Before discovering the likes of Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King and Clive Barker (to name a few) my first real encounter with any kind of dark or speculative fiction was a collection of Hans Anderson’s fairy tales my sister got for Christmas. I was gripped by stories like The Tinder Box – those huge and enigmatic dogs with eyes as big as mill wheels; and the Brothers Grimm tale of Rapunzel locked in the tower by her wicked stepmother (Rapunzel Rapunzel – let down your hair!) Pretty spooky stuff, and though I read them avidly during the day, at night I would lie awake in fear of what lurked under the bed…
A few years later my first junior school teacher was Miss Williamson, possibly the most influential of all my early years teachers – or even later years. Her passion for reading out stories and holding attention was, in my opinion, legendary among the kids at Blessed Sacrament. If you’re out there, my hat comes off to you, Miss Williamson.
Her classroom renditions of The Land of Green Ginger and the C.S. Lewis stories resonate for me even today. Miss Williamson would enthusiastically narrate the story and provide fitting voices for each character, and throughout her readings not a single child would stir until she was done. Gripping stuff!
My first attempt at actually writing stories resulted in carbon copies of stories I’d already heard or read – I don’t think I even bothered changing character names. I once rewrote The Tinder Box using dinosaurs instead of dogs. Ah well.
It was in my early teens I discovered that writing stories people might actually want to read was possible. A friend of mine had written a werewolf story using his friends as the characters and our neighbourhood as the setting. I read it and I loved it. I had a go and the literary infant I produced indeed had an idiot for a father. But it was a start.
After several failed attempts at getting published I began to lose heart. I started and aborted several novels; even finished a couple but they were too hackish ever to see the light of submission, let alone publication. In the late eighties and early nineties I wrote several screenplays and even had one optioned for production but alas, like the great majority of optioned screenplays, never saw that shining light of production.
Which brings me to FUSING HORIZONS. A new small press mag that promised great stories from both established and new writers. I promptly submitted by E-mail – a very convenient method! Editor Gary Fry promptly rejected it – and rightly so, but I felt lifted by his personal response and declaration that he’d like to see more from me. I sent him something I thought more suited to his predilection for existentialism. The story was called HOME, and he accepted it to be published in the fourth issue(now sold out!).
I’ve half a dozen other tales and a novel out there doing the rounds right now.
It’s a lot of fun!