Wow, you got a review from Guillermo Del Toro. He's a well acomplished director and writer. How did that make you feel when you read his review?
It was amazing to get a blurb from Guillermo, and I'm very grateful as I know that having his endorsement has helped me sell plenty of copies! As you may know, he's going to be one of the producers of the movie adaptation of 'Hater' which I hope will start filming later this year. It's going to be directed by J A Bayona (who directed 'The Orphanage'), so that's incredibly exciting! I've known about Guillermo's involvement for a few years now, but I still find it hard to believe. I've been a fan of his for a long, long time since I first caught 'Cronos' on late night TV in the 1990's.
When you wrote Autumn you had sent it out for free "to build readership," as you said. With its fame, do you now regret that decision? Do you think you will ever do that again in the future?
I certainly don't regret giving Autumn away for free as it's proved to be the springboard for my career. Pretty much everything has come from me giving thousands of copies of the book away! It was a calculated risk because if I hadn't done it that way, I doubt I'd have found a publisher for it - the market was very different at that time. In fact, I was disappointed when I had to take the book off-line (when I sold it and its sequels to Thomas Dunne Books in 2008). Giving away free fiction is something that I want to do again, and I'm already planning something for the release of Dog Blood in June and the re-release of the Autumn books from October this year and throughout 2011.
You are a horror fanatic, as am I. Do you have a certain horror genre book or movie that you just can't get enough of?
My real interest is post-apocalyptic fiction and movies, and two of the books I usually quote are 'The Day of the Triffids' by John Wyndham (if you haven't read it, you should!) and 'Domain' by James Herbert. 'Domain' is a lesser known Herbert novel (the third in his 'Rats' series which is set after a nuclear war. When I read it in my teens, I'd never come across such a vast and unflinching vision of the apocalypse and it really affected me. Film wise, Romero's original three 'Dead' films influenced me as they have done many, many others. My favourite director, though, is David Cronenberg and I'm a huge admirer of his movies.
Is it easy not making each book similar? With all the vampire hype, as much as I love, it seems stories are running thin?
I don't want to write the same things as everyone else, so I always try and do something different. Part of the way I do that is by focusing on ordinary people rather than 'typical' heroes. But I think you're right about certain types of story running thin. I think when certain monsters or themes are overused it gets hard to write in that genre because people start making assumptions about your work before they've read it. I think it's also unfortunate the extent to which the media is driven by money and how it's all focused on making a profit. If someone writes something which sells, people will be encouraged to get on the bandwagon and produce more of the same and, unfortunately, punters keep buying it! That gives rise to horrible things like the zombie-classic mash-up books doing so well these days (Pride and Prejudice with Zombies etc.). In movie terms, it also explains why we have so many remakes and sequels doing the rounds. The corporations concentrate on getting the maximum return per buck and art, and the readership, ultimately suffer.
How do you feel about sparkling vampires?
You managed to not say the "Z" word in the Autumn series. Man, how hard could that have been?
Not as hard as you'd think. Remember that scene in 'Shaun of the Dead' when Ed and Shaun are about to go outside and Ed talks about 'zombies'. Shaun says 'Don't say that... the Z word." If you really were faced with the living dead, I think you'd find it hard to call them zombies because that's something from the movies that doesn't bare any relation to real life. In 'Autumn' I tried to make the characters as believable as possible and to draw a distinction between my stories and most 'traditional' zombie tales. For those reasons the characters always just referred to them as 'bodies' or 'corpses'.
A house full of women?
My wife, three step-daughters and two daughters. It's great most of the time, but boy do they have their moments. It's hard being the only male sometimes. I'm completely outnumbered - even our dog's a bitch!
I love the graphics on your novels. Can you tell us a little about them?
I set up Infected Books in 2005 to publish and promote my books, and back then it was just me running the show - I did everything myself: writing, marketing, distribution, promoting, designing... even taking the books to the post office each day! I designed the covers myself because, back then, I didn't have anyone to help and also I knew the kind of designs I was looking for. So it's just something I fell into. I guess the most famous cover is the original 'Hater' cover with the bloody writing. I created that with my youngest daughter's paints one summer day in 2006, and it came together perfectly - better than I'd ever imagined. I think the greatest compliment I had was that when Thomas Dunne Books republished the book last year, they used my original design because they couldn't come up with anything better!
Are you excited for the upcoming Resident Evil sequel?
Mildly. I'll be honest, I'm not a massive Resident Evil fan. But, at the end of the day, it's all zombies. And if it keeps them in the public eye and keeps people interested in my books then bring it on!!