Charlotte Bond is one of those rare commodities:
She isn’t Charlotte Bond. She’s actually Lucy Courtney! She’s a true, bonifide schizo!
She’s also a female horror writer.
I understand it’s an atrociously sexist manner in which to announce the arrival of our latest victim but it cannot be denied that in such a heavily male-dominated medium, the introduction of a female voice is a big thing. It’s one that should be celebrated and encouraged. Off the top of my head, I can think of only a handful of writers who don’t fondle their testicles when they put their hands in their pockets and it is my intention to interview as many of them as possible. Why? Because they’re all pretty and we should adorn our site with their pretty profile pictures? Don’t be so bleeding stupid. Because they’re as talented as anyone – in some cases more so – and it’s a ridiculous issue when a person’s sex dictates the proceedings.
Anyway, that’s my rant over. So, what follows is an interesting interview with an interesting individual who just happens to be pregnant. Nuff said!
- Sum yourself up in 10 words
Alas, no! I’m not very good at describing myself objectively, which I guess is quite a flaw in a writer.
- Why a pseudonym, and where does it come from?
It’s not strictly a pseudonym – it’s my first name and my maiden name. I picked it when I started writing to try and keep my writing distinct from my day job, but still quite personal. I didn’t quite think it through and the confusion it would cause at conventions!
- Congratulations on HUNTER’S MOON. A great achievement. Describe that moment when you held your debut novel in your hand for the first time.
Thank you for the congratulations, although the word count means strictly it’s a novella – that first published novel is still proving elusive! It was a very proud moment. I love my Kindle, but I’ve still a soft spot for actual books. There’s nothing quite like that feel of paper against your fingers. It really helped that my publisher’s cover art really coincided with my vision of the setting.
- How long did it take to write HUNTER’S MOON, and was the editing process difficult for you? Are you someone who is able to write the story once and be satisfied or do you feel the need to tinker, even when the book is on sale?
I got the idea when on holiday, when in France with some friends and we came across a ruined castle. I jotted down a few notes but then it kind of took a back seat. As Stephen King would say, I left it to the “boys in the basement”. Then, once I’d actually decided to write it, I did character profiles, wrote a load of outline scenes and then tried to place them in order so that I had a skeleton. The writing itself took, I suppose, a couple of months from beginning to end, and then about the same time editing. So maybe about six months in total.
- How did you go about getting HUNTER’S MOON published? Did you go to Screaming Dreams with a pitch or the complete novella?
I’d already had some short stories published in Screaming Dreams’ e-magazine, Estronomicon, so I knew the editor, Steve, liked my work. We’d chatted a couple of times about me doing a longer piece, but due to our own personal circumstances, I didn’t move it forward for a while.
Then, at Fantasy Con 2010, Steve turned to me and said: “When are you going to write me that novella then?” It just so happened that the story I’d started to plan in France had drifted to the front of my mind at that time, so I went home, drafted up a pitch and sent it to Steve. He gave it the go ahead and I started to seriously work on it. I guess I updated Steve now and again, just to check I was on the right lines of what he was looking for, and then I sent him the whole manuscript.
- What are you reading at the moment; do you have any favourite authors / books; what would be your Desert Island selection (choose 5)?
I’m currently reading Sam Stone’s “Killing Kiss”, my first foray into Sam’s work.
I’m only allowed five?! Can’t I make one of them my Kindle? Failing that, I guess there’d be: a Terry Pratchett, “Pride and Prejudice” (without the zombies), a Stephen King (possibly “Pet Semetary” or maybe “Four Past Midnight”), “The Terror” by Dam Simmons and “The Hobbit”.
- British horror writing seems to be undergoing a renaissance at the moment, with people such as yourself and Gary McMahon, Simon Bestwick, Conrad Williams and a few others all producing work of the highest standard. Do you feel this period of excellence can be maintained with the publishing industry the way it is, or is it a case of enjoying it while we’ve got it?
If I could predict the way the industry was going, I’d have as many books to my name as Barbara Cartland! I think horror is definitely enjoying a resurgence though, and I believe TV and movies have a lot to do with it. Hit series like “True Blood” and films like the “Twilight” saga and even “Black Swan” are bringing horror to a more mainstream audience and that can only be good for genre fans. I think people – both viewers and readers – are beginning to realise that horror can be more than just formula fiction and that’s giving authors a chance to be more experimental with their writing. I doubt its popularity will last for long, but I hope that in that time, it gives new authors a chance to establish a fan base to keep them going through any future lulls.
- What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given – and the worst?
I’ve found every piece of writing advice to be useful, I just think some of it is more useful than others. For me personally, the worst was to try and write a set amount of words a day. I work much better with weekly targets, as I felt awful if I missed a day and it would just make me defeatist before I even started writing the next day.
The best piece was probably from my English teacher who always used to state: “You don’t know what you know until you say it.” As a writer, I have several ideas floating round in my head at any one time. They get muddled and lost if I don’t write them down, or say them out loud in a brainstorming session. And sometimes, I’ll be struggling with developing an idea or a character, and if I try to explain it to someone else, trying to vocalise it in a sensible and convincing way can help me iron out the problems.
- Do you write for yourself or with someone specific in mind, whether that be loved ones, fans or publishers?
First and foremost, I write for myself. If I’m not interested in my subject matter, I can’t expect other people to be excited by it. Then I guess I aim at publishers – but then, they are looking for work that will be popular with fans of the genre so I guess it’s similar to writing for fans. I think the key is to write for yourself, but also to keep an eye on current trends and tastes. A book is like any other product – it has to be sold to a decent number of people to make any money.
- Who would be your ideal dinner guests? Choose six – living or dead, past or present.
I’d have to have my husband there, as I’d need someone to talk to and pick it apart with later. Stephen Fry – he’s clever but also amusing. Harrison Ford – because I’ve heard he’s just such a nice guy. Jane Austen – so that we could talk about writing and girly stuff. Victoria Wood – she’d be a right laugh, and keep up the Northern side. And probably Mary Berry, so long as she brought pudding. And could I have my dinner party narrated by that guy off “Come Dine With Me”?
- Which kids TV programme most affected you when you were younger (not Doctor Who!)?
When I was a kid, Dr Who was Sylvester McCoy and I always wanted to be Ace. I loved the stop-motion animation that was “The Wind in the Willows”, but I guess if it’s which “affected” me, it would have to be “The Box of Delights” which gave me a lifelong fear of wolves.
- Which historical event has affected you most?
I remember in my history class seeing a picture in a text book of people in pre-war Germany burning money because it was cheaper than buying fuel. That really stuck with me, and I always think of it when people talk about how terrible the Second World War was. I think it’s an important lesson to remember that the war was terrible, but what came before it wasn’t much better either and it explains why so many normal, decent people put their faith in a fanatic who simply offered them a way out of poverty.
- Have you ever written anything that made you think, ‘I need help’? Are there any taboo subjects you just won’t go near?
I don’t think I ever got to the “oh my god, what have I written stage?!” I like my horror to be spooky rather than sadistically gory. I subscribe to the Stephen King way of building suspense, where you develop a character, build a normal world, then throw in a moment of gore or horror that shocks more because of the juxtaposition with the normal world.
- Is it possible to be a horror writer and not be judged by those who don’t know you?
I have a “professional” day job, and I must admit that I tend to keep my writing quiet unless I know the person I’m talking to quite well. You do get funny looks as a professional when you say: “Oh, and I write horror in my spare time”. But most people are quite supportive and interested. And those who aren’t, I just smile politely and think to myself: “And how many books have you had published…?”
- Which pointless celebrity annoys you the most – and what would be your weapon of choice if you could wipe them from this earth with no consequences?
I’m quite a mellow person, despite my penchant for horror, so any truly “pointless” celebrity doesn’t interest me enough to want to kill them. They’re just not worth the effort! Having said that, Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box is traditional…
16. If you had a bedside lamp with a shade made from human skin, do you think you could handle the flies?
I’d be less worried about the flies and more worried about my cat trying to gnaw on it. Mind you, she’s quite a picky eater, so maybe it wouldn’t appeal to her after all.
- Have you ever killed a character in your short stories who was actually based on a real person and felt a great sense of revenge for past pains they had caused you?
I try not to model my characters on people I know. Often people I know will give me the idea for a strong character trait, but then I try to give them an opposite characteristic. I think when you start writing about friends or people you know, you stray onto very dubious ground.
- What is more important to you as a writer: literature or cinema?
Literature, definitely. Know your market. Having said that, a lot of people tend to go to the cinema or watch TV then choose to read books in the same genre, so it’s good to keep an eye on the movies and see what is popular at the moment.
- When was the last time you were nervous?
I’m always nervous. With a baby due, every time you get a twinge, you get worried that there’s something wrong. I’m also quite a high-stress person which doesn’t help.
- If you were able to write the ‘book of the movie’, what would that movie be and why?
I’m one of those people that once I’ve seen the movie, the actors are the characters in my head when I read the book. I think the exceptions to this are “Lord of the Rings” and “Pride and Prejudice”. So I’d struggle to write a book of a film because I’d not see the characters as my own – I could only see them as the actors interpreted them.
Now, if it was the other way round – what book would you like to see turned into a movie, I’d say without a doubt Robin Jarvis’ Whitby trilogy. That’s just begging to be filmed or serialised.
Thank you CharLucy, for not only taking part, but not taking offence!
Charlotte’s book, HUNTER’S MOON is available from Screaming Dreams Press, priced at £5.99 + P&P (www.screamingdreamspress.com)