Posts Tagged Horror Fiction
Hi, William. How is 2013 going so far?
Hi, Lindsey. It’s going great, thanks. 2013 is going to be a big year and has already started with lots of positive things happening. Every story I’ve sent out this year has so far been accepted and I’m on track for lots of projects I have committed to this year.
Blood Related is your debut novel, originally published in 2011, then re-released by Black Bed Sheets Books in 2012. Did you write very much before starting Blood Related? You had a short story published in the Masters Of Horror anthology in 2010, but I don’t see anything before that. Have you been writing for very long, or is it a recent development in your life?
Yes, ‘Blood Related’ is my first novel and my short story, ‘Devil Inside,’ (recently published as a Kindle short) was my first proper Horror story accepted for a print anthology. I first started writing short stories when I was about twelve years old but never felt confident enough to send them to any publishers, and in retrospect that was probably a good thing. I cut my publishing teeth on poetry and wrote verse for many years with limited success. I had poetry published in a few New Zealand literary periodicals and a couple of UK and US independent publications but nothing of any note. I self-published a limited edition hard-copy collection of verse titled ‘Journey: the search for something’ in 1996. I sold all copies, but I had come to the conclusion that what I really wanted to do was write fiction. I felt that poetry was becoming redundant as a viable medium for what I wanted to express – which was essentially, stories. So I put away the poems and taught myself how to write short fiction which has led to where I am now.
What was the hardest part about writing a novel? Any advice to aspiring novel writers?
I don’t really feel in a position to spout advice to novel writers as I’m just a beginner myself. However, if there was one piece of advice I would offer, that would be to never give up. It took me five years of writing and research to produce Blood Related but as a result of my dedication I have learned a lot and have produced a reasonably coherent novel in the process. I am working on the sequel at the moment, and it is definitely easier with the knowledge and lessons I learnt first time around. The hardest part about writing the novel was finding the time to actually sit down and put the words on the page. I now have a writing plan that seems to work for me but I know that the next novel will bring its own set of circumstances and lessons to be learned.
I’d like to take a moment to tell you what I enjoyed most about Blood Related. Considering how the plot centers around an entire family of serial killers, you had the perfect opportunity to sell books based on shock value. Yet, you maintained a good balance of psychological horror and gore. I was prepared to encounter gratuitous rape and torture scenes which often run rampant in this genre, but you didn’t overdo it. Yes, there is rape and torture in Blood Related (what self-respecting serial killer book is without ‘em?!), but only to serve a purpose, and not an overwhelming amount. Did you make a conscious decision to write the book this way? Or did you just write it as it came to you?
Blood Related went through at least six full edits. I worked in publishing when I was younger and used my experience as a sub-editor/proof-reader to really work the story into shape. I was probably a bit ambitious with the structure that I chose as I wanted to give the story a ‘true crime’ feel with lots of ephemera and appendices to accentuate different aspects of the novel. I really enjoy reading ‘meta-fiction’ authors like John Barth and David Foster Wallace, but also love authors like James Ellroy, Chuck Palahniuk and Joyce Carol Oates. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I took a myriad of influences and ideas and attempted to construct a ‘literary’ Horror/Thriller novel. Ambitious, I know, but to some degree I think it works but unfortunately is mostly non-apparent on the first reading. I am a huge fan of Robert Bloch and Flannery O’Connor, both masters of psychological horror in their own ways, and their style influences my own with the way they subtly depict violence. Their stories run deep with the worst human violence, but the graphic nature of the stories is mostly implied and left to the reader’s imagination and this is what I was trying to replicate, as I personally find it more disturbing than literal over-stated violence. So, yes, it was a conscious decision not to be too graphic in descriptions of violence within the novel, although sometimes I did get a bit carried away.
Who is your favorite character from Blood Related? Why?
I quite like the character of Ray Truman, the clichéd alcoholic cop who has spent a lifetime hunting serial killers. ‘Blood Trail’, the sequel, is largely told from the perspective of this failed but likeable character and I hope that it will be an interesting accompaniment to the first book. I’ve spent most of my reading life immersed in Horror and Thriller literature and there is a definite conformity of ‘type’ to the characters of cops/investigators. It is the character of Ray Truman that will carry the ‘Blood’ trilogy (yes, it will be a trilogy) to its final conclusion and I’m looking forward to playing the role forward in as many interesting ways as possible. I don’t think I could do another first-person serial killer narrative – it really became quite moribund towards the end of writing Blood Related, as I waded through the perspective of a homicidal psychopath.
Blood Trail, your second novel (and sequel to the first) is slated for a 2013 release. Can you tell us a little bit about it? Approximate release date?
My publisher, Nicholas Grabowsky from Black Bed Sheet Books (http://tinyurl.com/aoyvyny), has expressed an interest in a sequel to Blood Related. I was always going to write a sequel with or without interest as the story is not complete and I want it told. Having seen enough interest, from my publisher and from my readers for a sequel, has given me a real push towards finishing the novel mid-2013. So far I’m on track and circumstances-permitting it should be ready for publication around July. ‘Blood Trail’ is the sequel to ‘Blood Related’ and finds Ray Truman struggling to cope with the injuries he received from Caleb Cunningham in the climax of the first novel. Cunningham has fled and is now an international fugitive who is embarking on a ‘murder tour’ – visiting the sites and hunting grounds of some of his favorite serial killers. Meanwhile, Ray Truman is on the mend with the help of Cunningham’s ex-therapist/psychologist who he inadvertently falls in love with. Together, they realize that Cunningham is still killing as they follow his trail of murder via international news stories. By the time that Truman is healthy enough to continue his mission, Cunningham has tired of his tour and is on his way back to Portvale (his fictitious home town/city). Without giving too much away that is the basic plot for the sequel and promises more of a tradition psychological thriller story.
Who are your heroes?
My heroes are primarily writers who have challenged established traditions to produce work that frightens as much as it makes people think. Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Graham Masterton, Poppy Z Brite, James Ellroy, and other writers like Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Hemingway, etc. The list goes on. David lynch is probably the greatest artist that I admire for his film, art and aesthetic sensibility.
In addition to writing, you’re also an artist. Where can we view your work?
Is there anything else you’re working on you’d like my readers to know about?
I’m always working on short fiction and I am hoping to have a collection released shortly. Keep an eye out for ‘Blood Trail’ post mid-year.
Where can we find you on the web?
Thank you, William, for joining us.
This is the latest review (of Blood Related) by William Malmborg. When you’re done reading, please make sure to check out William’s very cool website here.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Nurture or nature? Anyone involved in such a debate would probably have a hard time pinning an answer to this question when concerning the Cunningham twins Charlie and Caleb. Brought up by abusive parents, one of whom is a savage serial killer that often encouraged his children to take part in his horrible crimes; one could easily argue that the two were nurtured into the monsters they eventually become. At the same time it’s hard to say nature didn’t play a part because how else could one explain the generational bloodlust the Cunningham family displays, bloodlust that seems to have begun with Charlie and Caleb’s grandfather? Whatever the cause, the result is a pair of psychotic serial killers who show no empathy for their fellow human beings; serial killers who actually view themselves as separated and on a higher plane of existence than mankind and thus entitled to do whatever they wish to them.
As noted above, it begins early on for the twins, usually with over the top physical punishments that would easily knock any sense of goodness from within the mind of a growing child. After that came the introduction to murder as their father brought female victims back to the basement and allowed his children to watch and sometimes take part in the torture and eventual slaying of the captive or captives. However, the act of murder was not limited to the basement or even the house. Lacking any control on his impulses, their father will also sometimes commit murder while the family is out and about, a situation that then calls for disposable of evidence and the cleaning up of the crime scene. Such moments are a ‘hands on’ learning experience for Caleb and Charlie, one that will prove invaluable later in life as each matures into individual serial killers. Of course this isn’t to say suspicion isn’t leveled on the father. The local police — and one man in particular — are pretty sure the father is responsible for the crimes, ones that eventually become attributed to a killer known as the Dockside Ripper. Being able to nail him down as the Dockside Ripper, however, isn’t easy, which in turn allows the body count, and the education of two budding serial killers, to grow.
Of the twins, Caleb seems the most level headed, which in turn makes him the scarier of the two when it comes to the two serial killers. That said, Caleb does have some impulse control issues just like his father, which sometimes causes close calls with the police. At one point it also puts him in conflict with his brother due to the slaying of a young woman that Charlie wanted to keep alive, his desire to cause chaos and the eventual breakdown of civilization leading to a different type of torture and murder than what Caleb usually takes part it. The question is will the two be able to work together to the end that Charlie wants, while also allowing for Caleb’s desires to be realized, or will the two come into such conflict that they destroy each other. Also, will the detective obsessed with their family and the savagery it displays be able to put an end to their reign of terror, or will he just become another victim?
Mostly told from the point of view of Caleb, but also occasionally from some of the other individuals within the story, Blood Related by William Cook is a wonderfully twisted tale of two serial killers who have no redeeming value whatsoever, yet are somehow fun to read about. In fact, not only are they fun to read about, but at times you find yourself actually rooting for them, which can be very unsettling. Equally unsettling is the disgust one starts to feel toward the father and Charlie, yet not toward Caleb despite his being just as ruthless as the other two. Adding to the story and its authentic feel were the newspaper accounts, books segments, and clinical observations layered throughout the story, all of which had the feel of being real documents one would find in such media forms. Having seen and used these types of documents in the real world when studying such subjects in school, I can honestly say the author nailed it when penning his own, and had I read them as part of a case-study I would have assumed them to be genuine. I also would have been horrified to know that two such killers had done the things they did for as long as they did, and that a family had had produced three generations of serial killers.
Needless to say, I found Blood Related to be an excellent read, one by an author who hopefully will be releasing more works in the near future. Until then readers will have to keep their bloodlust sated with the tale of Caleb Cunningham and his twin brother Charlie. I promise, if this type of story is your thing you will not be disappointed.
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‘Blood Related’ by William Cook has just been released on Amazon for Kindle. Print release to follow shortly. Please choose ‘tags’ on the ‘Blood Related’ Amazon page and make sure you share it via Twitter or Facebook. Thankyou for your patience and support. Hope you all have a great start to the New Year. Much appreciated.
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Note: To all of you who are waiting to get a copy of ‘Blood Related’, sorry for the delay. It is quite a big book at 420 pgs and the formatting people have been having a few issues with the online version. I have seen a test-run online so I can happily tell you that it is not far away. Thanks for your patience and please stay posted as I will make the official announcement when it’s ready to go, here on https://bloodrelated.wordpress.com. The other place you can keep up with the news about BR is on Facebook on the FB Blood Related page. Thanks again for your interest and Happy Holidays to all.
p.s. Make sure you check out Nicholas Grabowsky’s brillant website here.
Check out my article/review I did of John Paul Allen’s fabulous book, ‘Monkey Love.’
Concept by William Cook
Design by Angelic Knight Press
Photo image by the fabulous Danielle Tunstall
The reviews are starting to roll in. Here are a selection of some of the fine quotes/recommendations ‘Blood Related’ has been given so far:
“Dark and deeply disturbing”
— Jonathan Nasaw, acclaimed author of The Girls He Adored and Fear Itself.
”Blood Related is a nasty but nuanced take on the serial killer genre. Cook’s bruising tale of twin psychopaths who are as cold as mortuary slabs is not for the weak-kneed.”
— Laird Barron, award-winning author of Occultation and The Imago Sequence.
“Blood Related is a terrifying psychological thriller. William Cook is an author to watch.”
— Mark Edward Hall, author of The Lost Village and The Holocaust Opera.
“William Cook makes serial killer fiction exciting again! Expert narrative, bursting with flare, originality, and enough passion and brutality that even a real-life serial killer will love this book . . . and it’s twisted and complex enough to make you question your own sanity after the first intense read.”
— Nicholas Grabowsky, best-selling author of Halloween IV and Everborn.
“A thought-provoking thriller!”
— Guy N Smith, legendary author of Night Of The Crabs and Deadbeat
“Great – Riveting – Amazing – take your pick. I just read William Cook’s Blood Related for the second time. Both readings were followed with one thought, Wow. A horrific crime-filled tale of terror that makes us understand why we lock our doors at night, Blood Related is by far the best read I’ve experienced in years.”
— John Paul Allen, author of Monkey Love and Gifted Trust
Stay tuned, will be profiling each of these great authors in the weeks to come.
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