Interview:5 Minutes With Richard Gavin

Today, I am extremly honoured to have Richard Gavin over for a chat.  Richard Gavin has been hailed as a master of numinous horror fiction in the tradition of Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, and H.P. Lovecraft. His tales are widely anthologized and have been collected in the books Charnel Wine (Rainfall Books, 2004), Omens (Mythos Books, 2007), The Darkly Splendid Realm (Dark Regions Press, 2009), and At Fear’s Altar (Hippocampus Press, 2012). He has also published criticism and essays of Nightside arcanum. S.T. Joshi calls Richard Gavin “one of the bright new stars of contemporary weird fiction.”
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m an author of supernatural fiction and of essays of arcana. I’m a lifelong resident of Ontario, Canada and have been happily joined at the hip with my wife for over seventeen years. Together we have two children, one cat, one rat, a thousand or so books, and a lot of weird bric-a-brac.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I have always and will always identify myself as a Horror writer. It is a genre I am extremely proud to be part of. The fact that the word Horror makes many people uncomfortable is a joy to me because this kind of reaction is indicative of the genre’s power. I hate the polite euphemisms, like “terror fiction,” for example. James B. Twitchell once wrote that terror (Horror’s more socially respectable kin) is ultimately an intellectual process: our minds imagine what might be lurking the shadows, or finds context for the threat. Horror, by contrast, claims us utterly. It affects brains and blood. Terror is also anticipatory. It’s the potential of what might be lurking in the shadows. Horror, again to borrow Twitchell’s terminology, is “the promise fulfilled.” Horror is that revelatory moment when the suspense ends and we see what was lurking in the darkness, yet when it emerges it is often even worse than we’d imagined. I regard Horror as the language of the subconscious and I relish attempting to bore that deeply into the human condition with my work.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Since no one who has read my work will be the least bit shocked if I were to list writers like Clive Barker or Arthur Machen, I’ll restrict this list to those fiction writers whose influence on me may come as a surprise: Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy, Dorothy Parker, Samuel Beckett, and Flannery O’Connor.
What are you reading now?
I’m rereading a few ghost stories by M.R. James, which is an annual Christmastime ritual for me.
Which book do you wish you had written?
There have certainly been books that make me fall down in admiration, but part of what drives me to write fiction is a sense of detachment from the work of other authors. The only way I’m able to fully yoke the fictional experience is to write the work myself. I suspect this is the case with many writers. We know what we want, so rather than passively wait for someone else to write an approximation of our vision, we fashion it ourselves.
If you could use any other author’s creation in your own work, who or what would you use?
Frankly, I’ve laboured long and hard to forge a body of work that (hopefully) doesn’t read like anybody else’s in the field, past or present. I admire a legion of artists, but I don’t want to breach their turf, so to speak. Even when I pen tribute stories to authors like Lovecraft or Guy de Maupassant I try to create something that is more my own, yet still pays back a creative debt I owe those who have inspired me. In the end I’d rather create a canon that is sui generis.
Describe the typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Unfortunately the demands of my schedule limit any serious writing time to weekends. I do a bit of writing every day, but my ideal conditions only manifest two days a week.
My preferred writing time is immediately after waking, so on weekends I usually get up around six a.m., prepare a pot of coffee and then settle into my writing room. I write on a laptop that has no internet access in order to avoid distractions. I work in silence. The actual process is visceral, almost non-intellectual. I leapfrog from scene to scene, following the Muse as it wills. I never plot anything. Ever. Nor do I impose daily word-limits on myself. Some days I’ll write a story start to finish in a white heat; other times I’ll labour over a single paragraph for an entire morning until I hit what feels like the proper vibe. I read everything aloud before I submit it. And I obsess over drafts, often doing up to a dozen refinements.
I pity any future bibliographers of mine because I am the world’s worst archivist. My desk is piled with notes scribbled on envelopes, in notebooks, even on the manuscripts of other stories. I never save older drafts of stories, but instead hone and labour until I get one file with the best story I can possibly create. My process is a storm, but I’m in the eye of it, so it suits me just fine.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I confess to being proud of everything I’ve done from my first book, Charnel Wine, to my latest, At Fear’s Altar, though if I had to pick one piece it would be my novella The Eldritch Faith.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned with regards to your writing?
That it will likely never liberate me from the tedium of a day job. Oh, well. Perhaps this is for the best. Since I don’t depend on my writing to pay my rent, I can create only what I wish and am not beholden to commercial pressures. If nothing else I can sleep soundly knowing that I have never once compromised my work. Like it or loathe it, my fiction is the way I wanted it to be.
What do you like to do to relax?
To be honest, Jim, relaxation has never been something I’ve sought. I much prefer being centred to having leisure time. The way I centre myself is by following my obsessions: Horror, esoterica, Nature, my family and my close friends. I have no desire to take a break from any of these things, even for a day. A vacation at some beach resort would be purgatorial for me. I basically live in the shadows of the subconscious and have no desire to climb out of it.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
At Fear’s Altar is my fourth collection of supernatural Horror fiction. It was edited by the esteemed S.T. Joshi and published by Hippocampus Press. I am at work on the next book but am too superstitious to reveal any details about it at this early juncture. 
If you enjoyed reading this interview, and would like to read some of Gavin’s excellent writing, then please consider purchasing a book via the Amazon Associate link below 
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