Over the last few years I’ve conducted many interviews with writers, artists and editors – They’re available here.
Since I’ve closed down my old blog (or rather have stopped posting to it) I’ll be doing new interviews here. Scroll down, the newest interviews are at the top.
Today on the blog I’ve prevailed upon KT McQueen into answering a few BRSBKBLOG questions:
For anyone that hasn’t read them can you tell us a bit about your books
The first one, Whispers on the Hill, was about a hotel where the owners murdered and re-purposed the guests, partially inspired by H.H. Holmes. The second, Skin Side Out, was about genetic experiments on humans to turn them into the perfect weapon, only the ideal candidate -genetically speaking- wasn’t the one they would have chosen. And the third, The Soul Game, is a self-help fiction about demons harvesting souls using the method most appealing to humans.
Tell us a bit more about the last book you wrote
The Soul Game took me three years to write and gave me the most horrific nightmares I’ve ever experienced. The idea was to produce a book that the reader could take part in whilst telling a story that discouraged them from doing so. It’s also a messy love story between a demon and a human.
What did you learn about writing whilst writing The Soul Game?
That sometimes you have to chuck whole chunks away, particularly if you’re being too nice to the main character. I found that I was letting him win too often and that for the story to really work I would have to make life difficult for him, force him to make choices he didn’t want to make. In doing that I also lost, or reduced the story of, a number of interesting characters. It was originally 180,000 words so a lot of the players stories got removed – however, they might turn up in other books at a later date.
Do you have a set writing process, if so what is it?
When I’m writing, and focused, I sit at the computer for hours on end bashing out words as fast as I can. I’ll quite often use music to get me into a particular mood or zone for a scene. For Whispers on the Hill it was a lot of New Orleans music. Skin Side Out was more 90’s Rock. And The Soul Game has been everything from the Hannibal soundtrack to The Kongos. I don’t often work past 8 pm if I can help it and I rarely begin before 10 am.
Do you write a lot of short stories?
I don’t write many, there are probably a few stranded forever on my computer and you could argue that the players stories within The Soul Game are short stories, despite being part of a much larger story.
Do you prefer the long or short form? How do you feel about Flash Fiction?
Occasionally I like a Flash Fiction challenge but I’d rather write a longer story.
Which character in your books do you most identify with and why?
Interesting question. I guess every character has some projected part of me in them but I wouldn’t say I particularly identify with any of them. Although, perhaps, the main character from Skin Side Out, where he has all these new skills and no idea what to do with them or even if they’re really any use at all.
Which bit of your writing are you most proud of?
I love Skin Side Out, it’s a vampire story and yet it’s not. It mixes the supernatural with things we suspect are possible and dumps people completely unprepared for the situation right in the middle of it. I like doing that, taking a character who is living a completely normal life, or even their ideal life, and dumping them into chaos. Making them scrabble to get to grips with their new situation and find ways to not only deal with it but come out on top.
Tell us a bit about how you got published? Did you go via a slush pile? Get an agent before a publisher?
I started out self publishing with no real idea what I was doing. Learnt as I went and hopefully got a bit better at it too. Then Kensington Gore approached me to ask if he could use one of my photos for a book cover (which he never did). When he discovered I was a writer we got to talking and contracts were signed.
In one sentence what is your best piece of advice for new writers?
Learn about the story arc, it’s how you get into the readers brain.
Bio: K.T. McQueen is from the North East of England. She writes dark horror and fantasy and loves blood, guts, and gore.
Coming soon from Solaris )UK: 9781781084168 | 9 March 2017 |£10.99) is a rather fantastic looking collection of short stories:
A fascinating collection of new and classic tales of the fearsome Djinn, from bestselling, award-winning and breakthrough international writers.
Imagine a world filled with fierce, fiery beings, hiding in our shadows, in our dreams, under our skins. Eavesdropping and exploring; savaging our bodies, saving our souls. They are monsters, saviours, victims, childhood friends. Some have called them genies: these are the Djinn.
And they are everywhere. On street corners, behind the wheel of a taxi, in the chorus, between the pages of books. Every language has a word for them. Every culture knows their traditions. Every religion, every history has them hiding in their dark places.
There is no part of the world that does not know them.
They are the Djinn. They are among us.
With stories by writers including Neil Gaiman, the incredible Nnedi Okorofor, James Smythe, Clare North and many more…
I was lucky enough to catch up with editors Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin and ask them a few questions
Tell us a little about the book, the idea behind it and who’s in it?
Mahvesh: I grew up with jinn stories, as did people all over the world. It made no sense to me as to why there wasn’t a collection of stories about them, so we made one.
Jared: We’re really proud of the result – it is an immense collection of talented voices, tackling a very interesting theme in a lot of different ways. There are coming of age stories, pulpy adventure stories, wild magic stories, introspective horror stories and, perhaps most of all, stories about understanding – and sharing the world with – these fascinating, otherly beings.
How was the experience of working together on this book, did it present any new challenges?
Time zone management can be complicated. We spend a lot of time communicating through Google docs.
This is a showcase of global storytelling – How did you go about choosing the contributors and/or stories?
We just reached out to writers whose work we admired, and those we thought would have something interesting to say about the theme. We were very lucky to find so many of them willing and able to participate.
This isn’t the original title of this collection – why did it change?
‘Djinnthology’ was always a working title; although one that always made us smile.
We still refer to it as that informally sometimes, but the actual title is that of a beautiful Arabic poem we’ve been luckily enough to include in the book. Hermes’ poem isn’t just a beautiful piece of work, it is also the perfect expression of the book as a whole. We were very lucky.
Why do you think the Djinn have contemporary relevance?
Why does any ‘other’ have contemporary relevance? When has the idea of an ‘other’ that is like us, but not like us, living alongside us, not been relevant?
As you can tell, we’re really passionate about this – and we think the stories have a lot to say on this very question.
Were there any stories or authors you wished you could get for the book but couldn’t?
Always. We could’ve made this book twice the size.
Always for anthologies there are many choices to make, and one key one is story order – how did you tackle it?
What a great question. Choosing the story order is actually really good fun. You have to prepare for two different readers: there are those that will read the book like a novel, and those that will read it in bits and pieces. For both, you need some sort of current that carries them from one story to the next. In the case of The Djinn Falls in Love, it was surprisingly easy. We had a clear vision of how it should feel from start to finish, and the stories all snapped into place.
What do you think makes a good short story?
What are you working on currently?
We’re plotting our next collaborations now, but we need to be secretive about it. (Sorry!)
And finally the classic Bristol Book Blog question – In one sentence what is you best piece of advice for new writers?
Read a lot, then be who you are.
Mahvesh Murad is a critic, editor and rogue voice for hire from Karachi, Pakistan. She is the editor of the Apex Book of World SF 4, the co-editor of Speculative Fiction 2016 and host & producer of the weekly Tor.com interview podcast Midnight in Karachi. She regularly writes for Tor.com, Pornokitsch.com and Pakistan’s largest English daily Dawn’s literary supplement Books & Authors.
Jared Shurin has edited over a dozen anthologies on topics ranging from mummies to Dickens. He’s been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson and Hugo Awards, and twice won the British Fantasy Award for Non-Fiction. He’s also the editor of Pornokitsch, the award-winning pop culture site which is (sadly) not nearly as naughty as it sounds.