Interview: Five Minutes with Michael Pugh

Today we have Michael PughMichael Pugh is a British author who writes novels across several genres, including horror, comedy, sci-fi and the bizarre.

Michael’s comedy work includes the ebook “The Box Of Mirrors”, which is a story about a man trapped inside his own mind, and “Shellshocked”, an animated movie completed in 2010. You can find out more about “Shellshocked” at the film’s website, which includes a link to view the whole film on YouTube.

Michael’s horror ebooks so far cover Hell (“Admin Is Hell”), zombies (“The Undead”) and vampires (“The Liverpool Vampire”). All of the ebooks can be found on Amazon.

Future ebooks include a follow-up to “The Liverpool Vampire”, a sequel to “Admin Is Hell”, the rest of the five part series of “The Undead”, a sci-fi novel about a great war with another species and a novel set in a confined space…

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Okay… My name is Michael Pugh, I’m 31 years old, I’m from Liverpool and I have been married to Jenny since 2010. I had a brain injury from a car accident and I could no longer work so I started writing books. I’ve been writing stories properly since 2011. I love horror films, snooker (although I’m terrible at it!), video games, winter, night time, cats and history. I have collections of model soldiers from my war-gaming days including a French Grande Armee and a British Peninsular Army. Huzzah!
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I think that the three terms refer to different things, or certainly different flavours of the same thing. Horror is the umbrella and weird fiction and dark fiction shelter under it I think. Horror is anything that makes you feel scared or creeped out or uneasy and can be anything at all that gets you to that place. Weird fiction is for me stuff that talks about things like odd creatures or the supernatural or just things that strike you as especially strange, like “The Mothman Prophecies”. Dark fiction has to have some element of sadism or evil to it such as “American Psycho”. At least that’s what I think the terms mean.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Roald Dahl and George Orwell. I like the way that they can make you feel anything that they want to and it doesn’t feel forced – they are taking you on a journey with them to a place from where you can see what they want you to see. The thing that makes me love an author is not when they say something clever or when they write charming funny pieces, but when they’re understated and effortless. Controversially perhaps, although I like John Banville and Stephen King I do think that the others I listed above have the edge on them for making a book seem so real it stays with you and does not go away. Like watching “M*A*S*H” – some people like the silly early episodes but I like the more realistic later ones where you just felt grateful for the sacrifices of that generation and almost as grateful that you weren’t there.
What are you reading now?
The last thing that I read cover to cover was George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and I thought that it was brilliant. The book speaks about politicians even in today’s world in a way that is not only recognisable but satisfying – we the public aren’t the only ones that feel hoodwinked by our rulers. It’s got great characters and it’s entirely believable, and I loved it.
Which book do you wish you had written?
I don’t know about that! I write the novels that I want to write – other people’s novels were their thing to say and how to say it. I have novel ideas in my attic waiting in amongst the broken toys and I will finally write them, but I don’t think about other people’s work and wish I’d written it – that would take away from me being awed by their achievement 🙂 I love that feeling you get when you read a book and it’s like your whole being was dragged along some cobbled road behind wild horses and the thing that stood out for you was the look on somebody’s face as you went by them – moments that stand out and leave you utterly moved.
How would you describe your writing style?
I am no fan of filler in books and I try not to put anything in that would not advance the plot. The one exception to that was “The Box of Mirrors” which is intentionally flowery and over-written but that’s the character of the insanity or mental strain of the protagonist in that book. Since the brain injury I try to include only what will drive the story forwards like a salmon leaping upstream, because it’s an effort to write now in a way that it wasn’t before. I hope I could characterise my writing style then as letting go of filler and frippery and just getting to the point but I suppose that I will never get to experience my work the same way as someone else reading it will. Readers might have something else entirely to say!
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I have to write on a manual typewriter. I can’t write with a pen as it takes too long and I can’t write on a word processor because it doesn’t feel right and after a very short time I can’t continue. The typewriter allows it to just be my head and the paper and nothing else. I write a chapter at a time, or a chapter for each day of writing, because it’s easier to keep in my head than trying to split it up over a longer period. Once the book is through its first draft, it’s over to Jenny for her to make sense of the creased and curly pages and that’s the bit that takes the longest: editing. Without Jenny editing the work, my books would just look like the gibberish product of a halfwit!
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’m proud of them all for different reasons but I do think that “The Undead” is the most accomplished thing I’ve done so far. It’s more expansive and detailed than any of my other works because it has to be, but there’s something about making the unbelievable believable and realistic that brings with it its own satisfaction. I try to make things real for people without putting them in therapy, and it’s a fine line, as my vict- er, wife can attest!
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
The last thing I wrote was “The Liverpool Vampire” which tried to do with vampires what I’d done with zombies; treat it totally straight and as if it was real. The book I’m working on right now is the follow up book to “The Liverpool Vampire” and then I’ll be done with vampires. After that will be book two of “The Undead” (there will be five books of the story in the end) and so I have another chunk of stuff in my head to polish and try to make sense of for everybody else 🙂 I am trying to make the follow up vampire book more real and more immediate than even the first one was – I want people to be entertained and thankful that vampires aren’t real! The next zombie book will be look in even more detail into the awful situation that book one left the world in, and will look at the crisis through North American eyes.


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