Okay, Adrian Chamberlin! This is a little Q & A to get to know a little more about you and thicken up those stalker portfolios.
1 – Milk or dark chocolate?
Milk, definitely. This year I tried Lindt chocolate for the first time and I’m addicted. It’s even nicer than Galaxy and Thornton’s.
I hated dark chocolate when I was a kid, although as I get older I find I’m developing a taste for it. One of those strange things about getting old, I guess: you like the stuff you thought was the province of grannies and history teachers. Looking forward to my Brussel’s Sprout Curry tonight.
2 – What are your feelings in reference to LEGO?
Next to books, Lego was my ever-present childhood companion. I loved it, even more than Meccano, which I found to be too restrictive creatively. Nuts and bolts and spanners…yawn. You don’t see Meccano Star Wars games on the PS3, do you?
I don’t play with it these days, but I love the way it’s become a cultural movement in its own right. There was a campaign recently to get Lego to make a diorama of The Winchester pub from Shaun of the Dead. How cool is that? In the old days it used to be a mark of fame and success when a
Hollywood film was made of your book or you had a guest spot on The Simpsons. Now, it’s Lego.
My dream is to see a Lego recreation of the scene from my novel The Caretakers when
is witness to the arrival of Andraste. Zombie wild boar, exploding Transit vans and a Lovecraftian monster on a medieval college building? C’mon, Lego lovers! Make it so! All Souls College
3 – I know a lot of people as what the favorites are in regard to horror movies, but my question to
you...what is your drama/comedy and why?
There are very few horror movies I enjoy, but even less drama or comedy films. I’m a miserable old bastard who’s harder to please with each year that goes by, but I’m a sucker for a well-scripted and produced historical epic.
(Director’s Cut) is a modern classic and ticks all the boxes for me, as does Gladiator and Downfall. Kingdom of Heaven
One film that always makes me giggle – and should be prescribed free on the NHS – is In Bruges. No matter how crap a week I’ve had, Brendan Gleeson’s line “Two manky hookers and a racist dwarf” makes the world a brighter place. For me, anyway. Probably not for ladies of the night and height-challenged persons…
4 – What is the story/novel you are most proud of?
I’m pleased with The Caretakers because that was such an epic piece, and written under extremely difficult personal circumstances. I know you shouldn’t have favourites – what works for the author may not work for the reader, and vice versa – but I’m pleased with “Kriegsmaterial”, my
Auschwitz themed story in Hersham Horror’s Fogbound From 5. Two reviewers have called it the most disturbing story in the collection, which is high praise when you see the other authors involved.
In the US
In the UK
5 – What is the most interesting thing you have learned?
That when you think you know everything you’ve learned nothing.
6 – Do you do a lot of research for your writing?
For my historical pieces, research is essential. However, apart from basic facts I don’t write a list of all the things my story will need. When I’ve decided on a period in history to set my piece I’ll immerse myself in books – novels as well as non-fiction - and documentaries of that time, and not necessarily all related to the events and characters in my stories. I like to wallow in that period, and tend to absorb bits of detail that work their way into my story which wouldn’t have done so if I’d planned everything out fully before.
7 – Tell me about the novels you have written
Just the one at the moment! However, I’m on the last third of Fairlight, a supernatural thriller that explores themes of self-harm, the ability to shift between dimensions and what lies after death. It also contains what I guarantee is one of the most unique monsters you’ll ever encounter in horror fiction. Prepare yourself for the Manxome Foe!
I’m also co-writing Snareville III: The Ties That Bind with DM Youngquist, a continuation of his acclaimed zombie apocalypse thriller that tells the story from both sides of the Atlantic: my part tells of the survivors in an England market town forced to escape to Glastonbury, where a new medievalism is transforming society. A power-mad general with a dark secret and a religious fanatic who believes King Arthur will return to deliver
Albion are just some of the ingredients in this twisted take. There’ll be crucified zombies as well. Something for all the family.
8 –If you could not write, what would be your artistic outlet?
I don’t think I’d have one! I can’t sing, dance or play music so I’d be forced to take to the stage. I did a fair bit of acting at college and after, but I’ve no desire to tread the boards again. I’d probably invest in my splatterpunk Punch & Judy show with some proper wooden puppets and decent pyrotechnics – the previous shows have used eggshells and haggis meat for the visceral elements, which works fine for a small audience but would lose power in a larger environment.
It may be a cliché, but it’s true: when I don’t write for a while I get cranky and depressed. It’s a need, a creative impulse to construct new worlds and people. But also a hunger for improvement: I constantly desire to improve on what I’ve done before, whether it be characterisation or pacing for my action scenes. Sometimes I bite off a bit more than I can chew, and some of my pieces are probably a bit too ambitious. I’ve heard some writers say they sit on ideas until they feel they’ve developed as a writer to do them justice. That’s something I can’t do: when the story idea hits me, it won’t rest until it’s told.
9 – How do you like to tell a story? Character driven, location of importance, or something else entirely?
I used to plan everything out religiously, but soon realised a too-rigid outline doesn’t allow the story to breathe and develop. Now I go for the organic method of just rolling with an idea and let the story tell itself. It’s a method that terrified me in the past because of the amount of rewriting required. Now I don’t think I could write any other way.
Fairlight started off this way. I thought: what happens if teenage self-harming enables demons or aliens to access this plane of existence? The novel is practically writing itself.
10– What kind of music do you listen to when writing?
All sorts. Normally I’ll have BBC 6 Music on in the background, or if I want some mood music I’ll stick on Massive Attack’s Mezzanine or the Manics’ Holy Bible.
11 – What is the most difficult thing you find about being a writer?
Controlling my envy. I’m ashamed to admit it, but when fellow writers get top reviews and space on supermarket shelves my pleasure at seeing their success (which is good for all us is in this genre – they’re opening up the horror field to the mainstream, and we’ll ultimately all benefit) is tempered with the selfish “Humph. Wish I could have that” thought. The other problem is self-doubt: occasionally I have moments of “What the hell am I doing this for? Everything I’ve written is crap” and “What’s the point? I’m not getting any sales/recognition” but I don’t think I’m the only writer who has these moments! They don’t last long, anyway – but I do force myself to accept that I could be in this game for years and still die penniless and unknown.
Because one thing I am hopeless at is self-promotion. I find it very difficult to “put myself out there” digitally and in the flesh. There is so much competition out there: so many writers, not enough readers, and it’s discomforting to see everyone spamming the social media networks with “Buy my book! Gimme a review! Love me!” and know I should be doing it myself. I do it occasionally but hate myself for doing so…
So, I try to mix it up with some jokes and links to funny sites. I take the writing seriously, but promotion not too seriously. Remember the old writers’ joke: “What’s the difference between a writer and a pizza? A pizza can feed a family of four.”
12 – Something about you that no one would believe.
I like rats and squirrels.
13 – Unicorns or dragons?
Dragons, of course. Because unicorns don’t exist.
Seriously, when I hear the word “unicorn” the first thing that comes to mind is the floppy-horned horses in Ridley Scott’s Legend. Dear God…
13 – Okay, now promote yourself here, what else have you done that you would like people to know about?
PROMOTE? Wash your mouth out with soap and water, young lady! Details of my writing can be found on my website, but in addition to editing for Hersham Horror and Dark Continents I’ve received nice feedback on another task: writing back cover copy (“blurbs” we call them in the
I didn’t know that many writers find it a difficult task, but I enjoy the process of condensing a book’s story or subject matter in a way that grabs the potential reader/purchaser. Good cover art is important: that’s what grabs the buyer’s attention and makes them take it from the shelf. But it is the back cover copy that decides whether the book is taken to the cash register or returned to the shelf.
I wrote the blurbs for the majority of Dark Continents’ first wave of releases, as well as for Dave Jeffery’s Campfire Chillers and Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Quiet Houses, Dean Drinkel’s Phobophobia. I’ll be writing the copy for John Prescott’s Hell soon, and hope to do many more of these in the future.