Whilst chatting with the brilliant Jasper Bark, for the interview I did with him. Jasper came up with brilliant, if slightly terrifying idea, of getting as many of the authors I have interviewed to ask me one question for an interview with yours truly. So Here it goes.
I’ll get the boring questions out of the way first
JIM – How are you doing Ginger Nuts?
GNOH – I’m doing grand. Just got an early birthday present, a custom built mountain bike, built by my brother in law, and I have had made great use of it in the last week.
JIM – Can you tell us a little bit about Yourself?
GNOH – Well, I’m fast approaching 40 years old. Kind of scary, you get the feeling that at 40 you should be a grown up, that’s not going to happen folks. I was the first person born on Christmas Day in the whole of the UK in 1971. That’s right folks my birthday is not far off, and I love opening presents, hint, hint, nudge nudge, nudge. I went to school at Madras College St Andrews. Where I had a great time with some great friends. Played a lot of rugby, had a chance to become a professional kick boxer, until a series of knee injuries put that idea to rest. Went to university, got a job, and now many years later have a wonderful partner, who puts up with all my crap and stupidity, and two fantastic kids, who take after me a bit too much, for their mothers liking.
JIM – What’s the significance of the blogs title?
GNOH – I started the blog just after coming out of hospital after having a lot of bone removed from my left hand and a lot of bone grafted in to replace it. I can’t remember who first came up with the idea that I should start blogging to fill in my time. As to the name, I’m a Ginger, and nuts about horror, and I was slightly high on prescription painkillers. I never in my wildest dreams thought anyone would ever pay any attention to the blog. Sometimes I do wonder about changing the name to something that sounds a slightly more respectable.
Right now folks I’ll hand the reigns of to you authory folks out there. First is is the aforementioned Jasper Bark.
Jasper Bark – What’s your worst, most private, personal fear. The secret sublimated terror that you’re actually running from in your pursuit of horror fiction?
GNOH – Jeez, you pull the punches, I have lots of fears, and one of them is actually passing those fears onto my kids. The two biggest things that I’m afraid of that many of you will already know about are heights, and Nuns. Yes Nuns, they actually cause me to go into a catatonic state. It all comes from watching this as a kid. It was one of The Armchair Thriller stories
As for my biggest private fear, that’s easy and probably one that every parent can relate to. The fear of failing as a parent. No matter what we do in life, the most important thing, to me anyway, is to raise your child to become the best that they can be. It’s no one else job, certainly not like a lot of people seem to think a a job for their teachers. It’s your job, in reality they are the only legacy that you will have that really is worth anything. How they turn out is down to you as parents. I try my hardest and to make my kids have a strong set of values. I want them to work hard, I want them to learn that if you want something you have to work at it sand earn it. I want them to care about other people, be polite, helpful, healthy, but above all else I want them to be themselves. I don’t want a Stepford child. I want them to question, to think for themselves .
The world is becoming a difficult place to live in, jobs are becoming scarce, god knows how they are ever going to get on the property ladder.
Sometimes I don’t feel I’m up to the job, I have failings, I can be grumpy, quick to lose my temper and sometimes I expect too much from them. Sometimes I worry that they will resent me for the way I bring them.
I wouldn’t say I have a fear that makes me pursue horror fiction, although any horror that involves kids does greatly upsets me. I pursue horror, because I love it. I grew up watching Hammer Films, reading Graham Masterton, Brian Lumley. I love how you can have both well written intelligent horror, and big old dumb monster of the week horror, and still be entertained by both types.
Next up is Mark West, here is a link to the interview I did with Mark.
Mark West -When reviewing, if you don’t like what you’re reading, are you able to slog on to the end?
GNOH – To be honest I’ll give every book I read a maximum of two hours of my time. If by then it hasn’t caught my attention then I’ll put it down. I get so many books to review, plus all the books I buy and read for myself, it’s getting to the stage where I don’t know how I’ll ever read them all. Two hours equates to between 100 – 150 pages depending on the author font size etc. Don’t get me wrong if the book is truly terrible, then it won’t get that long.
There are times, especially when I’m in a right mood, that I want to finish a terrible book, just so I can write a review of it. But then I calm down and remember thats not what GNOH is all about. I want it to be a positive place. There are too many reviewers out there who thonk it’s smart and funny to tear a book apart.
Mark West – Do you have any grand plan or ambition for the blog, or for yourself, within the horror genre?
GNOH – As for a grand plan, for myself, world domination of course. I think I might get a taste of it, when my daughter takes over the world and keeps me in a cage. She’s a spirited on is our Ella.
As for the blog, I’d really just like to see the audience grow and grow. I’m a modest man, and at times I’m amazed people actually read the blog. I spend hours sweating over the reviews and interviews, I know my grip of the the English language and all the rules of grammar and spelling, sentence structure is average at best. There thousands of blogs out there that are better written, have better opinions and are written by people who are a hell of lot more knowledgeable than myself. What I hope people get from reading this blog is a sense of heart, if you know what I mean.
I’d like to look back in twenty years or so, and hopefully I helped that author sell a bucket load of books.
Next up we have fellow Scot Willie Meikle
Willie – Are there any places in Scotland where you’ve been and you’ve thought would make a great location for a horror story?
GNOH – The short answer would be just stick a pin a map. But seriously the landscape, the history and even the people of Scotland to me is one of the most evocative places I can think of. Head up to Culloden of a misty morning just as dawn is breaking and you can’t help but feel a presence, the hairs on the back of your neck start to tingle.
The same can be said of Roslyn Woods and Rosslyn Valley, there is something about that place, just as it’s beginning to dark, and all the nocturnal animals are beginning to stir. The place starts to become rather scary. About half a mile along the top path next to the Chapple, there is a ruined house all covered in moss, next to it is the huge evil looking tree. I was walking there one evening with the boy, and said careful it looks like the lord of forest destroyed that house. He proceed to blow a raspberry at the tree, and know word of a lie as soon as he said there was a loud crash in the woods. Needless to say we ran out of those woods quickly.
Then there’s St Andrews, as kids we used to have a midnight dare. To run from the West entrance of the Cathedral, right through the graveyard, down to the South entrance, past the big angel grave stone. Local legend says that if the angel turns to look at you, you are about to die. There’s also, the friendly monk, the white lady, the headless carriage, my mother.
Then you’be got places like Skye, Edinburgh, The windswept bays of Pitenween, and Cruden Bay, the pet suicide hotspot of Overtoun Bridge, The tiny village just outside of Anstruther, that I can never remember its name, where no birds fly over. The lowland Moos of of the Borders.
And then we come to Dundee, thankfully I only ever lived there for four years. Seriously film makes if you ever want to make a film about alien parasites sucking the brains and life force out of humans, just stick a camera in the middle of Dundee’s High Street, and you’ll have a cast of thousands, well until a local steals your camera.
Willie – And another — when was the last time you shaved off the beard, if ever? (I’ve had a beard, apart from one week where I shaved it off for charity, since 1975)
GNOH I have had a beard in one form or another for almost 22 years, Every now and then I think about cutting it off, bit I have never managed to find the courage needed. I’ve had my current long beard for about three years now, and annoyingly it doesn’t want to get any longer
Next up is a question from Simon Kurt Unsworth
SKU – Running a blog like yours must take a lot of effort and time for not much reward – so why do you do it? What do you get from it?
GNOH – I think a lot of it has to do with having an addictive personality, I obsess over Google stats. Then there is the fact that I quit my job as a Veterinary Virologist, a job that kept my mind active. For a job working nights in a supermarket. Why did you do that I hear you ask? Money and lifestyle. and the chance to spend more time with my kids. My basic night shift wage is roughly the same as that of my previous job, but the money I save on child care is crazy, and I can spend so much more time with the kids. The downside is of tis is the job, doesn’t require much thought. So the blog goes some way to keep my brain active.
Mainly however, I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. I love doing the interviews. I love getting an insight into how an authors mind works, what drives them, and inspires them. I genuinely get a kick out of them.
The interviews have introduced me to some great writers and some great people. If it wasn’t for the blog, I would never in a million years had the chance to chat with someone like Stephen Volk, a man who scarred me shitless as a teenager.
As for the reviews, at times I get burned out on them. For every great book, I must read at least two or three terrible books. And after a while I do get bored with them.
I also love it when I post a link on Facebook, and get comments from readers saying, “thanks for introducing me to so and so. I loved their book”. That put’s a big smile on my face.
Next up we have Gary McMahon, thanks for this one Gary, I can get in a lot of trouble over this.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Hmmmmmmmmmmm? Truthfully I don’t think I’ve ever done anything truly terrible, you really bad that would cause the Mrs to walk out on me. I think that stems from growing up in St Andrews, both sets of my Grandparents were like the youngest of 12 as were there parents, it basically meant that the vast majority of the town was related to me in one way or another. I couldn’t do anything without my parents finding out. Big Brother was watching me.
It also comes down to what you as an individual think is terrible. Is punching out a fourteen year old drunken idiot, who squared up to me one night at a bus stop terrible. Personally I got a huge amount of pleasure from that. More so when a passer-by said the idiot had been slapping everyone he passed as he went along the street.
Picking up the wallet of an abusive obnoxious twat who was swearing at everyone on a bus. He dropped it, got of the bus and didn’t listen when I said hey mate here’s you wallet. Then throwing the wallet in a burn?
Killing a flat mates Guinea pig, and claiming to know nothing of it. Truthfully it was an accident involving a blocked sink and a home made batch of drain clear.
Then there was one Christmas, that’s all I’m going to say in public. The Mrs will kill me over that.
The one thing that I have done that really sticks with me, and truthfully in the grand scheme of things it is minor. But it is the one thing that really makes me feel guilty.
Here is a link to a blog post I did about it almost two years ago.
What are your three favourite horror novels and why?
That list would change ever single day. Since you’ve put me on the spot, and in no particular order :-
1. James Herbert’s The Rats. This has to be on the list, it was the first ever horror book I read. I can still remember going into The St Andrews Citizen, which at the time was the only bookshop in St Andrews. And there stuck in a dingy corner at the back of the shop was the horror section. I say horror section, it was in fact two three feet shelves. As to why I choose this book over all the others I don’t know why. But I am glad I did, I started my love affair with horror fiction. And unlike other past girlfriends it’s one I like to look up every now and then.
2. Brian Lumley’s – Necroscope -3 – The Source. This was another book that I discovered at The St Andrews Citizen bookshop. I had picked up the first two books in the series, mainly due to their brilliant covers, and while these were decent books, it wasn’t until the third book that the series took off for me. Lumley had already crafted a great back story and mythos for his Vampires, but it was with the Source, we we travel to the vampire world the the mythos exploded into a brilliantly crafted and full blown one. These were Vampires that I fell in love with, and no I don’t mean in a poncy Twilight way. These were cold, vicious evil creatures, where the only time they sparkled was when they were set on fire. The scope, and imagination of Lumley was breathtaking. It’s a pity the series was sullied by the new Necroscope series. Lumley should have stopped after the Vampire Wars trilogy.
3. This is a difficult one, part of me wants to name a classic of the genre, but you know what I’m not going to do that. Yes I love the old masters, and I respect them for what they did and have given to the genre. I doff my cap at the wonderful stories they produced, but whilst I recognise them, and respect them, they don’t grab me by the heart. I’m a product of my youth and if wasn’t for certain authors I wouldn’t be here now talking to you. And I wouldn’t have evn thought about reading books by the likes of Lovecraft, Stoker, Collins, James, Derleth and many others So for my third book I’m going to choose –
Graham Masterton – The Night Warriors. This book still manages to raise a smile. A group of nobodies charged with entering the dreams to find and destroy an evil demon. This book has so many scenes that still stick in my mind even after all these years. Perhaps the strongest one is the the scene on the beach with the demonic eel like offspring of the demon. It still sends a shiver down my spine. A few years after reading the book, I was fishing of the pier in St Andrews and I caught an eel. In the process of getting it of the hook. The bugger bit me and clamped down on my finger. All I could think of was the scene in the book. I went into a blind panic running around screaming like a madman at the end of the pier. Even to this day the memory of it sends a shiver down my spine.
These three authors cemented the foundations of my love for the genre. Since then I have tracked down and read everything that they have written. And for that I have to offer a huge thanks to these three giants of the genre.
What is the thing that you hate the most about the horror genre, if anything?
GNOH – I love the genre, but there are many things I hate about it. One of them is what the rise of e-books has allowed. Don’t get me wrong I love my Kindle, If even named her. It’s the fact that it has allowed everyone and there granny to release a book. That whole thing about everyone has a book inside them, is not true. In fact some folk should have their book inside them, rammed down their throat until they choke on it. The one’s I hate are the people who call themselves a writer or an author, ( I’ve never been sure what the difference is) just because you have written a book does not give you the right to call yourself one. Christ I’ve written shopping list with greater depth and scope, novels from some so called writers.
What I hate specifically about the genre is, and I know I’m going to lose a lot of fans here, is the whole Bizzaro sub genre. It just seems to me to be shock and hey look at me I’m being outrageous. To me Bizzaro is the hipster douchebag of the genre. Sorry folks if that upsets you and you don’t agree with me.
Next up we have Dan Russell.
Dan – For someone who has read so much horror and so manyauthors, what is the one scene that has really pushed your limits and stuck inyour head? Does a particular writer test your boundaries on a regular basis?
GNOH – I’ve already mentioned Masterton’s Night Warriors eels on the beach scene, his opening chapter to The Nameless also sticks in my mind. Brian Keene’s pregnant zombie from The Rising, the final battle sequence in your novel Samhane also springs to mind. To be honest I tend to steer away from the more extreme ends of horror fiction,it’s not really something that has ever appealed to me, even more so since I have had kids.
Dan – As you’ve spent time doing veterinary science, what kinds ofanimals have you literally had a hand in?
GNOH – Thankfully only one, but it was an experience I’ll never forget. I had to get faecal samples from a cow, but it wasn’t giving them up. So what you do is you have to give them a mild electric shock up the arse. Lets just say you haven’t seen explosive shitting until you’ve seen a shocked cows arse.
Ade – Which horror novel would you most like to see filmed?
GNOH – If there was no budgetary constraints then it would have to be a Necroscope trilogy. The scope and imagination of the book would with the right budget translate perfectly to the big screen. Metamorphic vampires battling on giant armoured flying manta ray like animals. Fighting each other with the vicious battle gauntlets, castles built out of body parts, a here who can raise the dead as an army to fight for him. Oh yeah bring it on. Come on Hollywood, stop with the remakes and start filming some new movies. I suppose I can take solace in the fact the Stargate was an amalgamation of Lumlumy’s Necroscope and Khai of Ancient Khem books, well I thought it was.
Ade – Do you prefer horror set in the USA or dear ol’ Blighty?
GNOH – I do prefer books set in the UK, an ability to connect with a novel, on some level always adds to my enjoyment of it. Willie Meikle’s The Case of the Road Hole Bunker, and Adam Nevil’s The Banquiet Of The Damned are both set in St Andrews, and it was great reading these books. One of the best experiences I had reading abook was with Ian Baxter’s MOONSEED. Just reading about certain parts of Edinburgh being destroyed by a rock eating organism from the moon, wasa great pleasure. Much as I do love Masterton’s writing it does bother me that the vast majority of his books are set in the US. I understand that he is trying to appeal to the bigger audience, but I think a book reads truer if the author sets it in his native country. A prime examle of this is Steve Alten’s The Loch, his characterisation of the Scots, and the way they spoke, bordered on being offensive. Aye we all speak this this laddie, Auch aye the noo.
Ade – What would you like for Christmas?
GNOH – That’s a;ways been a tough question for me, you see it’s not only Christmas, but it’s also my birthday, my 40th no less. Books are always the easy option for me. This year my brother in law has built me a custom mountain bike, so no doubt I’ll be getting lots of new mountain biking gear.
I’ve never been that bothered Christmas, mainly because it always clashed with my Birthday and I tended to get forgotten about in the festivities, but this year should be good, we are staying at home and pulling out all the stops for the kids.
Frazer Lee – If you could be another person for a day, who would youchoose? and which day? and why?
GNOH – Part of me wants to say something dramatic, Neil Armstrong as he steps onto the moon, but you know what? I’d love to be my partner for a day, any day will do. You are all wondering why I know, I tell you why. I need to see if I really am as annoying as she says I am. I don’t believe that I am, and i need to see me through her eyes to get proof of the fact
Frazer Lee – If you could popback in time and give teenage you some advice, what would it be?
GNOH – Don’t get that car!!!!. No seriously, about the only advice I would give, is chill out, don’t get yourself so worked up about everything. It all turns out for the best. Seriously I know it seems a bit schmaltzy, but I couldn’t ask for more. I have a wonderful partner who puts up with all my crap, and two great children, hat I am very proud off, who always manage to fill my heart with love. What more does a man need.
Frazere Lee – You’re snowed in,but don’t worry, dinner’s on and there’s room for 5 guests at the table. Who’sinvited & why?
GNOH – I’ll answer this twice
Joe Strummer, a true music legend his legacy to the musical world is so often over looked. Too many people see him as just a punk. But was so much more, he was a flawed man, and he made a lot of mistakes. However you can’t deny his passion, and his determination to do the right thing, and his humanity.
Just listen to this it always brings a tear to my eye
Next year sees the 10th anniversary of his death, and I bet you there will be nothing but a foot note outside of Mojo and Rolling Stone Magazines. Which s shocking for a man who helped define a whole genre of music.
I’d also have to have Graham Masterton, James Herbert and Brian Lumley, just to have the chance to sit in the company of these great authors is a chance I could not pass up.
Finally I’d have to have Doro Pecsh, from the 80’s metal band Warlock. The topless centrefold that came an issue of Kerrang magazine, got me through a lot of cold winter nights.
If I had the chance to do it all again, I’d have the whole of Steps over just so I could spend the evening giving those whinney fuckwits something to moan about. Oh look at a me I was in a disposable pop band, can’t sing, can’t writ my own songs, but here I am on television greeting my eyes out about how I’m not a big star any more. Please believe me after a night snowed in with me and my tool box, You’ll have something to moan about.
Frazer Lee – I’m partial toginger nuts, but i think fruit shortcakes are my current favourite. What’s yertop biscuit Jim? The world NEEDS to know this
GNOH – All time favourite biscuit has to be these
But sadly they stopped making them. Of the current batch of biscuits I do love Fox’s Ambers. They are like a pimped up version of Hobnobs