You’ve probably seen by now The Next Big Thing which is doing the blogging rounds, and as Thana Niveau http://thananiveau.blogspot.co.uk/tagged me last week it’s my turn to answer a few questions on my current project…
1. What is the working title of your next book?
I’ve always got several projects on the go at once (lots of stories, a novella, and a novel at the moment which is in itself one of four interconnected stories), but the book I’m currently pitching is my collection. The collection is called Probably Monsters, as in “Hey, what are you writing about Ray?” to which I’ll shrug and say “Probably Monsters”. I owe thanks to a girl called Bella for that, sort of my neice-in-law. She found a hole in the carpet and asked how it got there – we didn’t know, so she offered the explanation “Probably monsters” and now it’s my answer for anything and everything.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
It started simply as somewhere to collect all I’d published to date, but has since shifted into something with more focus on the monsters and dark places. I’ve also replaced older stories with new unpublished material to better represent where I am now. Actually, I keep doing that.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Depending on your preference for genre labels, it’s either horror or dark fantasy or something like that. There are monsters in many of the stories but not all of them. They do each have a dark side though.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
As a collection, there are too many stories to answer this fully. I’d love to see ‘At Night, When the Demons Come’ made into a movie, with Ving Rhames as Frances (that misspelling is deliberate) and the rest as unknowns, especially whoever plays Charlie. I also think ‘Pins and Needles’ might make a nice (?!) short dark film, and for that I’d love to have Ethan Hawke being awkward and geeky. I’m trying to think of a story that gives me an excuse to cast Elisabeth Olsen as I’ve been well impressed with her in a couple of films. I’ll have to write a new one for her. And if Clint Mansell could do the soundtrack for one of them I’d be thrilled; maybe for ‘Fata Morgana’.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A collection of stories by Ray Cluley: here be monsters.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Well, it’s kind of been picked up by a publisher but rather informally by email and even then that was a while ago now and I’ve not heard anything since. I should get it out there again probably, but I know it can be a slow business so I’ll be patient a little while longer. The longer it stays with me, though, the more it changes into something else. If it were a novel I’d probably resist tinkering, but with stories I can keep changing the order, taking some out, putting new ones in.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Probably Monsters collects stories from 2008 to present, so arguably that’s four years. Until a date’s fixed for publication, though, I’ll be changing the line up occasionally to keep it ‘me’.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Crickey, what a question. I think I’ll leave that for others to decide.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
That basically means what inspired me to write at all, and the answer would be a great long list of names. The good ones make me want to do the same thing they do, whereas the bad ones make me think ‘I can do better than that’. A shout out should really go to James Cooper who has encouraged me, perhaps without even intending to, in offering some kind words about my work in the early days (and a few times since), and also to Michael Kelly who asked to see my collection in such a way that I felt okay about putting one together in the first place (until then, I’d felt a bit like I was pretending). A lot of my inspiration, though, comes from my partner V H Leslie who gives me a kick up the bum when I need one, and tells me I can do it whenever I feel otherwise. A lot of my stories wouldn’t have turned out they way they did, or exist in the first place, without some of our conversations late into the night. Essentially, though, I just love telling stories. Love it.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Hmm… You’d get to see where I started, with ‘Viva Las Vegas’, and you’d get a story Ellen Datlow liked enough to reprint in her Best Horror of the Year. You’ll learn how Dracula’s brides might have met, and that a golem doesn’t need to be made of clay, and what really happens when you go back to the Black Lagoon. You’ll also meet a man who goes fishing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge (but not for fish), a girl who learns what it really is to give blood, and a boy who combs the beach for treasures he doesn’t quite understand. Some humour, some meta-fiction, and some monsters. I hope that’ll do it.
Who else is doing this?
The wonderful Thana Niveau tagged these people too: Angela Slatter, John Forth, Stephen Bacon, and Carole Johnstone so you could check them out. (And if you know how to hide links as actual names like these ones I copied, feel free to share that info with me because as you’ll see below, I can’t do it.)
Who’s up next?
And now’s the bit where I tag others. I’m supposed to tag five but I’m giving you three. They’ll be blogging on the 21st of November, but feel free to click on the links earlier to check out their websites.
V. H. Leslie needs tagging because she’s just this week set up her blog so give her some traffic. She’s had stories published in Black Static, has one in the current Shadows & Tall Trees, and writes non-fiction too. Find her at http://vhleslie.wordpress.com/ next week.
Priya Sharma writes all sorts – horror, sci-fi, fantasy – with credits like Black Static, Interzone, and Albedo One, not to mention various Best Ofs. For Priya, visit http://priyasharmafiction.wordpress.com/
And I’m tagging James Cooper as well. I’ve loved all of his stories, particularly ‘There’s Something Wrong With Pappy’ which you can listen to at http://talestoterrify.com/tales-to-terrify-no-17-james-cooper/ and ‘The Pig Farm’ which is in the latest Black Static. You can find out more at http://www.jamescooperfiction.co.uk/