Interview: Paul Finch: 13 Ghosts of Christmas

Today it is the turn of Paul Finch.  Paul is a screenwriter, novelist, short story writer and journalist, whose published and broadcast work covers a wide spectrum of genres, including horror, fantasy, science fiction, thrillers and crime. He has written for The Bill, and is currently in the middle of bringing Brian Keene’s Dark Hollow to the big screen

Can you tell us little bit about yourself?

My name is Paul Finch, I’m 48, and I live in Lancashire. I’m an ex-copper and journalist by trade, and have been earning my corn as a full-time writer since 1998. Cathy and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary next year. My kids are Eleanor (20), currently at university, and Harry (17), currently studying for his A-Levels.

Why did you decide to submit a story to this anthology?

What can I say? I absolutely love Christmas horror stories, and the scarier the better. When Simon spoke to me about this, I wasn’t just reminded of all the classic Christmas Ghost Story dramas of my childhood, but the numnerous classic collections of ghost and horror stories you could pick up from any decent book shop. They always contained at least a couple set at Christmas. Hence I’ve used the festive season as a backdrop for many of my own stories. This antho was one I knew I couldn’t afford to miss.

Can you tell us what to expect from your story?

It’s very cold and snowy – as are nearly all my Christmas stories – and it’s set in the rather homely environment of lower middle-class Northern England. Aside from that, I’m not going to give too much more away, except to say that it concerns a Christmas legend that I always found intensely creepy.

What was the best and the worst Christmas present you ever received?

The best was a toy castle and lots of toy soldiers when I was about four. I still remember coming downstairs, and finding the soldiers set up all over the living room as they attempted to storm the ramparts. I was utterly blown away and have never forgotten it. I subsequently kept the castle until I was about 12, by which time it must have fallen to pieces of its own accord. The worst present was actually one I bought for myself with some Christmas money – it was a DVD of THE WOMAN IN BLACK, the original TV version by Nigel Kneale. I bought it from Ebay, not realising that it had never been officially released in the UK. This turned out to be a very cheap pirate knock-off of a poor US release, which wouldn’t even play on my DVD, and I’d spent £25 on it. (if I remember rightly, the sleeve was a black and white photocopy of the American cover).

Who or what would you least like to be haunted by at Christmas?

The screaming entity that appeared at the end of the tunnel in THE SIGNALMAN. The first time that aired, I must have been about 8 years old. It frightened the life out of me.

Can you tell us about any future projects?

Yes, I have three very dark thrillers – cop novels essentially, but all uberdark – due out soon from Avon Books at HarperCollins. STALKERS will be published in February, SACRIFICE in July and the third, as yet unnamed, will be out next autumn. in addition, I’ll be continuing editing my regional TERROR TALES series, which has been coming out from Gray Friar Press, incorporating some great new horror fiction plus various spooky myths and legends from the regions covered. Thus far, we’ve published TERROR TALES OF THE LAKE DISTRICT, TERROR TALES OF THE COTSWOLDS and TERROR TALES OF EAST ANGLIA. The next two in the pipeline are TERROR TALES OF LONDON and TERROR TALES OF THE SEASIDE. Keep watching for those.

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