I was listening to a piece by Mussorgsky and it ended with a tolling bell. I just sat back and listened, and the mental image I got was of a small village, besieged by some menace, and the bell was a warning that trouble was coming. The rest of it just sprang from that! I'm not particularly musical but sound has a very specific way of generating images in my head that I can turn into stories.
What are some of the themes you treated in your tale?
I don't specifically think about themes while I'm writing, but looking back on the story, I suppose my biggest concern was that of the outsider, and how they can be treated by their society – until their unique skillset is required by that society, and the community expect help. Should the outsider get involved anyway, or refuse the help that they never had?
What are the hallmarks of a great horror/dark fantasy author and story?
I think imagination is key to dark fantasy, and a good story should take you somewhere that you've never been before. Horror should be something that above all horrifies. Some people seem to think that means being gory or explicit, and while that's part of horror, that's also the kind of thing to which you can become desensitised, so I feel that telling a chilling story is harder. Not everyone is going to be grossed out by something gory, so you need to find that key to tapping into what freaks someone out.
How do you approach your creative process?
It depends on what I'm doing, really! But nine times out of ten, I'll come up with an idea, roughly sketch out the beginning, middle and end, and then just go for it. I let it all splurge out, and then I go back and tidy it up. I've tried outlining my work but I get so tied up in knots over it that I end up writing nothing at all, so it's better for me to just have a rough idea where I want to go.
What are you working on now?
I'm in the last edits stage of a dark fantasy novella called The Necromancer's Apprentice, which is essentially what might have happened if Disney had swapped their sorceror for a necromancer, and the helpful brooms for bloodthirsty mummies!
You can follow me on Twitter @icypop, and both my pulp Western novella, The Guns of Retribution, and my collection of shourt stories, Checkmate & Other Stories, are available for Kindle from Amazon.