Author Interview - Short Sharp Shocks! Book 13 - Cinders Of A Blind Man Who Could See by Kev Harrison
What a cracking title (and story!) Kev Harrison’s Cinders Of A Blind Man Who Could See is. Just before publication, Dean and Kev sat down to chat.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: So, Kev – let’s get straight down to it. Tell us all about Cinders.
KEV HARRISON: Hey. I’d been digesting a lot of the new folk horror, when the story first came about. Of course, I was familiar with The Wicker Man and others, but listening to the Bafflegab audio production of Blood On Satan’s Claw, with Mark Gatiss and others really made me start to wonder if I could craft a folk horror story of my own. I thought about sacred trees, chose a location I knew that was threatened by the new HS2 train line in the UK and the rest, as they say, is history.
DP: Here at Demain we found it a very profound story (so well done again!) – what were your biggest challenges when crafting the tale?
KH: think the biggest challenge in writing this piece was striking a balance between the dreadful sense that the community is ‘in on it’ without it going over the top and degrading into something farcical.
DP: I was going to stop you there before you revealed any spoilers but I think you just got away with it ha ha – I personally think you set yourself a high challenge and you conquered it. As you mentioned the HS2 train line etc etc were you writing Cinders from a personal perspective?
KH: I wouldn’t say any of it is based on my life, but I share a certain detachment from much of my family. I feel like I pulled off that distance between David and Owen well, owing to my own experiences.
DP: Ah, okay, I get you. For someone who has never read your work before, would you say you had a specific writing style and do you find writing ‘difficult’?
KH: The thing I find most difficult is wrapping things up. I’m constantly concerned that the end hasn’t justified the set-up, that I’ve broken my promise with a reader. Part of that is based on a previous habit, when I started writing more seriously, in that I did finish some stories too abruptly. The other part of it though is just my very specific form of self-doubt, which tends to manifest at the end of my work.
DP: Yes it seems a lot of writers (well, probably all!) have self-doubt at some point during the writing process, so you’re not alone there. Even the best of us at one time or another have doubted our own capabilities / abilities whether it is being a writer in general or the specific piece we are working on at that particular time. Who are your influences by the way?
KH: Over the past couple years, I’ve had some immense support, both bigging me up and also providing constructive criticism from a number of fellow writers. These have, mainly, been Dan Howarth, Michael David Wilson and Grant Longstaff. Each of them has suffered for long hours reading my stories and giving really useful beta feedback. In terms of my favourite author, I’d probably have to plump for Haruki Murakami. His grasp of weaving the uncanny with the mundane, so seamlessly, is astonishing. He does this while writing in such a way that many readers feel that every book was written personally for them.
DP: Ah, we know Dan very here at Demain ha ha. And I’m not aware of Murakami’s work so I’ll check him out asap (cheers for the recommendation). What next for Kev Harrison?
KH: I was really delighted this year when a small publishing house accepted the manuscript for a novella I wrote in 2017. There are still edits to go, but I’m hopeful it will see the light of day this year. It’s a supernatural tale set in rural Poland, during the communist period and involves witchcraft. At the moment, I’m working on more of a straight horror piece, the working title of which is Below, set in a newly reopened gold mine in California, which collapsed at the very end of the goldrush in the 1850s. A British man is there seeking to make sense of a lost family member, with a TV crew but things are not as they ought to be. I have a chapter or two left to write in the first draft. The plan is to have a version I can start shopping around at the end of the summer.
DP: Great to see you’re busy as all writers should be – do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
KH: I don’t know that I ever suffer from writer’s block, but I certainly have periods in which my productivity ebbs and flows. Often, that’s because life gets in the way – when I’m writing student reports for my day job, for example! – but sometimes it’s because my WIP is in a slow going section and I don’t have other projects to work on. I think it’s important to have routine, but I also think, for me, there are days when I don’t and perhaps even shouldn’t write.
DP: Ah, okay, so I presume that you outline your work?
KH: No, no. I write very much as a pantser, but I normally won’t start a story until it is well formed in my head. I (loosely) planned the novel I’m writing at the moment and I feel that there were some sections where it helped me to get the words down and others where I felt restricted. I think for future long form stuff, I’m going to be less rigid with myself about adhering to the plan, as it can be constrictive, certainly to me.
DP: Totally agree with your comments re constrictive. I was working on a treatment recently for a historical project – I came up with something which was 15+ pages. As I was writing the script I had to keep following the treatment (as that had been agreed / signed off) even though the story / characters were taking me off somewhere else – it was giving me a headache if I’m honest so I tore up the treatment and found the writing a lot more ‘freer’ because of that! Tell me Kev do you have a favourite theme (or genre) which you work in?
KH: I’ve tried writing a variety of different things and, whatever the intention at the beginning, it always ends up going dark. So I guess horror or the dark is my thing. I always notice in my writing that so much of the terror in what I write is derived from a lack of control. I think this is reflective of my own control freak nature!
DP: So, you have to pitch Cinders to a film producer...
KV: Something old lurks in Leonard’s wood and something – or someone – in the sleepy village of Wincham is feeding it. Now Owen must face it or risk losing his son forever.
DP: Very concise – I like it. One final question Kev: what is something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
KH: I was a screamer in a series of melodic death metal bands for about ten years.
That was not an answer I was expecting!!!!! Thanks for your time Kev and the best of luck with Short Sharp Shocks! Book 13: Cinders Of A Blind Man Who Could See which is out on the 19th April.
If you would like to connect with Kev direct:
Website Address: www.kevharrisonfiction.com
Twitter Address: www.twitter.com/lisboetaingles
Any other social media links: www.facebook.com/kevharrisonfiction
Dean M. Drinkel