Author Interview: L. R. Bonehill 'Whispers Of The Sea (and Other Stories) - Book 22 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series
Today’s interview is with L.R. Bonehill who’s Whispers Of The Sea (and Other Stories) is a very powerful, intense and quietly horrific short collection...
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Whispers Of The Sea (and Other Stories) is an outstanding piece of work – can you tell your readers a little about it and how you came to write it?
L.R. BONEHILL: Firstly, thanks for the kind words and it’s great to be a part of what you’re doing with Demain [thank you – your words are appreciated]. These are all stories about grief and loss, frankly about the very worst kind of loss and I wanted to explore how we deal with that. How we move forward if we’ve lost everything, how we’d do anything to change things when the worst happens. They’re also thematically very close to each other, companion pieces almost, which is why I’m delighted they’re being published together.
DP: Yes, it was a no-brainer that we published all three in one collection – and you’re right, though they aren’t connected stories they are definitely companion pieces – and all the better for that in my opinion. I suspect you faced a few challenges when writing them?
LRB: These stories are all pretty dark, which horror should be of course, and the act of balancing that darkness with a little hope, a little light, can often be a challenge. I also wanted them to have a certain sense of ambiguity, especially the endings which I wanted to leave open to interpretation. Trying to hit the right beats and notes in that way is definitely a challenge.
DP: I believe you certainly rose to that challenge. I totally agree that it was ‘better’ (perhaps profound is a better word?) to leave the endings ‘open’. I’m not sure whether any of the stories were based on personal experiences but did you ever feel you were actually one of the characters...
LRB: To be honest, I’m not sure I’d like to be one my characters…a lot of bad stuff happens to them! The Beachcomber, the shortest of the stories, came to me more of less fully formed after witnessing an odd interaction between two people on a wet beach in Wales, so that definitely stems from a real life encounter. I wrote the story in about an hour and edited very little from that first draft…and trust me, that’s very rare.
DP: I think the ‘rawness’ of some of the stories really fits the overall collection – I hadn’t read your work before but I’m certainly a fan now. There was something about the stories that made me keep going back to them long after we decided to publish...it’s almost dreamlike (well, I suppose nightmare would be a more apt)...I would say (in my opinion anyway) like an animated film...that would be fun...okay, my mind is racing far ahead of itself...which writers / books influenced you?
LRB: In terms of influence, one of my biggest is Richard Christian Matheson. I’ve written a lot of flash fiction and Matheson was doing this long before we called it that. I love his short, sharp shock (apt, I know) approach. Any short story writer that hasn’t checked out his Scars and Other Distinguishing Marks collection really should change that. I read it at an age when I was starting to think about my own writing and it had a huge impact on me. He seems to effortlessly distil his stories down to the bare minimum and still leave you with a barb of a story that cuts deep, deeper than you realise at first. That’s what I try to do in my own work. Of course, whether I succeed or not is another matter.
DP: So what next – anything you can share with us?
LRB: I’m working on a couple of new stories at the moment, and revisiting a few unfinished things I’ve not looked at for a while. I’m also bouncing around ideas for a novella, which, funnily enough, involves a character from The Beachcomber, so that’s definitely next on my to-do list. Think this particular character has some mileage and there are more stories to tell about him; he’s seen a lot of life…and a lot of death too. Again, loss is definitely a theme I’m working with on this novella and the exploration of how we deal with grief, how we move on…or not. My characters often get stuck at the bargaining stage of grief and I feel, certainly in terms of horror and the darker side of fiction, there’s a lot of material to be mined in that uncertain cosmic space.
DP: With so much going on, do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
LRB: Not writers block as such, but I do tend to be afflicted with terrible procrastination. I often have a flurry of writing activity where I’ll put a few stories together in fairly quick succession…followed by periods where I’m not writing at all. Bad practice, I know, but having said that, I’m always playing with ideas in some way or another.
DP: If it works for you then it’s fine – so would you outline a story before starting?
LRB: Depends on the story to be honest, but most of the time I’ll just write and see where the story and the characters take me. I’ll generally have an idea of the beginning and (sometimes) the end… the rest is just working out how to get there. With the novella, I’m trying to be a bit more disciplined and maybe outline it more…but we’ll see.
DP: Good for you! So do you only write in horror (not that that is a problem obviously!)?
LRB: Horror is the genre I tend to work in. I’ve dabbled with other genres, but it’s always horror I come back to, horror that I’m most (un)comfortable with. It’s a much-maligned genre, but usually only with people that don’t understand or appreciate the scope it has to explore life and death in a way that other types of fiction may shy away from.
DP: It’s a shame that horror isn’t treated with the respect it deserves. That is obvious by going to your local Waterstones where I’m sure you will find only a few horror books available which is a shame...okay, so pitch me Whispers Of The Sea as a movie...
LRB: Hmm an elevator pitch fills me with existential dread, so I’m guessing it would go something like this: “How you doing? I’ve got this really great idea… sorry, was that your foot? Yeah, so this idea of mine…think you’ll really like…oh ok…nice chatting to you.”
DP: Ha ha, you had that happen to you too, mine was with Jeff Goldblum!!!!!!
Thanks for your time – L.R. Bonehill’s Whispers Of The Sea (and Other Stories) will be published on May 10th but is now available for pre-sales.
And if you would like to connect with him direct:
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