Welcome back to this week’s author interview series. Today, our featured writer is James Everington. Based in Nottingham, England, he writes lots of cool and strange stories, which have been featured in numerous publications including his own short story collection, Falling Over.
Over the summer, James and I discussed the great icons of horror, the future of the genre, and what this dedicated author has in store for his readers.
A few icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
There was no lightbulb moment when I decided to become a writer; I’ve always loved books and stories and at some point as a teenager I just started writing and never stopped, really. I guess the main decision was to focus on one particular style–horror–which I felt I had the most aptitude for. I wrote a lot of other stuff when I was younger: realistic fiction, poetry, a dreadful Martin Amis-y novel. If I die, I sure to god hope none of it comes to light! But it was all useful; it’s as important to know what you can’t do as what you can.
In terms of favourite authors who’ve also been an influence on me, I’d pick Ramsey Campbell, Shirley Jackson and Robert Aickman as my key guiding lights. But there’s so many great horror and weird fiction authors writing today as well; it’s hard to keep up with the amount of talent in our field.
I must take this moment and commend your choice of social media banners: the inimitable Christopher Lee commanding a brood of pagans in front of an eponymous wicker man. With all the classic Hollywood horror icons gone, do you ever find yourself concerned about the future of horror cinema, or are you less cynical than me and think a new brigade of talent will soon assume the mantle?
Thank you! It’s certainly true that a lot of my favourite horror films are of that era: The Wicker Man (obviously), Alien, Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers, Videodrome and my absolute Number 1, Don’t Look Now. But there were a lot of shit films back then, let’s not kid ourselves. As for more recent films, I’m probably not the best person to ask; I don’t see enough modern films to be able to give anything like a comprehensive answer. There’s obviously still a lot of shit, but things like The Awakening, It Follows and plenty of foreign films seem to be at least trying to do something interesting.
Your short story collection, Falling Over, was released in 2013. Was it difficult choosing which stories to reprint from your past publications, and did the decision in any way impact the new stories you wrote exclusively for the collection?
I was most concerned in getting the stories to flow right. I always think of sequencing a collection like making a mix-tape for someone: you want to start with a bang, then build on that, then maybe take it down a notch by having a slower, more contemplative piece. And at the same time, you want the stories to talk to each other. I think of that collection as my ‘falling stories’ – they nearly all have some literal or metaphorical descent in them.
Since you’ve done both, which do you prefer writing: short fiction or novels?
Well, the only novel-length work I’ve had published is The Quarantined City which is being published episodically throughout 2015. And each episode contains a complete, self-contained short story: the central character is searching the quarantined city for a reclusive writer called Boursier, one of whose stories features in every episode.
All of which is an oblique way of saying that, whilst I certainly intend to write further novel length work in the future, my first love is short stories (I loathe it when people call them ‘shorts’, especially other writers) and I’ll always be drawn to writing them.
I’m not sure about favourite, but the title story of my collection Falling Over is one I think sums up my style and themes pretty well, which is why I picked it to name the collection as well. It’s my take on the doppelganger/pod-people idea, but it’s also about very human things: individuality, growing up and the spark we might lose doing so.
What projects are you currently working on?
There’s the finishing touches to The Quarantined City and then onto a novella called Paupers’ Graves which will hopefully be out in 2016. It’s set in a real cemetery here in Nottingham, so I’m doing some research, taking photos of interesting looked graves–cheery stuff like that! I’m aiming for austerity-horror with this one.
I’m also working on my first anthology project, called The Hyde Hotel which will be out from KnightWatch Press sometime this year. The other editor (Dan Howarth) and I created a strange and creepy hotel, and then invited some fantastic authors to each write a story about someone staying in one of the rooms. To my surprise, they all said yes!
Thanks to James for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find him online at Scattershot Writing.