39 On Folk Horror2

On Folk Horror

Folk horror is something of a retrospective tag for a brand of (mostly British) horror.  Although it is mostly affiliated with a clawful of early 70s horror films, it was 2010 before British screenwriter and horror aficionado Mark Gatiss popularised the term in referring to a trifecta of films with an emphasis on witchcraft, superstition and the British landscape.  The term has gained notoriety since then and many modern writers, filmmakers and musicians have made a conscious effort to tap its rich aesthetic.  I’m one of those writers.

Folk horror really speaks to me.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small English village; maybe it’s because I love nothing more than strolling through the countryside and letting my imagination run wild.  But I find rural English horror pleases me on a good few levels, and I enjoyed throwing my own hat in the ring with my most recent book Harvest House.  Here are some of my thoughts on why I like folk horror and why I find it horrifying, together with some signposts to exploring folk horror for yourselves. (more…)

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35 On Stephen King

On Stephen King

I just enjoyed a city break to Budapest. It was fantastic; great sights, great bars, great beers. I recommend it. But for my two nights in Hungary I was dogged by a monster, a monster that stalked me, never farther away than the snatch of its claw. It got its teeth into me while I waited for my flight at Gatwick Airport and wouldn’t let go until I defeated it. The monster’s name was Cujo. (more…)

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33-writing-a-novel-the-finish-line

Writing a Novel: The Finish Line

It’s been a while since my last blog post, and I’m sorry.  But I’m sure you’ll like what I’ve been up to: finishing my novel.

 

Back in March I talked about Writing a Novel: The Midway Point.  Midway wasn’t a bad estimate; I started After Life (yes, we have a title now) last November, and I finished the first draft on the last day of July.  Of course, writing a novel isn’t like competing in a race –  it’s like a triathlon, and there a few finish lines to make it through.  But first thing’s first: let me tell you all about finishing my novel. (more…)

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28 Writing a Novel- The Midway Point

Writing a Novel: The Midway Point

It’s been about three months since I started work on my novel, Rosetta, and a little over two months since I described my first impressions of writing it.  I hit 50,000 words last week – a little over half my forecast completed word count, which means I’m near enough halfway through.  At the very least, I’m in the thick of things, and I’ve got some new reflections on the subject of writing a novel to tell you about.  Some of them are pretty surprising; at least in light of my first impressions. (more…)

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27 All Write Now- Great Writing Music

All Write Now: Great Writing Music

Earlier this week I ambiguously tweeted that I’d written to Ludovico Einaudi – composer of, among many other beautiful piano pieces, The Waves.  I didn’t mean that I’d written a letter to him, though that’s how it came across – I only meant that I’d listened to his Islands album whilst writing.

 

I tend to listen to music whilst working on my books, and was overjoyed to find Stephen King does the same, as he notes in his fascinating On Writing.  Whilst King prefers ‘loud music – hard rock stuff like AC/DC, Guns ‘N’ Roses and Metallica’, I prefer soft stuff – instrumental, electronic, classical…  Music that I wouldn’t usually spin in the car or that I’d learn the drums to.  Background music, I suppose, though I don’t want to mislabel any of the excellent albums below as merely sonic wallpaper. (more…)

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25 Writing a Novel- First Impressions

Writing a Novel: First Impressions

I remember far back into my childhood when I dreamt of writing novels.  It couldn’t be that hard, I reasoned.  I could write a page every night after school, and more at the weekends.  It would be just like reading a book: I’d find out what happened as I went along.  And for the record, I still think there’s mileage in my idea of an alternate medieval universe in which everyone is accompanied by their own gargoyle, but I’m learning now there’s a lot more to writing a novel than one seed of an idea. (more…)

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24 Night Shade- A Short Story

Night Shade: An Apologia

I’m not a fan of fan fiction.  I think using characters that other authors have put their love and imagination into is cheating and disrespectful – especially (inevitably) when the writing isn’t as good as the author’s own.  I can’t see the reward in it either – fan fiction isn’t part of the original story and is therefore in no way ‘real’ or ‘true’ to it.  I don’t see the point in it other than as a writing exercise, and even then it’s a half-baked activity – the characterisation and interplay between different characters has been established for you.

(more…)

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