes as romantically grotesque as Clive Barker or one that shares the scope of his imagination. I also really like underrated English horror writer Guy N Smith.
On another note, I love HP Lovecraft but the sense of dread he invokes through his writing deeply offends me.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
I just like a good, well written story. To be honest I think there is a clear distinction between what we term horror fiction and things that are considered ‘scary’ or ‘frightening’ novels. The only books that have really affected me in that way were The Exorcist and Stephen King’s IT. But that’s beside the point. I’m not really big on ghost stories though I have read some pretty crazy ones online on various forums.
Anything with a nightmarish vibe suits me down to the ground. That’s what I live for.
Why should people read your work?
People should read a Samuel Bonner book because I work damn hard writing the thing to ensure that it is compelling, scary, disturbing, and enjoyable. I write horror for people who enjoy horror. But most of all, I really aim to write a good book that people will want to recommend to their friends. If a person picked up my book and read it like ‘what the fuck is wrong with this guy?’ but liked it, I can live with that.
Recommend a book.
Read IT by Stephen King. It deserves to be heralded as the greatest horror novel of all time for its sheer depth. I’ll lay my hands on anyone who disagrees.
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