Interview – Stuart Keane

Welcome everyone! Today’s Interview is with the popular and prolific horror author Stuart Keane!

 Amazon Book Description of his latest book Cine:

Lake Whisper. The perfect town for retirement, the ideal location to raise your children away from the bustle, crime CineFINAL2and chaos of ordinary society. Quiet, quaint, beautiful.

Whispers Cinema. It could be the greatest establishment to hit Lake Whisper’s shores, one that provides the residents with some much needed entertainment, some activity away from their routine, sensible lives. Within hours, the cinema is a phenomenal success with the townsfolk, it’s the buzz on everyone’s lips. Until a teenager mysteriously vanishes on their property.

Then, more people begin to disappear. Colleagues don’t turn up for their 9-5. Family members fail to keep organized arrangements. Frustrated by the procedure of police investigation, the teenager’s friends seek the truth and meet a dead end at every turn. Despite their lack of evidence, they can’t seem to shake that sinister feeling, the suspicion that surrounds the cinema, one that has everyone in Lake Whisper caught off-guard.

Which is when Whispers Cinema invites the entire town for a free showing…

Interview:

What gave you the idea for your book, Cine?

Cine was developed from a combination of different things. Once upon a time, many moons ago, I worked in a cinema. I was always amazed at the idea of working in a cinema, from a young age in fact, and I knew other people – people who applied for their ‘dream job’ – who shared this sentiment too. Who doesn’t like free movies, right? However, once you’re behind the scenes, once the curtain drops and the blinkers are removed, you realise that working in a cinema isn’t that fun, is not glamourous and it certainly isn’t a wise career decision. Some of the people I worked with made the job a lot more difficult than it needed to be, and this was the prime catalyst for Cine, one that helped develop the darkcharlotte-text-6x9-v2 undercurrent that runs throughout the book, and several of the characters.

Second, I always found an empty cinema to be quite eerie. Much like any social establishment, people flock in droves, taking the place for granted, unaware of the seedy goings on behind the scenes. I thought, ‘Wow, this could work in a horror environment.’ What’s not to find spooky? Huge abandoned screens, dark, silent rooms, staff who you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley…it was ripe for horror literature. To give anything more away would ruin the book, but I can confirm that several random things (not the death, murder and carnage) that happen in the book, happened in real life.

Cine is available now (shameless promotion there).

 What else have you written?

Cine is my fifth book, all of which are available on Amazon.

My first novella was The Customer is Always… This book was nominated for a CWA Dagger In The Library award in 2014. More a psychological thriller than a horror, it details the terror of a hapless call centre worker who takes a call from a psychopath, one who is relentless in seeing his personal vendetta through against his liable insurance company. This was just added to Kindle Unlimited too, so it’s perfect for a quick, short read.

I followed this with Charlotte, a short novel about Amy, a little girl with an imaginary friend. Amy is bullied and pickedAll or Nothing 1 on, neglected by her parents, so when Charlotte makes her presence known via a violent streak, things get interesting. Of all my work so far, this one seems to be the most popular, with a lot of people commenting on the visceral horror. After all, most people have access to kids and a lot of kids have imaginary friends…it rings true with a lot of readers. If you have kids, approach this one with caution.

All or Nothing followed this, my first full novel and the first to be published through a traditional publisher. ‘Big Brother meets Saw’, was one snap quote that I particularly liked. The book is about The Game, a secret online PPV catering to the filthy rich and famous. Innocent people are plucked from obscurity and forced to face mortality in The Game, one that has no rules, no mercy and no hope. Think Battle Royale for the higher classes and you’re halfway there.

And lastly, Whispers – Volume 1: A Collection. This book is my first collection of short stories – I plan on several more volumes – which were published in a variety of anthologies throughout 2014. This book has brought me a lot of exposure, and opened up my work to a multitude of fans. People also request it first and foremost for a personal signature, but that might just be the lure of Bobollocks on the cover. If you want something dark, disturbing, horrific and terrifying, this is the one for you, and it has a variety of short tales included.

I also compiled Carnage, a collection of four short stories featuring myself, Kyle M. Scott, Jack Rollins and Angel Gelique. An anthology of extreme horror, and not for the faint of heart, this book was immensely fun to develop, one whispers-text-final-6x9that deals with the darker, extreme side of horror. With a foreword from Matt Shaw, the book is definitely for those with a more extreme taste in their horror fiction.

What got you into writing sci-fi/horror?

Horror has always been my favourite genre, since I watched the movies as a child. What cemented my interest in writing horror though, was reading Richard Laymon. I was aged seven and I found a copy of Flesh. I was shocked and horrified, mesmirised and amazed. After Laymon, I discovered Shaun Hutson and my horror education began…the rest is history.

I’ve always been amazed at how horror works. People like being terrified. To think there is a small part of the brain that allows us to enjoy being scared, the one emotion that should be reserved for a worst case scenario, when we’re in danger or mortal peril. I always enjoyed tapping into this and it was one of the main reasons I started writing horror.

The reason Laymon and Hutson had such an influence on me is their style – I like to write in a similar way. Their books have been classed as ‘crime horror’ on occasion because the events in the novels could actually happen, if you put aside their supernatural stories. I like to stage my horror in the real world. After all, nothing is more terrifying than something that could actually happen.

 What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like?

At the moment, the day is a full one, I usually work 19 hours a day.

My fiction writing is simple– I try to write 2,000 to 3,000 words a day. I usually hit this, or exceed it. The writing process is a pretty technical one for me. I will plan the day out (what book to work on, if I need to do short stories for anthologies, if I need to edit my work). I usually have Saturday off and work every other day, but this means I can plan my week to not only be effective, but also productive.

I’m also an editor for Dark Chapter Press. At the moment, I’m awaiting final edits on my debut anthology, Kids, which means I can then get the edits sent back to the authors. I’m looking forward to seeing the final product, one that is being released by DCP, a very impressive U.K based publishing company.

I sometimes edit for my fellow authors, but not too much. This is something relatively new to me, but something I enjoy doing. People look to me for creative input, the ability to spot a scene that needs that extra something or tweak in dialogue, and I’m happy to help. I enjoy doing this, and it provides me some insight into the minds of other authors.

I also write articles as a day job, so this will usually take up the first four hours of my average day, with the fiction taking place during the early AM. This job has allowed me to become a full-time writer, so I take it very seriously. My articles can be read here – http://www.inquisitr.com/author/stuartke/

Overall, the writing process is relaxing for me. Writing in silence is actually very therapeutic. Sure, sometimes I will listen to music, but nothing beats immersing yourself in a world and letting the creativity take over. Rob McEwan – the proprietor of Dark Chapter Press – has called me the busiest guy in horror today, which might be true, but it’s only because I enjoy my writing so much that I’m willing to work the hours needed to succeed.

What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why?

This is a hard question. I wouldn’t say I have a favourite book, much in the way I wouldn’t say I have one favourite film. I’ve read many, too many to narrow down. I have favourite authors – Lee Child, Richard Laymon, Shaun Hutson, Stephen King, of course – and I have my favourite indie authors too. If I had to name a handful, I would say American Psycho, The Persuader, Jurassic Park, Body Rides, Christine…yes, there’s too many lol, I could be here a while.

The reason these books stick in the memory varies. American Psycho was brave, ballsy, and controversial, Jurassic Park was completely different to anything I could have read back in the 90’s, Christine terrified me – after all, I was only six. The Persuader was one of the Jack Reacher books that I thoroughly enjoyed and read several times. And Body Rides? For me, it’s one of Laymon’s best, a fantasy/horror combination of excellent proportions, one that you can’t help but immerse yourself in. My wife bought me a signed first edition of this book, which now takes pride of place in my office.

For me, a good book is one that disconnects you from life for a few hours. Everyone needs that escape now and then and all of these books enabled me to do that.

What are you doing next?

Currently, I’m working on my next book, Grin. This is released on Halloween. Then, I format Whispers – Volume 2: A Second Collection for release on November 30. After that, I have several projects to work on, including When Darkness Falls, 89, and Omertà. I also aim to start Aftermath and Outbreak in 2016…my first series based novels.

As well as my writing, I am editing for Dark Chapter Press. We’re putting together Kids, a new volume of child-based terror. This book will come in two volumes, so watch this space. Dark Chapter Press also have several anthologies/projects lined up in 2016, which I am excited to be a part of. It’s going to be a busy year.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Two things really. First – write and be productive. I see too many authors who ‘want to write’, which basically means they talk about it but don’t actually do it. If you write, if you learn to be productive, the writing comes naturally. Luckily, I know a lot of writers who bust their butt to get themselves noticed, so there is a balance. My key piece of advice would be to write daily, even if it’s only 400 words. Slowly, surely, you will naturally start to write more. Once you find a comfortable number, stick with it. Voila, you’re writing on a daily, consistent basis. Also, do it your own way, don’t copy anyone else, everyone is different. I do 2,000 a day minimum, I know authors who write a book a month – everyone is different. Find a style that’s comfortable for you.

Second – don’t cut corners. Now, this might be tempting when money is concerned. However, the most important thing you can do for a book is prepare. Self-publishing is a great way to get your work out there, but you NEED a professional cover artist(s), editor, proofreader and beta readers. If you don’t have these, network constantly. Without these, you head out into the abyss blind. You don’t want to do this without a professional product because you will fall by the wayside. Self-publishing already has a bad name because of authors who believe they can release products without a professional approach, so avoid falling into this trap. If you get a publishing deal, well done, but don’t let your publisher cut corners either. They have your manuscript, you deserve to have it treated with care and respect. If the publisher isn’t right for you, find someone who will give it the respect it deserves. Nothing happens overnight, so if you have to window shop a little, do so.

Another tip is to always keep the creative spark going. On downtime, I read, play video games, and watch movies. Sure,author2 it sounds simple, but these things inspire me. I’ve drafted dozens of ideas by doing this. Keep a notebook handy, it will change the way you inspire yourself. Allow yourself downtime. True, I work 19 hours a day, but if you don’t step away now and then, like I do on Saturday, you’ll burn out.

Also, create a brand, create a profile for yourself. Website, Twitter, Facebook. Anywhere you can talk about your work, mingle with authors and fans, this makes your job a little easier. Mingle with fans, they are the reason your books sell. And don’t be negative, avoid the drama – this happens a lot and can backfire on authors.

Website – www.stuartkeane.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/SKeane_Author

Facebook – www.facebook.com/stuartkeanewriter