Tell me, Will, have you always been interested in horror as a genre? Did you read it in your younger days?
When I was just teenage, I discovered Dennis Wheatley. I wasn’t supposed to, of that I am sure; but the books were in my Grandfather’s library and my parents did not really monitor what I read. So I devoured those, and enjoyed the vibe that they created. A little later came Lovecraft, which was of course much harder going, then Poe and Stoker, Le Fanu, Shelley… so yes, I suppose. I read very widely, across a lot of genres though and so my bookcases are full of not just horror and fantasy, but humour, philosophy, detective novels, thrillers, espionage, humour, historical, adventure, real life adventure… I could go on but won’t.
I was a Wheatley fan myself back in my teens. I've occasionally wondered, is the Mr Jones in your horror series really you? He’s not a ghost or demon hunter but evil things seem to accrete around him. Do bad things happen to you?
No, he isn’t me. Or at least, he wasn’t ever planned to be. He is himself: someone with a Karmic burden to work off. An unlikely, middle-aged unheroic hero, as one reviewer called him. The latest book, Demon’s Reach, reveals a little about his family’s past that explains why Darkness seems to gather so easily around him. The final book in his collection will resolve this for him, one way or another. I haven’t decided if he will survive the final confrontation yet, or pass on to a less stressful incarnation.
I started out in The Showing with Mister Jones actually being a secondary character. The main character was, of course, the House itself and its non-corporeal inhabitant. Mister Jones was the foil for the House. It is the same in Portrait of a Girl. The eponymous Girl is the focus of the book, and her choice of Mister Jones as her life enhancing victim was a coincidence. Of course it was always more than that.
As for me? Well, I am rather hoping that the arrival two years ago of my new partner has been a turning point that shows I have worked off loads of my bad karma. There’s been enough of it to go at, it would seem. And as I have openly said, the house in The Showing actually is my Grandfather’s house, and there is an extent to which that book was the direct result of my trying to find an explanation for the events I experienced there in my childhood. With a couple of added killings that I don’t recall myself. But then, childhood memories are notoriously incomplete.
Do you have any belief in an after -life? It seems necessary to believe in the persistence of the human soul after death if you’re going to get hauntings, doesn’t it?
As a Buddhist, I’m actually a firm believer in reincarnation, so that’s a ‘No’ to the afterlife in the Western Philosophical sense. But that does not preclude the idea of life-force persisting after death or returning in other forms. Many writers argue that after death, the atman (soul is the closest Western equivalent) exists for forty days in a form of limbo before rebirth. This in itself opens possibilities, and I see no reason why in certain circumstances this limbo state should not persist a little longer… Then Buddhism itself is full of many wonderful and esoteric demons, gods and beings with different natures to us humans you know! But as a writer, I am working not just with my own beliefs but with the cultural references of the society I’m living in. Revenants, ghosts, tormented souls trapped within places and/or objects – all these are ideas that my imagination can work with and reference points that I can use to trigger an anticipated range of responses from the readers.
I never forget that the point of these novels is to entertain, after all: so any and every cultural reference is available to me. The Curse of Clyffe House introduces a monster from an ancient world, as portrayed in The Mabinogion. A rich vein of material for any paranormal enthusiast.
Tell us about the other genres you write in.
If I am known at all, which is entirely unlikely, it is probably for my comic fantasy collection The Banned Underground. This collection deals with the adventures of a fantasy rhythm and blues band, and the witches, wizards, elves, dwarfs and assorted magical beings that they meet on the road. This lets me tell lots and lots of gags and thoroughly enjoy myself caricaturing many of the musician friends and acquaintances I have and hang around with. The more recent books have all had a somewhat deeper point to them, too, which may or may not have been apparent to the casual reader.
In addition, I am a performing poet and oral storyteller working around the Valleys and coast of South Wales, and some of that work seems – almost by osmosis- into my books.
I also have a couple of fantasy books for young children out, with the firm intention of writing a few more of these. But I have to say that writing for that age group is much harder than anything else that I have done!
What are you working on at the moment?
I have some Sci fi novels in the final stages of preparation, the eighth book in The Banned Underground comic fantasy collection is coming along very nicely, and a further paranormal story – not involving poor Mister Jones – is also half written. In addition I have outlines for a further three books, one of which is quite heavily fleshed out! And I use that term with careful consideration. And that’s all the teaser you are going to get right now about that one. Hehehehehe.
In my Dreams
I wander the wide lands of Death
That my return ticket is still valid.
(Write what you know, they say. Do you think that I might be in trouble?)
I hope not! Otherwise a lot of authors will be in there with you!
Thanks for answering all those questions, Will.
You can find Will's Amazon page here and his new book, Demon's Reach is available here.
And here's the cover and blurb.
All families have secrets or skeletons in the cupboard, hidden away from view. Most of those secrets are better left undisturbed, for very good reasons. When Mister Jones agrees to deal with the Estate of a recently deceased cousin, he finds that the secrets hidden by his family are very dark indeed, and that the skeletons in this cupboard are very real – and not yet entirely dead.
Drawn once more by Fate into a world where magic and myth are all too real and danger lurks at every turn, Mister Jones confronts a past that seeks again to become the present, and to plunge his future into a rising Darkness.
Can he escape the Demon’s Reach?