Ginger Nuts of Horror
Pippa Bailey lives in rural Shropshire, England. Principally a horror writer, independent reviewer, and YouTube personality. Her supernatural, and sci-fi stories have featured in several anthologies, and zines. Her debut novel LUX is due for release summer 2018.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m what is commonly referred to as a RAF brat. Having grown up bouncing around military bases before finally settling in Shropshire, I’ve always had a bit of a disjointed life. I feel very much like a nomad without a real home. I think that need to belong has greatly influenced my characters.
I do have a day job, which I enjoy very much. But I suppose that come with the territory of writing horror. I work for a Magistrates criminal court as an usher. I spend my day in black robes working with legal advisers, lawyers, and criminals. It can be exciting, but it can also be incredibly harrowing. Every day I see people on the worst day of their lives.
I’m a bit of a gym bunny, you’ll find me there most week days. It helps me work through the necessary evils of my day job. Clears my mind.
I was a writer from a young age, with achievement awards (which I still have) for short horror stories at primary school. I started writing again as an adult after an accident a few years ago left me unable to walk for 3 months. I couldn’t return to work, so I needed something to fill my time. Boom. I started writing.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
When I’m not writing I’m probably reading. I have a relatively large collection of indie horror comics and graphic novels, slowly collected over the last few years. They tend to keep me entertained, when I’m not delving into larger works of fiction.
I will admit I am addicted to watching “Lets Play”. When I’m winding down at the end of the night you’ll find me on YouTube watching Game Grumps, (loud idiots playing games, being sarcastic and voice acting.) I love it.
Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
I think other than the horror genre, locations have been a large influence on my writing. I have been lucky enough to grow up in an area steeped in history. I have spent the last 20 years in a tiny village in Shropshire, called Albrighton. Its full title being, Albrighton, Home of the English Rose.
It’s mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1066, and is potentially far older than that. The village sporadically ends up in the news. In January a 700-year-old templar cave was discovered under a field at the far end of the village boundaries. We also have the world famous “David Austen Roses” rose garden, which I visit several times a year.
Large sections of this strange little village have made their way into my literary world under the guise of Alnwick.
The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations. What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?
I think that horror is one of the most versatile genres to work within. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it the same way. When talking to non-horror readers about my writing there is an automatic assumption that horror equals disgusting, or bad. Yes, I will admit, with horror you’re more likely to come across the extremes of human nature, and, or of the supernatural world. But that doesn’t have to equate shock value. With the recent release of the film IT (2017). I feel that it has done a great service to those of us working in the horror industry, by making the genre more accessible to those who wouldn’t traditionally approach it. Small changes like this in the minds of the general-public is turning the tide on the assumption that horror equals bad.
A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?
The world today is a scary place. It can be said that it has always been a scary place, but now due to social media we see more of the dark side that was once hidden away. People seem more able, certainly in the literary community to approach these topics with an openness you don’t see in the media. In the last few years there seems to have been a resurgence in the horror genre. With TV shows like Stranger Things, and American Horror Story. I can see a new audience enjoying the thrill of what we have to offer, and I hope in the future this continues.
What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?
The first thing that springs to mind when looking at my influences would be the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It had a huge impact on my teenage years. When you’re leaving childhood, still vulnerable and starting to question your place in the world. Then BLAM. This powerhouse of a woman appears, kicking arse, and lusting after some dark and brooding man. It helped me never shy away from making my female characters strong, funny and open to love, no matter how many times it has destroyed them. Clive Barker’s Cabal, had an earlier influence on me. Having spent years staring at the cover of the book on my dad’s shelf he let me read it. I was completely blown away. This was my first introduction to anything of a sexual nature. And the innate darkness of people. I loved it. It sent me on my own dark path. It taught me that you shouldn’t mince your words. If you’re going to write a powerful scene. Do it, and do it well.
What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off?
I am currently enjoying reading works from Mark Cassell and Lydian Faust, who both had releases this year. Mark with Hell Cat of the Holt and In the Company of False Gods. Lydian with Forest Underground. Both authors are spectacular world builders and the ambience they create is second to none. I can’t rate them highly enough. I see them both winning awards in the future.
How would you describe your writing style?
I lean towards supernatural horror, and with that I tend to find a familiar pattern within my stories. A punchy start, slow build, and an incredibly destructive scene, the pinnacle of action for the character. I don’t like to use gratuitous gore, I tend to punctuate with pockets of nastiness, give the reader a taste of how bad it could get. Let their mind fill in the blanks.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
As my work has mostly been in anthologies it doesn’t always get picked up on individually. Though I do have a review from my first ever story Scarred. Reading that someone felt that passionately about my words nearly left me in tears. I felt proud of myself for the first time. It was a really great feeling that I hope I repeat.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
I will openly admit I have dyslexia. I struggle with grammar and sentence structure. You probably won’t see that in my work because I have such fantastic support when it comes to editing. I have been very lucky to have become a Padawan of sorts to a far superior author. I have a huge collection of books on writing I was advised to get, and I’m slowly working my way through those. I can see myself steadily improving, but it is hard work. Editing takes me a very long time, because I’m constantly questioning myself, not on the content of the story, but on my ability to write.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
I don’t think there is. I choose to write supernatural horror because that’s what I like to read. I’m comfortable writing about any taboos as I’ve learned from my day job to distance myself from things. Genre wise, I’m not interested in writing non-fiction, nor am I about history, or romance.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
I do tend to take my time over a character’s name, sometimes a character feels a certain way, or I want their name to meet something. I do the same with place names. I sometimes sneak in detail from my own world. Such as using the same number of letters in a name, as the real person the character is based upon. Or in my novel there is a school called Austin Albrights. Which is an amalgamation of David Austin Roses and Albrighton.
Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?
I’m still a newbie, so I am on my journey of discovery and learning. I’ve had a lot of support, and have been lucky enough to be mentored by a fantastic author. I’ve started studying my weak point, grammar and sentence structure. I’m taking my time to better my skills. I recommend picking up books from Rayne Hall, her work is invaluable when improving your skills.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Note pads, pencils, and flash cards. I was given a box of writers’ tools as a birthday gift. I think I have used everything in the box multiple times. It’s one of the most generous, thoughtful gifts I’ve ever been given. I highly recommend you go and make your own.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?
Study writing, study your own work. Study the intricacies of what makes your work shine, find it in others and take notes. Keep notepads everywhere.
Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you tried to approach this subject?
I was networking long before I was writing. I used to run an independent review company, and I have done PA and admin for several comic books, artists and authors.
Marketing and getting your work noticed is a lot about thinking outside the box, and making the right connections. Also creating a brand, an image is very important.
Knowing the right people, gets your work in the right places.
To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favourite child, and who is your least favourite to write for and why?
My favourite is Finn, he’s one of the main characters in my novel series. I love his quirks, his awkward nature and how he unabashedly makes a fool of himself.
“Oops. Here,” he said, helping her take a bite, “of course, when I tell this story it’s going to be the other way around.”
“Hmm?” Alex muttered.
“Oh, I’ll be the one being hand fed by someone gorgeous,” said Finn grinning, “while tied up.”
– Least would be the woman in my first story, scarred. I have a lot of contempt for her and who she is. But I wrote her that way, and I don’t think I’d write someone like her again.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
No none of my characters deserve to be forgotten, but several could be improved.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?
As I have only short stories available to the public currently I’d recommend my story from sparks when it is released, as I feel my skill level has improved greatly between this story and some of my earlier works.
Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us?
Yes, but it’s a little racy.
The room darkened as she massaged him, shrouding him in a shadow he couldn’t fully comprehend. She made quick work of extracting the first few moans from his parched lips. Hands falling silently from the keyboard, twitching at his sides. He had lost this game of pleasure again, his slick cock aching in her grip. She knew how to bring him to the point of no return, waiting for the carnality of his relief.
– From a flash fiction story called Behind you.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
I’m currently editing a couple stories for 2 anthologies this year. I am also still working on my labor of love, a novel called Lux, which is part 1 of a 6-part series. And I have a novella in the works. Based in the same world as the novel, but takes place 5 years prior.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
I don’t enjoy the notion of a damsel in destress. I’m also not a big fan of zombies.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
Last book I read was Forest Underground by Lydian Faust. It’s fantastic. The last book that disappointed me was a book I was asked to review. I won’t name names, but it took me 4 hours to read 25 pages. I had to contact the publisher and ask if they had looked at the book themselves, as it had some major issues.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer
I’ll leave people guessing, and yes.