Mark West’s collection Strange Tales was published in 2003 and was followed by his first novel, In the Rain With The Dead in 2005. His most recent novel was the excellent Conjure published in 2009.
The Inquisition – Mark West
1 – Which book has been most influential in your career?
Tough question, because different books spark different things. In terms of plot and understanding characters, it was probably a series of books I read as a kid (and much later, as recently as last year) called The Three Investigators. Cleverly put together, great sense of location and characters that really interact. Beyond them, for a teenager in the 80s, the usual suspects I suppose – King with “Salem’s Lot” and “IT”, Clive Barker with “The Damnation Game”, “The Colour Of Light” by William Goldman (not horror, but close at times). Blimey, this is going on a bit now, isn’t it? Okay, I’ll cheat – I’ll go for King’s “Night Shift” collection, which is so full of good stuff it’s frightening
2 – Which writer has most influenced your style?
King, again, because I grew up reading him and Barker, with his lyrical touch and approach to gore and grue. But I like Robert McCammon a lot, I like the way he uses character and place (and he wrote my favourite novel of all time, “Boys Life”), so I’ll go with him.
3 – What’s the future for the horror genre?
Hopefully moving away from all this Dark/Romantic Fantasy rubbish – I thought it was bad enough with Buffy filling the horror shelves, but now we have to contend with “Twilight” and its countless imitators – I hate to think what I’d be able to find, if I was in my mid-teens now. Aside from that, I think a lot of the people in the small/indie press are going to come through (a lot are already making big inroads, with mainstream publishers and plenty of books on shelves) and, fingers crossed, the small press will continue to be a vibrant, thriving scene. Horror’s been around for years, it’ll be around for a good few more, I’m sure.
4 – Which book do you wish you had written?
“Boys Life”, because it’s beautiful, it perfectly captures the sense of being a boy growing up, it’s full of adventure and friendship and love and it’s not afraid to give you a quick slap, or make you shed a tear either.
5 – What writing equipment could you not live without?
I suppose the proper answer is me, since the stories come out of my head. But in real terms, a keyboard – my handwriting is terrible, so I need to type.
6 – Do you plan in detail before starting a new piece of writing?
Oh yes, to a quite ridiculous degree. A few years back, I got halfway through a novella before realising it wasn’t working and putting it to one side. At that point, the ms was about 20k words and the notes, because I’d been working on the project for ages, totalled about 17k. Having said that, I’m trying to wean myself off the process now – my latest novella, “The Lost Film”, is 47k words long and the notes are, at most, about 5k. That feels like a much better balance to me.
7 – Ebooks or Paper Books?
Paper. I don’t have a Kindle and I’m not a big fan of reading off a computer screen, but friends who do use the technology say it’s great. I’m a paper man, I love the feel and smell of a book, I like the weight of them, it’s just what I’m used to.
8 – Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror. I don’t mind the other terms but, at the end of the day, I’m a horror writer.
9 – Who should I read next?
I know that you’re widely read, Colin, so perhaps you’d be better placed to answer that question than me! As I said before, the small/indie press seems to be having a real boom at the moment and there’s some top quality stuff coming out from my contemporaries, so naming names could take a long time. In fact, here’s the answer – seek out a couple of small press anthologies (like “Where The Heart Is” for example) and follow some of the writers in there.
10 – What was your last book and what is your next book?
My last book was a Kindle release of my short novel “Conjure”, which came out through Generation Next Publications more info here. As for the future, I’ve got something coming from Pendragon Press, hopefully a Spectral Press chapbook and Steve Bacon & I are collaborating on the Lost Film project, though it doesn’t have a publisher at the moment. Otherwise, it’s just enjoying the writing and I’m about to start a new novel so I’m having fun and that’s not a bad thing to have, is it? I generally post details at my website – http://www.markwest.org.uk – so check in there from time to time.