Hi Kev and a very warm welcome to the blog. I am very interested to find out more about your writing influences and hear about your new novella, The Balance.
Firstly, please tell me a little about yourself.
Hi Janine, thanks so much for having me on your blog. I’m a forty-year-old writer from the UK, living on the outskirts of Lisbon, Portugal. I’m an English Language Teacher for my day job (actually, more of a night job!) and writer of horror and dark fiction. I also write occasional articles for This is Horror (www.thisishorror.co.uk) and manage their news and 5 must read horror articles, weekly.
Now for some questions.
Q1. When did you first start writing and why horror?
I have been writing horror and other flavours of dark fiction in a serious way since about the end of 2016. I’d always seen myself as a wannabe writer, but had that idea that so many do that it’s for “other people” whoever they might be.
Q2. Tell me about your role at This is Horror.
I’ve known Michael David Wilson for a long time, personally (I believe we first met in 2007). I was always aware of his passion for horror and, indeed, I shared his love for reading horror (among other genres), playing horror videogames and watching horror movies. When I started writing more seriously, Michael offered me the chance to get involved with This is Horror, both as news editor and occasional reviewer. I’ve really enjoyed working with the guys, Bob is a fantastic person to work with on website matters and really open to new ideas for articles, etc. I’m hoping to write more features for the site in the future.
Q3. Who are your favourite authors and do they influence/inspire you?
This list could almost be infinite, but I’ll keep it brief-ish.
First up, I’m going to mention Gemma Files. Her fiction spans such an enormous variety of themes, but always has this trademark weirdness, as well as characters that you can absolutely find yourself wholly invested in, even in short fiction. Her story ‘Distant Dark Places’ in the Looming Low anthology from Dim Shores has stayed fresh in my mind since the first time I read it. Unbelievable force of character will, and a story you can throw yourself into, despite the outlandishness of the premise.
Secondly, I’m going to plump for Victor LaValle. If there’s something he’s written that isn’t astounding, I’m yet to find it. Reading The Changeling taught me so much about perspective and better understanding writers-and characters-of colour. Since then I’ve read a number of his shorts and The Ballad of Black Tom and he never ceases to amaze me. He also seems like a really great guy on social media/podcasts, too.
Adam Nevill is also someone I really look up to. As one of the foremost writers of supernatural horror from my homeland writing today, I’d be crazy not to. Add to that that he has a way of writing which really does instil fear in readers (myself included) and he has to be right up there.
Finally, I’ll mention Michael Griffin. His completely unique take on the weird, especially his way of delivering it through multisensory experience on the page, completely pulls me in and I constantly find myself devouring everything he writes the moment it comes out. Also the only writer I’ve read whose work scares me in ways I don’t even properly understand.
Q4. Does being an English teacher help or hinder your writing?
I think it helps in as much as I get to have contact with a really wide variety of people. Also in that it’s enabled me to live in different countries with really distinct cultures (my new novella, The Balance, is set in communist Poland, something I’d never have understood in the way I do without having lived there as a teacher). Finally, the timetable allows me to be at home writing when the rest of the world is at work, 4 days a week, because I teach primarily in the afternoon and evening.
Q5. Your first novella is due out very soon. What is it all about?
The Balance is about a sixteen-year-old girl, Natalia, in cold war Poland who has a lot of responsibility on her head, since her father ran out on their family years earlier. Her brother gets hurt while she is supposed to be watching him and, as was often the case at the time, her village doctor doesn’t have access to the medication needed to prevent infection. She decides to go and see the local Baba Yaga, a forest witch of sorts, for help, starting a catastrophic chain of events that she couldn’t possibly have foreseen. It’s aimed at a YA/NA audience, but I hope adult readers will get something out of it, too. It’s being released on 28th April through Lycan Valley Press.
Q6. I see you have had a story featured on Tales to Terrify (me too!) – do you write stuff specifically for audio?
The story I had featured on Tales to Terrify, ‘Afraid Of My Own Shadow,’ was something that very quickly spun out from a germ of an idea into a full story. One of those that almost writes itself. While I was writing it, I didn’t have audio in mind, but the situation of the story, a police interview, lent itself particularly well to the audio medium and I was delighted when Tales to Terrify picked it up. I have another story-this one initially featured in the Things in the Well anthology Beyond the Infinite: Tales From The Outer Reaches-coming to Tales to Terrify later this year, which is a near-future tale set in outer space, but which also features ancient gods. I’m excited to hear what they do with it. I’ve also written a fair number of stories for Hawk and Cleaver’s amazing The Other Stories podcast. I don’t feel like they or their amazing teams of narrators get nearly enough credit for their productions, which use sound effects and music to enhance the delivery still further. I love writing for audio, and have in mind to adapt something for a radio play format in the near future.
Q7. What is next for you and what are your goals for the next year or so?
I have a number of short stories with markets, two of which are shortlisted for books that I would be immensely excited to be a part of. I also have a novella of subterranean supernatural horror out with a publisher, so I hope they give that the thumbs up. I’m also writing my first novel, which is set in the middle east. It draws on my experience living in Turkey and travelling in the region (which I’ve done quite extensively) and involves Djinn, which are a fascinating variant on demons.
Thanks for your time!
Thank you for including me on your site!
Please include any social media links.
The Balance: https://amzn.to/3a1kQa4
Cinders of a Blind Man Who Could See: https://amzn.to/2wzEiNK
A huge thank you to the lovely Kev for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat about his work and of course, yet another special mention to British God of Horror, Adam Nevill. Please follow Kev on the above social media and make sure you buy and review The Balance on April 28th. And, as always, sleeep well …