Thursday, 12 March 2020

An Interview with Sam Hicks

Sam Hicks' story, 'Old Sylvester', will be opening the forthcoming Dark Lane Anthology Volume 9.  Her short fiction has previously appeared in the anthologies The Fiends In the Furrows, Nightscript, and The Best Horror of the Year Vol. 11.


Q: What are your working methods?  Do you sit down every day to write?  Do you have a designated place to work?
A: I write every day when I’ve got a story on the go, but I rarely have one ready to start when one’s finished, so days if not weeks can go by without me doing anything much. I tell myself that inactivity is an important part of the process. When I do have an idea, I ‘ll only do a couple of hours a day on the first draft, because I find it so hard. But when that’s done I’ll spend as many hours as I can on the subsequent drafts. I write in our spare room, where I also do a bit of woodcarving.

Q: Tell us about one of your favourite short stories and why you like it (not one of your own).
A: I immediately think of Seaton’s Aunt by Walter de la Mare. That story haunts me. De la Mare was a master at conveying the mystery beneath the surface. I quote:  “We don’t even know our own histories, and not a tenth, not a tenth of the reasons.”

Q: Tell us about one of your favourite short stories (done by you).
A: I can’t bear to read them once they’re done, to be honest. I always want to change them. But I’ll say Old Sylvester because it’s the only one inspired by my walks in Dartford that anyone has published. Thanks for that.

Q: Where do your ideas come from?  Do you go looking for ideas – for example by brainstorming, or do you wait for inspiration?
A: I get ideas by wandering around in a receptive state, taking notes about random things. I go walking around the less picturesque parts of Kent, because it’s easily accessible by train from south east London. The degraded marshland and the industrial end of the Thames. The strange isolated housing estates. But sometimes a phrase will  just occur to me and inspire an idea.That’s almost always when I’m wandering about though.

Q: Are you a full-time writer? If you have another job, what is it and would you like to become a full-time writer if you could?
A: I retired (early) from my Civil Service job three years ago, and have certainly devoted myself more to writing since then. I did write bits and pieces before that, but with no real seriousness.

Q: What is the most difficult part of your creative process?
A: The first draft. Just not giving up on it, because it’s always so bad. I have to force myself to carry on, telling myself I can make it better in the second and third draft. But I don’t always manage to do that, of course.

Q: If you could go back in time, what would you say to your younger self about becoming a writer?
A: Even the writers I love have written things that leave me cold. But they’ve also written things that have lodged in my mind forever. So I’d say don’t be dispirited when you’re producing stuff you know isn’t brilliant, because every now and then something will work. You don’t have to be consistent. Even the greats couldn’t manage that. Actually, that’s the advice I’d give to myself now.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Table of Contents for Dark Lane Anthology Vol.9

Twenty-one wonderful stories have been chosen for Volume 9.  Many thanks to everyone who submitted.  It was a pleasure to read your work.

1. OLD SYLVESTER BY SAM HICKS
2 AMPLIFICATION BY WILLIAM SQUIRREL
3 NIGHT ORDERS BY MATTHEW CHABIN
4 LONESOME ROAD BY ARIEL DODSON
5 LORD TUMBA BY ROBERT POPE
6 THE SKIPPED STONE BY T.J. MILLER
7 THE PRIVATE THINKER BY CHARLES WILKINSON
8 BETWEEN HIGH AND LOW TIDE BY JOSHUA STORRS
9 THE DISSOLUTION OF THE SPECIES BY HELEN POWER
10 UNBECOMING BY KATE CARNE
11 CRATERS OF PERPETUAL DARKNESS BY ROBERT KAYE
12 KENDALL AINSLEY: UNEARTHING THE ATACAMENOS BY DAMON KING
13 TARA'S TRUMPET BY ROBERT POPE
14 DIANE AND THE POLAR BEARS BY TOMAS EKLUND
15 PARASOMNIA BY K.W. TAYLOR
16 DAMAGED GOODS BY BRYN FORTEY
17 LA MADRUGADA BY J. ROSINA HARLOW
18 MEANWHILE ON A DIFFERENT EARTH BY ANYA PENFOLD
19 THE STATION HOUSE EMPEROR BY STEPHEN MCQUIGGAN
20 BLANCHE NEIGE BY EDWARD AHERN
21 GAMMA ORIONIS BLUES BY GEORGE KEARSE

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

An interview with Bill Davidson


Bill Davidson's writing first appeared in Dark Lane Anthology Vol.5.  His short story A Brief Moment of Rage will be reprinted in Ellen Datlow's forthcoming 'The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven'.  Visit his website www.billdavidsonwriting.com.

Q: What are your working methods?  Do you sit down every day to write?  Do you have a designated place to work?
A: I maintain a high degree inconsistency, most of the time anyway. I write most days- sometimes only a few hundred words, other times it can be several thousands. I get an idea and then wander about the place falling over dogs and mumbling to myself about elves or something until I have enough to start my story. Once I’m going, I’ve got to get it out there and write for many hours in a day, although seldom in a single sitting. I have to get up and do something else, before I can figure out what I’ve just done wrong, or what should happen next. I’m not much of a plotter.
I write mainly at home, but do enjoy occasionally sitting in the library or a cafĂ©. 

Q:Tell us about one of your favourite short stories and why you like it (not one of your own).
A: I recently read 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill and one story has really stayed with me. It’s called Pop Art. This sounds absurd, but it’s about a boy, Arthur, who is inflatable (and very puncturable) living in the same dangerous world as the rest of us. I read the whole story fretting over someone who is, in effect, a balloon, and his friend, who isn’t. It’s a fantastic tale about friendship and humanity.

Q: Tell us about one of your favourite short stories (done by you).
A: Bugger, this is difficult. I’m going to go for Childe Abbas, alternatively titled The Little Town in England that Forgot all of its Children, published by Hell Bound Books. It’s written from the point of view of a little girl, Tilly, who is taken to live in the idyllic fictional English town of Childe Abbas. Tilly soon realises something is badly wrong with this town, but struggles to tell her parents, as they are slowly forgetting about her.

Q: Where do your ideas come from?  Do you go looking for ideas – for example by brainstorming, or do you wait for inspiration?
A: I’m lucky in that things constantly occur to me without having to purposefully do something to form an idea. I’m a naturally dreamy person and I’m always seeing things, or hearing things, and thinking, what if? I write down the initial idea and sometimes it turns into something worth pursuing - other times I have to admit it’s crap.  Or already written.

Q: Are you a full-time writer? If you have another job, what is it and would you like to become a full-time writer if you could?
A: I didn’t start writing in earnest until I took early retirement from local government just under three years ago, managing everything from waste to housing. Before that, I kind of dabbled, but what I produced wasn’t too good, and I went into decade-long sulks when my work wasn’t published instantly. I simply didn’t have the head space to do a demanding job and produce good writing, so I take my hat off to the many people who can manage that.
For the past year, I’ve been home schooling my daughter and, maybe it’s because I’d already built up some momentum as a writer, that didn’t slow me up.

Q: What is the most difficult part of your creative process?
A: My stories can lose their way for a while because I get distracted by another possible plotline or because my characters get ideas above their station. For instance, I’m writing a story at the moment that started as a fantasy but the domestic drama that is emerging could lead me to drop the fantastical element altogether and write it as a straight ahead drama.
A writer friend tells me that’s because I’m ill-disciplined and don’t plot it out well enough before I start, but to hell with that shit. When things you don’t expect start appearing on the page, that’s where the good stuff is.

Q: If you could go back in time, what would you say to your younger self about becoming a writer?
A: I’m that annoyed with my younger self I’d probably just sneak up behind him and give him a good kick up the arse, with no explanation.
If he demanded a reason for this well-deserved kick up the arse, I might say, for God’s sake write, you daft bastard! And don’t go into decade-long sulks when the publishing world doesn’t fall over itself for you, either.



Saturday, 2 March 2019

Table of contents for Dark Lane Anthology: Volume Eight

Decisions have been made.  Thanks to everyone who submitted a story.  22 stories have been selected for Volume Eight.

Duplex by C.M. Muller
The Ringers by Rebecca Lloyd
The Wet Knot by Marvin Brown
Junior by John Ord
The Awful Rowing Towards the End by Mike O'Driscoll
Water Vein by Carolyn Stockdale
Shadow Work by Nici West
Los Ninos by Bill Davidson
Madness is the Nexus of All Reality by Arthur Davis
The Festival of Conformity by Charles Wilkinson
Mr Webster by Michael Button
Costello's Cell by Gregory Wolos
Secondhand by Timothy Delizza
Serve and Protect by Ed Ahern
Charlotte by Robert Pope
The Calling by Ariel Dodson
The Poacher by Michael Packman
The Exhibit by Mark Keane
The Orgy at the Edge of the Galaxy by Robert Guthrie
Sing Ho! Stout Cortez by Michael W. Thomas
Letter to a Budding Entomologist by Tim W. Boiteau
No One Driving by Mark Andresen


Tuesday, 26 February 2019

An interview with Rebecca Lloyd

We were lucky enough to have Rebecca Lloyd open Volume Two with her story 'Hagbound'.  Rebecca's books include two collections of short stories published by Tartarus Press, one of which 'Mercy' was nominated for a World Fantasy Award.  Her latest work is the novella The Bellboy, published by Zagava.


Q: What are your working methods?  Do you sit down every day to write?  Do you have a designated place to work?
A: I certainly have a designated place to write and it is my small writing room with a big window overlooking my garden, just a strip of a room, too small for a bedroom and fairly roughly painted. And there was a time when I would’ve been writing every day when I had to work for a living in the outside world and so by necessity, I wrote in the early mornings every day. These days, I tend to write novellas and novels that need extensive research, and so I make a list of research topics around the story I am hoping to conjure up, and address them systematically before I begin to write. There comes a point in time when I feel that I’ve read enough and that writing should start, then I launch off.

Q: Tell us about one of your favourite short stories and why you like it (not one of your own).
A: I have always liked ‘Puddle’ by Arthur Porges because it is written in a very unpretentious manner and yet the story idea is so terrific that after reading it, I felt slightly jealous that I hadn’t thought of it myself because it was very much up my street.

Q: Tell us about one of your favourite short stories (done by you).
A: ‘Shuck’ is a story I hold dear, and it’s probably one of my most chilling stories. But as the writer, I’m not sure that having a favourite story really fits in with how it is to be a writer. Some stories are moving for different reasons, The River has a lot of resonance, for example, and some stories are more accomplished than others, but the trickier stories if pulled off feel good to acknowledge. So, you can see that I can’t honestly answer the question, and really after so very many years of writing, and not going back to read them, I’m a bit stuck with remembering tone, mood and detail anyway.

Q: Where do your ideas come from?  Do you go looking for ideas – for example by brainstorming, or do you wait for inspiration?
A: I guess if a writer did know where her ideas were coming from, she could catch them in a pan and keep them on the go. I think a writer might well know what he or she is moved by, but even then, not be able to know why a particular incident was captivating enough to produce an idea for a story. In general, I think that I become interested in some human oddity I stumble across and, I am anyway very interested in superstition, and so there is a wealth of ideas arounds that… so I’m not sure that that is either brainstorming or inspiration.

Q: Are you a full-time writer? If you have another job, what is it and would you like to become a full-time writer if you could?
A: Not sure what ‘full-time writer’ actually means, does it mean someone who writes from 9 to 5, or does it mean someone who lives of the proceeds of her writing? I now longer work in the outside world for money, but even when I did, I wrote for three or four hours a day, and so would consider that full-time anyway. I’m probably being deliberately obtuse, but that’s what writers are like sometimes. I would say though, that it’s mentally healthier not to just write all day, it’s much better to have a working job and write as well.

Q: What is the most difficult part of your creative process?
A: That depends upon the story that I’m tackling. As each story is different, the part of the creative process that is difficult might also be different.

Q: If you could go back in time, what would you say to your younger self about becoming a writer?
A: Just go on exactly as you are, be generous in your support for other writers, and be true to what really excites you to write irrespective of how the industry attempts to mould you into a writing shape that better suits them and brings them profit.