Next up in the interview seat is author Pete Alex Harris.
When did you first fall in love with the horror genre?
Gradually, I would say. My first love was definitely SF, and I can’t quite identify the point where my tastes broadened to include stories that were more obviously horror. Possibly some of the darker stuff by Harlan Ellison nudged me in that direction. But before even that I was a big H. G. Wells fan, and some of his stories could easily take the horror label, The Island of Doctor Moreau, for example.
Which subgenre(s) of horror would you say your work falls into?
I’d say dark fantasy, for the most part, but I do love a bit of unabashed Gothic pastiche.
What is it about the horror genre that appeals to you as a reader and as a writer?
What is it about a story that makes it horror at all? I think it’s the nature and scope of the threat the characters face, and the stakes. You can’t write a bland horror, about a minor inconvenience or social faux pas. There has to be something very unpleasant in play, even if only hinted at. Horror is enjoyable the way vivid colours or spicy food are enjoyable; the fun is concentrated.
What are some of your favourite horror stories?
In no particular order: China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station; The Ash Tree by M. R. James; The Color Out Of Space by Lovecraft (one of his more original ideas); Misery, Pet Semetary and The Shining by Stephen King. They may not be all of my favourites, but they sprang to mind immediately, so they are definitely up there somewhere.
Do you remember being scared by a particular story growing up?
I didn’t read a lot of horror when growing up, but Empire of the Ants by H. G. Wells stayed with me. And that 70s TV drama “The Mad Death”, about a rabies outbreak in Britain. Parts of it were filmed in my home town, so now it’s more funny and nostalgic than terrifying.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Quite young. Maybe 9 or 10? More or less as soon as I got Isaac Asimov’s short story collection Buy Jupiter for my birthday. The way Asimov wrote about writing made it sound like the best job ever, and his simple style made writing look effortless. Of course, I soon found out it was a lot harder than it looked.
Are there any writers who have particularly influenced you?
Those mentioned above plus Andre Norton, Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, Bob Shaw, Alfred Bester, Terry Pratchett and Iain Banks. I don’t know how much of them rubbed off on me, but they certainly each showed me different views of what’s possible.
Tell us a bit about your previous writing work.
Nearly none. I was way better at computer programming than creative writing at school, so I’ve been mostly doing that instead. In 2014 I did NaNoWriMo for fun and suddenly found I had some twisted ideas to share. Who knew.
I self-published a fantasy, The Silk Mind, and an SF/Romance, Miasma. They are unconventionally structured and a bit experimental, but I’m reasonably happy with them. Good reviews but sparse sales; I’ll take that.
How do you feel about being part of the Shadows at the Door Anthology?
UNBELIEVABLY excited. Still can hardly believe it. It maybe won’t sink in until I hold a copy in my trembling hand, open it to the contents page, and see my name in there. Just wow. This whole experience has been great so far, and to reinforce
how big a deal it is, and how new to me, bear in mind this here is my first ever author interview for anything.
Are you working on anything else at the moment?
Yes, I have finished a dark SF novel called disOrder that I’m pitching at agents. If nobody likes the look of it, I’ll self-pub that too. It is certainly the best thing I’ve done yet, with a multi-layered plot, a sociopathic anti-hero and a good body count, but I am just woefully bad at pitching and writing synopses.
I’m also about two thirds of the way into the sequel to The Silk Mind: The Source of Fire, which is more overtly cross-genre Fantasy/SF than its predecessor. It’s a lot of fun to write, and I really have no expectations for that beyond self-pub either.
Oh yeah, and another story for Shadows, of course.
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