Interview 5 Minutes With Adrian Chamberlin
Today, it is with great pleasure that I welcome back my old friend and one time drinking buddy Adrian Chamberlin to Ginger Nut Towers.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
It’s been eighteen months since my last confession on the Ginger Nuts of Horror…little has changed since then! I’m now forty-one, still living in Darkest Oxfordshire, still writing…the only change now is I’m concentrating more on novel-length works than short stories. I enjoy the change of pace that comes with an anthology invite, but time pressures mean I can’t write the same amount of short stories for blind submission as I used to. I can’t remember the last time I checked Duotrope or Ralan…
I write regularly for Emma Audsley’s Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog, a site I’m really pleased to be a part of.
This time last year I was rushed off my feet with editing Read the End First with Suzanne Robb as well as editing manuscripts for Hersham Horror Books.
Now I’m focussing purely on work with Dark Continents Publishing. We may have seemed quiet on the UK front the last year, but there’s been lots of activity behind the scenes: concentrating on building our brand in the US, Australasian and South African markets, and we have some massive news to announce shortly that will boost our UK presence.
In addition to proofreading I’m now formatting all the eBooks for DCP, and will soon start work on editing the full manuscript for Dave Jeffery’s Necropolis Rising II: Necromancer.
Do you prefer the term
Dark Fiction. Not that I dislike the terms Horror or Weird Fiction, but Dark Fiction is a broader umbrella for what I write – and indeed, what DCP releases. Nerine Dorman’s Inkarna, Daniel I Russell’s The Collector and Paula R Stiles’s The Mighty Quinn don’t really fit under the Horror label, and these are the works that really define Dark Continents’s goal: to provide quality speculative fiction with a dark theme.
For myself, I find I’m moving more into historical fiction with a supernatural edge, and the horror I create comes more from the political and social events of the periods I write rather than the supernatural itself. Shadrach Besieged is an English Civil War military thriller, but the most disturbing sections come from the actual events of the Civil War and the Fall of Jerusalem during the First Crusade – and the coldly political machinations behind them. When the supernatural and cosmic horror make their appearances, it’s almost a relief…
Who are some of your favourite authors?
In the horror field, Graham Masterton and F Paul Wilson are writers whose works consistently entertain and inspire me. Having said that, I now read more historical fiction and contemporary thrillers than Horror/Dark Fiction: Bernard Cornwell, Gerald Seymour and Robert Harris are my current favourites, and have taught me a lot about plotting and pacing novel-length works. Bernard Cornwell is my literary hero; I’ve never read anyone who can create and evoke the past so realistically, and his battle scenes are breathtaking. Iain (and Iain M) Banks rarely disappoints with his SF and mainstream thrillers.
What are you reading now?
The Wolf’s Hour by Robert R McCammon. A masterful wartime thriller with a werewolf portrayed as a noble warrior against evil who is also at war with himself. Page-turning, gripping, atmospheric, and by equal turns horrifying and moving. I loved the flashbacks to Michael Gallatin’s formative years in Russia, where his mentor Wiktor – a professor at the University of Kiev, prior to the 1917 Revolution – trains him to use his intellect as well as his lethal lycanthropic skills, to strike a balance between civilized man and monster. One of the most memorable scenes is in Wiktor’s library, which is chilling and moving at the same time: “The man and boy ate their rat in the dark chamber, with the echoes of civilized minds in the shelves all around them.”
For me, it’s the ultimate werewolf novel and a masterclass in historical thriller writing.
How would you describe your writing style?
I’ve never really analysed it, but Tracie McBride told me I write in a very cinematic style. I guess that comes from the old “show don’t tell” message that’s hammered into all newbie writers. Looks like some of it actually rubbed off on me! One thing I really try to get right is dialogue: for me, that’s one of the most effective ways of creating memorable and – if not sympathetic, at least realistic – characters. I do tend to overuse interior monologue, though. I rarely use first person narratives these days, unless I’m writing a story I plan to use for a reading.
Not only am I drawn to historical fiction, but also I’m interested in exploring the effects the past has on the present – and indeed, the future. “The Third Day” (Hersham Horror’s Alt-Zombie), “Rupture” (The Dark Side of the Sun), and the forthcoming “T is for Titivillus: the Press of a Button” (Dean M Drinkel’s Demonologia Biblica) – use far future, post-apocalyptic scenarios where mankind has fallen to a new medievalism, and at the mercy of a brutal new church that uses the worst excesses of the medieval period in order to maintain power over a humbled populace. History has been rewritten, and the lessons learned from the past have been wiped from memory; the future is even worse than the past. That to me is a terrifying prospect, and I can see just how much it’s influenced my recent work.
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
My writing habits have changed since the breakneck pace I set myself for completing The Caretakers. Then I was averaging 5000 words a day, because I wanted to meet a deadline I set myself. I did that, but it’s not a healthy way of writing. I know the pros say “write every day. No excuses.” But I’ve found it more realistic – and a damn sight healthier – to set myself a weekly target rather than a daily one.
There are going to be days when you cannot write, maybe because of family problems or physical exhaustion – so if you know you’re on target with your weekly quota you needn’t feel so guilty for not writing for one day. Of course, it helps if you can exceed your quota to make up for these shortfalls; it’s a tip I picked up in Guy N Smith’s Writing Horror Fiction (A&C Black, 1996).
If I’m up with an attack of insomnia, I’ll make use of that and write until it’s time to go to work. Otherwise, I’ll write during lunch at work and do the majority in the evening. I don’t have set times or even word counts: I’ll sit behind the keyboard, let my fingers do the walking and talking, and stop when I’m tired or it’s bedtime. Some days/nights I’ll get anywhere between three to five thousand words done, some times it may only be a thousand. Other nights I’m focussed on editing, proof reading or eBook creation, and there’s no way I can write the same night.
Having said that, if a deadline for a short story is coming up I go all guns blazing. Nothing like having a gun to your head to get the work done!
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’ve got a soft spot for “Sunrise at the Portara”, which I wrote for Permuted Press’s Times of Trouble anthology. It didn’t make the final cut, but appeared in UnEarthed Press’s Anthology of Ichor IIIand is now in my self-published collection The Dark Side of the Sun. It’s been described as “a very dark Indiana Jones”, and I’m pleased with that description: an 8,000 word action-thriller with time travel, the supernatural, ancient Greek temples and Nazis, with a horrifying twist.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
As soon as Shadrach Besieged is complete, it’s back to Fairlight, the thriller that explores the world of teenage self-harming and takes one step further by asking: what would happen if opening your flesh opens up portals to alternative dimensions? What creatures would come forth? It’s more cosmic horror – and science-fiction – than supernatural, and the pacing is a lot tighter. This is shaping up to be as big as The Caretakers, and revisits some themes explored in that book; apart from that, it’s a real departure. The monsters are unlike anything that has been written before. I think Lovecraft would have been proud…
Some readers will be aware that many of my published short stories make reference to the seaside town of Fairlight; even Shadrach Besiegedis set there.
It will all turn full circle, and with the publication of the novel Fairlight, all will be revealed…
Fancy some more? Check out http://www.archivesofpain.comfor more information.