Ginger Nuts of Horror
Chris Trengove and Peter Lawrence are longtime friends and collaborators, who have previously worked in journalism, the music business and advertising. They have been professional writers since the early eighties.
They have co-written two comic novels: 'It's Your Money In My Pocket, Dear, Not Mine In Yours' ("Very funny", The Times) and 'Engulfed In A Tide Of Filth' ("Wickedly honest", Men Only); as well as 'Full Moon', a biography of legendary rock drummer Keith Moon, ("Full of good jokes", Girl About Town.) The latter, a cult book amongst rock musicians and fans, has been re-published by Faber & Faber.
In the mid-eighties Chris and Peter went to New York to write scripts for Thundercats, Silverhawks and other top-rating series. Back in the UK, Chris became one of the country’s most sought-after animation writers, and has written scripts for, developed or script-edited almost 40 successful series, including worldwide smash Bob The Builder.
Peter remained in the US, and continues to work as an author, screenwriter and television producer in California. His work includes the animated TV series Peter Pan & The Pirates and The Real Adventures Of Jonny Quest, and he has written a number of screenplays, including cult classic horror movie The Burning.
Peter and Chris’s most recent joint output includes two steampunk novels under the series heading Frankenstein Vigilante (a third on its way) and three horror novellas: Blood Ranch, Loom: Island Of Terror and Night Of The Dogs.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I (Chris Trengove) and my co-writer Peter Lawrence are professional writers whose joint experience runs from film screenplays (The Burning) via iconic television series (Thundercats) to cult biography (Keith Moon bio Full Moon.) We’ve known each other since we were at school.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Peter lives on a yacht in Santa Monica, California, and often sails it out to the islands. I play piano and saxophone, and until quite recently led a jazz trio.
What’s your favourite food?
Can’t speak for Peter, but I do like a curry (chicken korai hits the spot!)
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Great question. I’ll answer it first with the names of singles that made me prick up my ears when I first heard them: Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly. Green Onions by Booker T and the MG’s. Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling by the Righteous Brothers. I Get Around by the Beach Boys. I Want You Back by the Jackson Five. Then there’s the blues – Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker; the jazz greats – Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk; and of course the Genius of Soul, Ray Charles. Peter would go for most of these too I think, as well as plenty of cajun, zydeco and swampy stuff.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror. Everyone knows what that means.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I’ve read most of Stephen King’s books. Besides his ability to grip and scare, he’ll one day be recognized as one of the key chroniclers of American small town life I think. Bram Stoker created the template of course. Outside horror, Elmore Leonard, Terry Southern, Damon Runyon. (Peter introduced me to the latter, and I generally go back to Runyon every couple of years for a master class in how to combine crime and humour.) I also like Joe R Lansdale’s mix of low life, fantasy and the dark side.
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
Novel: The Shining. Read it on a Greek beach, and it still made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Film: The Blair Witch Project. Shows what you can do with the power of suggestion, and it stuck with me for several days after seeing it. Also the original Hammer Dracula. Made on a shoe-string, but all the right ingredients of suspense and bloody horror.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
Things happening ‘suddenly!’ (Although I suspect we’ve occasionally been guilty ourselves. I know I have.)
Which fictional character would be your perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
Tony Soprano (no anti-social behaviour in this neighbourhood!) Count Dracula (too many screams in the night.)
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
Pretty healthy. Seems to me that the advent of epublishing has been a fillip for all genre fiction: horror, crime, romance (apparently!) And the short story form has come roaring back too.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
Not sure if it’s ‘great’, but in the horror genre I enjoyed re-reading Dennis Wheatley’s ‘The Devil Rides Out’. Old-school through and through, with posh characters rushing around in Bentleys, but gripping and pretty scary. I also recently re-read Kafka’s ‘The Trial’. Truthfully, it was a bit of a trial. Also very Kafkaesque.
How would you describe your writing style?
Separately, Peter’s style and mine are slightly different. He tends to write in a more personal, analytical style, whereas I tend to be more detached and less detailed. Together, we become a ‘third writer’, who – in my opinion – combines the best of our abilities. As a writing pair, we get built-in editorial input, and we don’t bother fighting our corner individually. Unless both of us are happy with something, it’s out. I must say, no one has ever said that they can ‘see the joins’ in any of our work.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
‘Full Moon’ has been published twice, and has had a lot of reviews over the years. The earlier edition was castigated by one music paper critic as ‘an abomination’. However, the Faber edition was described by an online reviewer as ‘the best book I’ve ever read! Take your pick.
What aspects of writing do you find the most difficult?
Starting. It’s more important to arrange your pencils.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
If you could kill off any character from any other book, who would you chose and how would they die?
I’d pick the central character from a biography of Margaret Thatcher and have her worked to death in a coal mine.
What do you think makes a good story?
Beginning. Middle. End. Or, if you’re exceptionally talented or a genius, none of the above.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
We tend to do versions of the names of people we went to school with. Not in ‘Night Of The Dogs’ though – the three protagonists/victims have very current forenames.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Peter recently re-read the first book we wrote togethe, and still found it funny. I think over the years we’ve just become better. We’ve both worked in fields like advertising and journalism, and those professional disciplines help you to be concise and pithy.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A reasonable grasp of the rules of grammar and punctuation. And the nous to know when to break those rules.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
In my experience, most authors’ conversation consists of complaints about money, or lack of it, or their agent, who doesn’t know his art from his elbow. (Not me by the way – been with the same agent for decades, without a cross word.)
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Facebook. LinkedIn. Specialist websites. But overall, I don’t think there’s anything like word-of-mouth. If people like your stuff, they tell their friends.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
Eva’s a plucky gal – actually based on a carer who worked in a home in which Peter’s mother was a resident. She’s clever too, and always ready to take the bull by the horns.
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Night Of The Dogs is full of appalling characters. Kade is horrible, a swaggering, murderous bully. But then his father’s even worse (and his father was probably worse… and on and on…)
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Oh God! I'm happy to have been one of the few who can make a living as a writer, and would like to be able to continue to do so.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Hard to say, but Peter and I both think that Night Of The Dogs is one of the best things we’ve done.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
Anyone who’s ever worked on a TV animation series will know the nightmare of having to deal with conflicting notes from editors, execs and broadcasters. One 10 minute script I wrote last year went through 17 drafts!
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
Night Of The Dogs represents our approach pretty well. It’s an easy read, horrible when it’s supposed to be, got a couple of characters you can identify with, but has something to say about the way we live today.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Our last horror novella was ‘Loom: Island of Terror’, which was about a middle-class family relocating to a remote Scottish island (Loom) to get way from it all, only to find that the island is infested with cannibalistic zombie androids. We’re just finishing up the third full-length book in our steampunk series ‘The Incorruptibles’, and are mulling over a full-length horror novel, probably to do with old people again.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
“Hello? Jaguar UK here - is that the Mr. Trengove who entered the raffle for the XJ6?” “Yes - has it got 20” rims?”
Chris Trengove Peter Lawrence and Chris Trengove
Amazon Author Page: Chris
Amazon Author Page : Peter
In Sunnydale Care Home, the elderly residents wait out their few remaining years. Suddenly, their peace is brutally shattered by The Psycho Crew, a gang of ruthless teenage tearaways who, with their fearsome ‘weapon dogs’, rob and terrorise them. The raiders rampage through the home, their dogs tearing apart one helpless old woman until they’re challenged by the mysterious Batzorig, Sunnydale’s handyman. The Psycho Crew swear revenge, and the next day the handyman is beaten to death by Kade, the crew’s bullying, drug-addicted leader. But when his body is fed to the dogs, a train of terrifying events is set in motion… and soon all the dogs in Tebbit Grove estate are roaming the streets in a killer pack, exacting bloody revenge on the gang in a night of flaming destruction and heart-pounding terror.
The third novella in Lawrence and Trengove’s Horror Series, NIGHT OF THE DOGS is both an expose of the underbelly of modern Britain and a suspenseful tale of horror. The first two books in the Series are BLOOD RANCH and LOOM: ISLAND OF TERROR.