Gef: Your new novella, Out of Time, came out this month. Care to tell us a bit about it?
C.M.: I would love to! Without giving too much away, it's the story of a jaded hack called Joe Dawson battling writer's block. He goes to extreme lengths to get his mojo back, and when he does he finds his past coming back to haunt him. At its core, it's a story about justice and retribution, but it mixes together lots of other elements, everything from time travel to black magic. It's very fast-paced. I manage to pack a lot into those 90-odd pages!
Gef: When not battling your own writer's block, what aspect of writing have you found to be the most challenging--as well as the most rewarding?
C.M.: The commercial side can be very trying. There are so many people writing now. The self-publishing phenomena has leveled the playing field. Which, of course, is a good thing. You don't have to be a member of some exclusive club now to be a published writer. At the same time, you have to stand up tall if you are going to be noticed. The most rewarding part is interacting with the people who read my work. It's really an honour to have people invest so much time, money and effort in me. It's also a big responsibility, so I try to deliver every time.
Gef: Do you have any literary influences? Any favorite books that inspired you that you'd like to share?
C.M.: I'm a huge Stephen King fan. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the mechanics of writing should read his book 'On Writing.' On the fiction side, 'Salem's Lot, Duma Key, It, and the Stand should be on every reader's list. Elsewhere I like Joe Hill, Richard Laymon, Dean Koontz, Joe R. Lansdale, Chuck Palahniuk, Brett Easton Ellis. The list goes on. It's hard to nominate a favourite book. I try to read widely. Not just fiction, but also history, music, ancient mysteries, sport. The world is full of inspirational people and stories.
Gef: What was your biggest eye-opener when you got into writing professionally?
C.M.: I think the sheer hard graft involved. No career is easy, and to be any good at anything you have to put the hours in and pay your dues. It's been a long road for me. I started writing seriously when I was in my early twenties. I worked in a local factory for nine years, putting things in boxes, and absolutely hated it. I was looking for a way out, and had always had an interest in writing. English was the only thing I was ever any good at in school. I started having little bits and pieces published in different places, got a scholarship and went off to university to study journalism. When I left I turned freelance, but found it hard to make ends meet and had a bad case of wanderlust, so I went to teach English in China. I continued writing in my free time, and it was much easier because the pressure was off. A couple of years ago I landed a job in London at a men's lifestyle magazine called Nuts, which has since closed, but I was lucky in the fact that I was picked up by another publishing company. Now I write about sport in the day, and write fiction in my spare time. I couldn't be happier at the moment.
Gef: How do you find the current state of the horror genre and how do you see it further evolving in the years ahead?
C.M.: I think all forms of fiction are in a state of rude health at the moment. There used to be (and still is in some quarters) an element of competition within horror, where writers try to out-do each other in the gore stakes. Each to their own, but it's a bit of a cop-out, really. It's easy to use blood, guts, violence and sex to cover up the cracks in stories, or disguise their own shortcomings. It's harder to write a good, sound plot, with engaging, believable characters and a story that evolves and actually goes somewhere.
Gef: What other irons do you have in the fire, and where can folks keep up with your shenanigans?
C.M.: Earlier this year I put out a compilation of previously published short stories called X: A Collection of Horror. Volume II is on its way. In Out of Time the protagonist Joe Dawson is writing a series of adventure books called the Adventures of Joshua Wyrdd. Those books are actually real, though admittedly written by me not Joe, and will begin seeing the light next year. Hopefully. My first ever book, Into the Dragon's Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales has also been revised and updated, and should also be along some time in 2015.
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X: A Collection of Horror
Out of Time