~ Q&A: The Crows, Writing, and Me ~
To view the videos for this Q&A with my full answers, check out this YouTube Playlist! It contains all Pagham-on-Sea relevant videos. These questions are related to the novel already published, The Crows.
Where did you get your ideas for the story [The Crows] and the characters?@gracievhemphill (Twitter) | @graciehemphill (Insta)
The first draft was my first attempt at a fluffy mystery-romance. Most of my first drafts are totally different to their finished products, and I made so many changes which happened organically as I explored the world more and populated it with different characters and communities. I wanted to create something like Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, a sense of magic in the mundane and familiar. The story came out of the setting and the characters drove it, and I realised I wanted characters that could explore elements of my own mental health journey and also explored and Gothicised experiences close to me. Ricky came out of that, while the house was inspired mainly by Shirley Jackson’s Hill House, the Vincent Price film The House on Haunted Hill, Stephen King’s Rose Red and Salem’s Lot, and the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. But I wanted to subvert the ‘evil sentient building’ narrative and create something else. Once I have the basic ideas I explore them with experimental writing and things develop as I write, and the editing process and beta process helps me to filter the best themes and ideas and sharpen everything up for the finished product.
What’s next for Pagham-on-Sea?@FrankGothic (Twitter) | frankr.lopez (Insta)
After THIRTEENTH, which is the next novel coming out early next year (2021), I’m going to focus on the goremance spin off ELDRITCH GIRLS set in Brighton (but it does have one Pagham-on-Sea scene), and a werewolf thriller where you get to explore Barker Crescent and the werewolf community of the town. I have so many ideas though, but that’s what’s coming ‘next’. There will be more stories with Fairwood House/The Crows and the Porters, though, fear not! But the other novels, which will all standalone and form their own set of spin off series too, I think, will hopefully coalesce into one big jigsaw picture. I kind of like the Discworld series approach, where there are overlapping events and characters and settings, but so many different stories to enjoy within the world, and you can start at any point with any of them. That’s what I’m going for here.
Who won the flower show this year?@MasonHawth0rne (Twitter)
The flower show 2020 was a bit controversial because it was nearly cancelled over lockdown, but the judges did end up going around people’s gardens on individual socially distanced walking circuits and viewing some entries. The event was officially cancelled in its usual form, and the fate of the 2021 show is similarly uncertain at the moment. Honorary winners were announced in ‘participation’ awards, with no overall winner. This was more to recognise the hard work the entrants had put in, and to make it less disappointing for everyone.
How are the vampire nightclubs faring in the age of social distancing?@MasonHawth0rne (Twitter)
Well, obviously all night clubs are closed and the vampire-run cafés are under the curfew rules and takeaway only, staff are furloughed. Vampires tend to have good communal resources from their nefarious gains, usually centuries of killing people and stealing their belongings, so the money isn’t an issue, but lockdown and social distancing is having some serious effects on hunting habits. One nightclub, Twilight, has a very bad track record with underage clientele and non-consensual feeding and drink spiking (with vampire blood). It’s no surprise that the vampires known to frequent this club were the same ones who were engaged in bad practice over lockdown, luring willing donors into their ‘bubble’ and giving them over to their whole nest as blood rations, and attacking dog walkers and joggers/people taking their daily exercise walk. Several vampires have been de-fanged and starved by authorities as examples to the others, and again, it’s no coincidence that these are mainly regulars at the Twilight club.
What’s your favourite bit of folklore?@MostlyVanilla (Twitter)
I’ve always liked a good death omen, a black dog tale, and anything vampire related. Vampire folklore and revenant lore, corpse roads, all that kind of stuff, anything death relate basically, that’s got to be my favourite.
If you could go back in time and fight someone, who would you fight?@MostlyVanilla (Twitter)
…I reckon I could take Bonny Prince Charlie. Not for any political reason or anything. He just sounds like someone I could take.
Do you ever base your characters on real people?@foodforflo (Twitter)
If I want them to be realistic then yes, I base them on at least the way real people behave, or the way I have observed people behave, or from personality traits I’ve seen in action or have myself. I sometimes have people in mind for certain characters in terms of personality or appearance, but then other things take over and they hopefully become their own character or person and are not recognisable as the person I was thinking of.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?@foodforflo (Twitter)
About a year? Including the edits and revisions and beta processes, I’d say a year and a bit to give people chance to read and comment. The formatting etc may take a little bit longer.
Are there any big things you decided to edit out of The Crows?@foodforflo (Twitter)
Lucretia’s skeleton, and Mercy’s POV sections. You can read snippets of Mercy on my website! I’ll post the skeleton chapter edit as a bonus, which was originally how she met Ricky, and learned about the wishing well. You can read another cut part, from Carrie’s POV, here already.
I imagine you mostly cackling with mad delight when writing, but do you ever frighten yourself?@Nimue_B (Twitter) | WordPress: Druidlife
SPOILERS FOR THE CROWS
So there’s one concept I used in The Crows that genuinely does scare me, and it’s the idea of being infected with parasites or being drugged knowing what will happen to you afterwards, against your will. It didn’t frighten me as I was writing it, but it did horrify me, and just thinking about it too much really bothers me a lot. It’s the one thing that I deeply disliked writing.