Ginger Nuts of Horror
Today's participant in this ongoing series of rapid fire interviews with horror authors is Michael S. Collins. Michael was born in a building which doesn't exist anymore in a universe which thankfully does. Over several years as a freelance writer, he has written on as wide ranging topics as Doctor Who and The Necessity of Dragon Cloning. Michael currently resides in Glasgow with his wife, a fellow writer, and does not own a pet llama." Is my standard biography these days.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m from Glasgow in Scotland, and have been writing since the age of four, though the things I wrote back then weren’t quite to professional levels! Decided to become more serious about it eight years ago. I have more time to write nowadays, due to poor health.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror suggests ‘scary’ and I don’t tend to think of my work as scary. In fact, if I had to come up with a definition, it’d be ‘daft horror’ ie supernatural fiction if it were written by the likes of Wodehouse. Of those three terms, Weird Fiction I like the best. Aren’t all the great books we enjoy, from childhood until infirmity, full of the weird and wonderful?
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Agatha Christie. Her plotting is some of the sharpest in 20th Century novels, and she was adhering to the modern rules of writing long before they became buzzwords.
Roald Dahl. He tells a sinister story friendly, and a friendly tale sinister. Wonderful!
A.M. Burrage. Though try and find any of his work these days and you’ll be lucky. One of M.R. James’ contemporaries.
What are you reading now?
Christie’s autobiography (very slowly) and one of Brian Glanville’s books, on English football managers. I like to think it’s important for a writer for read all types of books.
How would you describe your writing style?
My Gran has a phrase: “If you can’t have fun at a funeral, when CAN you have fun?” I guess that sums up my style, in that I aim to look at the tragic or the terrifying in life, and point out the daft and black humour that occurs.
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
A typical day is spent not writing, usually. There’s one of Douglas Adams habits I find most people find easiest to follow!
A typical writing day is spent procrastinating wildly, then actually doing the writing bit at the last minute. Despite being the typical neurotic writer, mostly the thing on the page isn’t as bad as one feared it might become. And even if it is, it’s easier to edit written down, than in its perfect entity in your head.
I do like to distract myself by listening to music at the same time. I find it helps get the juices flowing, but the individual writers mileage may vary on that one. I know others who need utter silence to write a syllable.
What’s your favourite food?
Anything my mum cooks. She is an academic whose home cooking is well regarded on four continents now among university staff, and for good reason. A close second, he adds before getting shot, is the cooking of my wife.
What’s your favourite album?
Master of Puppets by Metallica. I tend to listen to singles rather than albums though.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
The Duncan Lunan mantra for Rules of Writing.
Finish what you start.
Edit what you finish.
Sell what you edit.
When I follow those three rules, most of the rest tends to fall into place.
Fame and fortune, or respect?
I’m not greedy, so either will do me.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Fiction wise, Train of Thought, as it was the first story that made a decent publications (Demon Minds in 2008). Non-fiction wise, my series on mental health issues on my blog (michaelscollinswriter.blogspot.co.uk) as I have heard first hand that it has helped some fellow unfortunates, and that is worth its weight in gold as far as I am concerned.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
My first book isn’t out yet. It’s Romeo and Juliet meets The Manchurian Candidate with vampires, and will hopefully be released sometime in the next century or two. The current one is a horror story set in independent Scotland, which I hope to finish and find a home before next year’s referendum comes along and messes up the chronology!