2014 is set to be an exciting year for T M McLean. Not only is Fear’s Accomplice available to buy now, but his debut children’s fantasy book, The Sword of Gomar, is also set for a release in April. A whole string of short stories will also be appearing in various anthologies throughout the year.
T M McLean (Tim to his friends) lives in Germany with his wife and son.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Right now I’m all about producing stories and editing anthologies. That might sound a little dull, but that’s the way it is.
I started writing very recently. At first it was just to entertain my son, Jack. I wrote a story for him at the end of last summer (2013) called The Sword of Gomar, which is actually loosely based on a YouTube project that never got off the ground. Anyway, I messed with that idea quite a bit until I had a solid tale on paper. It’s not a horror story, but rather a tongue-in-cheek children’s fantasy book. As soon as the artwork is complete it’ll be released.
After showing Gomar to a few different people—and getting excellent feedback—I decided to try my hand at producing the type of writing that I’ve loved since my teen years: short stories.
I wrote a science fiction story called Time Will Tell and submitted it to a publisher; they accepted it for an anthology and so I started writing more stories. I’m very lucky in that all of my submissions have been accepted for publication, so interested readers will see quite a few works with my name on them in 2014.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror is definitely the term I feel most comfortable with. I feel that I know exactly what it means, whereas Weird Fiction could mean almost anything. What is it? A story written from the perspective of an aardvark would undoubtedly be weird, but that wouldn’t mean it was Horror. I don’t think the terms are entirely interchangeable; each can have its own category, in my view. In truth I probably write stories that fit into all three categories, but I’d rather leave the labelling to others.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I actually read a lot of historical fiction: Bernard Cornwell, George MacDonald Frasier, Conn Iggulden . . . that sort of stuff. However, I don’t really emulate that style in my own writing. My main direct writing influences come from short fiction. I absolutely love Richard Laymon and Stephen King’s short story collections.
Which fictional character would be your perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
The worst neighbour imaginable has to be Stanley from Richard Laymon’s Quake. He’s just such a sleazy character. Can you imagine seeing his disgusting silhouette in the window, peeping on you with his Polaroid camera? Creepy. And don’t forget that he’s strong enough to pull arms out of their sockets without even trying! I suppose I’m lucky, though, because he wouldn’t be all that interested in me (since I’m a man), but still, I wouldn’t want him next door. The worst part about that kind of character is that I very well could have a Stanley next door! How would you know? Laymon was a real master at creating believable human evil.
The best fictional character to live beside would have to be someone who isn’t really regarded as a horror figure. Yeah, he might have been the devil in a couple of episodes but I’m still going with Ned Flanders. I’d get annoyed with his constant praying, but at least he doesn’t get mad if you borrow something without returning it, and you know you won’t see him squatting down to take a dump on your lawn in the middle of the night (I may write about a character that does that at some point)!
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
In some ways this is difficult to answer. The genre in general has been polluted by some terrible films in recent years (I won’t mention Twilight if you don’t). Short fiction is where it’s at for me. I love short stories, and I know from the many talented writers who’ve submitted work for my anthology, Fear’s Accomplice, that Horror is alive and well. Whether the buying public is all that into it is a little harder to judge, but I’m hopeful.
Horror, Fantasy and Sci-Fi would really benefit from a new series like The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits or Tales from the Darkside right now. Of course there’s always The Walking Dead, but I have a soft spot for those crazy shows like Tales from the Crypt. I think that TV shows really help to spark that initial interest. That’s what got me into horror!
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
I recently started reading George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series and I totally love it! He blends fantasy, horror, historical(ish) fiction and pure drama in a way that is truly astonishing!
I generally don’t get too disappointed when I read a book, by the time I get to the end I can usually feel a connection with it. There have been times when I couldn’t finish, though. Stephen King’s Desperation was one of them. I loved it so much when I started reading but then it was like something changed about a hundred pages from the end, don’t ask me what because I don’t think I could answer… that was about ten years ago and I never got round to trying to finish it again.
How would you describe your writing style?
In a word: basic. I’m not a fan of flowery language or descriptions that go on for page after page. I keep it simple but try my best to make it engaging for the reader; if I can make them chuckle to themselves or ponder a little then my job is done.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Currently I only have one published work and, as far as I know, not a single review has been written about it!
What’s your favourite food?
Indian curries are the best things ever invented. You can’t beat a good vindaloo or tikka masala!
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Mostly 90s punk bands or alternative rock like Presidents of the USA, Screeching Weasel, Green Day… maybe throw in some Johnny Cash and something by the Kinks too!
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
I’ve learnt that writing for fun is the best way to produce good work. Some people like the challenge of meeting certain publisher requirements, but I prefer to just sit at the computer and see what happens.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
I sometimes struggle to keep on track. What I essentially do is randomly come up with an ending or a last line that I think would be good. This can happen at any moment: while I’m in bed, walking around a supermarket, driving, or even sitting on the toilet... then I pick up the laptop and come up with a story that gets to that end point. That can be more challenging than you might imagine and I often forget my ideas. If I walk around with a notepad in my pocket I find that I don’t get any ideas at all.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
In all honesty, my creative journey has only just begun, but feel free to ask me again in a few years.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
To ask for help. A great guy called Noel Osualdini (he has a story in Fear’s Accomplice) recently reminded me that if I’m struggling with editing or formatting or just writing in general, then there are always people who are ready to step in to lend a hand.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
My favourite character from Fear’s Accomplice isn’t actually one that I came up with, but I edited the book so I think I can still say that he’s from MY book. The first story, One Remaining Wish by Tim Jeffreys, has a character called Barney in it. He’s great. The dialogue is really believable, and his character is developed so well through it, that you can’t help but feel sorry for him by the end (despite the fact that he’s not a particularly nice guy.)
How about your least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Unfortunately I can’t think of a character from someone else’s story to answer that question. My own contribution to the anthology features a group of kids and some of them have very little to say. If I was to rewrite it I think I’d change it so that those characters either have a greater part to play, or they disappear entirely from the tale.
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Give me the fortune and then ask me if I still need the other things.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of the fact that I set out to compile and release an anthology and then actually managed to do it!
And are there any pieces that you would like to forget about?
My main memory of it all is searching through the slush pile. That was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I have a new respect for anyone that has ever had to do it.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
As you may have guessed, my last book is called Fear’s Accomplice and it is an anthology of horror stories. It’s a truly eclectic collection and should appeal to all fans of horror fiction. There really is something for everyone.
My next release is likely to be The Sword of Gomar, which should be out in April. I finished writing last July and I am now waiting for the illustrations to be completed. Other than that I am already planning a follow-up to Fear’s Accomplice, and I’ve received dozens of potential stories for it already.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?
That’s it!! Finally someone came out and asked, you’ve really made my day!
For more information on Tim follow the links below
Amazon Author Page
For more great interviews and reviews follow the links below
FILE UNDER HORROR AUTHOR INTERVIEW