Paul Edwards has been part of the DEMAIN family for a couple of years now and contributed a brilliant story to the WW1 / horror anthology ‘The Darkest Battlefield’. When DEMAIN was approached about publishing his new collection (jointly with Frank Duffy) called ‘Night Voices’ (as an ebook on September 4th but currently available for pre-sales; cover by Adrian Baldwin) it was a no-brainer. Prior to publication, Dean and Paul sat down and talked.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Good to speak with you again Paul, hope you’re doing okay…for those that don’t know you, can you tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer.
PAUL EDWARDS: Hi! And yes, well, I am 44 years old and I live in the market town of Frome in Somerset with my wife, Mandy, and our two daughters, Lily aged 17, and Poppy aged 14. I’ve always had a drive to write; ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved writing my own scary stories! Being a lifelong horror fan, I’ve always written, read, and watched horror. It’s a genre that’s endlessly intrigued and fascinated me.
DP: You and me both – I feel I’m learning something new about the genre every day. In terms of your stories…
PE: My six stories were actually inspired by my day job as a Family Support Worker. Writing them felt cathartic – a way, I guess, of trying to make sense of some of the more difficult and challenging behaviours I’ve encountered through the job. After reading Frank’s tales, I was surprised by how (unintentionally) we’d touched on similar themes and ideas. I think the stories complement each other really well.
DP: They really do and that’s why I / we thought the collection really works with two authors…did you find any of your stories particularly difficult to write?
PE: I actually surprised myself by how quickly I wrote them! The ideas came fast and fully formed, and I wrote the first drafts in under a month. It’s the editing side I find most difficult – trying to hone and edit the work into reasonable shape can be a frustrating, exhausting process. I’ll reach a point where I’m absolutely sick of the work, and it’s then I know I need to put it away, to give myself a break. To come back another day and look at it through fresh eyes. But all that effort is worth it when someone likes your work enough to publish it. I get a big kick out of that.
DP: I'm with you there! Paul, what was it like working with another writer – can you explain that particular process?
PE: Working with Frank was great. He initially approached me with the idea of writing a joint collection. It was pretty daunting at first, having to write six new stories in a relatively short space of time. And I had to be strict with myself, fitting it around family life and the day job by setting writing goals and objectives for myself each day. We only read each other’s stories after we’d finished them, so there was no conferring! I’m a big admirer of Frank’s fiction, so it was an absolute honour and a pleasure to have collaborated with him.
DP: Oh I bet. Perhaps ‘Night Voices’ might be the first in a series of joint collections – we’ll have to give that some serious thought ha ha! What would you say was your biggest creative success to date?
PE: I would say my novella Where the Wounded Trees Wait, which was published by DEMAIN in ‘The Darkest Battlefield’ - an anthology of supernatural World War 1 novellas that I was massively proud and honoured to have been a part of. I approached that story in a different way too, as I actually spent time researching by visiting Mametz and other battlefields of the Somme, in order to try and get a sense of the place and history. It turned into a very humbling and moving experience all round. I was really proud of how that story turned out.
DP: And rightly so, having also visited those battlefields your story brought back a lot of memories. Who do you read and are they an influence?
PE: As a horror fanatic, I do tend to read mainly horror fiction. Some of my favourite authors include Ramsey Campbell, Joel Lane, Jack Ketchum, Poppy Z. Brite, Gary A. Braunbeck, Stephen King, Thomas Ligotti, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert Bloch, to name but a few. My favourite writers inspire me to pick up my pen and write straight after I’ve finished reading them. I’m particularly drawn to cosmic horror – I love the original ‘Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos’ anthology edited by August Derleth; it’s a book I’ve returned to again and again. One of the stories, Return of the Lloigor by Colin Wilson, inspired a novel that I’ve started, which mixes cosmic horror with my own experiences as a Police Community Support Officer!
DP: Oh, I’d love to read that! What is Paul Edwards frightened of?
PE: I guess I’m afraid of losing my mind…of losing my identity. Of losing touch with reality in general. These are things that truly scare and unsettle me. Also, the thought of losing my family; the people that are closest to me. I’m pretty sure these fears get worked into my stories all the time. I think, as a horror writer, it is vital to draw on your own fears for inspiration. To make the horror real, I guess.
DP: Dead right. Thinking about your creativity, is there something you haven’t yet done?
PE: 1) I’ve always wanted to finish a novel, so completing the first draft of one this year felt like a big achievement. I wrote it longhand in my car during lunch-breaks at work. There’s still tonnes of work left to do on it, though…fingers crossed I’ll see it published someday… 2) I’ve always wanted to write my own Choose Your Own Adventure book, as I was a HUGE fan of CYOA, Fighting Fantasy, etc. in the 80s. I still have most of my old gamebooks, which I nostalgically return to from time to time. My favourite gamebook is House of Hell by Steve Jackson, which definitely helped to nurture my love of all things horror. I have actually started writing my own CYOA book, and have plotted and planned most of it out already. It’s set in Northern France, with a fair bit of local mythology and folklore involved.
DP: Oh my lord! House Of Hell! I remember that…and doing your own, Northern France – seems a winner to me already – we might have to talk about that in the future ha ha. So, we’re apparently coming to the end of the Lockdown – how was it for you?
PE: I’ve handled lockdown pretty well. I’ve loved spending more time with my family. I’ve been keeping in touch with friends and extended family members through Zoom, and even managed to run a ‘Call of Cthulhu’ RPG campaign with my dad and brothers via video conference, which was a lot of fun and not something I would have done under normal circumstances! I’ve also found a lot more time to write, and as a result I’m close to finishing another collection, which I hope to submit somewhere in the not too distant future…
That’s brilliant – thanks a lot for your time Paul, it was great connecting with you again. Truly the best of luck with Night Voices!
If you’d like to connect with Paul direct:
Website Address: https://pauledwardshorror.blogspot.com/
Dean M. Drinkel