Welcome back to another author interview! This week, I’m thrilled to spotlight editor and writer Mark Nixon. Mark is the purveyor of the awesome Shadows at the Door website that features a variety of horror stories in both the classic and modern veins. I’ve been one of the fortunate authors to work with Mark on several occasions in the past, and the collaborations have always been incredible and rewarding experiences.
Right now, Mark is in the throes of expanding Shadows at the Door to a full illustrated hardback anthology, which you can support over at Kickstarter. He took a quick detour from promotion to talk with me about the future of the site as well as his own burgeoning writing career.
A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
I actually only started writing a few years ago, I’ve learnt a great deal in that time and it’s been a really interesting and fun process to evolve and find my voice. I consider myself self taught, but feedback has always been the best teacher I could have asked for. My favorite authors include M.R. James, Stephen King, Susan Hill, Neil Gaiman and Washington Irving.
Tell me about the genesis of Shadows at the Door. Why did you create the site, and what are your hopes for its long-term future?
After I finished my first short story “An Unwelcome Guest,” I just wanted to share it with my friends so I created the website. Quite soon the story reached more people than I’d anticipated and the site become quite popular. After I finished another story, I decided it would be a great idea to maintain the site as an online library of new ghostly horror and I opened it up for submission, and it took off from there! Quite soon I realized I had something special on my hands and now I’m keen to expand Shadows at the Door into a full independent publisher.
When selecting a story for the site, are there specific features you’re looking for, or is it simply a certain feeling you hope to experience by the end of reading a tale?
My passion is the modern ghost story, or Pleasing Terrors as they are often called by fans of the genre, so I usually look for stories that fit that bill. Subtle, creeping stories with plenty of atmosphere and/or an emotional wallop, like your work! However if a different kind of story is good enough to catch my eye, I publish it. I recently published a story with no supernatural element at all but it was just too good to pass on.
I’ve been inspired by the positive reaction and loyal readership of the site, and as a life long bibliophile, it’s the natural way to go. There’s something quite special about owning a beautifully made book!
You are also a writer yourself. Do you have any specific habits as an author (e.g. writing every day, only writing certain times of day, etc.) that help to keep you on track?
I always dread this question! Like most writers, I work full time and then running the site takes up a lot of time too. I also recently married, so I’m still working all aspects of my life around schedules and maximizing it as best as possible. At the moment, I tend to write on evenings every other day for one to two hours, I’m my own worst critic too, so I have this terrible habit of backtracking and editing as I go, so my first draft is essentially my second draft before the big third edit.
Out of your own published stories, do you have a personal favorite?
I’m really proud of my story in the upcoming anthology “Quem Infra Nos,” but out of my existing published stories it’s “Silent Warnings.” I loved writing the protagonist and it’s one who has resonated with readers. There’s a bit of mystery that plays out nicely and it was the first story when I really felt confident exploring deeper levels of characters and motivations.
Big thanks to Mark Nixon for being part of my author interview series! Find him at Shadows at the Door, and on Twitter. Also, please consider lending your support to the Shadows at the Door Kickstarter. Keep awesome horror fiction alive!