Today's Five Minutes with is with Liam Davies. Liam writes horror/absurd fiction, has had fiction and poetry published in a variety of places and is now currently flogging his novels. In 2000, his debut play earned an M.E.N Theatre Award nomination for 'Best New Play'. Liam currently lives in Pendle Witch country next to a 17th Century graveyard and also just a stone's throw away Bronte country.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
My name is Liam Davies and I write fiction that flirts with the horror and New Weird genres. I started writing, with any seriousness, for theatre. At university I wrote a few plays that got performed in various venues around Manchester, but eventually I drifted away from this towards fiction (it had something to do with the unlimited special effects budget you get as a fiction writer). It’s taken a while, but now I’m starting to get my longer works published, primarily with the American publisher Gallows Press, although my shorter fiction and poetry has appeared in a range of small press anthologies and magazines.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
The term horror has its stigmatisation, a reputation for cliché and cheesiness, perhaps, but there’s nothing wrong with the label and there’s so much quality out there that’s worth reading. I sometimes think the term ‘dark fiction’ pulls a punch. What do you mean, dark fiction? Don’t you mean horror? They’re just labels to me that help you find stuff you like in bookshops.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Here we go: China Mieville, Magnus Mills, Adam Marek, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Rhys Hughes, D Harlan Wilson, Ramsay Campbell, Albert Camus, Eugine Ionesco, Flann O’Brien, Mervyn Peake – there are more, but I’d be here all day.
What are you reading now?
Right this second, I’ve just started The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall. It’s fun, so far.
Which book do you wish you had written?
For the adulation, The Bible, for the cash, Harry Potter and for the sheer genius, The Stranger l’Etranger. In terms of genre stuff, Perdido Street Station and Weaveworld are amazing books.
If you could use any other author’s creation in your own work, who or what would you use?
To take an opportunity for a plug, I kind of have – my story, ‘Colne’ is set to appear in an anthology from Eraserhead Press called ‘In Heaven Everything is Fine: fiction inspired by David Lynch’ – I borrowed his colour palette and themes of duality and binary opposites. Otherwise, I kind of like making stuff up on my own. That’s the best bit.
Describe typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Working in the day job – I teach English Language in an FE college in Lancashire. But I write in bursts when I feel like it. I’m not someone who adheres to a daily word count or anything like that. I often find that kind of writing dogma a little bit macho and silly. I mean, sometimes it’s sunny outside and you have to get some vitamin D. Better that than typing!
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
A novella called The Shadow Intermission, which I’m very pleased with and, apparently so is my publisher. It’s a little experimental – there’s a bit of Amis’ Time’s Arrow in there. It took a lot of plotting and planning. I’ve also just now submitted the final novel in my trilogy of books, entitled The Animal Trilogy (book one is out now on Amazon and is called “Sow and the Three Beasts of Brunlea”). It was weird saying goodbye to characters I’ve spent time with for over 230,000 words. I’d grown rather attached to them. Anyway, the third part is good and I’m very happy with how it’s turned out.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned with regards to your writing?
To grow a thick skin, trust my instincts (there must be at least one other person who enjoys the stories that I enjoy writing), listen to good criticism and not to get to carried away with myself. There’s a very real danger when a writer first gets published that they spend more time scouring Google for reaction than actually writing something else.
What do you like to do to relax?
I run (slowly and with much sweating), read, enjoy walking in the Pendle countryside, I like a drink with friends, I love cooking and food in general, listen to music and watch films (mainly horror).
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
The most recent book is Sow and the Three Beasts of Brunlea and it’s a balls to the wall horror novel about the suspicion that a place can actively and insidiously control and inhibit a person’s life. It’s quite extreme in many ways. It’s also the first in a trilogy, with the sequel Succubus already with the publisher and, as I’ve mentioned, the third part finally completed today. My next project is going to be lighter to a degree. I’ve a choice between a existential comedy horror about giants that live in a pocket universe near the Lancashire and Yorkshire border, which is pretty much all fleshed out, and a series of novelettes that are all planned about a deluded intergalactic warrior who gets stuck in the north of England and goes on a series of adventures where he battles tropes of the horror genre. The latter project is promising to be very, very silly and as a result will probably never see the light of day, but I really want to write it.
LIAM DAVIES ON AMAZON