Interview: Five Minutes With James Brogden

Today we have James Brogden over for a wee chat. James Brogden is a part-time Australian and teacher of English who lives in Worcestershire with his wife, two daughters, and far too much Lego. His short fiction has appeared in The Big Issue and Dark Horizons (the journal of the British Fantasy Society). The Narrows is his first novel.

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

I love writing stories because I’m basically a control freak and for a short time I get to be god of my own little fantasy world. I also teach English, and my students will probably tell you much the same thing. I’m a naturalised Brummie, born in the north and raised in Australia. I loathe all forms of competitive sport, which is why I was deported from Oz, though I do like to get out into the mountains whenever I can to lose my head in something vast. I still play Dungeons and Dragons with my mates and I have far too much lego than is good for me.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Dark Fiction – there are elements of what I write which are horrific, some which are weird, with bits of science fiction, slipstream and comedy thrown in to keep it interesting. Basically, I get bored easily. Genre boundaries are fuzzy; the most interesting writing inhabits those blurred places and refuses to conform to generic conventions, and that’s what I try to write.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Neil Gaiman, Graham Joyce, Robert Holdstock, Clive Barker, Christopher Fowler.
What are you reading now?
‘Remember Why You Fear Me,’ a collection of short stories by Robert Shearman. Disturbing, but funny with it, which makes it doubly dangerous stuff. The best one by far is the one about the man who wakes up one morning convinced that his dead wife’s face is growing over his own. Or the one about Hitler’s dachshund, Voofie. See?
Which book do you wish you had written?
Mythago Wood. Such an elegant idea. Damn that man Holdstock.
How would you describe your writing style?
Sporadic? I don’t know – I leave it up to readers to judge. I try to keep my ‘voice’, such as it is, as down-to-earth and normal as possible, which isn’t always easy given the subject matter. I try to channel Martin Freeman for my heroes and Michael Wincott for my villains, if that’s any help.
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t think my writing habits are unusual compared to how a large number of writers seem to describe the process – prevarication, work-avoidance, facebook, computer games, twitter, and the occasional sentence or two in the middle of all that. I envy workaholics who can sit down at 9am and crank out several thousand words before lunchtime. I simultaneously aspire to and fear that kind of self-discipline.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

My first novel – The Narrows. You have to be proud of your firstborn, don’t you? I’m pleased with the fact that I didn’t give up on it, more than anything else.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

I’ve just delivered the manuscript of my second novel – Tourmaline – to Snowbooks, who also published The Narrows, and I’m currently outlining the sequel. I’ll also be reading one of my short stories at Den Of Geek’s charity fund-raising event in London on November 27th. Lots of talented writers will be there, and also me.

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