Ginger Nuts of Horror
Kit Power should be no stranger to readers of Ginger Nuts. A rising new talent in horror fiction, he is also the author of numerous reviews, articles and the ongoing monthly series of columns, My Life In Horror. He's had a variety of short stories published in a number of anthologies and magazines such as At Hell's Gates 2, Widowmakers, Splatterpunk and, of course, the first volume of The Black Room Manuscripts from The Sinister Horror Company. His novella, Lifeline, was released in 2014 to some great reviews. And now, he is on the cusp of a much wider audience as he prepares to release a collection of short stories (albeit, one with a difference) and his debut novel, GodBomb! Is set to...*ahem*...explode onto the scene towards the end of September. That novel is also published by The Sinister Horror Company, and you can find my review of it here.
So with all this exciting stuff going on, I thought it was high time the man himself got grilled on the very site where he's grilled so many others ('grilled' is starting to take on a weird connotation in my head; let's not use it again...).
So, Kit...just by way of introduction to those who don't know you, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m fiercely curious, about almost everything. Almost constantly torn between amazement and despair at the behaviour of my species. Almost incapable of small talk, or maintaining acquaintances. Angry. Engaged. Tired. So, so tired.
Wow...I was expecting more of a 'Hi, I'm Kit, I'm from blah, blah, I married with x amount of kids...'
Death to small talk! J
And that question which I'm sure every writer gets absolutely fed up with - why write? Why write horror?
Why write is honestly it’s just the best way I’ve found to keep the noises down to a dull roar. I have an overactive mind, which the internet age has done no favours by making an infinite sea of information only ever a couple of clicks away. Writing is part safety valve, part escape, and part an attempt to just make sense of things.
As to why write horror - well, to the extent that I do write horror, it’s because I follow Stephen King’s advice regarding ‘write what scares you’. That’s what I do, most of the time. Often that ends up as being closer to horror than anything else, though not always.
So, obviously, the reason we're here - as Richard Ayoade famously exploded in an interview not so long ago - is to promote you and your latest work. Which is the novel GodBomb! Tell us a bit about the genesis (haha) for this book.
I had the idea when I was 19, partly as the result of a book I’d read, and partly because I’d attended a born again revival meeting very similar to the one that features in this novel, albeit somewhat less eventful. Those two elements collided in my mind, and this novel was born. I knew the characters and the initial set-up, but nothing else. I wrote the first chapter, but back then I had no writing discipline, and rarely returned to anything after the first session. So it proved with this story.
Fast forward to two and a bit years ago. I’ve been churning out short stories for 18 months or so, and the ideas are starting to dry up, and the stuff I’m working on is starting to feel… stale? Laboured? I dunno, just off somehow. So I give it a little self reflection, and realise that the problem is that when I started writing, it was purely out of a desire to try and do it - to try and tell stories that I was excited by. And somewhere along that period, I’d started worrying about genre, word count, market, etc. etc. And the writing was starting to suffer.
See, the plan had been to keep writing short stories until I made two pro sales. That’d tell me I was on the right path, that I could write professionally. Then start on a novel, use the short story sales to try and finesse and agent to shop the novel to a publisher…
But I was losing that excited edge that’d made writing those first stories so exciting, so freeing. And I realised I wanted to get back to that feeling of just jumping off a cliff, and writing a novel was the next cliff in writing terms. And then this old idea bubbled back up from the swampy depths of my subconscious and said ‘why, hello there!’
Religion and faith; both very contentious subjects to certain people. Was this a consideration when you were writing the book? Did it - consciously or otherwise - affect the path of the story, the worry - if you had any - that it might offend some people?
No. I remember sending an early draft of the first three chapters out to a couple of people - I had some as it turned out entirely justified concerns about the pacing - and one of them came back and said ‘You do know this is going to piss everyone off, right?’ and that was the first time I can remember thinking about that side of things.
What I was clear about was that I wanted to represent everyone honestly. I felt it really mattered that the people of faith weren't sneered at or condescended to, or that the atheists/agnostics we all either heroic or craven. If I’ve done it right, it works as a Rorschach - people can read it any way they want in terms of the central questions. Just like in real life.
The book is coming out through the small press The Sinister Horror Company. How did that come about and were there other avenues you explored before going with them?
Well, I was going to self publish. I believe in the story strongly, but I also thought that, not unlike Lifeline, the audience was likely to be limited, and it would be a very tough sell for any traditional publisher, due to the subject matter. But then DLS reviews asked me for an interview, and when they asked about future projects, I gave the elevator pitch for the novel. And a couple of weeks later, Sinister Horror reached out to me to ask if I’d consider publishing through them, which was extraordinarily flattering.
Tell us a little bit about your process of writing, if you have one particular way. Do the characters inform the story, or do you write character to fit the tale you want to tell?
I start with the characters and the situation. Once the ball is rolling, I really just try and observe how the characters react. So I guess it’s the first one of the two. I’m certainly not much of a planner. I think it’s always pretty easy to spot when a character is doing something not because of interior logic, but because the plot demands it, and it’s always the death of immersion for me when that happens in a story.
And how do you come up with those characters? Are they based on people you know, you've met? Or do you conjure them from thin air? I ask as the characters in GodBomb! seemed particularly well detailed; not necessarily 'likeable', but fully rounded, grounded in reality.
Well, I appreciate the compliment. Some of the GodBomb! cast have real life templates, but that’s really all they are - outlines, not fully formed, a jumping on point. Once I start writing, they reveal themselves. And some - Twitch, Emma, Deborah, The Preacher - were whole cloth inventions.
Let's move on to influences. Who are your literary 'heroes' and who do you consider your contemporaries? What do you think of the current horror landscape, as regards fiction?
King’s the man, obviously, in the ‘I-wouldn’t-be-writing-if-not-for-him’ sense. After that, so many - Clive Barker, Jim Thompson, Ian Fleming, Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy, Arthur Conan Doyle, Don Wimslow… That’s the pantheon that immediately springs to mind.
Contemporaries? That’s a little tougher, in that I don’t want to be presumptive in terms of relative quality. I guess the writers I really admire right now that I’ve become aware of in the indie scene are Bracken Macleod, Jasper Bark, Adam Ceasre, John Boden, Adam Millard, Duncan Ralston… shit, I’m going to think of a million more as soon as I send this in! And you, actually, now I think of it [GNOH: Um...wow, thanks. I don't feel it but I appreciate the mention.]. But I’d feel wary of calling them contemporaries, except in the broadest sense of ‘people who are currently writing, are really good, and who are prepared to talk to me’. Then there’s that Hawkins chap, but we’ll come on to him later, I’m sure…
As to the current landscape - I don’t read nearly enough - I just don’t have the time. So all I can intelligently say on that subject is that I have far, far more quality works of horror fiction to get through than I have hours in the day to read them, which is probably a good sign.
Your novel releases on 28th September. I believe that there's another horror novel being released by a different small press on the same day and this has led to some kind of rivalry. What's that all about?
You know, the sad part is, we could have been friends. But Rich had to go behind my back, first with the date selection, then altering my interview answers… and it’s just gotten worse, now he’s moved the goalposts on the Rap Battle bet, and is pledging to give away a copy of his book even if he loses – he’s clearly deSperate to win. I can’t see an end to it at the moment, myself, I just hope #TeamPower can rally somehow.
Finally, what else is in store for Kit Power in the future? What's next?
A WARNING ABOUT YOUR FUTURE ENSLAVEMENT THAT YOU WILL DISMISS AS A COLLECTION OF SHORT FICTION. In October, just in time for Fcon. After that, The Finite, but I have to write that one first, so that’ll be a while.
Well, thanks for giving us your time Kit, and answering these questions. All the best for the novel, I'm sure it'll be a great success.
Fingers crossed! Thanks for having me, always a pleasure to chat.
Kit's novel GodBomb! is released on 28th September through The Sinister Horror Company. Pre-orders for the Kindle edition can be made here:
Our review of Godbomb! can be found here
PAUL M. FEENEY
Ginger Nuts of Horror The Heart and Soul of Horror Interviews