Welcome back to my collection of interviews with some of the mega talented ladies of horror. Today I welcome Paula R C Readman who shares some of her writing advice and when she saw a UFO …
1) When did you first begin the journey to becoming a writer and why choose dark fiction?
Thank you for your invite onto your blog. My journey to be published started just over 20 years ago. I was working in an electronics factory at the time with a big milestone looming on the horizon, when I decided to set myself a challenge. After years of working in minimum wage jobs, due to being dyslexic and poorly educated, I wanted to see if it was possible for me to become a published writer.
I wanted to prove that anything is possible if you’re dedicated enough, so I gave myself a deadline of ten years to get my first article published. I hadn’t the money, or time to do any writing courses as my earnings went to help pay the household bills. So my plan was to teach myself from ‘how to’ books, which my husband bought off eBay.
Why dark fiction, Janine, mainly because I don’t do romance. I’m not a romantic person. I’ve always been interested in the darker side of life. I guess it’s because I’m named after my dead brother, Paul. He died before I was born. My mother always wanted two boys and I came along next.
2) Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
I enjoy reading a wide range of books from classic writers like Poe, Bram Stoker and D.H Lawrence through to modern writers like P.D James who I was lucky enough to meet at the Essex Book Festival, in England. I found Barbara Erskine’s time-slip historical novels to be so different from other books which is why I enjoyed reading them. It’s normally the story I focus on rather than the author or the writer’s name. I enjoy Robert Galbraith’ Strike novels, and no, I’m not going to make a comment about who really wrote them. I will say I never read the boy wizard books, and nor have I read any of the 50 shades books either. Guess the only influence I can say reading a wide range of books has on my writing style the advantage of knowing the difference between good and bad writing. If you read well-written books you must absorb it subconsciously so when you are writing, and editing your work you get a positive feeling when it’s right. If I read a badly written book I try hard to take on board what’s bad about it to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes.
3) Do you think women’s horror has any unique qualities?
What an interesting question? Hmm, I guess women have always been placed in the role of victim in most horror movies and novels. We tend to be the screaming victim that has horrible things done to us. Women writers tend to think outside the box more and write from an emotional point of view. This could also play into our hands far more as women will have a deeper understanding of raw emotion from a woman’s point of view.
4) Have you had any supernatural or unexplained experiences yourself? If so, have they or will they make it into your stories?
I’ve had three possible close encounters with UFO’s in my lifetime. The first time was when I was about eighteen. It happened one early evening while my mother was out chopping firewood. She came running into the house shouting about a green glowing light. My sister and I saw the light through a window. It lit up the drive to our home.
We went out to see what was causing everything to glow green. Through a low dark cloud a fluorescent beam shone onto our home lighting up the mill and surrounding area. Our boyfriends came on their motorbikes while we stood in awe. Then a motorcycle policeman arrived. Of course, we thought our boyfriends had been speeding but the policeman said he had been watching the light from a motorway bridge and came to investigate what was causing it.
As we all stood there the light disappeared. I’ve always wondered whether the policeman reported it or not.
5) What is the best advice you have been given and what would you tell new writers trying to break into the genre?
Keep on writing, no matter what. My advice to new writers no matter what genre they choose to write in is to write a wide range of different short story lengths. Start with a length you’re comfortable with i.e. 1k to 2k words. Once you’ve built up a collection of published works, you have learnt and gained enough experience to tackle writing a novella or novel length. Short stories help you to write concisely as well as giving you the experience of learning how to deal with acceptance and rejection when you start submitting your work. The quick turnaround helps you learn to play the waiting game too. You do an awful lot of waiting to hear back from publishers, short story submissions and competitions.
6) How do you think Covid-19 will affect the future of horror?
Pandemics and viruses have always been a big staple diet of horror stories and films. Something so tiny and unseen is nightmarish enough because it isn’t fully understood. It must have been horrific in the Medieval Ages when the Black Plague was rife across Europe. At least in this day and age we have a better understanding of the science of pandemics, though this knowledge can give the writer a new slant to add a more interesting edge to future horror stories.
7) What is your writing dream goal? Is there someone you love to collaborate with, would you like to do a screenplay? What is it that drives you?
Three questions in one… I shall answer your second question first. Of course I would love to see one of my writing projects become a screenplay, but who would turn it into a screenplay. I don’t know as I haven’t put a lot of thought into imagining something like that happening to me.
My writing goal is to see a novel written by me make it onto the bestseller’s list. What drives me, Janine, is my constant battle with self-doubt, and not feeling quite good enough. I’m forcing myself to step outside my comfort zone to show others anything is possible, if you believe in yourself.
8) What is next for you?
Well, my first novel Stone Angels a twisted dark crime tale about an artist James Ravencroft and his ten paintings known as stone angels after many rejections, editing and rewrites Stone Angels was selected for publication by Darkstroke Books and is due for release on the 11th August 2020, but you can pre-order on: mybook.to/stoneangels
After Stone Angels I want to write a follow up novel to my supernatural crime novella, The Funeral Birds published by Demain Publishing in their series Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! My novella has received quite a few reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.https://www.amazon.co.uk/Funeral-Birds-Murder-Mystery-Mayhem-ebook/dp/B084GZGRV2
Thank you ever so much to Paula! Make sure you go check out her other work.
And, as always, sleep well …