Ginger Nuts of Horror
Today's horror author interview victim is Steve Conoboy. Steve is the author of the newly released Macadamian Pliers.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Year after year of writing novel after novel and then hording the end results have left me with so many stories that for a long time I've had no idea what to do with it all. I was a bit of a writing hermit, doing it for the love and all that hippy junk. Then my wonderful partner told me to pull my finger out and get some stuff on KDP, God bless her. So I did, and now I can't wait to do more.
So, I'm a huge fan of stories, my wonderful partner is due to release her fantastic children's stories any time now, the two girls read voraciously, and the cats like to sit on piles of books and papers as and when they find them. A Bookist house if ever there was one.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I love all of them. I think a lot of my own work dwells deep in an underwater cave somewhere within the Bermuda Triangle these three terms form.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Other than Stephen King, who is the boss when it comes to character, I've got a few authors who really flick my switches. Clive Barker, who really knows how to let imagination off the leash. Philip Pullman for the towering achievement that is His Dark Materials. Terry Pratchett for satirising everything in wonderful sci-fi/fantasy frameworks. And finally Shaun Hutson, for being so crap that I knew I had to have a go at writing myself.
What are you reading now?
I've got two books on the go at the moment, which is an all-time low for me. Lies, the third in Michael Grant's Gone series, is pretty darn good. Gritty, uncompromising stuff. But after three in a row I'm going to need a break, going to look into some random horror selections from the wide, wild world of indie kindle writers next.
I've been craving a bit of a laugh from a book for a while now, so decided to revisit Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Blasting through 'Equal Rites' on my ereader during the joyful journey to work each day, gives one an excuse to grin amongst all the miserable faces on the train
How would you describe your writing style?
There's an 80's horror vibe to the stuff I'm writing at the moment. A real Gremlins/The 'Burbs type thing. The Devil alone knows where that's come from. My work is also very much character-driven. They make the choices, they steer the story. It's rare for me to plan far ahead in anything I write.
Plenty of comedy can be found in my writing, and I like it quite dark. There's always room for a grim chuckle, I believe.
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
There is no typical day. Writing has to fit in around work and family life, although sometimes it sits on top of both in a kind of wrestling death-move. They do say, however, that where there's a will there's a way, and They are wise to say it. My absolute favourite place to write, however, is on our huge sofa with a pad and pen while Karen busies herself with writing or creating beside me, usually with some good music on or a trashy action film. Unusual habits? Well, I can write at any time, with anything going on around me. Chaos, noise, maths questions, I can carry on regardless.
What’s your favourite food?
I bloody love chicken kiev pizzas. And dairylea cheese with Ritz crackers. And Marmite on toast. And cashew nuts. I refuse to choose between any of these.
What’s your favourite album?
At the moment it's The Chaos by The Futureheads. It's got a ridiculous amount of energy, and it's about as good as pop-punk will ever get, I reckon. But all-time fave has to be Automatic For The People by R.E.M. Every song is perfection. Apart from Star Me Kitten, which is crap.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
Let the characters tell the story. You don't tell them what to do; instead, they will tell you what they're doing. It all makes a lot more sense that way.
Fame and fortune, or respect?
Any of the above will do me fine right about now.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I'm very pleased with my first ebook on Kindle, just published in October, which is a YA horror called 'Macadamian Pliers.' It concerns an unpleasant man with a horrible plan, and an urge to make money at any cost. He sells haunted houses you see, and the really awful thing about it? He made the houses haunted in the first place...
It's a slice of suburban horror with a particularly fragile heroine and a particularly vile man at its core, and it's these two characters I'm most proud of. They began to breathe early on in the first draft, and from that point I could not write quick enough.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
I've been a bit busy lately. Just finished my next YA horror, entitled 'Make Your Own Monster', which is my demented version of The Monkey's Paw. It's about a young lad called Cale who finds a way to give life to the creatures in his imagination. It doesn't take long for Cale and his slightly loopy best friend to take themselves down a mad destructive spiral, and when at last they decide to throw the brakes on, the situation proves far too lively to be stopped so easily.
Right now I'm halfway through writing a very dark comedy, which follows the early life of a mad scientist through a series of recorded conversations. What influence do her homelife, her school, her friends have upon her various bad decisions? I won't tell you that yet, but I'm having a hell of a lot of fun with yet another delightfully deranged protagonist. The loopies have the most fun, you know.
Prologue : My parents met. (Prologues are never much use.)
Chapter One: I am born. The world blinks.
Chapter Two: I toddle. I am introduced to the works of Richard Scarry. The illustrations burn themselves into my tiny mind. This is followed by an intense interest in Winnie the Pooh and the Radio Times.
Chapter Three: Beanos and Dandys and tape recorders enter my life. I read the comic strips aloud, record these performances. Leads to writing my own stories, which are mostly about spaceships or murderous snakes.
Chapter Four: Santa brings a Commodore 64. Writing is forgotten.
Chapter Five: Teenage nerdism strikes. Dragonlance Chronicles are read. An attempt is made to copy them. Results are dreadful.
Chapter Six: Off to university to study ancient history and archaeology. Hat and whip not received. Compaints about this are ignored. University mostly a waste of time, apart from hours spent writing apocalyptic horror-comedy on 386 PC. It's great.
Chapter Seven: Apocalyptic horror-comedy sent out to literary agents. None are interested. Novel not great. Mostly a waste of time.
Chapter Eight: A long period filled with much writing and many submissions and plenty of rejection letters. Decide I can't stand prologues as they're never much use.
Chapter Nine: Short stories accepted by Polluto, Voluted Tales and Kzine. Prompts a vigorous interest in Kindle Direct Publishing. First release is Macadamian Pliers, YA horror with an emphasis on creepy, spooky and other ooky things.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Cherry’s heart crammed into her throat. She was alone with Mr. Pliers. Nobody to hide behind. She turned to see him filling the threshold of the room. He resembled a grotesque ill-fitting door carved into the shape of a black-suited golem. ‘The room,’ he clarified. ‘It’s the one I would have chosen. You have taste similar to mine. Lucky you.’ He turned and tilted so he could get into the room, an obsidian monolith with the power of movement. The top of his head brushed the ceiling. Suddenly the bedroom didn’t seem anywhere near big enough. ‘It’s the view, isn’t it?’ He chuckled then, a sound which made the ends of Cherry’s bones grind together. Phlegm and rust and sparks: these are the things she thought of when she heard that laugh. ‘I would gaze out of the window for hours, imagined I could pick up the little people as they went about their days and place them anywhere else if I wanted to. Drop them from a great height if it pleased me.’ He mimed the action with nimble pinching fingers, plucking a distant imaginary figure from a sidewalk and flinging them off towards the horizon. In Cherry’s mind there was a tiny scream. ‘I think you’re going to have quite a time in this house, Cherry. Don’t you?’
Macadamian Pliers is an unpleasant man with a hideous plan. He’s just sold a house to Emmet’s Peak’s newest family, and they’re about to find out it’s haunted. He made it that way.
In the first volume of a trilogy, Cherry and Frank Raine find themselves in a battle of wits and nerves against both the ghosts in their new home and the man who put them there. Cherry, physically and emotionally scarred by a car crash, must draw from within herself the strength to confront her fears and save her family. Frank must choose between taking responsibility for once or being led astray by firebug Jack, a local boy with a dark sense of fun. As the haunting escalates, Cherry discovers that other homes have been affected by the strange-shaped and evil-hearted Pliers, but what chance do a couple of kids have against such a man?