Craig Herbertson is best known for his excellent short stories many of which have appeared in The Black Book of Horror. Many of his short works show a remarkable grasp of visionary writing which is also displayed in his one novel to date, School: The Seventh Silence a review of which will be posted here next week. Craig is also an excellent musician and a fellow Scot so it’s a great pleasure to welcome him to The Inquisition.
1- Which book has been most influential in your career?
David Lindsay, ‘A Voyage to Arcturus’. For years I stood in awe of its brilliance. Only in later life did I realize the full import of its Gnostic philosophy to me personally and when the realisation fell it was genuine shock– essentially, this world is Hell. It might be fairer to say that the book covertly expressed my outlook rather than overtly influenced my writing.
2 – Which writer has most influenced your style?
I still haven’t written enough to think of myself as having a steady voice. A writer whose craft I greatly admire is Jack Vance. I strive to avoid being a poor man’s parrot for the late Jim Ballard who was probably the genre’s ambassador for Conrad. I stress I’m not comparing abilities just outlining inclinations.
3 – What’s the future for the horror genre?
No idea. It’s in a growth phase at the moment – sort of seeding itself everywhere. This has the advantage of creating a market and the disadvantage maybe of diluting its horrific force. The more horror becomes acceptable to a mainstream the more difficulty it has in horrifying.
4 – Which book do you wish you had written?
I wish I could finish the one I’m on now. A book that delights me is ‘Casting the Runes and other Ghost stories’ by M R. James. If I’d written a collection like that I’d be happy. But if I’d written ‘Killer Crabs’ I’d be equally happy. I’m fascinated by art and craft in writing and I don’t think the two are necessarily mutually exclusive.
5 – What writing equipment could you not live without?
Cafés. One advantage of living on the continent is that you can sit in a café outdoors with a pen and paper and doodle away. While there I could borrow a pen and paper.
6 – Do you plan in detail before starting a new piece of writing?
I balance my efforts between shorts, novels and black holes of nothingness. Shorts I can write quite quickly. I get the idea and then just begin. Then comes endless revision. Novels I plan a bit but not too much as I like to be entertained while I write. Then comes the nothingness – days and days of not being able to write a word or make any detailed plans.
7 – Ebooks or Paper Books?
Ebooks terrify me. My entire life has been based on owning paper books that I love like people. To me an Ebook is the equivalent of meeting an android impersonating a friend.
8 – Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
All of them stir something in me. I quite like labels in a peculiar way but I like them to be torn up too.
9 – Who should I read next?
I can’t answer this one fairly because I favour anthologies. Authors whose Horror shorts have consistently impressed me are Reggie Oliver, John Llewellyn Probert and Paul Finch. I’ve read other authors who’ve written stories which please me as much but these three rarely fail to please.
10 – What was your last book and what is your next book?
My last book was School: The Seventh Silence (2005) Editor: Storm Constantine (published by Immanion Press or you can purchase an ebook here) and my next one is the unnamed sequel languishing on my desk at 54000 words. It’ll be finished in a month but a sequel to a virtually unknown work is hard to sell.