An Interview With Graeme Reynolds Author of High Moor

Hi folks for my return to a regular broadcasting schedule, I’d like to present to you my interview with Graeme Reynolds.  Graeme has just published his début novel  High Moor, read on for an enlightening chat where we talk about werewolves, evil chickens and the road to getting High Moor published 
GNOH – Hi Graeme, how are things with you?

Hi Jim. Things are pretty good. Hectic and knackering,but good.

GNOH – Could you please give the readers abit of background info on yourself?

My name is Graeme Reynolds, although people have hadother names for me in the past that I won’t go into. I’m forty years old andover the years have been an electronic engineer in the RAF, a barman, a supportworker for disabled teenagers and most recently I break computers for money. Ialso do a bit of writing, and have recently moved into a smallholding in midWales, in preparation for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

GNOH – What is the best thing about beingGraeme Reynolds?

I’m a self employed IT contractor as my day job, so thework is always temporary. It means that if I end up working for some idiot, Idon’t have to  put up with it for long.I’m also really lucky to have a supportive partner, and we compliment eachother’s shortcomings very well. It means that we can achieve almost anythingthat we put our minds to. I’m really lucky in that respect.

GNOH – And what is the worst?

I’m often my own worst enemy. I’m pretty outspoken,especially if I think that someone is taking the piss, and if I get angryenough I have a tendency to burn bridges and say balls to the consequences. I’mgetting better as I get older though. Also I have one of those deep Geordie voicesthat tends to carry, even when I’m trying to be quiet. My mates used to use itto home in on me in nightclubs. Can be quite embarrassing at times.

GNOH – You live with delinquent chickens,aren’t all chickens delinquents by nature? These must be pretty tough avians?

You have no idea. The damn things work out strategies andincorporate team work against me to achieve their goals (usually to escape fromthe garden to dig up the neighbours flower beds, or to get into the house toeat the cat food). One of these days I’m going to go missing and all thatpeople will find will be a load of fat chickens and a pile of very peckedbones.

GNOH – So what’s the appeal of horror foryou?

I’ve always loved horror. I remember staying up late atthe weekends when I was a kid and watching the old Hammer movies, and the firstmovie that I watched when we got our first video recorder was American Werewolfin London. The great thing about horror is that it allows you so much freedom.You can take almost any story, any genre, and turn it into a horror story byadding an evil little twist to it. It’s all about getting an emotional responsefrom the reader, for me. Horror stories are great for doing that. You can builda character up, get the readers to love them and then do horrible things tothem. What’s not to love about that.

GNOH – What are your three favourite filmsand authors of all time?

My favourite movie of all time has to be Fight Club. Ilove the way that, up to a certain point in the film, an awful lot of whatTyler is doing makes a twisted sort of sense. I love it when the line betweenthe good guy and bad guy is just a point of view. I’ve tried to use that inHigh Moor. None of the bad guys are flat out evil. They just have a differentagenda to the protagonist, with valid reasons for what they do.
After that is tough. If it’s a case of which have Iwatched over and over the most, it’s probably going to be National Lampoon’sAnimal House and James Cameron’s Aliens. Truth be told, I’d struggle to saywhich are my all time favourites though, because I love so many differentmovies , in so many different genres.
Novels are easier. Stephen King, when he’s on form isflat out the best horror novelist working today. Even if he does go on a bit attimes. The Stand is still the best example of post apocalyptic horror ever.
I love Fantasy novels as well. Julian May’s Saga of theExiles and her Galactic Milieu trilogy are probably some of the best books Ihave ever read.
In third place, I’d probably have to say Brian Keene. Ididn’t get on with all of his books, but Dead Sea and Urban Gothic were bothfantastic, and I like the loose continuity that he has going in his books.

GNOH – Can you remember what first inspiredyou to be a reader?

I’ve always been an avid reader, from a very early age. Asa kid, I would always have a book on the go, and some of them I re-read overand over. One of my secondary school teachers once told me that, rather thanexploding when I was angry or upset, that I should write down what I wasfeeling to get rid of the raw emotions. That worked really well for me as achild, and through adulthood as well. Looking back, that was laying the groundwork for me as a writer, because emotions can be very tricky to write properly.

GNOH – You have been cutting your writingteeth with short stories and flash fiction. DO you think it’s important for an author to develop his craft and stylethrough shorter fiction?

In my case it certainly helped because I could trydifferent things out. If I wanted to write something with a certain tone andfocus on a particular emotional response from the reader, then I could try itout in a thousand word flash fiction piece that wouldn’t take me weeks towrite. The more you write, the better your writing becomes, especially if youare always trying new things. It took a while for my writing style to evolve.So much that I had to go back and rewrite the first few chapters in the bookfrom scratch because the style had changed so much by the time I finished it.

GNOH – On that note how would you describeyour writing style?

When I started off writing I was all about description.Now I like to start a scene with a really vivid description, incorporating asmany senses as I can to place the reader in the scene, and then get on with thestory. I love to include humour in stories as well. Even when things get verydark, it’s good to let the reader draw breath for a second and give them alaugh before plunging back into the horror. I suppose that these days I’m muchmore character focused. I try to keep my dialogue as realistic as I can, whichmeans that most of the characters in High Moor swear like dock workers. That’show it was, growing up in a council estate in North East England, so I try tostay true to how I saw it.

GNOH – Do you have a favourite short storyout of all of the ones you have written?

That’s a tough one, because a lot of the flash fiction Iwrote was so different. The most popular one on my site is one called”Two’s Company” which is a love story about a man who finds out thathis wife is having an affair with his cannibalistic mutant conjoined twin. Ialso love “Mr Whiskers”, which is a story about a feline serialkiller and “Picnic”, which is a re-imaging of the teddy-bears picnicas an illegal rave. If I’m honest though, the one I like the most is called”When Evening Falls” after the Enya song. That one is about a newlyturned vampire who is watching his family through the window, wondering if hecan go back to the way things were. It’s quite sad in many respects, and youfeel sorry for the main character, until it becomes clear that he’s just amonster with a few lingering memories of being a man.

GNOH – On the back of a wee discussion I hadon facebook, would you describe yourself as an author or a writer, and what doyou think is the distinction between the two?

At the moment, I would say that I’m a writer, becausethat’s what I do. My perception of an author is someone who does it full time,or at least has several books out there and has a fan base. I might classifymyself as an author at some point in the future, but at the moment I’m justcontent to be a writer. I’d feel a bit pretentious if I started calling myselfan author at this stage in my career.

GNOH – How easy does writing come to you, isit something that just pours out of you, or do you have to beat your muse witha big stick?

It really depends on her mood, unfortunately. There aretimes when the words pour out and it’s as if I’m just recording what’s playingback on the big tv screen in my head. Those days are great.
Then there are the other days, where I sit down, try toget into the zone, and discover that my muse has been buggering about onFacebook and Twitter instead of writing.
I found that I was able to get her co-operation after awhile by imposing a routine and sticking to it. An hour and a half, from 18.30after I got in from work seems to be when she’s most co-operative, so I try andstick to that and its working so far.

GNOH – Do you ever have days where you thinksod it, I’m going to take up knitting?

Apart from all the rejection letters, there was oneepisode in a writing class where some nut-job accused me of being sexist becausewerewolves were a metaphor for the female menstrual cycle. On reflection, inher case she might have been right. There was also a failed attempt at joininga local writers group where I was the youngest person there by a clear twentyyears. On the second meeting we had to read out a story that we’d written thatweek. Needless to say, after a series of sweet, touching stories about theassembled old ladies lives, mine didn’t go down quite so well. I didn’t go backafter that for some reason.

GNOH – What’s this I hear about you gettinghate mail for your story On the Third Day

Ah. Yes. Ahem. Not my proudest moment. I was in a writinggroup a few years ago, and someone (it may have been me) suggested a holidaybased short story prompt. My entry was the retelling of the Easter story as azombie tale. Sort of Life of Brian meets Shaun of the Dead. The whole thing wasvery tongue in cheek, but this didn’t stop several people from becoming quiteupset by it. Maybe “Judas Iscariot: Zombie Hunter” was pushing it abit far.

GNOH – OK, maybe some people shouldn’t beallowed to have writing materials? 

Like Stephanie Myer you mean? I completely agree. Theonly time a vampire should sparkle is if they had a pocket full of iron filingswhen they burst into flames.

GNOH – You are about to unleash your debutnovel, High Moor, is this based at all on your short story One dark Night?

One Dark Night isn’t set in the same world as High Moor.That story came about as the result of a Halloween writing contest on a sitecalled Microhorror, where the story needed to be set in the past. After I didthe version for the competition, I went back to it and added another three orfour hundred words, because the word count requirements for the competitiondidn’t allow me to do the story justice.
High Moor is set in its own universe, although I do havean “in continuity” story coming out in an enhanced e-book anthologycalled “Tooth and Claw” later this year. That’s a pretty coolproject. I narrated the story myself and it has music and artwork speciallycommissioned for each story. The short in that anthology is set between Part 2and Part 3 of the novel.

GNOH – So why werewolves, are these a monsterthat is close to your heart?

I’ve always been fascinated with them. I had a book ofmonsters when I was a kid and the picture of the werewolf scared me so muchthat I’d skip past the page. Then, when I was a little bit older than the kidsin the book, we had a big cat in the area that was attacking sheep. We hadpolice coming to the school, warning us about going into the woods alone, andthat, I suppose, was where High Moor started. I incorporated bits of that reallife story into the book, but with the twist that, as well as the puma, there’sa werewolf in the area too.

GNOH – Why do you think werewolves have neverbeen exploded in the same way as vampires and zombies?  I feel sorry for Mummies, nobody seems towant to write about them.

I think that it’s just a matter of time before ithappens. A lot of readers are sick to death of vampires, and zombies are goingthe same way. It will just take one or two successful werewolf novels or moviesto kick it off. There is a lot of scope with werewolves, to explore the dualityof human nature. Plus there’s not many things scarier than a seven foot tallmonster that’s faster and stronger than you are, and will literally tear youapart.
Saying that, traditional werewolf stories can be trickyto write, because the monster only shows up once a month, so it can be tough tokeep the tension high. It was one of the hardest things to get right in HighMoor.

GNOH – How close to the traditional idea of awerewolf are the ones that appear in the novel?

I’ve got three types of werewolf in the novel. They areall afflicted by the same curse, but depending on the mindset of theindividual, they become a different type. The traditional wolf-man type arecalled Moonstruck in the novel. They are at war with themselves and fight thechange, so on the full moon, when the wolf part breaks free, they end up caughthalfway between man and beast – all instinct, pain and rage. The ones that livein harmony with their wolf side can change at will and are more fully wolf, butretain their intelligence and personality. Most of the ones like that in thebook belong to a sort of werewolf organised crime gang, who’s main purpose isto keep the existence of werewolves a secret. The last kind are those who givein to the wolf and become little more than wild animals, even in their humanform.

GNOH – And how have you tried to avoid theclichés of the werewolf novel?

In many respects, I’ve embraced them and then built onthem. There are so many books out these days where people try to be too cleverand get away from what’s interesting and frightening about the monster they areportraying, be it vampires, zombies, werewolves or whatever. I’ve tried to goback to the root of things, give it an original twist but not stray too farfrom the core legends, especially in part one. Some of the other clichés havebeen given a sly little nod as well. The only thing I made a point of doing wasstaying well away from the monster as love interest to a human cliché. No onewill ever accuse High Moor of being an urban fantasy or paranormal romancenovel, that’s for sure.

GNOH – So other than werewolves what is thenovel about?

I have a few themes running through the book. Part one isthe more traditional 
werewolf tale, but it’s also very much about coming ofage. The children in the book start off as normal, carefree, mischievous kids, and have to come to terms with somevery harsh realities by the time part 1 ends. Part two is about how people cometo terms with change and how it can affect their lives. In this instance, it’sabout how a family learn to cope with the fact that their ten year old son is awerewolf. Part three is about consequences of your actions and how things thatyou do can come back to haunt you, years later.

GNOH – How long has it taken from sittingdown to writing the first draft, to it actually being published?

I think it’s almost exactly three years. To be fair, Ithink I managed to write five chapters in the first year and a half. It wasn’tuntil after the World Horror Convention last year that I really started goingfor it. Part three was written in about six weeks, so I’m defiantly gettingfaster. Hopefully the sequel won’t take anywhere near as long to complete.

GNOH – How much has the novel changed fromfirst draft to final published article? 

The book changed an awful lot. I’d try and write chapterplans, only to find that the characters would go off and do their own thing andoften in the space of a chapter, I’d find that my old plan was worthless. Ilooked back on some of my old working notes and apart from a few key scenes inpart one, the end product bore almost no resemblance to the one that I thoughtI was going to write. It all worked out for the best though, because the finalincarnation of High Moor is much better than I could have dreamed when I firststarted it. It’s by far the best thing that I’ve ever written.

GNOH – Who is publishing the novel?

The book is being published by a small press calledHorrific Tales Publishing. It’s actually an imprint that I set up myself, withthe express purpose of publishing High Moor. Technically its self publishing,but I’ve tried to do all of the things that a “real” publisher would do, suchas paying for an artist to design the cover, getting an editor and proof readerto sort out the manuscript etc. I may branch out and publish some books byother authors in the future, and turn it into a proper imprint at some point.I’ll have to wait and see how well High Moor does. At least by having my ownpublishing company selling it, with my own ISBN’s, it should hopefully avoidsome of the stigma attached to self published books. I’ve certainly done mybest to produce a quality product.

GNOH – The cover has gone through a number ofconcept changes by the look of it, how much input did you have over the actualcover?

The nice thing about doing this myself is that I hadcomplete control over what the cover looked like. I know an artist, called StuSmith and he did some rough concepts for me after reading the first draft. Iagreed which concept to go for, and then worked with the artist to refine itinto the final cover for the book. I’m really happy with the way that it turnedout.

GNOH – If you could create a soundtrack tothe book, who would appear on it?

2/3 of the novel is set in 1986, so it would need to bemostly rock music from that era. None of the ballads though. Some early Guns nRoses would make it in there, maybe some Iron Maiden. Stuff like that. Maybesome ironic ones that were cheesy and cheerful for when things get dark andhorrible. The last third would probably continue the rock theme with some indiestuff and acid techno in there for good measure.

GNOH – It’s being published as both an E-Bookand as a physical book, what is your take on the E-boom? 

I think that it’s only going to escalate. People saidthat CD’s would never replace vinyl because of the unique sound a record has.They said the same thing about mp3’s because people wanted to own somethingtangible in a CD. I think that it will start to go that way more and more inthe future, for convenience if nothing else. It’s much easier to read the new,1000 page Stephen King on a Kindle when you are sitting on a bus than lug thehardback about. Paper books won’t ever go away, but I think that they will endup becoming more of a specialist product. People will still buy them for thebookshelves at home, because they love the look and feel, but will use anereader as well.

GNOH – The floor is yours sell the book tothe readers.

High Moor is the perfect antidote to paranormal romancenovels that pretend to be horror. It’s a plot driven book that’s full of tensionand has more than a little bit of dark humour thrown in for good measure. Thereare so many crap werewolf books out there, that they have given the sub-genre abad name. So far the feedback on this one is that its good. One of the betareaders said it was the best werewolf novel that he’s read since Wolfen. Plus,if you get the Kindle version its only a couple of quid. Think of it as theequivalent of buying me a half pint for entertaining you all with thisinterview. Don’t make me beg…buy the book…please…ahem…sorry about that.

GNOH – Arrrggghhh I’ve just read your blogpost on editing now I can’t stop editing these questions, I hope you feel goodabout yourself. (and before anyone asks Really? I’m dyslexic and that’s like asking a fatman to keep an eye on your cream cake).  Not a good idea )

Yeah, pretty much. The more people realise how importantediting is, the fewer ebooks will get published that are essentially firstdrafts submitted straight to Amazon. The depressing thing is that, even afterI’d done all of the things in that blog post, my editor STILL found a ton ofthings that needed fixing. And my proof reader found a few more. It just goesto show that there will always be things that you miss.

GNOH – You used the help of a writingcritique group in the editing of High Moor, how helpful was this?

It was invaluable. It was a fairly small, invite onlygroup and we each posted a chapter a week. I was the only horror writer there,but it was good because it meant that I was not only reading lots of differentgenre’s, but it also meant that people writing anything from fantasy to chiclit were commenting on my work and helping me to improve it. It meant that bythe time the first draft was finished, an awful lot of the punctuation andplotting issues had been cleaned up. Made the editors job a lot easier. It alsogave me quite a bit of confidence in the story. When you have people that arewriting historical women’s novels telling you that they normally don’t likehorror, but they love your book, despite the scary blood-soaked parts, then itmeans that I’ve probably done something right.

GNOH – Was there ever any fallouts betweenthe members, I’ve heard of some major meltdowns within these groups?

I’ve been a member of groups where that has happened, butI really was blessed to be a part of the group that I’m in, because I honestlycan say that unpleasantness like that never occurred. The fact that it’s inviteonly helped a great deal, because if anyone ever did start causing problemsthen they would be removed. Fortunately it never came to that. People do needto be careful though. A lot of the public writing groups are filled with peoplewho will pour scorn on work to make them feel important, or even worse, stealyour idea or your manuscript, and pass it off as their own.

GNOH – How do you get yourself noticed amongthe flood of authors out there?

I’ll let you know when I manage it. Seriously though, youneed to be active on social networking sites. Not just spamming your book, butactually engaging people in conversations. People will buy books from authorsthat they have interacted with online. I find that getting some storiespublished on the free ezines is really useful as well, because some of them,like Flashes in the Dark and New Flesh have a massive reader base. If peoplelike what they see, they will go and check out your other work. I get a massivehit spike on my blog whenever I publish a new story anywhere.

GNOH – Can you tell us of any futureprojects?

I’ve been told by my editor and a couple of the betareaders that if I don’t do a sequel as my next project, then they will”send the boys round.” I have another idea that I’ve been mullingover for about a year that had the final puzzle piece click into place, so I’mreally keen to get started on that one as well. It’s an expansion of a flashpiece that I did a few years ago where a massive solar flare knocks out all ofthe electronics on the planet in one hit. Most of the people are still alive,but all of our infrastructure is gone, so the food and water supplies are usedup within a couple of days. There is a supernatural twist to things as well,but I don’t want to give too much away. I’ve also got a couple of short storiesthat I’m dying to finish. One of them is a comedy horror zombie Santa Claustale, with Rudolph the psychotic red nosed reindeer and exploitative Christmaself porn. The other one is about a near future fascist society where TV, videogames and the internet have been replaced by directed lucid dreamingtechnology. I’m going to try and get those two finished before I get on withthe next novel.

GNOH – Cheers for popping over for a chatGraeme, it’s been fun, and good luck with High 
Moor, maybe you could get thosedelinquent chickens to bully folks into buying a copy.

The flock has already been dispatched. Beware the soundsof malicious clucking!
Thanks for having me, Jim. It’s been a pleasure.

Folks you can buy a copy of High Moor by Clicking the links below. My copy arrived through the door this morning and it is a great looking book.  I’m looking forward to cracking this one open.

 “When John Simpson hears of a bizarre animal attack in his old home town of High Moor, it stirs memories of a long forgotten horror. John knows the truth. A werewolf stalks town once more, and on the night of the next full moon, the killing will begin again. He should know. He survived a werewolf attack in 1986, during the worst year of his life. 

It’s 1986 and the town is gripped in terror after the mutilated corpse of a young boy is found in the woods. When Sergeant Steven Wilkinson begins an investigation, with the help of a specialist hunter, he soon realises that this is no ordinary animal attack. Werewolves are real, and the trail of bodies is just beginning, with young John and his friends smack in the middle of it. 

Twenty years later, John returns to High Moor. The latest attack involved one of his childhood enemies, but there’s more going on than meets the eye. The consequences of his past actions, the reappearance of an old flame and a dying man who will either save or damn him, are the least of his problems. The night of the full moon is approaching and time is running out. 

But how can he hope to stop a werewolf, when every full moon he transforms into a bloodthirsty monster himself? “


3 thoughts on “An Interview With Graeme Reynolds Author of High Moor

  1. The last werewolf novel to make such an impact on me besides yours was "Wolfen" by Whitley Strieber. I understand completely when you said that your friend's wife couldn't read further; "High Moor" hits very hard at times (like supernatural Nature red in tooth and claw) and is one novel that is actually SCARY!

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