February 28th sees the publication of TR Hitchman’s horror novella Little Bird (with a cover by Adrian Baldwin and currently available for pre-sales). Just after the New Year, Dean and the author sat down to discuss it.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello and welcome to DEMAIN! It’s great to have you here and hope 2021 isn’t treating you too badly (all things considering). I appreciate (especially nowadays) that time is precious, so let’s get straight down to it: who exactly is TR Hitchman and why did they want to be a writer.
TR HITCHMAN: Hello! I initially wanted to be an illustrator, but have always loved reading so began to write short stories that I hoped to illustrate, the writing took over though and I found myself writing more and illustrating less!
DP: And did your background have some influence on you as a writer?
TRH: My dad is a great reader and loved ghost stories, so his reading choices influenced me a lot, I remember him talking about Borley Rectory and the ghost hunter Harry Price, we often watched Hammer House of Horror and I loved Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected and his stories influenced me today – love a story with a dark twist.
DP: Ah, I love Tales Of The Unexpected! What were your other introductions to the horror genre?
TRH: Mainly ghost stories, MR James, HG Wells, Edgar Allan Poe, Walter De La Mare, really stuff on my dad’s bookshelf, also a child of the eighties so Hammer House of Horror!
DP: Some great names there for sure. Let’s talk about your novella…Little Bird…
TRH: It’s primarily a ghost story. I am intrigued about certain places, especially where something horrific has happened, Auschwitz is such a place that has a horrific past and I have also wondered what lost souls may remain there. It’s a story about loss too, a daughter’s relationship with her father, a father’s loss of a daughter, the children that lost their innocence in those camps.
DP: Indeed…did you have to do much research when writing?
TRH: Most of my stories I tend to set in modern day or at least somewhere in my life time. Sometimes if you want to set a story in a particular place it’s good to get a feel for the area etc – Google comes in handy! With Little Bird I had to do a little research, I haven’t visited a camp myself, so I read a lot online, looked at photographs and read some articles from people who had visited them, even watched an online tour.
DP: I suspect you found some very harrowing stuff…did that impact the writing of the novella – did you find it difficult to write?
TRH: I find all writing difficult, the first draft always is! Some ideas come easy than others. Little Bird, I had an idea of the story how the story was going to end so that always helps.
DP: Yes, it does! Okay so what is TR Hitchman’s biggest creative success to date?
TRH: In 2016 I had a short story collection called Child of Winter published with Corona Books.
DP: Brilliant! Can you tell us about the books (and / or authors) you read and whether they influence your writing?
TRH: I read a whole host of fiction, not all ‘horror’ but the stuff I enjoy has a dark edge, a favourite author is John Ajvide Lindqvist, there is something strange and beautifully disturbing about his writing, I love Shirley Jackson’s short stories, most recently I’ve enjoyed Adam Nevill. Of course Stephen King – he’s an excellent story teller. I’ll mention Roald Dahl – I recently reread his short stories and his dark twists certainly inspire my work.
DP: I’m a great fan of Let The Right One – the book and the movie versions and of course Adam Nevill is a writer at the top of his game. Horror is a very broad church, what does it mean to you…
TRH: It’s that feeling that something isn’t quite right, the slow creeping fear that builds slowly, when you say to yourself “I don’t like this…” For me it’s a form of escapism, strange though that sounds.
DP: No, I think that’s perfect and many a time I’ve escaped into horror…do you think that is what draws readers into the genre?
TRH: I think people like to feel fear, it makes you feel alive, it wakens something inside that in our otherwise ‘comfortable world’ we don’t experience, it’s a form of escapism. I think readers like that feeling of unease.
DP: They do! So, we’re going through some tough times right now but perhaps by the end of the year things might have returned to ‘normal’ (of course, whatever normal is) – do you think the genre is affected by world events?
TRH: It can do, I often get inspiration from news articles, most recently I wrote a flash fiction piece inspired by the recent pandemic. We seem to be living in a disaster/horror movie at the moment!
DP: We do don’t we, BUT perhaps it is providing a lot of inspiration to us creatives…is there a horror novel / film that you’re looking forward to reading / seeing?
TRH: I’m always on the lookout for writers I’ve never read before, I often discover writers that have been out there for a while but are new to me! No one specific in mind, but the internet always is opening up new doors for me!
DP: It’s great for that isn’t it…is there a new writer (or director) that interests you right now?
TRH: I know he’s not new – but the films of Ben Wheatley intrigue me. I love the films of Guillermo del Toro…
DP: Two great directors there…there have been numerous reports of late that the horror genre is dead, would you agree?
TRH: We go through phases I think, vampires were big a few years back, people like to be scared, we just change what scares us….
DP: Fair enough…what is TR Hitchman frightened of?
TRH: I have anxiety, so there’s a long list, life is scary! Death is a thing that frightens me and yes, it’s in a lot of my writing.
DP: I’m with you on that one – particularly as you get older. During this whole pandemic it’s like one day blurs into another and your life flashes before your eyes…before you know it…okay, let’s stop there. Is there something creatively you haven’t been able to do yet?
TRH: I would like to write a script for a film – something short and creepy!
DP: So writing for you is a long term career?
TRH: Definitely long term!
DP: Cool. So these lockdowns…
TRH: The first one I struggled – I found the anxiety of it just squashed any creativity! This time around I’ve tried to be proactive, I work full time anyway so have to fit my writing around that. I’ve started a book review blog and working on a novella, so keeping myself busy!
DP: That’s the way forward I think. Outside of the pandemic Do you interact a lot with your readers?
TRH: I don’t have that much experience but I did do a launch with my collection and it was lovely to talk to potential readers but I’m not that famous yet!
DP: And finally, what is something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
TRH: I have a sense of humour – I’m quite funny in real life and not very dark and serious as my writing may suggest.
I bet you do!
Thank you for your time, the best of luck with Little Bird!
If you’d like to connect with TR Hitchman direct:
Book Review Blog: www.tanyastratford1.wixsite.com/treads
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Dean M. Drinkel