Michael Bray is a Horror author based in Leeds, England. Influenced from an early age by the suspense horror of authors such as Stephen King, and the trashy pulp TV shows like Tales From The Crypt & The Twilight Zone, he started to work on his own fiction, and spent many years developing his style. In May 2012, he signed a deal with the highly reputable Dark Hall Press to print and distribute his collection of interlinked short stories titled Dark Corners, which was released in September 2012. His second release was a Novella titled Meat . His first full length novel, a supernatural horror titled Whisper was initially self-published, and following great critical acclaim, was sold to Horrific Tales publishing - his first Advance paying sale.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m a down to earth chap from sunny Leeds in the UK. Before I committed to writing, I tried a few different things to try and satisfy my creative urges, everything from art to music was given a go at some point before I finally decided to put everything into creative writing back in mid-2011. I haven’t looked back since.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror without question. I don’t really agree with having sub genres for stuff. I tend to write a lot of psychological stuff which I suppose could be almost classed as thriller territory. I still class myself as a horror writer though.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
As with pretty much everyone in the genre, Stephen King is of course up there. I also like a lot of other authors too, and am constantly discovering new books which I never knew existed. To name a few of my favourites, let’s say Lovecraft, Graham Masterton, Steve Alten, Brian Lumley, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, and James Patterson. I recently started to read Ken Goldman’s Of a Feather and am really enjoying that one. I also love anything by Irvine Welsh, and can now almost read his unique way of composing dialogue without a problem!
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
I was late to discover Lovecraft, and a year or so ago I picked up a hard back copy of Necronomicon featuring a ton of his short stories. I went in without expectations and it just blew me away. Disappointment wise has to be Stephen King’s Under the Dome. On a few occasions now I’ve tried to read it, but it just doesn’t resonate with me. It’s a shame as I really did want to like it.
How would you describe your writing style?
When I’m composing scenes, it takes on a very visual format. I really do like to explore the grey areas in people, and it’s rare that any of the characters in my stories will ever be truly good or bad. I like to think that the difference between good people and bad is how far you are willing to go to get what you want. I think as a theme across my work, I try to explore that. As far as actual style goes, I love the more psychological less is more tension building stuff to outright shock factor. I think if a book is just shock after shock after shock with blood spilled by the bucket load on every page, it quickly desensitises the reader and soon leaves the author with little room to expand. I would much rather imply something nasty is happening and just give the reader a glimpse of it rather than describe something gruesome in minute detail. The biggest tool for a writer is giving the reader just enough to let their own imagination fill in the blanks in my opinion. At least I hope so as that’s how I try to write.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Here’s the thing about reviews. As much as anyone, I love receiving them, it’s always good to get feedback on your work, especially if it’s positive. I also realise that this business is very subjective, and if I had the secret formula to please everyone and make them love my work, I would be writing this from a private beach in the Bahamas rather than a cold office in Leeds!
The thing with reviews is to not let them get to you. I never take them personally. If someone reads my work and doesn’t like it, that’s fine, there are countless other authors out there who might be more to their tastes. As long as the good reviews outweigh the bad (which so far has been the case) then I’m happy.
What’s your favourite food?
Lasagne without a doubt. Or a nice chicken casserole. Comfort foods most definitely, but it’s what keeps this writer happy and ticking over.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Good question! Definitely some loud stuff with guitars. Let’s see. Definitely some Guns N Roses, a little bit of Oasis and Arctic Monkeys would be on there. Almost certainly an Eminem track or too. The final song would have to be ‘The End’ by The Doors. Love that song.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
Get a thick skin quickly! Also to learn as much as you can from your peers. There are an absolute ton of fantastic authors out there. Learning from them will hopefully help me to improve.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
I think for me, it’s actually committing those first words to the manuscript. It’s that point where you have the story in mind, fingers poised over the keyboard and you take that deep breath knowing you are about to commit to throwing 90,000 words down on paper and allowing for edits and rewrites are about to commit 4 -6 months to a single project. Once I’m underway I’m fine, it’s just that initial moment beforehand where I question my sanity!
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I feel a lot more able to express myself now than at the start. I went into trying this for the first time like every writer, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect or even if I was doing it right. I think the biggest thing for me is just learning to trust my instincts. At the start, I was very conscious of trying to do the right thing and keeping to a certain formula. I don’t do that now. I go with my gut and try to write the kind of thing I would like to read. It’s actually a very liberating and therapeutic experience.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Definitely killing redundant words. I remember being given a list of words and advised to go through my manuscript and kill any instance of said words wherever I could. I was dubious, yet a couple of hours later I sat there grinning like an idiot because such a simple thing in principal had a really profound effect on the manuscript. As a matter of routine I always have a redundant word cull as part of my editing process.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
For whisper, I wrote in a character called Donovan who was only ever intended as a secondary character to get the protagonists to the right location. As I wrote his first scenes, he just sprang to life and became this deep, oozing, multi layered individual. The initial draft called for him to be killed off early in the book, however I loved him so much I decided against it, and he became a pivotal part of the story. It was really good fun to keep peeling back those layers to the character and discovering these new unexplored areas. He was definitely a bad egg, and yet there was a certain sympathy to the character which almost made the reader feel sorry for him.
How about your least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I don’t think I have a least favourite character. I don’t like my characters to be so black and white. I think as a writer, every character we include should have something. If I had to choose one who would annoy me in real life, I’d have to say Melody from Whisper. She’s a bit of an irritating, hot headed stubborn individual and I don’t think we would get on in the real world. Strangely, I was marked down on a couple of amazon reviews because of that character’s traits, which were deliberately written in, so it either means I went too far or I did a good job in writing her!
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Respect. Although, I wouldn’t say no to a big bag of cash either. J
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I had to sit and think for a while before I answered this. My first release, Dark Corners is special for me, and because I wasn’t as well known when it came out, probably gets overlooked way more than it should. I liked the concept of it, a collection of short stories which are interlinked in a non-chronological order. Of course, I’m thrilled with Whisper too. Linking up with Horrific Tales and watching sales grow and grow is just an absolute joy to see.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
My last book was a collection of short stories called FUNHOUSE. I like to work on shorter stuff in between novels and although I had an initial plan to release these in a collection, I tweaked and rewrote and scrapped stories until I had written two thirds of the stories from scratch and left the ones intended to be included on the shelf. There are some stories in there which I really like. Scarecrows, The Man In The alley & Candyland are some of my personal favourite works in that book. As for next, I have just completed a novel called From the Deep which was just sold to a publisher and will be released later in 2014. I also just finished the first draft of the sequel to Whisper for Horrific Tales, and will be turning that in shortly with a view towards a Spring / Summer release. Fortunately, I have enough work and projects to see me through until the early part of 2015, so it’s definitely looking like a busy year.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?
Hmm, nothing at all springs to mind for this! Sorry. J
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON MICHAEL AND HIS BOOK CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Bray/e/B009GH9XCO/
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