It is always a very happy day when Mark West pops over for a chat. Mark is one of my favourite authors, he has a rare talent for filling his stories with a heart and soul that resonates beyond the confines of the page. Mark has also just seen the publication of his first multiauthor anthology. Details of which can be found by clicking the links at the bottom of this interview.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m a night-time horror writer - Finance Manager by day - who enjoys the genre for the breadth of opportunity it gives me. I’ve written some novels, some novellas and a whole load of shorts, I was once in a band that I wrote lyrics for and played rhythm guitar, I made a handful of ‘no-budget’ horror films in the late 90s and, for a while, I was one half of a comedy duo. But horror has always been my first love.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I tend to use horror since that’s the one I’ve always associated with what I write, though some of it is probably better referred to as dark fiction. The story in this anthology, “Mr Stix”, is much more of a dark fiction tale, though it does have - to my mind - at least two moments of out-and-out horror.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Oh it’s a massive list, I could be here all day. Apart from the stalwarts - Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Clive Barker, Dennis Etchison, Michael Marshall Smith, Conrad Williams - I love being involved with the small press and seeing my peers go on to bigger and better things. It feels good at the moment, like there’s a groundswell and so long as we have people like Gary McMahon and Paul Finch and Sarah Pinborough writing, plus all the others, we’re in for a good time.
Can you tell us anything about your story in the anthology?
Ross told me that he wanted something that made you scared of the dark and, as I always do, I thought about what scared me. It’s the unknown really and I wanted to highlight the fact that it’s often something completely trivial, that maybe no-one else would even think of. I’m a Dad, which opens up a whole can of fears and so I just decided to play with that - parental angst mixed with something apparently trivial and the monster I came up with, the Mr Stix of the title, shouldn’t really work at all but for some reason, he really does.
What is the first thing that pops into your mind when someone says South African horror?
Richard Stanley and Dust Devil and the stories my Aunt told me when she emigrated to Jo’burg 30 years ago. Horror is universal though and I’m pleased to be part of it.
Why did you decide to submit a story to this anthology?
Because I was asked - that’s always nice - and because I enjoy writing and getting published! More to the point, I saw who some of the other writers were and decided I wanted to be a part of that ToC!
And other than yourself who would you like to see open and close the anthology?
I never think about that kind of thing, to be honest.
Could you recommend one of your own stories to the readers?
Over the past few years my writing has shifted considerably from the more gruesome aspects of horror towards the quieter, bleaker extremes. I have a novelette out called “The Mill”, which deals with grief, loss and coughing ghosts and readers have said it both terrifies them and makes them cry, so I’d suggest that (available in print and as an ebook folks!).
The Dark is coming! Call your friends over. You don't want to go through this alone. You will be taken back into the past, down to the depths of the ocean and across the borderline between our world and the next. You will see snapshots from the lives of small children, old-time cockney gangsters and aimless stoners. You will journey into the darkest house on the darkest street, wander hospital basements and take a flight in the comfort of first class. You will meet Mr Stix. This tome includes stories by some of the best horror writers around: G. N. Braun, Carole Johnstone, Armand Rosamilia, Daniel I. Russell, Scott Nicholson, Gary McMahon, Joe Mynhardt, Kevin Lucia, Tracie McBride, Stephen Bacon, Benedict J. Jones, Blaze McRob, John Claude Smith, Tonia Brown, Mark West, Robert W. Walker, Jeremy C. Shipp, Jasper Bark, William Meikle and Ray Cluley. Are you scared of the dark? You will be.