An Interview With G.R. Yeates

Hello folks today for your reading pleasure I have an interview with upcoming author G. R. Yeates
G.R. Yeates was born in Rochford, Essex and studied Literature & Media at the Colchester Insitute. He has lived in China where he taught English as a foreign language for one year. A life-long interest in the First World War and world mythology inspired his nine-volume series The Vetala Saga which will begin publishing on digital platforms in 2011.
He writes every day and sleeps very little.

GNOH – Hi Greg, how are things with you?
Alright thanks, Jim. Keeping busy as I’m currently preparing a Christmas novelette and waiting for my editor to finish going through my second book Shapes in the Mist, which is due out in August.

GNOH – Could you tell us about yourself, in particular can you enlighten us on the reason for your name change?
My pseudonym was chosen for reasons both pragmatic and artistic. I wanted a name that would stand out when people were searching for my books and Greg James wasn’t distinctive enough. Additionally, as the horror genre already has a tradition of authors using two initials and a surname, such as M.P. Shiel, M.R. James and H.P. Lovecraft, so I thought I’d join the club.

GNOH – How did you first get into writing, was it something you had always wanted to do, or was it something that was just pure happenstance?
I have always written and I spent my first years in London as a musician. During this time, lyric writing duties usually fell to me in the bands I was involved with so I had already done a fair amount of preparation for moving onto prose and I had always been complimented on the quality of my written work. Anyway, music didn’t work out for me so the idea then occurred that I could go back to a nascent dream of being a horror writer. A month later, in June 2006, I had started the research for The Eyes of the Dead.

GNOH –  Have you always had a love for the horror genre, and what is it about it that appeals to you?

Yes, it’s always been there though the nature of its appeal has changed for me over the years. When I was a child, I liked the monsters, the imagination that went into their creation and I don’t think it went much beyond that. I was much more of a science fiction and fantasy reader up until my mid-twenties really. Horror is my primary focus and inspiration now though and I think that is because, at its best, it reflects how disturbing and unsettling our lives can be. When we’re children, we are told that the world is our oyster and all of our dreams can come true but, as adults, I think we see the lie in that and know that nightmares have as much, if not more, say in how the world around us operates.
GNOH – And what is it about the genre that annoys you?

Not much really. I suppose the only thing would be the perceived divide between writers of pulp and literary horror, which I think is nonsense. The genre is a big place, there’s room for all of us and all 
of our approaches to it. Crabs and Cthulhu can live together in harmony.
GNOH – Who would you say are the biggest influences on your writing?

I would say when I started out that Stephen King, Shaun Hutson, Guy N. Smith and James Herbert were definitely in the mix and, in recent years, I’ve been discovering writers like Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti and T.E.D. Klein and they have all had an impact too as I’ve tried to refine my style and balance the grue out with more atmosphere.
GNOH – How would you describe your writing style, and how would you try and sell it to someone who hasn’t read your work?

I think describing one’s own style is actually quite tricky as I think I’m too close to it and it’s always evolving but, after that prevarification, I would say I try and keep things plain and simple without being workmanlike. I also like to write with a poetic rhythm, after all those years of writing lyrics and poetry, but without becoming overtly flowery and obscure. And I like to use repetition of certain thematic phrases to make my point.
If I was going to sell my work to someone, I would say that I write for the everyman with challenging and sometimes controversial content in accessible prose.
GNOH – How easy do you find it is to actually sit down and write, do you have your special writing place free from distractions?

I live in shared accommodation as I’m based in London so my room is my workspace. It’s relatively 
easy for me to get into the mindset as I learned long ago how to mentally screen out what’s going on around me when required and retreat into myself.
GNOH – What do you find is the hardest part of being a writer?

The hardest part for me is not writing. I have a day job and I am always conscious of the fact that that is eating up time I would rather spend writing.
GNOH – Your debut novel has just been released, Vampires, and trench warfare in WW1, sounds  like fun, can you tell us about the story?

The story centres around Private Reg Wilson who is fighting at the frontline of Passchendaele in 1917. He suffers from amnesia after being one of the few to survive the first use of flamethrowers by the German army at Hooge Crater. He is involved in a battle that degenerates into a massacre at Black Wood, a German outpost, and shelters with his mates in a nearby crypt afterwards. In the crypt, they disturb an ancient breed of vampire called Vetala. The Vetala kill his mates and then they pursue him across the Western Front. As the pursuit goes on, it becomes clear there is a connection between the Vetala and Wilson and that it goes back to his experiences at Hooge Crater where he lost his mind.
GNOH – What was the inspiration for the novel?

I’ve been interested in the First World War since I was a teenager and my English teacher introduced me to Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum est’. Also, I wanted to make sure I did something distinctive and different for my first work as I’m not one to follow the crowd and the First World War was a setting that I thought had been somewhat neglected by the genre; it’s a conflict that has a strange resonance about it, I think, there is a sense of hopelessness and horror that lends itself very well as a background to a work of supernatural fiction.
GNOH – The vampires that populate the book are not your common or garden vampires.  Where did you get the idea to use this type?

Again, it was because I wanted to make sure they were something distinctive and different so I researched vampires from mythologies across the world and came upon the Vetala. They are evil spirits from Hindu legend that possess the dead so they can torment the living and drive them mad. Much of my favourite horror fiction deals with madness, sanity, dreams, nightmares and how they affect us so the Vetala were just the kind of vampire I was looking for. Also, there was some influence from Murnau’s Nosferatu, which is my favourite vampire movie and possibly my favourite horror movie. It’s always in there, vying with Carpenter’s The Thing for the top spot.
GNOH – How much research did you do for the novel?

Too much, I think. I spent six months reading material about the First World War which was probably overkill but as the book is now the first in a series that has balanced things out nicely.
GNOH – Are there going to be any sequels?  If there is can you spill any secrets?

Yes, the plan is for The Eyes of the Dead to be the first in a series called The Vetala Cycle which will consist, in my current estimation, of four trilogies so that will be twelve books in total. I must be a bit mad doing this. Each trilogy will be set during a different war or period of conflicts. The current plan is for the series to run as follows; First World War, Second World War, Vietnam and then I plan to cover some conflicts from the past three decades in the final trilogy leading us to Afghanistan so the series comes bang up to date.
The next book out will be Shapes in the Mist in August this year. It is set in London during the zeppelin raids and Jack the Ripper will be involved, hopefully in a way not seen before.
GNOH – What’s your take on the cuddly vampire, many people blame Twilight,  personally I blame Buffy.

The attractive sexualised vampire goes back to Lugosi’s interpretation of the role and I think what has happened today is a fairly natural progression as the creature has been ‘de-fanged’ over successive interpretations until we come to the point where Meyer’s vampire is on the point of de-sexualising the creature as well. I can’t say whether I blame her particularly as she is writing the kind of speculative fiction that doesn’t interest me and I can say the same of Joss Whedon. They have a take on the world that’s the equal and opposite of my own. My take on the vampire is rooted in it being a representative of the unknown and the alien rather than as a metaphor for teenage melodrama. There’s a wonderful little speech in Shadow of the Vampire delivered by John Malkovich as Murnau that sums up how I feel about the creature and what it represents; “A dark hole that’s been untouched, unexplored for a long, long time. And then, one night, something crawls out.”
GNOH – Who do you think is the most bad ass vampire of all time?

Count Orlok from Nosferatu is everything I think a vampire should embody. It’s a repulsive, deathless thing but there’s a melancholy about it too because its kin are the vermin of earth and the plagues that harry us as these are forms of life that will survive humanity. It’s a being stranded in the hinterland between cosmic aeons and the small piece of history allocated to humanity, it’s the perfect example of why immortality would be a horror and nightmare to endure. Nothing sexy or sparkly about that.
GNOH – How many rewrites did you go through before the final published draft?

More than I can remember as it was rewritten before I submitted to publishers and agent, when I had an agent and afterwards when I was preparing it for digital publication. It was a very steep learning curve of roughly four years but the book has come out all the better for it.
GNOH – How do you about the rewrite process?  Do you break it down into chapters, or do you  go through the whole novel at a time?

I go through the whole novel from beginning to end and I will do a number of creative passes as well as technical passes to correct grammar, punctuation and spelling errors. By the time it gets to proof readers and my editor, the areas for work they pick up on are usually lateral as I’ve become a good copy-editor over the years.
GNOH – The novel is available as an ebook, what is your take on the current ebook boom?

I think it’s a great opportunity for writers who have been frustrated by the legacy publishing system. It is something that was due in my opinion as I can remember reading interviews and articles by published authors back when I was originally writing The Eyes of the Dead in 2007 and they all talked about how difficult it was becoming to get published even when you were established in the industry, never mind being a completely new face. I can remember thinking at the time that a shake-up must be coming somewhere down the line as a creative industry depends on new blood to keep things fresh so if you’re driving those people away or slamming the door in their face then they’re going to look elsewhere and that’s what is happening now. I don’t think we are at the global boom stage yet though. The boom will come when the markets in the UK, Europe, Japan and so on start to expand and catch up with America but I also don’t think we will have long to wait for that to come around.
With regard to the horror genre, I think it is incredibly beneficial because the horror writer can now write for the horror reader. That might read like a stupidly simplistic statement but what I’m getting at is we can go after the audience that has always been there directly without having to make concessions by calling ourselves writers of dark fantasy, paranormal thrillers or whatever. Horror cinema went through something of a renaissance after Saw and Hostel happened which I think proves the audience is there but, for whatever reason, publishers didn’t go after them at that time. There was no big push, just a lot of complaining about how these films were torture porn and degraded the genre. Considering the low opinion that I understand the horror genre is often held in, I’ve always been unsure how exactly we can be further degraded.
To give an example of what I’m talking about, I’m not writing zombie horror at the moment but I know writers like Ian Woodhead, Dave Jeffery, Christopher L. Beck, Jessica Meigs and Jack Wallen have been exploiting the surge of interest in this particular sub-genre and enjoying success, which I think goes someway to proving my point. The readers are there, the genre is not dead, you just have to take the initiative, get out there and go after them.
GNOH – As a new author how do you manage to promote yourself?

I’m still learning. I’ve been using my website, Facebook, Twitter, sending out review copies and I’m now looking at Goodreads, Librarything and other networking sites to see how they work. One of the advantages of this day and age is that all of your promotional tools are free and at your fingertips.
GNOH – Do you ever get frustrated with the process?

I don’t think I’ve been at it long enough to be entitled to be frustrated. As I said, the tools are all free but the trick is learning how to use them and also what works best for you. I don’t think it’s necessarily going to work the same for everyone and it’s also going to take time to reach readers and then build up a fan base. Patience and persistence are what is needed. In that respect, nothing has changed between being a legacy-published author and being a self-published author.
GNOH –  So what does the future hold for you?

Writing, lots and lots more writing. I want to have ten works available by the end of 2012 in the ebook market and, to paraphrase Jean-Luc Picard, I intend to make it so.

You can purchase Eyes of The Dead By Clicking the links Below




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