April 28th sees the publication of Paula R.C. Readman’s novella Never Reaching The End (cover by Adrian Baldwin). This is her second DEMAIN release, following on from her Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! title, The Funeral Birds. Prior to publication Dean and Paula had a good old natter.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hi again Paula, hope life isn’t treating you too badly. Great to be working with you again, so let’s get down to it – for those that don’t yet know you could you tell us a little about yourself and why you became a writer.
PAULA R.C. READMAN: Hi! How do I make myself sound interesting on the outside when all I have to offer is a dark mind? I left school poorly educated and worked in factories, got married, and had a son. The first marriage broke down so I went back to work to support my son and myself, met a wonderful man and married ten years later. My husband allowed me to focus full-time on my writing when redundancy happened to me for the third time in my working life. For about 20 years, I’ve been writing to be published and started, as most writers do by writing a novel. I soon learnt that wasn't the best way to start, and set the rejected books to one side and began writing short stories. Once these began to be published, I went back to novel writing. In 2020, DEMAIN Publishing published my first book, The Funeral Birds.
DP: Indeed we did and we had great fun doing it. Let’s talk about your background…
PRCR: My first love has always been art, and became the inspiration to write Stone Angels. The book tells the story of an artist called James Ravencroft. I wanted to get into Art College, but my lack of education meant I failed the entry exam. Evening classes were too expensive for me, so I borrowed library books. That's when I fell in love with the Pre-Raphaelite artists and their stunning paintings. Each picture tells stories if you understand the symbolism in them. Reading about the artists and their lives led me to research the authors and poets of the Victorian era, as many of the Pre-Raphaelite artists found inspiration from poems and literature.
DP: That’s very interesting. I’ve also wanted to do an art history course, you’ve inspired me to do it now. So what was your first introduction to the horror genre?
PRCR: I’ve been fascinated with the dark side from a small child. I’m named after a dead brother called Paul. I saw children in our house that weren’t there. When I asked my older brother, Mark about them, he said we were the only children there. When I told my grandmother about them, she told me not to repeat what I had said to anyone, so I didn’t. In my junior school, a group of children used to play a game where they could lift another child with their little fingers. ‘This is the Power of Levitation. Sound and silence must not be broken. She looks ill, she is ill she looks dead, she is dead,’ was sung by each person in the circle, and then together, we would lift the girl above our heads. I had an Ouija board until my mother burnt it. This led me to read anything to do with the supernatural, including fiction, like Stephen King, and the Tales of the Unexpected, written by Roald Dahl in the local library. I’m more of a Gothic Horror lover than blood and gore.
DP: Fascinating! I don’t think I knew that about you – wow. Okay, I’m a little bit scared now (in a good way I think!). Let’s move on to your novella…
PRCR: Never Reaching the End is meant to be part of a three-book horror submission to an Australian publisher I'd worked with previously. They were doing a call-out for a series of horror books and wanted a short story for three themes, House, Ship, and Space. I missed the deadline because I was busy editing a novel. An American anthology accepted my space tale. I still have the ship story on my computer. Never Reaching the End is my take on the haunted house storyline.
DP: Interesting and happy for us that you did miss your deadline! What would you say was your biggest creative success thus far?
PRCR: The Funeral Birds, I think as was unexpected. I originally wrote it for a BBC short story competition but wasn't successful. My neighbour Joan kept pushing me to resubmit it to other places. It was only when Alyson Faye contacted me to say that DEMAIN was doing a call-out for crime I submitted to you. The Funeral Birds, with my other four books, are now available in libraries in Essex.
DP: Yes Alyson did recommend you highly. I’m happy that other publishers have been working with you and recognising your talent – well done. What books/authors do you read and are they an influence?
PRCR: I read an eclectic collection of genres and authors from Victorian writers to Agatha Christie and beyond. The one thing I look for in all books is a twist in a tale, and something that I wasn’t expecting. At my age, I have been reading regularly all my life. I loved Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire, and Flowers in an Attic by V.C. Andrews for their originality. The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power is one of the best books I've read lately.
DP: I love Anne Rice’s work – haven’t heard of Helen’s book but will check that out asap. So, what scares Paula…
PRCR: Three things that horrify me the most are rats, the thought of being buried alive, and handling sheets of glass, which makes me feel sick. As for rats, I grew up next to a flour mill. My father was a master miller and explained the importance of keeping the mill clean because if the rats' droppings or urine got into the flour, it would be unfit for human consumption. As a child, I learnt about the link between the Black Death and rats, which added to my fear of them. We lived in an old cottage; I could hear rats crawling in the walls as a child. So far, I haven’t written about glass, rats or being buried alive, but thinking about them, helps with describing the emotion of fear or panic.
DP: Oh my Lord – you’ve definitely got to write that book!!!! Which leads me onto: creatively is there anything you’d like to do but haven’t done yet?
PRCR: I would love my books to appear on bestselling lists and in shops, but all writers hope for this too. I’m working hard to make it happen, so fingers crossed. I’m busy creating the first novel in a series of books. It is still in the plotting stage, so I want to take it one book at a time and see how it develops. I’m not very good at working under pressure. I tend to panic, which isn’t helpful and stops my mind from developing new ideas.
DP: So writing is definitely your long-term career?
PRCR: I've always planned for my writing to be a long-term career. Will I always write horror, I'm not sure. I might run out of ideas that excite me enough to continue writing in this genre. I don’t see myself writing romance any time soon. As I've said in a previous question, I'm working on writing a series of supernatural crime books. I have plenty of ideas, but until I've completed the foundations in the first one, and made the leaps in time believable in my mind, I can’t begin writing the rest.
DP: Great to hear – keep at it for sure! So final question, what is something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
PRCR: I have a motorbike licence. I was a bit of a wild child in my youth. I love the natural world and enjoy photographing fungi, graveyards, and churches, and I have Viking blood in my veins. I can’t watch X-rated movies because they scared me, too.
And on that note – thank you Paula, the best of luck with Never Reaching The End.
If you’d like to connect with Paula direct:
Twitter: Paula R C Readman@Darkfantasy13
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paula-R-C-Readman/e/B00A9UHMSO
Dean M. Drinkel