Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"The Next Big Thing"

Many of you may have encountered this already. If not, it's basically a round robin where every Wednesday a writer (in this case, me) provides his or her answers to the ten questions below and then tags five additional writers, each of whom answers the questions on the subsequent Wednesday, again tagging five writers, and so on.

The brilliant Richard Gavin was kind enough to tag me in his own post last week, meaning it’s my turn to sit down and answer some questions. If you’re not familiar with his work, Richard is the author, most recently, of At Fear’s Altar, released last month by Hippocampus Press and certain to end up on many year’s best lists, including my own.

1. What is the working title of your next book?

Since my “next book” is probably some time off at this point, I think I will use this as another excuse to talk about my novella Unhallowed Ground, which was recently released by DarkFuse as an e-book for Kindle/Nook/I-Pad, etc.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wrote the first drafts of the novella in the winter/spring of 2010 after reading JS Le Fanu’s Uncle Silas and The Wyvern Mystery in rapid succession. Looking back, it seems clear to me that the vivid imagery and suffocating atmosphere of Uncle Silas contributed in no small way to that of Unhallowed Ground’s Bittersweet Lodge, though the central premise of my novella—and the somewhat evasive nature of the ending—was likely inspired by my frequent readings/rereadings of Charles Palliser’s historical novels The Quincunx (1989) and The Unburied (2000).

3. What genre does your book fall under?

“Supernatural Fiction” seems to me to be as good a label as any. I will also admit a certain fondness for the terms “the ghost story” and “the supernatural tale,” all of which are usually grouped under the genre heading “horror.”

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Er. Pass?

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In the summer of 1891, Henry Feathering visits his uncle's dilapidated country house and later inherits the property, thereby discovering a bracing and singular darkness binding the house to its history and the living to the dead.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It is now available as an e-book from DarkFuse. Get it here.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

As a novella, Unhallowed Ground tops out at around 23,000 words. The first draft was written over the course of 4-5 weeks with much of the final 12,000 words being written in a single weekend. Initial revision work occupied an additional 2-3 weeks of time, with further revision occurring periodically throughout the last two years.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Putting LeFanu to the side for the moment, Unhallowed Ground has a certain amount in common, plot-wise, with other classic tales of ambiguous terror (or is that terrifying ambiguity?), including Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw and Oliver Onions’ The Beckoning Fair One, while the novella’s Turn-of-the-Century style undoubtedly owes something to my previously attested obsession with the ghost stories of MR James and the Benson brothers.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Around the time I started work on Unhallowed Ground, I noticed a peculiar trend in my own short fiction. In several stories, my narrator-protagonists, generally male, were brought into contact with a feminine embodiment of the strange/uncanny, echoing the narrator's own estrangement from the opposite sex and implying a fundamental inability for men and women to understand one another. Unhallowed Ground began, then, as a rebuttal of sorts -- and evolved into something quite different.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I don’t have too much to add to what I have already written except to say that Unhallowed Ground marks a real departure for me in its emphasis on human relationships as well as its careful, intricate plotting. In other words: for all of its late-Victorian trappings, I do think that Unhallowed Ground makes an excellent introduction to my work in general, and I couldn’t be happier to know that it is out there now and being read.

So who’s up next? 

Well, first off, I’m going to go ahead and tag Kristin Dearborn, who just released her debut novel Trinity through DarkFuse, and then I want to mention a handful of new authors with little or no web presence but whose work merits the highest standards of attention and admiration: Sam Dawson, Colin Insole, Louis Marvick, and Philbampus.