Interviewed by fellow author, Ken Hughes
1. Let’s start at the beginning: how did you know you wanted the kinds of supernatural forces you use in your writing?
Growing up, I loved the X-Files, theOuter Limits, Dawn of the Dead, Buffy and Angel, and lots of other horror/fantasy products. I was also reading the books of Stephen King and James Herbert. For some reason, these were the things I loved, and I wanted to live in these scary worlds all the time. By writing my own worlds I get to spend even more time in the place I love to be—fighting for my life against monsters and ghosts. Maybe I love the thrill, but I also love the themes of death, loss, and adversity ever-present within the horror genre.
2. Magic can open a whole set of doors (and pitfalls) in the plot of a story, with new opportunities for characters. How has your concept of the supernatural meshed with your plots?
I have a tendency to weave my plots and characters together, which makes things very complicated to keep in order. I am slowly building a multi-verse which will have characters jumping between worlds. It’s hard work. When the rules don’t apply then you have to restrict yourself or your plots will end up unravelling all over the place!
3. Pick a character in your stories that has access to supernatural abilities– hero, villain, or otherwise. Of all the ways they could use them, what’s their approach for choosing what to do with them, how to go about it, and what are the challenges or limits that puts them in conflict with?
Most of my characters are human, but some characters such as Lucashave great power. Lucas, however, is trying to shy away from his own nature, which means his use of power is reluctant. Other characters such as Samyearn for more power, and will do anything to get it. I think it’s important that characters are unhappy with their own abilities, either upset that they have those talents, or unhappy that they do not have more. Power can end up being an allegory for self-esteem and the battle we all have with ourselves.
4. When the supernatural touches your characters’ lives, how does it tend to change their lives or their viewpoint?
It obviously shatters their previous understanding of life, but often empowers them to look beyond their own comfort zones. Characters grow when exposed to things they do not understand. Magic, again, is just an allegory for that which we do not understand.Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a girl who suddenly got powers, but really it was just a metaphor for the battle of puberty, and growing to accept the role of being an adult. My character Scarlethas bad powers with an even worse destiny, but really it mirrors the fears she has about her own reckless behaviour and her fears that she will not become a valuable adult.
5. What authors, myths, or other sources about magic do you admire or draw from? Is there anything you think one source hasn’t done justice to?
I love Christian-Judaic mythology and find the themes of Good versus Evil fascinating. It’s the dichotomy present in all life—the battle between light and dark, kindness and selfishness, hate and love. Angels, demons, miracles, and sins, the bible has it all, and it ends with Revelations! Lots of material I love to make use of their. I also love looking at the origins of myths, such as where Vampires arose in folk law. I would like to tackle all the icons of horror in time, putting my own spin on them. Samis a possession story, but I like to think I turned it on its head by the end. The Final Winter, my first story, also played with conventions too.
6. Sometimes it just clicks. Tell me about your favorite scene or moment where your brand of magic brought the story up to a new level.
I love how Scarlet realises the power of blood magic at the end of Wings of Sorrow. Her embracing her own darkness and wielding evil to save her friends is an empowering moment for her, and me the author.
7. Looking ahead for your writing: what’s your biggest hope for something you want to capture for writing about the supernatural that you haven’t done yet?
I want to build the entire world on forces we don’t understand. I want a war to end all war between unimaginable powers. The Buffy Verse is my inspiration, but I am also heavily influenced by Brian Keene and F Paul Wilson. If I can come close to any of those universes then I would be ecstatic.
8. About yourself now: what form of magic would you most like to have, and what would you use it for?
I would love to be able to have my wishes granted. That would be amazing! You could have anything you wanted. But then Djinns are sneaky and they always end up screwing the wisher over in some way.
9. What’s the most important thing you want to convey to your readers when you write about the supernatural?
That it’s not really about magic. It’s about the world and our nature. A character might cast a spell to change their lives in a book, but in real life the magic comes from our own efforts to make things happen. We all wish we could wave a magic wand, and that’s why literature is cathartic, but ultimately the real power lies in our interactions with the world and each other.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to say about it that we haven’t covered?
Nope. I will let my writing do the talking. Every story I write is different, but readers will find that they are all woven together through the ‘Celestial Tapestry’. I would urge horror and fantasy lovers to check them out.
Many thanks, Iain for giving me an extra glimpse into your world. For links to this and some of the other authors I’ve interviewed, and my own comparison of the different views they take, take a look at www.KenHughesAuthor.com