Archive for the ‘Horror Literature’ Category

A New Kind of Horror Story: Interview with Vincent Hobbes

October 7, 2011

Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’, Washington Irving’s ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’, Stephen King’s seemingly endless multitude of creepy stories: you can’t deny the fact that some of the world’s most memorable horror narratives come packaged in just a few pages.

Classic horror narratives that found their way into popular culture

Taking the classic horror story to new and strange places is The Endlands, a short story anthology written by a selection of contemporary horror writers. One of whom is Texas-based Vincent Hobbes, who is also the brains behind the book’s concept, and describes it as “a collection of 17 mind-boggling short stories, a carnival of tales, sure to entertain your darkest fears.” Rather than sicken you with gore, The Endlands injects its short stories with Twilight Zone-style bizarreness.

Awesome Art chats to Vincent Hobbes about the release of The Endlands, the development of his own writing style and why gore and ‘torture porn’ horror leave him cold.

The man behind the madness

How did your interest in writing begin?

I was always creative, even as a child. I think that motivated my passion to write. I enjoyed a wild imagination, and needed an outlet for it. Writing came naturally for me. I remember creating stories in my head at a very young age, and began writing them down when I was a teenager.

What about your interest in horror? Can you remember the first horror related piece that you wrote?

I’ve always enjoyed scaring people. Ask my sister or her childhood friends—it was quite the hobby of mine! I wrote a horror novella in my freshman year of high school. It wasn’t very original, and not even well written, but it started me on the right track.

How would you describe your own writing style?

I write much differently now than I did before I wrote professionally. In the past, I focused a lot on description and less on characters and plot. I now understand the importance of character connection. I find my style is faster paced, a more furious approach. I still keep the description, but it’s a better blend.

Tell us about some of your previous writing projects pre The Endlands.

I previously worked on a fantasy series with two other authors. But it’s an ongoing project—a very complicated project!

What was the initial concept for The Endlands? Where did the idea come from?

The original idea was to put together a short story book of my own work. As the idea grew in my mind, I decided I wanted other authors to contribute. I have always loved the bizarre side of horror, like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, and I wanted a collection of stories that were really out there, really creative—The Endlands is that place. Thank my wife for the title!

How do you think the stories connect with each other?

Each story is different in every way, yet each fits into the same realm of unexplained.

Tell us about the other writers who have stories featured in The Endlands.

After presenting this project to my publisher, we sought out talent. Through different means my publisher helped me take submissions. After just a few weeks, hundreds of submissions flowed in—some by professional writers, some by writers who simply had a good story. From there came the painstaking process of attempting to find the best work—and the stories that best fit the project.

Do you have a favourite story in the book?

Hard for me to pick a favourite, though I really enjoy Patrick Greene’s stories. His writing is so fluid, and his imagination is endless. Craig Wessel’s work is also great.

Do you think that the subject of horror is particularly suited to the short story?

The short story allows for a quick scare, so in that way, the short story is conducive to horror. I think the short story has a bigger impact at times. An example of this is Shirley Jackson’s story, ‘The Lottery’.

Do you have a favourite short story horror writer?

Stephen King.

Are you a big horror movie fan as well? What do you think about the current ‘torture porn’ fascination?

I am a huge fan of horror films. I’ll watch almost any movie that is horror, but it takes a lot for me to truly appreciate a horror film. I prefer horror that relies on a solid plot and a creative take to it. I’m not a fan of ‘torture porn’ or gore. Gore is necessary only when it fits the story, but often—both in movies and books—gore is used to shadow poor ideas and poor writing.

Who are some are your favourite horror writers and why?

I’m a fan of Stephen King, perhaps the master of horror. I think my fear of clowns can be attributed to IT. I also love Rod Serling’s work, and Ray Bradbury. Though they are often categorized as science fiction writers, I think they fit into the horror category as well. These writers know how to tell a story, they know what makes the reader cringe. They also make you think. Horror that makes you think is the best kind. Horror that leaves you wondering is even better.

Are you currently working on any new projects?

I am currently working on two new projects. First is a horror novel that takes place in the Wild West. Secondly, I’m working on a dystopian novel. I hope to finish these this fall and have them released sometime next year.

What are your other interests outside of horror and writing?

Spending time with my family and friends, and my German Shorthaired Pointers.

Can you talk us through a typical day in your life?  

I’m lucky because I have a flexible schedule, so every day is not the same. I typically write in the morning and late at night. Other than that, you may find me outside with my dogs or on the Internet. I am happily married and own a home. I work, hang out with my friends, and spend time with my family. I especially enjoy time with my beautiful niece.

My life is as normal as anyone else’s!

Vincent and his wife

Vincent Hobbes lives with his wife, two dogs, two cats, chickens and ducks north of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. Visit his website here.

The Endlands is available now from Amazon.

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Horrific Tales from Wales: Interview with Horror and Fantasy Writer Tim Lebbon

May 27, 2011

A family man who loves the Welsh countryside and creating post-apocalyptic worlds, award-winning fantasy and horror writer Tim Lebbon talks Stephen King, creating characters and his various upcoming projects to Awesome Art.

Tim chillin'

With his friendly, warm disposition and details of a normal childhood and teenage years, you would never expect this bearded bespeckled man to have destroyed the world several times over in so many of his horror and fantasy novels. Stephen Volk, with whom Tim has written a screenplay, says of Tim that, “He is the exact opposite of what people might assume a horror writer to be like. He’s charming, funny, loyal, sensitive, passionate about the wonders of science, and always fired up about the next big idea.”

Tim became a full-time writer five years ago. When he’s not chained to his desk writing scary stories, he spends his free time with his wife and kids and watching movies (yes, he loves horror movies, although he doesn’t care for Torture Porn) with a glass of wine or a fine ale like the ones detailed in his novel Bar None.

Delving into horror

“I made my first story up when I was four,” Tim remembers. “I didn’t write it down, but it was about the giant black cat that lived at the bottom of my garden. Even at four I was making up stuff like that.” From then on he was constantly writing, and wrote dozens of unfinished novels during his teenage years. “I’ve always loved horror, I think I just gravitated that way,” Tim admits. Was he a weird teenager? Did a love of horror result in a goth phase or rebellion? “Nah, I was pretty normal really,” Tim remembers. “I wasn’t particularly rebellious.”

Instead of rebelling, Tim took to the books. From an early age he devoured books, and then he discovered horror fiction. “My Mum gave me a book when I was ten; The Rats by James Herbert,” he says. “It wasn’t a book for a ten-year-old really,” he smirks. “It’s pretty gruesome!”

Not your typical kids book...

It was in his teens that he discovered Stephen King. “For a few years there was just Stephen King and James Herbert,” Tim remembers. “I read their books again and again! It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I realised that there were other horror writers.” Nowadays, Tim writes more than he reads, although he still cites King as an influence, as well as Arthur Macken.

Bringing horror to Wales

Tim was born in London in 1969, but only lived there for 18 months before moving to Wales. He is now settled in the small Welsh town of Goytre with his wife and two children. Christopher Golden, an American writer with whom Tim has collaborated, states, “Tim’s family comes before anything.” Tim refers to Wales as his true home. Like Stephen King, who sets the majority of his novels where he lives, in Maine, Tim believes that Wales is the perfect setting for a horror novel.

“If I’m writing a contemporary novel, as opposed to another-world fantasy novel, I generally set it where I know.” Tim mentions Bar None, a post-apocalyptic novel set in Wales where the characters try to make it to the last bar in the world. “Bar None combines two great loves, which are horror and beer,” laughs Tim. “The research for that one was pretty difficult!” he jokes.

Bar None is not the only post-apocalyptic novel that Tim has written. In fact, it appears to be a favourite subject matter for him, from his first novel Mesmer to new novel Echo City. Tim cites The Road as a favourite novel and is fascinated by envisioning the end of the world. “It’s a pretty grim thing to be fascinated with,” he admits.

Blending horror and fantasy

Although Tim loves writing horror fiction, he has become known for his fantasy novels, particularly the series set in the fantasy world of Norella. The first Norella novel, Dusk, won the August Derleth Award in 2007. But Tim is quick to mention that his fantasy worlds are not your typical heroic fantasies.

“I write in the fantastic genre, I guess,” says Tim. “Some of it’s regarded as horror, some fantasy. But my fantasy books are alternative fantasy books. They’re really grim and dark.” Tim admits that while Dusk was well received, some people hated it because it was full of sex, violence and swearing. Furthermore, unlike most typical fantasy novels, there are no dragons, no orcs, and most unusual of all, no magic.

“A lot of fantasy novels tend to contain a magic system,” Tim states. “And fantasy fans are quite perceptive when they’re reading a novel, to make sure that your magic system works,” Tim states. But Tim went against this traditional fantasy system and created a world, Norella, that is devoid of any magic.

“There used to be magic, but the magic was misused by humanity,” Tim says of Norella. “So it withdrew itself from the world. It’s a story of the end of that world in a slow degeneration, not just a big bang.” Tim’s passion for post-apocalyptic horror is just as evident in his fantasy novels as it is in his horror works.

Creating characters

One of Tim’s favourite characters is Kel Boon from Fallen, a fantasy novel from the Norella series. Kel Boon is a middle-aged man who is past his prime, and strives to discover the next big thing in Norella. He is jealous of his companion Nomi, and eventually they become enemies.

“All my characters are human beings,” Tim states. “But you need to make them human beings. You need to give them problems and history, give them aims and give them a dark side as well.” In Fallen, these two main characters are driven apart as they become competitive enemies, resulting in the climax of the novel. “They were both quite unpleasant people,” says Tim. “The two characters bounce off each other so well. They created a real feel to the book.”

With new books being released (Echo City and The Secret Journeys of Jack London are just two coming out this year), and film deals in the bag (Jack London was picked up by 20th Century Fox last summer before the book was even released), it looks like Tim Lebbon is quickly working his way to the top of UK horror fiction, doing for Wales what Stephen King did for Maine. Watch this space.

Tim’s favourite creations

Mesmer (1997)

Written in his mid-20s, Tim’s first novel is well-known for its opening line: “In service stations across the land, the zombies walk.” A line which Tim didn’t actually write. “Everyone kept saying, what a great first line of your first novel! And I said, yeah! I didn’t actually write it. My publisher did,” Tim laughs. His first of many apocalyptic visions.

Beserk (2006)

This novel has been called both a zombie novel and a vampire novel, whereas actually it is just about, as Tim says, “these mad creatures that were invented by the British military and genetically engineered to fight.” The creatures were then buried and, in true horror form, dug up by some unsuspecting victim and brought back to life. Tim says, “It’s an action horror book, with lots of car chases and shoot-ups.”

Echo City (2010 – released in UK July 2011)

Already released in the States and coming to the UK this July, Echo City is cited by Tim as his favourite fantasy novel that he has written. Echo City is a massive city surrounded by a poisonous desert; nothing can get in or out. The city is 50 miles wide, and has layers beneath it, making it like all history built in one big city. “It’s a bit of a mad book,” laughs Tim.

For more info on Tim, his upcoming projects and where to buy his books, check out his website at http://www.timlebbon.net/

‘They don’t make them like this anymore’: Iconic Illustrations in The Art of Hammer

December 31, 2010

They sure don't.. — Creatures the World Forgot, 1971

Hello there. Do you love classic horror movies that are more tongue-in-cheek than torture porn? Heaving breasts and damsels in distress? Books that don’t let pesky words get in the way of pictures!? If you’re nodding along in enthusiasm (and hell, who wouldn’t be), then The Art of Hammer will be right up your dark alley.

The Art of Hammer cover

The Art of Hammer was published in October 2010, and is bursting with colourful pictures of Hammer horror film posters spanning from the ’50s to the ’70s, including classics such as Dracula and One Million Years B.C. to more obscure features like The Snorkel and The Shadow of the Cat.

The book begins with an introduction to the history of Hammer horror, from the initial critical response that scorned them to their now cult status as classics. Almost 300 poster images from Hammer’s archive are featured in this substantial book, and many are extremely rare. It’s got beautiful illustrations, brilliant taglines (‘Sledge-Hammer suspense to shock you from your seat!’ and ‘What strange power made her half woman — half snake?!’ being two such gems) and lets not forget plenty of boobs. This is the ultimate coffee table book for horror and hammer fans alike.

Here are some of my favourite posters from the book:

Awesome. Just Awesome. — The Curse of Frankenstein, 1957.

Death by deep-sea diving!! — The Snorkel, 1958.

The classic — Dracula, 1958.

Scream of Fear! 1961

Feck the film, I want my free Rasputin beard!! — Rasputin the Mad Monk, The Reptile 1966.

Freaky feline — The Shadow of the Cat, 1961.

'It's all in good fun, of corpse!' — The Old Dark House, 1966.

Hammer hot chicks — One Million Years B.C., SHE, 1966.

He sure has.. — Dracula has Risen from the Grave, 1968.

Those were the days.. — When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, 1970.

The horror world lost a legend this year, RIP Ingrid Pitt — Countess Dracula, 1971.