1. It’s Halloween, pick 3 of your favorite writers to paint the town red with and tell us why you chose them.
Shaun says: Well, there’s a question and a half! Over the years I’ve had many favourite authors, including Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Clive Barker and, of course, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. That’s without mentioning Harper Lee, who was the real inspiration behind me wanting to be a writer – asd the reason I have mockingbirds tattooed on my arm.
As for whom I’d like to take out with me, hmmm… Dean Koontz would have to be there. I’d want to talk to him about his character ‘Odd Thomas’. I finished reading Saint Odd, the seventh book in the series, whilst in hospital last week. I couldn’t sleep so spent the night reading this. I love the character (not least because I think he and Sin would get along mighty fine) and have been captivated by each book. Saint Odd was the final story and I’m pleased to say, Koontz brought it to a fitting finale, giving Odd a wonderful send off and granting his long term wish.
Stephen King would need to be there. He’s been with me for so long, it’d be rude not to invite him. I haven’t enjoyed every book he’s written (as with Koontz), but those I have – and there’s been many – I have lost myself in. And, he created Pennywise, one of my favourite horror characters.
The final place, would be hard to fill. Clive Barker’s imagination is wonderfully vivid and warped – and he brought us Pinhead. He also showed me you can write about seemingly mundane placed and turn them into something much more. Before I read some of his work (I think it was Weaveworld in particular), I struggled to find a path. Now, I centre my stories on where I live, somewhere many would find boring, but I don’t. Not now I lift the pavement and look what’s crawling beneath. But what about Neil Gaiman? If for no other book than The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which will feature high on my top ten list of books for the rest of my life. Plus, I own a barbers and I’d love to have him sit in one of my chairs!
But, I think the remaining seat would have to be David Eddings. Together with his wife, Leigh, he and his character Garion led me to wondrous places with amazing people. I’d love to meet Aunt Pol and Belgarath and talk about all the strange adventures they went on. The Belgariad was one of the first fantasy series I ever read, and the only one I’ve re-read.
2. You’re ready to head out with your pillowcase to collect loads of confections on All Hallows’ Eve, what’s your costume and why did you choose it?
Shaun says: I actually own two costumes. One is Pinhead, from Hellraiser and the other is the Mad Hatter.
Pinhead is another of my favourite horror characters. He’s calm, collected and evil, and inhabits a world full of promises and pain. I wore this costume for my engagement party, with full head mask complete with pins, which was held on Halloween!
The Mad Hatter costume was worn for my daughters’ birthday party (their birthdays are 4 days apart, plus 8 years). We had an Alice in Wonderland theme and I had full face makeup, wig and everything. Mr. Hatter is tapped and weird and perfectly crazy.
For the fun factor, I’d go as the Mad Hatter, but, if I felt like being scary, it’d have to be Pinhead.
3. Old Mrs. Robinson opens her door and you’re holding open your pillowcase patiently waiting. “Oh deary,” she says in her frail, little old-lady voice. “I forgot it was Halloween. Don’t know why you kids go begging anyways. Let me go find something to give you.” She shuffles off and finally returns three and a half minutes later with 5 pennies, 2 peppermint candies that look like they went through the dryer, and her deceased husbands dentures. “Take what you like,” she offers, squinting at you.
What do you choose and why.
Shaun says: It would have to be either the pennies or the dentures. The pennies would probably have been used to lay on his eyes and pay Charon, the Ferryman, for crossing the River Styx into Hades.
The teeth would have used to eat the buffet meal you were given whilst you waited for his ferry to come to port. You never used to get a buffet, but competition is rife and there’s always someone wanting to muscle in. A little buffet and, perhaps, a small glass of wine, can make all the difference.
3. I really love reading Dean Koontz but some of his stuff scares the bejesus out of me. What’s the spookiest book you’ve ever read?
Shaun says: Oh, I’ve read so many. I think the spookiest will most likely be a Clive Barker one. His imagination is so bizarre and he takes you into such strange worlds, I’m sure one of his would be the winner. Weaveworld, perhaps, or Imajica.
4. You’re a writer by day and supernatural creature by night. (Shed that human skin you sack of bones) What are you and why?
Shaun says: Well, I’ve just looked on a list of supernatural beings and saw Frosty the Snowman was classed as one… I think, if I was going to be one, it would have to be something a bit warmer than dear Frosty. Once I’m out of this skin, I pick up my scythe, pull on a cloak and clock in on my night job as the Grim Reaper.
I tend to write quite a lot about Death and Mr. Grim. Sin, in my novel, wonders about him, and, in Dark Places, there’s a story called ‘I Am Death’, in which he contemplates life as he prepares to take his next soul. He’s not inherently good or evil. He just is and does what he must.
5. Every author has a bookshelf filled with his or her favorite reads. Run on over to yours and tell us the scariest book you have.
Shaun says: I’d have to pick up my ereader. I had many books but no space so I ‘went digital’ instead. It’s quite funny, really, that 17 years or so ago, I was on Sky TV discussing digital publishing vs traditional methods, going up against someone from Curtis Brown. They didn’t think it would take off, but now I have a library in my back pocket!
For my scartiest book, I think it’s likely to be The Scarlet Gospels, the latest Clive Barker book. I’ve yet to read it, having just finished Saint Odd and wanting to work on my And the Meek Shall Walk story (a more savage retelling of The Little Mermaid, inspired by my 12 year old daughter!) but, as it’s the continuing story of Pinhead, I think it’s safe to say it’ll be scary!
6. We don’t all write horror but there comes a time when you’ve got to surprise your readers and make sure their hearts are still beating. How do you prepare yourself to get in the spooky writing mood?
Shaun says: I find it so easy! I think it’s because of Sin. I’ve spent so long with the character and his ‘issues’ (he took me ten years to write and he’s still going strong now), I found I could slip into his persona without any effort. I call him my ‘dark half’ as he’s so much a part of me. As such, walking on the dark side of my psyche (that’s with an ‘e’ not an ‘o’, as Sin would say) comes almost naturally. I believe you can’t have the light without the darkness and, if my writing is the darkness, my life has plenty of light!
8. Stephen King’s front porch light is on but there are no Halloween decorations.
a) trick-or-treat and cross your fingers that he’s handing out the good stuff
b) run screaming
c) call your mom to bring your favorite King paperback and beg for an autograph
Shaun says: Trick or treat, definitely. Who knows what strange things might happen if you ring his doorbell. The lack of decorations is obvious. He needs no ceremony for horror to put on a show.
9. Congratulations, you just won the literary lottery and sold a million books at full price! The royalty check clears on October 28th. What are you buying for the neighborhood kids?
a) an assortment of mini candybars
b) an assortment of cheap, hard candies
c) full size Hershey bars
Shaun says: If it’s candy, it would be full size – though Hersheys aren’t something we’re that familiar with here in the UK. If I’ve won, I wouldn’t hold back on mini anything. I’d prefer, however, to invest in a library. I love to hear children (and adults) reading. I’ve met adults who never read – why would you when you can see the movie? If I can inspire one child to turn a page, I’d be a happy man. As I was sent a photo, last year, of a young boy dressed as his favourite literary character for World Book Day – and it was my very own Vampire Cat from Zits’n’Bits, I think I may have done that!
10. Your writer friend calls you with some frightening news. They’re giving up on writing, can’t take the pressure any longer. What do you tell them?
Shaun says: I would tell them to pick up a book and read. Enter another world to help them continue the adventures in their own. Then I’d say they should write for themselves and no-one else. There shouldn’t be pressure to write, it should be natural and fulfilling. Any pressure simply places another brick on the dam of imagination. I’m blessed that my own work has been so well received, and I’m humbled by the opportunities I’ve had, such as writing for Universal and DC Comics – but with it all, I write because it’s such an urge, if I didn’t the words would dribble out of my nose. I write because I enjoy it and I can’t imagine not doing so. I don’t write for anyone or anything else.