Reggie Oliver – The Inquisition
Reggie Oliver always brings a guarantee of quality to the proceedings so I am honoured he has agreed to suffer the indignation of the Inquisition. For those unfamiliar with his work, Reggie has worked in radio, television, film and theatre as well as his work in the horror fiction world. It’s the latter I am particularly interested in and here Reggie Oliver excels with his thoroughly modern yet thoroughly old fashioned tales. He follows in the tradition of Machen and James but retains his own unique style.
1 – Which book has been most influential in your career?
It has been the collected stories of M. R. James. It was this that first opened up the possibilities to me of “modern” horror stories: unreliable narrators, multiple perspectives, time shifts, metafiction, ambiguity, pastiche, understatement, insinuation. Not bad for a man who was in everything other than his fiction an arch conservative.
2 – Which writer has most influenced your style?
Stella Gibbons (of Cold Comfort Farm fame). She was my Aunt and a good friend and besides giving me excellent tips on style (having an excellent classical style of her own), she showed me by example what it was to be a professional writer. She demonstrated to me in her writing that humour was not a frivolous “add on” but an essential quality of good literature.
3 – What’s the future for the horror genre?
The possibilities are infinite. It is still an underrated genre, unlike Crime whose best exponents are (rightly of course) seen to be on a par with writers of “literary” fiction. Horror has many highly talented exponents: all pursuing their own very individual and fascinating line of approach. To mention but a few from this side of the Atlantic: Gary Fry, Gary McMahon, Allyson Bird, Mark Samuels, Ray Russell, Rosalie Parker, Anna Taborska, Joel Lane, Quentin S. Crisp, Mark Valentine, Paul Finch. Ramsey Campbell, John Llewllyn Probert, Thana Niveau, Simon K. Unsworth… to name but a very few. “There’s richness!” as Wackford Squeers was won’t to remark.
4 – Which book do you wish you had written?
Á la Recherche de Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust – come to think of it, I wish I’d read it.
5 – What writing equipment could you not live without?
My entire writing career is built round the P.C. The goose quill with the diamond nib is now in a bottom drawer.
6 – Do you plan in detail before starting a new piece of writing?
I have something in my head. I occasionally write down a one line synopsis. I write the beginning and the end, though both often get changed. As things occur to me – incidents, descriptions, snatches of dialogue – I write them down, finally I fill in the gaps and connect them. I need, to a certain extent, to be able to surprise myself while writing.
7 – Ebooks or Paper Books?
You can get my latest novel The Dracula Papers on Kindle, but how much nicer to hold this lovely shiny black volume – preferably signed by the author – in your hand and to see it adorning your shelf, thereby proving what a cultivated and discerning person you are.
8 – Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I prefer the description “strange stories” used by the last great exponent of “horror” in the 20th century, Robert Aickman. When I write I am not deliberately trying to be “weird” or “dark”, though it comes out that way, I am merely trying to reflect the inherent strangeness of the world I see around me.
9 – Who should I read next?
Try Quentin S. Crisp – perhaps his novel: Remember You’re a One-Ball, or one of his volumes of short stories. He is a writer with a unique vision and a captivating style.
10 – What was your last book and what is your next book?
Thank you Reggie.