Monday, November 7, 2016

The Gal's 62 Days of Horror Day 31: AMONG THE STACKS: Kyle M. Scott


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Kyle.  Welcome to The Gal.  I really appreciate you joining us here today for The Gal's 62 Days os Horror.  You... are the great #31.  Let's start with something 'easy' - Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kyle M. Scott:
Hi there.  I'm an author hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, and have been working in the industry both independently and with a number of publishing houses for the last few years.  I write in the horror genre.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
Okay, let me think.  I'm pretty much an open book (pun intended), but I guess many of my readers may not be aware that:
  1. I used to write and direct theatre.
  2. I was the singer/lyricist in a psychedelic band called Plan 9 for a number of years.
  3. I've been known to call up friends in the middle of the night if there's a mid-to-large spider in my home, and beg for help.
  4. I love wandering aimlessly in the rain.
  5. I can, at times, be very introverted.
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?  What are you reading now?

Kyle M. Scott:
The first book I remember reading was The Hobbit by Tolkien.  That was in my first year of high school, I think.  The first book I read of my own volition was Misery by Stephen King.
            I'm currently reading IT by the very same author.  I'd read it in my youth, but wanted to experience it again from an adult perspective.  It's every bit as spellbinding as I'd hoped.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

Kyle M. Scott:
I rarely read fantasy, but I absolutely loved the His Dark Materials books by Philip Pullman.  Those were great.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
I've always wanted to write since the first time I read Richard Laymon.  Something in his style inspired me to give it a go.  He made it all look so easy.  Very deceptive, of course.  He was a phenomenal writer.  I dabbled as a teenager, but moved onto other art forms.  Fast forward a few decades, and my daughter was born.  Her mother is an American, and wasn't allowed to stay in Scotland, so she and my little girl had to move back to the states when my daughter was less than a year old.  I decided that I wanted to leave her a legacy.  A body of work that was palpable and that she would always have to remember me.  That began as writing a journal for her, and eventually morphed into writing fiction.  And as I've always been a lifelong horror obsessive, that became my playground.  It gave me courage and hope in a very dark period of my life.
            I've always been expressive, through music, painting, poetry and so on, yet when I began to write I felt entirely free.  It was a long time coming, but I knew from my first proper short story, called Shopping, that this was what I was supposed to do.  Theatre didn't cut it for me.  I hated the limelight, so being a front-man in a band wasn't my bag.  Writing fiction allowed, and continues to allow me to express myself in a way that is rewarding, limitless and fun as all hell.  My little girl won't read my work for quite some time, but it puts a spring in my step knowing that, no matter what, she'll have a whole portfolio of work to enjoy when she's older.  Hopefully she won't read my stuff and think I'm a lunatic.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
Anywhere where I can fluff some pillows and stretch my legs out.  I'm pretty lazy, and do my best thinking horizontally.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
I tend to fixate on an idea for a week or two before I begin.  I obsess over underlying themes and abstract notions, and I often isolate myself a little to ponder them.  Once I have the basis for the story, and what I want to say with the piece, I just crack on with it and let it become my life.  I tend to allow the actual storyline to develop of its own accord.  My characters are dropped into my basic narrative, and do as they please.  I just kick along for the ride.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
I write in two distinct styles.  Both are very much horror, but are very different.  It's almost schizoid.  On one hand, I write fun, freewheeling, no-holds-barred horror; blackly humorous and very graphic.  That's my mind dictating the process.  On the other hand, I write introspective pieces that are far more subtle and informed less by my passions and more by my experiences in the world.  The latter can be very difficult to work on.  I wrote Where the Dead Ones Play as a means to explore my feelings reading my daughter leaving and how I coped (or, initially, didn't cope) with the pain.  It was extremely difficult to write, but I think it's my best work.  Those books/stories are tough, but the struggle is worth it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

Kyle M. Scott:
Hard to say.  I love Devil's Day as it's my first full-length novel, and it's my love-letter to the horror genre.  I had an amazing time writing that book.  I think, though, that one of the novels I'm working on at the moment, called The Infernal, may well prove to be my most satisfying work overall.  It's the first time I've merged the two sides of my writing style into a cohesive whole, and I think the book is all the stronger for it.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
Without question, the works of Richard Laymon played a huge part in my desire to write, and I think the accessible nature of his work has left a huge mark on me.  As for stylistic influences, Edward LeeJack Ketchum and Bentley Little are right up there.  Do lyricists count as literary authors?  Dylan's recent award implies they do.  With that in mind, there are many songwriters whose vision and lyricism inform my work: Jim MorrisonJimi HendrixJason Pierce, all those guys.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
I think a strong grasp of character is key to the whole thing.  If dialogue and insight into characters are stilted or lacking in authenticity, it removed me from the tale.  Insight into character is the foundation of any good story.  Once the reader is on board, they'll stick with you/your character anywhere you want to take them.  Or rather, anywhere the character's choices take them.

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?

Kyle M. Scott:
I love characters that feel fluid.  They can be absolute monsters or perfect saints.  It doesn't matter to me.  If there's an honest emotional anchor to them, and I can feel around inside their head, I'm in.
            When creating my own characters, I run on instinct.  They're all extensions of my own internal life, good or bad, and I trust in my own perception of reality just enough that I can allow myself to cut loose with them in the knowledge they'll read as true.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
Without question, James Kember in Where the Dead Ones Play is most like me.  I dug deep to create that guy.

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?

Kyle M. Scott:
Yeah, sadly, I am.  And that's a shame, because many indie authors have no expertise in graphic design, nor the finances to hire someone who does.  That said, if you've worked hard to create a worthy story, you owe it to yourself to find a way to present it as worthy.  Find a way, otherwise your work, no matter how strong, may never find its audience.
            I do most of my own covers, or have done until lately.  The only release so far which features the art of another is Where the Dead Ones Play.  For that, my publisher, Matt Shaw, hired an amazing artist (and a formidable horror author) called Michael Bray.  The man's work is phenomenal, and very affordable.  With Mike, all I did was shout out a concept (a child's hand clenched in an adults, both bloody) and Mike did the rest.  I love his work.  I'll be turning to him for all future covers.  So, any author out there who's looking for a fantastic, very professional artist, look no further.
            There.  Now you have no excuses.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
I've learned that the best way, for me, to understand myself and the world outside myself, is by climbing up into my imagination and exploring inside.  And that I have a really, really sick sense of humour.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
It's in Aftertaste, but I don't want to spoil it.  It's a very violent scene and one that I fought over putting in there.  Any who have read it will know it.  Two words - Door. Knock.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
You'd have to ask my readers to get an accurate answer.  Anything I could say would only be skewed by self-perception and ego.

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)?

Kyle M. Scott:
Very, very important.  In fact, one of the books I'm set to release soon still has no title.  I've gone back and forth for months of it.  It's driving me nuts.  When I choose it, sometime in a decade or two, I'll let you know.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
Both are really fulfilling in their own ways, but it'll always be the writing of a novel for me.  The canvas is just so much wider, with so many more possibilities, and the huge chunks of your life that you put into it make it as much a part of your journey as the people you meet, love and lose.

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.

Kyle M. Scott:
I'm a horror fan writing for horror fans.  Those guys are my base, but my target audience is anyone, really.  My books are very graphic, but they're also often warm, funny and insightful.  Anyone who can stomach the violence, whether they're into fantasy, horror, or satire can find something in there to enjoy.  I hope they'd take from my work a little of what I put in it, be it heart and soul, wry humour, excitement and, of course, fear.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell isa bout some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Kyle M. Scott:
I rarely write anything that needs deleting, only rewritten.  I certainly don't censor myself.  Nothing is off-limits, as long as it's handled with care.  There's a few scenes in the new untitled book that a wiser man would probably take out, but wisdom is for the ageing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your "trunk"?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Kyle M. Scott:
Someday, I plan to write a series of children's books with a horror slant.  I have the mythos all worked out, yet having never read any children's books, I'm in no way prepared to tackle that style of writing as yet.  I will, though, when the time is right.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
My next release, Untitled, is coming very soon, and is a return to the rollcoaster-in-hell-vibe of Devil's Day and Aftertaste.  It's a lot of fun and I think my readers will really get a kick out of it.  Then there's The Infernal, which is still undergoing growing pains, but is pushing me in new directions and, if it all comes together, should be a troubling ride indeed.  I'm also working on a non-fiction book called Mr. Dread, which documents my personal battle with depression and chronic anxiety.  It's because a surprisingly upbeat, funny book.  No idea how that one will go down, but we'll see sometime around the festive season when it hits the shelves.

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

Kyle M. Scott:
You can all find me over on the following, and I'm always up for a chat:


My work is currently available internationally through Amazon:

USA ** UK

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks, again, for stopping by, Kyle.  It was a pleasure having you.  (Told you that you didn't sound like a git haha.)  I look forward to your next visit.
            One more thing 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 this interview?

Kyle M. Scott:
I'd like to say thank you to all my readers and my fans who've supported my work along the way.  It sounds cliched, but you guys make it all worthwhile.  The support has been amazing, heartfelt and humbling.  I've gotten to know and love many of you, and hope to know many more before the clock strikes midnight.
            Take care and keep reading.


About the author:
Born and raised in the dark, desolate wasteland of Glasgow, Scotland, Kyle grew up in a relatively mainstream manner.  Good parents, annoying brethren, stable home.
            Kyle spent his formative years immersed in the duel worlds of horror and rock 'n' roll - two loves that have never left him - and as an adult, went on to write, compose and sing in a number of psychedelic rock 'n' roll bands in and around Glasgow.
            Since frying what little mind he had in the first place, he has went on to write and direct for theater, run a relatively successful horror blog, and now... release his first bona-fide work of horror fiction, Consumed: Volume 2, followed by Devil's DayAftertaste, and Consumed: Volume 2.
            Kyle currently resides in Glasgow with his long-suffering partner, an arrogant cat (whom he believes is currently attempting to end him for it's own unfathomable, nefarious purposes), and an imagination that keeps him up all night contemplating therapy.

About the books:
Welcome to Blackhaven, October 31st, 1984...
            A small, sleepy town cut off from the hardships and the horrors of the modern world -  Blackhaven has enjoyed a fruitful, peaceful history in it's 300 years.
            That's all about to change...
            Something is coming.  Something unspeakable.  Something evil.
            300 years ago to the day, the founds of Blackhaven made a deal.  A deal that now, centuries later, requires payment.  A deal that will see the quiet streets run red, and the fires rise.  The people of Blackhaven are about to learn the true cost of sacrifice, for Hell is coming to claim what's owed.
            And the Devil will have his day...

"Absolutely gut-wrenching.  Kyle M. Scott will turn your stomach as you keep turning pages!" ~Tim Miller, author of Hacked and Hell, Texas

When 'Waldo's Burger Emporium' rolls into the small town of Plainfield, Ohio, to open the doors of its first fast food restaurant, the whole town is excited.  It's a big deal for such a quiet community, and soon the families are flocking to taste its wares.
            High school renegade, Slim, can read the writing on the wall. And in the bright, smiling world of Waldo's, she sees a burgeoning franchise that will spat aside the mom and pop businesses of Middle-America like flies.
            She understands how these corporations work.  Not to mention what they put in their products...
            John has witnessed first-hand the immediate and violent illness that has overcome his best buddy, Sam.  He's convinced there's something sinister at work in Waldo's.
            For Slim, John and their loved ones, avoiding the junk food being peddled at Waldo's is a matter of principle.
            It's also the only chance they have...
            Within the garish, multi-colored walls of Waldo's, a darkness is nesting.
            And there's something in the meat...
            Something that feeds on more than human flesh.
            Something that consumes a person's will.
            Something unimaginably evil has come to Plainfield, and soon the quaint little town will come to understand the perversity and darkness that resides in the human soul.
            The people of Plainfield are about to swallow their morals, whole...

Lilith Sinclair has disappeared.
            Two days have passed since pretty nine year old, Lilith, vanished without a trace, shaking the once peaceful seaside town of Arlington, Oregon, to its very core.  The locals are scared, the community fears the worst, and a terrible dread has nestled in the hearts of the town's mothers and fathers.
            The parents are terrified that their child could be next.
            James Kember is one such parent.  An author of horror fiction, James is no stranger to the macabre, but when strange messages begin appearing around his home that seem to target his beloved son, Eddie, he begins to understand true fear.
            Someone, or something, is coming for his boy.  It wants to take his only child down into the darkness.  Now, to protect little Eddie, James will have to embrace a darkness that is all his own.
            For the others are waiting, where the dead ones play.
            Includes introduction from Matt Shaw - author of Sick B*stards and the sick mind behind the infamous Black Cover books.

We are all consumers and we are all consumed...
            Volume 1 of the Consumed series features four uniquely satirical tales of depravity and horror centered around the dark underbelly of the American dream.  Avarice, poverty, religious fanaticism and the mainstream media are all skewed through the lens of hardcore horror in a vicious look at a consumer society gone deeply wrong.
            Hunger comes in many forms, and for the characters featured in Consumed, it heralds pain, torment, bloodshed and unimaginable horror.

Special Delivery
Shopping
Kentucky Fried
Television Eye

This edition also includes a bonus prologue for the author's novel, Devil's Day.

From the best-selling author of Devil's Day and Protection, comes the second volume in the critically acclaimed Consumed series.  Hardcore horror, satirical satire and the blackest of humour once again merge in this collection of tales set to offend, amuse and horrify, often all at the same time.

Strippers
Room 7 (previously available in Carnage: Extreme Horror)
Mr. Moustache
Party Crasher (previously available in Floppy Shoe Apocalypse)
Dedication
When All the Lights Go Out

Crack open a bottle of wine, turn the lights down low and don your wet-suit.  Things are about to get bloody...

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Gal's 62 Days of Horror Day 30: AMONG THE STACKS: David Owain Hughes


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, David.  Welcome to The Gal.  We're drawing near to the end of the first half of The Gal's 62 Days of Horror and I'm excited that you chose to be a part of this.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

David Owain Hughes:
Right, well, let's see.  I'm thirty-six, I'm a Gemini and I'm a squirter.  Ha!  Only kidding - I'm thirty-five.  I also like to have sex in random sheds whilst eating kebab meat and chips.  Oh, and I love a bit of mayo poured over my nips!  Erm, should we get serious now?!  Might be a good idea... What say you?!  Nah, fuck it.  I'm too stupid to be sober!  What say ye, oh wench of interview questions?
            Okay, okay... I'll play it serious, only because you're giving me dirty looks.  Having said that, I don't know if they're dirty, dirty looks, or come to bed dirty looks!  Which *pants like a wild beast in heat* Shit, I'm way off track here!
            Right, so I'm thirty-five, a Gemini and I'm a squirter.  And, clearly, a perverted fucker!  I'm also a huge Whitesnake fan, love tattoos, and I'm crazy about America - I plan to visit before I'm nailed into my six foot box and placed on the wrong side of the dirt.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Does squirting count as one?!  If not, here are five:
  1. I have eight tattoos.
  2. I once fell off a table whilst gyrating like a stripper!  I was very drunk at the time.
  3. I once applied for a job as a private eye.
  4. My first job upon leaving school was a trainee baker - I tuck with that job for seven years.
  5. I named one of my female characters after the nickname I gave my fiancee's undercarriage!  I'll never tell which one... Hehehe!!
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

David Owain Hughes:
First book I remember reading and loving was One Rainy Night by Richard Laymon.  That novel captured my imagination, lust and thirst for wanting to write and make more out of myself as an individual.  It is strange how words on a page, how a fictional story, can drive a man to be a determined son-of-a-bitch!  But it did.  I discovered that book when I was roughly eighteen-years-old.  I was late to the reading game, which I'm sorely sorry about.  Since then, I've devoured hundreds of great books - I've chewed through everything Laymon put out there through his short career.  The man is a legend to me.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Ash & Bones by Mike Thomas.  However, I'm not getting very far!  I have deadlines pouring out of my arse like vengeful diarrhea.  It's not pleasant, but I refuse to go to the doctor's.  Uh-huh, no way.  Not having him broke me with his little cold tool.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

David Owain Hughes:
Erm... This is a pretty difficult question, if I'm honest.  It's infrequent I read outside the genres I like, but people are sometimes shocked when I tell them I like crime fiction.  I guess it was a shocker for me, when I found myself enjoying the works of Ian Rankin, who writes crime stories about the same police officer set in Scotland, UK.  This passion I have for crime fiction has led me to branch out in my own writing - I'm currently jotting a hard-boiled noir/thriller, which I'm rather enjoying!  It has some of my horror hallmarks, such as seedy settings, dark characters, etc.

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

David Owain Hughes:
I've had a keen interest in telling stories for many years - since my schooldays.  But I wasn't very good at it back then!  It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I knuckled down and got deadly serious about taking my writing somewhere.  As I said in a previous answer, it was upon the discovery of Richard Laymon and his body of work did I really start to take things to heart.  I went back to college to redo certain English exams and then I went on to University to do two creative writing degrees.  Something gave me a lively kick in the arse, which got me going.  Ever since then, I've been chipping away at it, trying to carve some form of career from it all.

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

David Owain Hughes:
My Man Cave!  It's basically our spare bedroom turned into an office, which doesn't belong to me entirely - my son, who stays with us at weekends, has his bed and toy chest in there, along with a wardrobe and a few other bits.  I basically have two corners worth of space: one for my PC, printer, Shelf of Pride, etc, and the second houses my bookshelf.  So yeah, it's a shared Man Cave.  I can't complain, though, as I have the room to myself throughout the week, where I can barricade myself in and only let the fiancee in if she comes bearing a mug of tea, toast or some other form of snack/drink.  Otherwise, she's shooed away with my prodding stick - its long with a wet, sticky end!

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

David Owain Hughes:
Other than the fact I like having sex the night before to clear my mind?  Then no, sorry.  The only real process I have is when my arse is in the writing chair, it doesn't get to leave until there's a minimum of 1,000 words written.  I like to try and write at least 2,000 words a day, if I can.  If not, 1,000 is a must.

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

David Owain Hughes:
The actual task of sitting and writing can be challenging enough!  But I think one of the hardest things about writing is isolation, and I'm not just talking about the loneliness of sitting in a room by yourself whilst creating.  That's just one aspect of it.  The bigger, more terrifying aspect of the isolation is not having that many readers - I feel sometimes as though my words are not reaching enough people.  That all my work is going to waste.  A writer thrives off a review, a few kind words, a bit of feedback... It lets us know that there's someone out there reading our stuff.  That someone cares.  And when I sit to write, I have to think about those few people who have reached out to me; the ones who leave reviews, good or bad.  Otherwise, I find myself thinking what's the point?  Your love for something will only take you so far.  Well, for me it does anyway.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

David Owain Hughes:
Most definitely my Wind-Up Toy series - I never thought for one moment I had a sequence of books in me.  When I first started writing, I would often tell myself that I would never, ever write sequels to my stories.  Why?  Because I find most sequels poor - they rarely live up to the book/film before it, so what's the point?  Besides, I like to keep moving.  I don't like to stick to one universe for too long.  However, I've broke that rule.  Thrice.  Not only do I have the Wind-Up Toy world, I've also written a sequel to my short story collection White Walls & Straightjackets.  Sadly (he says with a smile on his face), it doesn't end there... I also have a sequel to Man-Eating F*cks somewhere on my PC and I've started writing a prequel to my first novel Walled In!  So yeah, I won't be making any more stupid rules regarding my writing.

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

David Owain Hughes:
First and foremost, Richard Laymon and his body of work.  As mentioned above, his stories speak to me.  Some of his standard books for me are: One Rainy NightQuakeIn the DarkEndless NightFunland, and Island.
            Other than Laymon's work, I also find inspiration in Jack KetchumBentley Little and Dean Koontz.  I think The Mailman by Little is an outstanding read!  If you haven't read it, I highly recommend that you do.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Depth and character development - nothing wrong with a hearty pace, either!  I like something that's going to grip me from the get go.  So many horror writers turn out stories that are laden with blood and guts but have little in the way of story or character development.  I was always taught to layer a story first, and then open up with the gore and whatnot.  If there's no substance, then it's going to put me off completely.  Laymon is a prime example - he had a knack for making you care for his characters, who were rich and full of life.

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?

David Owain Hughes:
Detail and personality - I love to know all the little, finer things there is to know about a character and what makes them tick.  This is easily utilized within my own work.  However, it's something I've had to practice over and over again - it isn't a technique that's come to me in the wink of an eye.  Most readers may not even notice the minute details when reading a tale because it all gets woven together at the end of the day.  When I'm writing a story, I usually sprinkle finer details about my character throughout the narrative, which helps build and deepen the individual(s).

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

David Owain Hughes:
Simone from Wind-Up Toy, definitely.  Even though he's a baddie, he's very much like me because that's the way I wrote him.  Apart from his violent tendencies and few other things about him, he's very much me.  I won't go into detail, however - I'll just leave the thought with you...
            Also, Rigs and Iain from The Rack & Cue are based off a childhood friendships - all their traits and banter are true to life!  Most of the dialogue between the truckers was taken from many a witty, drunken or everyday conversation I had with my friend back in the day.

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?

David Owain Hughes:
I'm not a fan of digital covers - some come off as looking staged, turning me right off.  Don't get me wrong though, a lot of digital covers do look fantastic, if they are done right.  I don't want to come off sounding like a cover snob, but it's probably too late... I love hand-drawn covers and try to use Kevin Enhart as much as possible.  The Frenchman has produced most of my covers, which I love.  At heart, I'm just an old-fashioned fool.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Oh, man, I've learned so much.  In fact, I'm learning every day.  As a writer, you don't just learn writing techniques, but marketing and how to sell yourself as an author.  There's so much more to it than sitting and typing.  I think the most valuable thing I've learned so far is that you have to reach out to others - you must be able to talk to people to build bridges and alliances with other writers, publishers, artists and agents.  I'm not saying for one moment that this will help advance you, but it will help you learn more about what's going on around you.  Also, it's important to hit those deadlines and show people how hungry you are to succeed.

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

David Owain Hughes:
There's only been one to date, which took place in my first novel Walled In.  It featured the death of a much-loved character - I won't say too much, just in case someone who reads this buys the novel.  After the book was released, a few readers came to me and commented on the character's death, which was nice.  It was a necessary kill, even though I didn't want to do it at first because I found it too upsetting, as I knew it would be shocking to a reader.

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

David Owain Hughes:
I like to think my books/stories have originality to them.  I also like to try different things.  Examples: With White Walls & Straightjackets, which is a collection of woven together stories, it is told by a couple of narrators who tell their own story within the collection - a story within a story, if you will.  I also threw in a few other twists to keep the reader guessing.

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)?

David Owain Hughes:
The title, along with the cover, is very important.  it has to capture your tale in a few words or less, leaving your potential reader filled with intrigue and wonder.  My titles are usually picked after I've finished the first or second draft - the title for the work usually comes from within the story: a selection of words or word that symbolizes the narrative and its nature.

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

David Owain Hughes:
I enjoy writing both, but I think creating a short story just about edges it for me.  The explanation is rather simple: with a short story you have a small amount of words to work with, which means you can only write a tiny caption of a character's life - we get to take a peek into their existence at a very specific time which I find fascinating.  I also think writing a short story acquires a great deal of skill - there can be so much to fit into a tight word count, and when it comes to editing, you have to pick your words wisely.

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.

David Owain Hughes:
My books are a mixed bag of horror - sometimes I'll write a story in the extreme spectrum, and then I'll write something mild or horrotica.  I try not to limit myself to any one aspect of the genre.  I think my target audience is sixteen/eighteen and over.  There's definitely no age cap on my stuff.
            I'd like my readers to take away an enjoyable and memorable read.  As with a lot of writers, we want our words and stories to give people great joy.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Surprisingly, nothing major has been deleted from any of my books.  I know, a shocker, right?!  However, it has come to my attention that Apple is trying to ban Wind-Up Toy: Chaos Rising from their library due to the stories explicit content.  I won't go into detail...

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your "trunk"?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

David Owain Hughes:
I'm currently writing my 'trunk' story, which is the crime/noir/thriller novel I mentioned above.  I've been putting this one off for quite some time (a year), but I finally managed to find a bit of space to get it started.  I'm hoping to have it finished before the New Year rolls around.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Well, after I finish this noir I plan to go back to my Wind-Up Toy roots and carve out a three-book offshoot series at some point next year.  I also have a couple of "hush-hush" projects on the go...

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

David Owain Hughes:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks, again, for stopping by today.  You have made me laugh quite a bit... and, because of you, I've added MORE books to my already forever long To Read list.
            One more thing 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 this interview?

David Owain Hughes:
I think you've rung every drop of information from me!  I'd like to thank my fans for their support.


About the author:
David Owain Hughes is a horror freak!  He grew up on ninja, pirate and horror movies from the age of five, which helped rapidly install in him a vivid imagination.  When he grows up, he wishes to be a serial killer with a part-time job in women's lingerie... He's had several short stories published in various online magazines and anthologies, along with articles, reviews and interviews.  He's written for This Is Horror, Blood Magazine and Horror Geeks Magazine.  He's the author of the popular novels Walled In (2004) and Wind-Up Toy (2016), along with his short story collections White Walls & Straightjackets (2015) and Choice Cuts (2015).

About the books:
Someone's lurking in the shadows in the small seaside town of Porthcrawl, South Wales...
            Meet Simone.  Simone is a quiet, shy boy with a lot of murky secrets.  Simone stays in the shadows and lies on the cusp of society, until he comes out and plays one evening.
            Like all boys, his mother is his best friend, but he has others.  Unusual friends.  Dark, secret friends who are all just dying to meet Simone's new plaything.
            Dare you come and have some fun?  Will you find out what darkness dwells within Simone?  You may find yourself screaming for your life.
            Wind-Up Toy has been called 'sickening' and 'horrific.'  Let that be your warning.  Read at your own risk.

Matt Shaw presents David Owain Hughes' Man Eating F*cks...

An average teenage girl and her father find themselves caught up in a brutal nightmare at their local recreational centre, when an age-old enemy comes stumbling out of the woods to crash a heavy-metal gig; a gig that has all the promises of being killer.
            This is one blood-soaked gig you won't want to miss!

Meet Crystal and Harry - lovers who work in the entertainment business: after murdering three critics for poor reviews, they decide to skip town and head for the coastline.  Once there, they know things will be fine - it'll be a chance to start fresh.  A new beginning.  But, before they head to the seaside, Crystal must first visit her sister at a mental hospital - after all, it's Crystal's fault her sibling is there...
            As they start their journey, Harry discovers a book in the van's glove compartment - White Walls & Straitjackets.  The author is unknown, but whoever he is, he seems to know a lot about the deadly duo and other nut jobs who inhabit the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales.
            As lives and stories collide, Crystal and Harry soon discover escaping the Valleys won't be as easy as they think.  Especially with another serial killer hot on their heels...

A weapon, designed 'in the dark' at an army barracks just outside of Cardiff, South Wales, has been unleashed.  Intended for use against enemy troops, the chemical, comprising Bird Flu, Bovine Flue, and Foot & Mouth, turns those affected into murderous lunatics for twenty-four hours before the body finally shuts down.  Jeff, a mild-mannered air enthusiast, has just murdered his sick wife.  He had planned for them to stay inside, to lock the place down, to wait it out.  But Katherine became sick - the latest casualty of an unknown virus wiping the British population out in their thousands.  TV, radio, and all other means of contact to the outside world have gone.  Jeff, alone, decides to make a break for the plane he has stationed at Cardiff airport.  Between Jeff and freedom stands millions of infected.  If only he can reach the hangar, then he'll be safe.  He'll be able to fly to Scotland to reunite with his sister.  Along the way, Jeff hooks up with Maria, who has been left stranded at the petrol station where she worked.  They meet up with Ollie and Roxie - a pair of biker lovers who have survived the outbreak on the road.  Together, their chances of survival are increased, as long as they can all just get along.  It's not just the infected they will have to dodge; a dark and depraved enemy is on their trial.  A foe who might just hold the key to surviving in a country gone to hell.

The Gal's 62 Days of Horror Day 29: AMONG THE STACKS: Ross Baxter


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Ross.  Welcome to The Gal.  Thanks for being a part of my 62 Days of Horror.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ross Baxter:
I've just hit my fifties, and so far have not had a mid-life crisis.  That is a little disappointing in some ways, although I am very lucky in that I am where I always wanted to be.  I have a day job doing logistics projects for a large pharmaceutical company in the English midlands, and an evening, night and weekend job being a Dad and Husband.  Somewhere in that mix I write horror, sci-fi... and erotica.

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

Ross Baxter:
  • In 1999 I was awarded a medal as part of my naval service which was presented by Princess Anne.
  • I am completely unable to grow a beard, although the hair on my back resembles that of a Mountain Gorilla.
  • I used to own an old Triumph Spitfire that literally exploded whilst I was driving it.  Despite losing all the hair on my arms, I managed to walk away completely unscathed, even though virtually nothing remained of the car afterwards.
  • I can break wind in seven different languages.
  • I never manage to get past four in anything.
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Ross Baxter:
March Battalion by Sven Hassel.  I was probably about twelve and it blew my mind - suddenly I was seeing something not through the eyes of an English lad, and that gave me the realization that there was another world beyond the city of Sheffield where I grew up.

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

Ross Baxter:
The Passage by Justin Cronin.  Its good, but at nearly a thousand pages takes some reading!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

Ross Baxter:
I love gritty Westerns, one of my favorites being Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

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

Ross Baxter:
I used to read a lot, especially when I was away with the Navy.  I suppose I became a bit of a reading snob, and if by page 20 I was not enjoying the book, I'd end my relationship with it there and then.  I often got frustrated that there was not much out there that I wanted to read, and started to think that I could write better than some of the books that I ditched by page 20.  So, somewhere in the Persian Gulf in 1998, I started my first naive attempts at writing.  I'm really glad that I did.

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

Ross Baxter:
It is usually in my car, waiting to collect one or both of the kids.  This started back in 2005, when my son Lars was five and started swimming lessons, and I've been doing it ever since.  The car is actually a great place to write - a virtual bubble sealed off from the outside world and from any distractions, and that's why I'm always happy to be "Dads Taxi."

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

Ross Baxter:
Not really, although I always like to be alone and have plenty of tea or coffee.  And chocolate.

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

Ross Baxter:
Editing my own work.  To me that is the boring bit about writing, although unfortunately venting I finish always needs a major edit.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

Ross Baxter:
That's a difficult question.  I actually like most things I've written and always get the same sense of satisfaction.  However, when I write something which stretches me, for example an erotica story where the protagonists are not the same sex or sexual orientation as myself, and which gets well received- then that is doubly satisfying.

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

Ross Baxter:
I like Pete Dexter and Larry McMurtry.  They are similar in some ways, and both share the same gritty view of the world.  It is these two authors who have influenced me the most.

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

Ross Baxter:
The old tag line of good plot, good characters and a sense of realism.

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?

Ross Baxter:
I had to think hard about this question.  I am not really sure that I have ever loved a character, irrespective of whether they are my own or the creation of other authors.  Liked, hated, despised, but never loved.

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

Ross Baxter:
Maybe the main character of my sci-fi novel, Corporate Alien.  The novel is 115,000 words long, so it helps writing something of that length for the main character to be based on someone I know well.

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?

Ross Baxter:
Yes, definitely.  Unless you are looking for a specific title or author, the cover is the thing to draw you in.

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

Ross Baxter:
Like any job, to become simply competent takes many years of practice.

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

Ross Baxter:
Not sure, probably the erotic fiction as that was always very hard (pun intended).

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

Ross Baxter:
I suppose each other has their own voice.  As a reader I want to read something I can relate to, something that is at least in a voice similar to my own.  That is probably the difference.

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)?

Ross Baxter:
Choosing the right title is very hard indeed.  It has to be snappy, enticing, related to the story and memorable.  I'm just finishing off my second novel, and so far it hasn't got a title.

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

Ross Baxter:
Short story - I love the challenge of a short story and it is something that usually takes less than a month to do.  Writing a novel is totally different, it takes so long and it is so easy for enthusiasm to flag - my first took ten years to write and my second is still not complete, although I started it in 2008.

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.

Ross Baxter:
My stories are varied, and I hope I have a broad appeal.  That said, my target audience are those who like their drama gritty, realistic, and not always having a happy ending (...except my erotica, which always has a happy ending!).

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

Ross Baxter:
Too much to mention.  Editing is a harsh process and usually ends up with hours of rewrites and rehashing of scenes.  I hate editing...

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your "trunk"?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Ross Baxter:
I've lots and lots of ideas, but limited time to get them on paper.  I'm married to a Norwegian and both the kids are bilingual - unfortunately I'm not, but I would still love to write a story in Norwegian.

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

Ross Baxter:
The second novel is almost complete - after over eight years in and out of the trunk.  It's a modern day thriller set in the South China Sea about a maritime investigation into the sinking of a survey ship which leads to a deadly escalation between naval forces as the world holds its breath.

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

Ross Baxter:
I've an author page on Amazon.  I'm also on Twitter and Facebook.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks again, Ross, for stopping by.  It was a pleasure meeting you during this process... and getting to know you better during this interview.
            One more thing 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 this interview?

Ross Baxter:
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to spout off, and a massive thanks to anyone who has read this far!



About the author:
After thirty years at sea, Ross Baxter now concentrates on writing sci-fi and horror fiction.  His varied work has been published in print by numerous publishing houses in the US and UK short-story anthologies.  In December 2014, he won the HorrorNovelReview.com best creation short fiction prize.
            Married to a Norwegian and with two Anglo-Viking kids, he now lives in Derby, England.

About the book:
Set against a background of spiralling recession and harsh corporate capitalism in the early twenty-second century, Corporate Alien brings together the extremes of an embattled society to collide in a climax of violence and conspiracy.  The space opera takes the characters on a roller-coaster adventure where the stakes are high and no quarter is given or expected.