Ginger Nuts of Horror
Alasdair grew up on the Isle of Man, in the middle of the Irish Sea. not only instilled in him a deep, profound mistrust of seafood and a tremendous tolerance for rain and gale force winds but also the ability to make his own fun. He has worked as a magician, a rally marshal, a secretary, the world’s politest bouncer, and the manager of a comic/game store. He is now a freelance journalist, editor and podcaster and writes regularly for SFX, Bleeding Cool, How It Works, Neo and Comic Heroes. He edits Hub magazine (www.hubfiction.com), a free weekly PDF magazine covering science fiction, fantasy and horror with 10,000 readers that’s relaunching shortly and I host Pseudopod (www.pseudopod.org), the weekly horror fiction podcast.He reads and guest hosts for its two sister podcasts, Escape Pod and Podcastle as well as working with Drabblecast, Cast Macabre and Cast of Wonders. When not doing that, he designs roleplaying game adventures, most recently for the Official Doctor Who Roleplaying Game.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Sure. I’m Alasdair Stuart, I’m a freelance journalist and podcaster. I was born on the Isle of Man in 1976 and escaped once I’d confirmed the existence of the mainland. I work for a variety of people, but most recently have finished the 6th Doctor Sourcebook for the Official Doctor Who RPG and the Pseudopod endcaps for June. I’m an enthusiastic and amateur baker and martial artist and have over the years worked as a comic store manager, a Rally marshal, an NHS admin assistant and a bouncer.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Varies a lot, but right now I’m enjoying everything James Smythe writes. Also very fond of Mur Lafferty’s work, Dana Fredsti, Richard B Parker, Ed McBain, the late Iain Banks and Warren Ellis.
What are you reading now?
The Red Knight by Katie Davies, published by Anachron Press. It’s great, a big, burly fantasy novel filled with female characters who actually do things, interesting politics and a jet black sense of humour.
Which book do you wish you had written?
Transmetropolitan, Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s epic science fiction graphic novel series. I’m awfully fond of journalists as protagonists and Spider’s one of the all time greats.
If you could use any other author’s creation in your own work, who or what would you use?
I spend a lot of time writing about, rather than for, characters so I’ll switch this one around a little bit. I love the fact that if you dig deep enough, you can connect most of the espionage/thriller characters from the last forty years. Check this out;
George Smiley from the John Le Carre novels teaches a generation of spies. One of them is Sir Harry Pearce who’d go on to run D Section in the TV show Spooks. One of Pearce’s contemporaries is an increasingly distressed SAS officer called Callan, used for years by the Government as a deniable assassin. Callan finally cracks, and is pulled from Red File duty. When he recovers, he’s moved into a new job, teaching American soldiers and spies the basics of counter-espionage. One of his last pupils is John Reece, the Army Ranger who would go on to be the lead in the TV show Person of Interest. Another is Jonas Blane, the Army Ranger in command of the Unit in the show of the same name.
I love that sort of connective fictional tissue.
Describe typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I hydrate and I do yoga: ) It’s an awful, sedentary job so I try and stand up and stretch as much as possible every 90 minutes. Also, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had brainfuzz which has faded when I’ve drunk some water. I don’t hydrate enough and I’m really pleased I changed that.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I go through dull phases where I can’t stand anything I write, but there was a piece I did for my blog a while back about the Macklemore song ‘My Oh My’. Even on my worst day, I know that’s a good piece of work.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned with regards to your writing?
Patience. At the start of this year I had four large jobs in suspension for no one’s fault. It’s easy to feel screamingly entitled because you work hard, you hit your goals and you still, as a freelancer, have to prove yourself over and over again. Patience, and planning, means I’m constantly working on something now instead of getting frustrated waiting for an email that may never come. In fact, if you want the soundbite it’s this:
It’s never personal, and it’s never fast enough for you so just do the work.
That way it’s done and you’re not thinking about the next thing. Just do the work until there’s no more work to do.
What do you like to do to relax?
I love movies, and have done my entire life. Plus, my girlfriend is slowly starting to realize TV is a really good way to relax and we’re making our way through Defiance, Hannibal, Person of Interest and The West Wing right now. I’m also a keen gamer, and am currently playing Metro: Last Light and the first God of War prequel. I especially love (And hate) Mirror’s Edge so the announcement of a sequel to that has me very happy:)
I’m also hoping to get back to the martial arts this year after close to a two year absence. My first love there is Judo but if we end up training in Aikido or Brazilian Jujitsu, as seems likely, that’s fine too.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Yeah, my last book, that I owned, was the first collection of The Pseudopod Tapes. For six years now I’ve hosted Pseudopod (www.pseudopod.org) , a weekly horror fiction podcast. My closing essays have got quite popular so The Pseudopod Tapes was a collection of each one from 2012.
This year’s book, which I’ll put together in November, is going to be a lot bigger. I now co-host Escape Pod (www.escapepod.org) and so there’ll be half as much material from there as well as a few other bits and pieces. I love doing this, and the first one was pretty well received so it should be a fun job.
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