September 2nd sees the publication of Carrie Weston’s novella, One Ampoule Of Terror (cover art by Roberto Segate; cover design by Adrian Baldwin; cover artist – Tia). Prior to publication, Dean and Carrie had a good old natter about the book, about her career to date and generally put the world to rights.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello Carrie, welcome to DEMAIN. Ready? Let’s go for it – tell us a bit about yourself…
CARRIE WESTON: I will, thanks. Hi everyone, so my names Carrie Weston. I am one of those writers who has been dreaming of having their stories published since they were young. I would send work off to the BIG 5 publishers when I was 13 and wait excitedly for a reply. (No need to say I had little life experience then.) So, growing up I wrote every spare minute, until I hit college age where I pursued other career options (it was heavily implied to me that writing was not a job and that with my dyslexia. I would not make it as a writer – but what did they know 😊). After college my health went slowly downhill. When I was approximately 23, I was diagnosed with cancer and that’s when I started writing again. I couldn’t do much for a long time and I felt like my brain was running a race track around my skull in boredom. I wrote one manuscript and then put my pen down, ready to give up. Until one day my son came to me and asked for a story and the story telling box inside of my head exploded with force breaking the lock and turning my world technicolour again. I got the all clear from the hospital. I was gifted a writing course -that didn’t discriminate against my dyslexic – yes, they’re out there – and I had the backing of my son and mother. All in all, my son gave me the strength to fight back against the cancer and beat it. Unfortunately, I was left with C.R.P.S and the mental anguish that came with such a rollercoaster ride of health. Not to mention those who said I would never make it as a writer. It’s amazing what a little belief and persistence can do.
DP: Too right and well done you. That certainly sounds a journey. And thank you to your son…I guess your experiences have influenced your writing…
CW: Thanks. My life has been a rollercoaster of nightmares and cloud nine. I live a very turbulent existence, so I can truthfully say that yes, I do think my life experiences have influenced my writing and that all of them hold some flavour of truth within my life. I find it grounds the writing more when a twist of truth is added to spice it up. I just like leaving it to the reader to decide what part they think is the twisted truth.
DP: Yeah I like that a lot. And I bet your readers do have fun with that. What were your influences…
CW: I have always loved the Brothers Grimm fairy tales and Roald Dahl’s B.F.G. But I would probably say the very first introduction of dark fantasy/horror in my early life would have been Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat by Ursula Williams. In teenage years I loved the popular (mostly American) paranormal/ dark fantasy genres and at 18 whilst working abroad for the first time and room sharing with a load of girls. I read Crickley Hall by James Herbert and although it scared the bejeebies out of me- I couldn’t put it down.
DP: Some great titles there and love it when Jim Herbert’s name gets mentioned. I love his work and my favourite is The Magic Cottage though also love The Fog…let’s talk One Ampoule…
CW: I wrote the start of this novella during lockdown when I was a part of a writing group that liked to use pictures to prompt creativity. This novella was birthed from what at the time I considered the most boring of picture prompts possible; a shadow person with top hat stood in a lit doorway. The rest of the picture was black. This filled me with no inspiration at all until I started looking at it from the angle of what he could possibly have left behind him. That’s when Gilbert was born.
DP: Who exactly is Gilbert then?
CW: Gilbert is the kind of man you would cross the street just to avoid. He exudes darkness like the shadows of the past that haunt his life. But if there is one thing no one can fault, it’s that he loves his daughter and daddy’s little girl will get everything she wants even if he has to cut a vein or two open to do it. The only things standing in his way are his arch nemesis Asoth and the council.
DP: Great description. Considering the way your novella was ‘birthed’ (as you say) did you end up having to do much research as you wrote it?
CW: I always like to do research on my work as it helps to ground the story. I use all means I can find to help i.e., internet, books, libraries and people who have knowledge in the field I am researching. The most important thing when researching is to remember to ask yourself one question: “How reliable is your source?” This can mean the difference between getting a fact right or accidentally getting someone’s opinion as to what is right. I thoroughly enjoy researching strange little facts, for instance the rarest blood type in the world is called GOLDEN BLOOD – named so because it can be used to match any other blood type without complication. Amazing right?
DP: Actually that is pretty amazing [and might help me with a plot hole in a film script I’m writing so thanks as I’d never heard of it!] – did you find One Ampoule hard to write?
CW: Writing this novella was indeed tricky because I wanted to write on a new level. This is my first fantasy horror and although I write dark fantasy going that step further was a delectable challenge. I very much enjoyed crafting Gilbert’s character as he is a warped individual determined to indulge every whim of his daughter. This being a quite normal human tendance. I wanted to explore how far a character will go. The most difficult part to write was the beginning as I wrote it multiple times until I crafted the paragraph with an ability to be read two different ways – it’s the reader’s choice how they interpret it.
DP: What would you say horror means to one of your readers?
CW: Readers love the chance to explore their darker impulses in a safe yet thrilling environment - so what better way than a book? Admitted some would say film. But I think book 😊. I like to lead the readers mind, to let it mull on situations or events enough for the viewer to come to conclusions emphasised by the fear we trigger in their own, so that it connects with its audience like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Hitchcock’s…well everything. I think each reader is different so by broadening your net as a writer you’re allowing a reader to immerse into the dark/horror story- letting their mind go where it will. In this way, as proven by many psychological studies, we are giving in to our base natures, allowing the fight or flight instinct to kick in and rush adrenalin through our veins – and that’s what makes it so addictive.
DP: I think you’re so right. I mean when I was a teenager and then at college all I did was read horror, horror, horror and then intriguingly when I actually started writing horror I had moved away from reading the genre - by broadening what I was putting into my brain it then came out of my pen very very darkly. Fascinating stuff for sure. I’m not sure that I do anymore [though I was talking to a friend only the other day and he was telling me that he liked my early writing because I did exactly what I’m about to ask you] but do you write about what scares you in any way?
CW: I was once told that to be a good writer you need to have life experiences so that you can delve into your own emotions of how things make you feel. Hence to say that yes, I do put things that scare me into my writing. I figure if I’m not scared, then how the hell am I going to scare my reader? I want to make the experience as authentic in emotion as I can so I pull on my own emotions and twist them into my stories along with situations or objects that frighten me. I have a favourite quote: “Do one thing every day that scares you” – It is believed Mary Schmich said this. I like to embrace the philosophy behind this quote and try to do something a little scary, meaning something new to me, every day.
DP: Yes that’s a great mantra to live your life and I certainly subscribe to it. Okay, as much I’m enjoying this we’re running out of time, so final Q: can you tell us one fact that your readers might not know about you:
CW: Most of my followers already know I use a walking stick. But what they probably don’t know is that during an author meet at a school we used my stick as an opening to thinking outside of the box. When the attention of the class was gained, I lifted my walking stick and asked “What is this?” To most of their distress I had to deny its existence as a walking stick until one girl answered “It’s a sword!” A strange but true fact.
Indeed it is – Carrie, thank you so much for your time, it is appreciated. The best of luck with your novella, One Ampoule Of Terror.
If you would like to connect with Carrie direct please do so:
Tik Tok: @authorcarrieweston
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Dean M. Drinkel