Tuesday, October 13, 2015

THE GAL'S 31 DAYS OF HORROR: AMONG THE STACKS: Rich Hawkins


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Rich.  Thanks for once again gracing my blog with your presence. :)  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Rich Hawkins:
I live in Salisbury, England, with my wife, baby daughter and pet dog.  I'm a stay-at-home dad, and a horror writer in my free time.  I've had two novels published - The Last Plague and The Last Outpost - and one novella published - Black Star, Black Sun.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Rich Hawkins:
I sometimes wear socks that don't match.

I collect zombie action figures.

I like drinking Polish vodka.

I have a fence around my writing desk, so my daughter can't damage my laptop or steal my books.

I love cheese.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Rich Hawkins:
The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  I loved that book when I was a kid.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Rich Hawkins:
Carrier by Timothy Johnson.  It's a sci-fi horror novel and it's very good.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Rich Hawkins:
I've wanted to write since I was in school, and I wrote a few short stories back then, but they didn't go anywhere and they weren't very good.  I started writing seriously a few years ago, because I just love stories and horror fiction, and feel the need to tell stories.  It's hard work sometimes, but it's great.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?


Rich Hawkins:
I usually write at my desk in the living room, although I'll write anywhere if I get the chance.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Rich Hawkins:
Not really.  I keep check of how many words I write a day and I always need a cup of coffee before I start writing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Rich Hawkins:
The self-doubt.  It's the worst, by far.  It's hard to keep at bay sometimes, but most days I manage to ignore it and get some words down.  Usually it's just a matter of getting my head down and being stubborn.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Rich Hawkins:
Salem's Lot by Stephen King was a massive inspiration, as was The Stand.  Since then, I've been inspired by, among many others, David Moody's Hater trilogy and Conrad Williams' novel One.  I'm not sure if any writers have particularly influenced my writing style, to be honest.  I'm not even sure I have any style!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Rich Hawkins:
It could be anything from an exciting plot to marvelous characterization.  Personally, I think a good story needs a mix of plot, characters, themes and pace.  And you have to make the reader interested in your characters.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Rich Hawkins:
I'm not sure I love any of my characters, but they definitely surprise me when they end up doing something I'd never thought they would do.  I like to feel like I 'know' my characters and see the story from their point-of-view.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Rich Hawkins:
The character of 'Ralph' in my novel The Last Plague.  I won't say why, but there are several similarities...

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Rich Hawkins:
Definitely.  Bad covers put me off books before I've even had a chance to open them.  And there are quite a few bad covers out there.  I don't have much to do with the covers for my books, as it's down to the publishers, but I'm kept in the loop, and I give some input when a cover is at the rough draft stage.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Rich Hawkins:
That writing is hard sometimes.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Rich Hawkins:
There's a scene in my novel The Last Outpost where the main character remembers his dead family and holds a plaster cast of his daughter's handprint in his hands.  It made me think of my own daughter and how just the thought of harm coming to her terrifies me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Rich Hawkins:
Hopefully it's the mixture of zombie-type action and Lovecraftian horror.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Rich Hawkins:
I think a title is very important because it's the first thing to give an impression to the reader.  It's sometimes difficult, but usually a title emerges at some point during the writing process.  The titles for my books appeared out of nowhere.  Just a little bit of inspiration, which I'm always grateful for.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Rich Hawkins:
Writing a novel, definitely, purely because it takes longer to finish and it takes a lot out of you.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Rich Hawkins:
So far my books are mainly about apocalypses and Lovecraftian/cosmic horror with some zombie/infection stuff thrown in.  I don't really have a target audience, to be honest - anyone of any age, except for children, can read my books and get something out of them.  And if you like horror, that helps.  I'd just be happy for my readers to come away from my books feeling that they've experienced a good story.  If they're affected on some emotional level, that's even better.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you ell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Rich Hawkins:
I can't remember any deleted scenes, to be honest.  Once it's deleted, I've forgotten about it within a few days.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Rich Hawkins:
I'm currently working on the final novel in The Last Plague series - which is called The Last Soldier.  I'm well into the first draft and it's going well.  After that, it's anyone's guess what I'll be writing about.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know, STaLKeR links.)

Rich Hawkins:
Blog ** Facebook ** Twitter

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thank you again for stopping by today, Rich.  It was great having you here.  Best of luck with the series - I've heard some great things about it so far.
            Before you go, do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in the interview?

Rich Hawkins:
I'd like to say thank you to all the people who've supported my writing and bought my books.  You're all awesome.


About the author:
Rich Hawkins hails from deep in the West Country, where a childhood of science fiction and horror films set him on the path to writing his own stories.  He credits his love of horror and all things weird to his first viewing of John Carpenter's The Thing when, aged twelve, he crept downstairs late one night to watch it on ITV.  He has a few short stories in various anthologies, and has written one novella, Black Star, Black Sun, released earlier this year.  His debut novel The Last Plague has recently been nominated for a British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel.  He has also just published his second book in the series, The Last Outpost.
            He currently lives in Salisbury, Wiltshire, with his wife, their daughter, and their pet dog, Molly.  They keep him sane.  Mostly.

About the books:

Black Star, Black Sun
Genre: Horror
Publisher: April Moon Books
Publication date: 2.17.2015
Pages: 150

Ben Ottway has returned to his family home in Marchwood; tired, broken, and grieving over the disappearance of his wife.  This should be a time of rest, of contemplation and reconnection with his elderly father, a chance to recharge in the fresh air of the remote village.  However, grim nightmares and daytime visions of hellish environments populated by insidious creatures serve only to fray his already ragged nerves.  A chance encounter with a fellow sufferer leads to an unlikely alliance as imaginary threats suddenly become manifest, and the entire village falls under the say of the Black Star.  As neighbours become enemies and the world around him crumbles, Ben must search for the truth but, more importantly, he must be prepared to accept it.

The Last Plague 1: The Last Plague
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Crowded Quarantine Publications
Publication date: 8.31.2014
Pages: 538

A pestilence has fallen across the land.  Run and hide.  Seek shelter.  Do not panic.  The infected WILL find you.
            When Great Britain is hit by a devastating epidemic, four old friends must cross a chaotic, war-torn England to reach their families.  But between them and home, the country is teeming with those afflicted by the virus - cannibalistic, mutated monsters whose only desires are to infect and feed.
            THE LAST PLAGUE is here.

The Last Plague 2: The Last Outpost
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Crowded Quarantine Publications
Publication date: 9.28.2015
Pages: 306

The sequel to the British Fantasy Award-nominated novel, The Last Plague, The Last Outpost continues to chronicle the events as a devastating epidemic reduces the UK to an infected wasteland.
            Great Britain has fallen to the Plague and the war is lost.  A few people left alive scavenge the desolation of a ruined country.  A lone man wanders the ravaged land, looting houses for food and hiding from the monstrous infected.  Guilt-ridden for failing to save his family, there is nothing left for him but memories of the old world - until hope is whispered in a radio transmission promising safety and shelter from across the North Sea.  He joins a group of desperate survivors and heads for the coast in search of transport and salvation.  His last chance to make amends.  But will they survive the journey, hunted by the infected and the desperate men who stalk the land?  Will they find sanctuary at... THE LAST OUTPOST?

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