I first interviewed Adam 6 years ago, when I read Banquet of the Damned. It was therefore a pleasure to catch up with him again, and find out about his writing, and his impressive list of published books...
Back in 2008, we talked about your newly published book, Banquet for the Damned. Now, in 2014, you’re about to have your sixth horror book published, No One Gets Out Alive. That must have been quite a journey! Has each book taken you through a natural progression of writing, or are they all very different?
A seventeen year journey from Banquet’ to No One Gets Out Alive. Though they are all supernatural horror stories and some themes and ideas are present in each novel, I’d say the books are all different – from the way they are written to the main ideas of each story. I tend to think about the ideas for years before I start writing them into a story, and then the actual story as it unfolds determines the way the book is written.
So if you could back and rewrite Banquet, do you think it would be much different, or does it remain the book you wanted it to be?
It remains the book of that time so I wouldn’t change it. Would I write a book in that style again? I don’t know. It’s quite a baroque, Gothic, lyrical and detailed work, but then the material, the ideas, back story and town in which it was based, ultimately fashioned the way the book was written. For example, the more direct, cinematic, thriller style of THE RITUAL wouldn’t have been appropriate for that story or setting (this is where reviewers most often annoy me). Banquet was also very much a homage to Edwardian horror fiction. Homage but not pastiche, I hope.
Has each book come to you in order, or do you have ideas which you’ve put to one side, and have returned to at a later date?
A mixture of the two – BANQUET through to LAST DAYS came to me in an order. But the ideas and images from HOUSE OF SMALL SHADOWS I’ve had forever, but no vehicle to carry them, until a couple of years ago. I wasn’t sufficiently equipped to write that novel until after I’d had a go at its predecessors. It can be tricky when I am writing a book that becomes problematic, because it’s natural to suspect that I should have written a different book altogether – one of the other ideas. But I have learned that all books are problematic and I refuse to give up on anything I start – that way lies despair and hard drives full of unfinished ideas (I know writers like that).
Even if a book takes years to finish satisfactorily – at least to me – like APARTMENT 16, I will see it through. Because ideas are the easiest part of writing. I never kid myself that another idea would have been easier to write. The act of transforming ideas and notions and feelings into a story is always going to be demanding. I do have more structure now as I commit to writing two novels over two years, so I refuse to get distracted by other ideas that suddenly burn to get out until the two contracted works are completed.
In brief, can you give us a quick summary of each book?
BANQUEST FOR THE DAMNED – an occult horror novel about witchcraft and demonology.
APARTMENT 16 – my outsider novel and haunted house story about mental and physical disintegration
THE RITUAL – a novel of psychic terror set in the wilderness. Also Lovecraftian.
LAST DAYS – an epic story about sociopaths and cults, spanning 400 years and four countries.
HOUSE OF SMALL SHADOWS – rural British folk horror
NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE – my first true ghost story, with folk and psychopath elements. It’s also a story about the consequences of today’s grotesque economic inequality.
Are there any favourites? One that means something special, or was a particular favourite to write?
So far, I like them all equally. I believe I’ve maintained quality control and written books all sufficiently distinct from each other. I’ve also written the books I wanted to write. And there are things I am proud of within each book and things I now pick at too, but they still rank equally to me in hindsight.
Most horror readers I speak to say they’re looking for something extra, beyond the gory side of horror. How do you get the balance right, between gore and chills?
The actual writing of the story, the circumstances and situations dictate the atmosphere and level of bloodshed, the subtlety or blunt trauma. It’s not something I can plan. I have to trust my imagination that it can grow a story from the initial images and ideas. I won’t add or subtract either approach if it’s contrary to what the story requires.
How much research do you do for your books?
A great deal. Probably as much as I read for my masters for each book. The research for the work in progress is considerable – I’ve had to research as I write, subject by subject.
Do you think it affects you, being surrounded by these dark ideas so much? What do you do to ‘switch off’?
It may make my morbidity and poor opinion of humanity worse, also my fears for the future. The research for NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE did give me pause to what I was exposing myself to over a lengthy period of time – the worst kind of people and the continually harrowing situations they create for their victims. Apparently my whole mood and my preoccupations changed. I turn off the horror tap when I’m with my daughter – she is the most perfect counter balance.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read? Are you a fan of horror, or do you read something completely different?
Yes, I read a lot of quality horror. Over half of what I read each year falls into that category. I also read a lot of literary fiction, and nonfiction increasingly too.
I know No One Gets Out Alive is only just about to be published, but can you give us any clue as what comes next, what are you working on right now?
The work in progress is the most difficult book I have ever attempted … and it will not be something most regular readers would expect from me. If nothing else, I never want to be accused of going through motions and lacking ambition. I want all of my books to be intense reading, and to surprise and affect readers. That’s the aspiration.
Thank you to Adam for his time, and his answers. You can visit his official website here.