Ginger Nuts of Horror
Benedict Ashforth is a Horror writer living in Dorset, England, and is the author of the UK Bestselling Amazon Ghost Story, Abbot's Keep.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I am Benedict Ashforth and I write Horror Fiction in the UK. I love ghost stories. When I’m feeling particularly disturbed I sometimes write as Patrick O’Neill.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love spending time with my beautiful family, taking photos and finding abandoned places.
What’s your favourite food?
Look, I know it’s been said before, but there’s a great reason for that. You can put anything on Pizza: cheese, ham, mushrooms, cheese, pineapple, anchovies, cheese, onions, cheese, cheese and cheese. But not just one cheese, any cheese you want. Pizza works, and so does cheese.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
OZZY, the dark Black Sabbath days, like Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and War Pigs.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I like all of these terms so long as when you read it, it feels like Horror.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Poe, M.R. James, Stoker, King, Herbert, Dahl, Henry James, Shelley. . .The list could go on forever.
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
My favourite horror novel has to be Whispers in the Dark by Jonathan Aycliffe. It’s brilliant.
My favourite horror film has to be The Omen. Every character in the story gets deceived so cleverly except, of course, little Damien.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
Fending off vampires with garlic. Crucifixes I can accept, a stake through the heart makes sense, but please can everyone now move on from the idea that a vampire might be frightened of a plant that is used in cookery?
Which fictional character would be you perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
I wouldn’t mind living next to Hannibal Lector. I could try his take on pizza. My nightmare neighbour would be Harry Potter, and his stupid owl keeping me up all night.
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
I think Horror is in a really interesting place. There’s so much diversity and so many new independent publishers and original authors getting the recognition they deserve. Horror is rocking. It’s like a massive new wave that keeps on getting bigger and more deadly. I love riding it.
On the flip side, I’m getting a little tired of the same old franchises making it to the big screen. It puts me right off my popcorn, and my pizzas.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
The Girl on the Landing by Paul Torday is a great book. It’s weird and creepy in turns and completely held my attention.
I was disappointed with The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, as I just couldn’t get into it.
How would you describe your writing style?
Hopefully improving as I go. It’s a work in progress and always will be.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
When I was thirteen my English teacher, Mrs Warwick, told me that she’d like to read my work when I was older. That inspired me to keep on writing. Thank you, Mrs Warwick.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
I sometimes just can’t get the words to work the way I want them to. It’s like a never ending puzzle that you can only occasionally figure out. But when you do, it feels good.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
Burnt pizza. That will never happen in my books.
If you could kill off any character from any other book who would you chose and how would they die?
You guessed it . . . Harry Potter. I don’t like central characters that are invincible (unless they’re a T–1000 made of liquid metal and created by Skynet). I suppose I’d have to wrap his little tie around his neck and hang him from a whomping willow. I’d do the Weasley brothers too, and Hermione, just in case they had some spell to revive him. Then I’d sit under that big tree and eat a nice owl pizza, with extra cheese, in front of a little fire made from wands and feathers. That’s the end of that franchise!
What do you think makes a good story?
You’ve got to want to know ‘what happens next?’ If a story doesn’t have that, it has nothing.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Names are important. I base them on the way they sound, their meaning and, most importantly, their associations.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
It’s getting creepier all the time.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A thick skin and a belief in your own ability. Just keep going, no matter what is said or written.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Edit, edit, edit until there’s virtually nothing left. Just the nugget itself.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I send paperbacks to anyone who’ll read them. Send. Send. Send.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
I like Simon Fox from Abbot’s Keep because he struggles so much with everything. He’s feels real. He’s tragic and flawed.
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Clifford Fox because he’s always had his own way, and never struggled for anything. The polar opposite of Simon.
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Fortune? Yes please.
Respect? Only if I deserve it.
Fame? Keep it.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of a short story called Passing Affliction (that I wrote under the name Patrick O’Neill) in Michael Bailey’s superb Chiral Mad 2 anthology. It was fantastic to be involved with such a talented group of authors and I’d never written a story like it. It’s about a Foster Care placement that turns nasty. Try it, I think you’ll like it too.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
Regret is not in my genetic makeup. I am a T-1000.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
I think that Abbot’s Keep most closely represents my work. I love ghost stories and I love old school horror. I grew up watching Hammer movies and I hope that this comes through when reading Abbot’s Keep. I’m trying to conjure the same kind of dread that I experienced when I was a boy.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
I have just finished Abbot’s Keep and now it’s on to VERONA: A Ghost Story, which follows an infertile couple who take a short break to Italy and unknowingly unleash an ancient, long forgotten evil.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
Q: We want to make Abbot’s Keep into a movie. Are you interested?
Amazon Author Page:
When Clifford Fox QC receives a desperate letter from his estranged younger brother, Simon, he departs his comfortable Yorkshire home to locate him. The letter outlines the harrowing events that have led Simon to the very edge of sanity. Following a stint at the Brentwell Rehabilitation Unit, failed architect and recovering alcoholic, Simon, is invited by an old school-friend to Abbot’s Keep - a Tudor residence, nestled deep in remote Berkshire countryside. Soon after arriving he is left to explore the neighbouring monastery ruins and discover the house’s dark history. But the more he learns, the more certain he becomes that he is not alone at Abbot’s Keep, and that nothing is as it seems. But can he stop the house’s medieval past repeating itself one final time? And can his brother find him before it’s too late?