What inspired you to start writing?
In 2007 I attended a lecture hosted by the fantasy author G.P. Taylor. I got chatting to him afterwards and he was impressed that I had spotted hidden song lyrics in one of his novels. He encouraged me to write down my ideas, saying that if a former vicar and police officer could do it, anyone could.
What was your first short story?
Following that meeting I tried unsuccessfully to start a young adult novel about a haunted school. I had no idea how to even begin something as long as a novel and after several false starts I was beginning to lose faith in my own ability. But in 2012 an article on the website Den of Geek called for people to submit short ghost stories for a spooky fundraising event on Halloween night. The maximum of 500 words felt a lot more manageable than a novel so I adapted one of my chapter ideas into a short story called Strange Reflections for the competition. I didn’t win but finally felt like I had gained some momentum. In 2013 Den of Geek ran the event again so I entered with another called The Conductor.
Have you ever had anything published?
In 2015 I submitted The Conductor to Hallowscream, an annual anthology comic celebrating the short lived 1980s horror comic Scream! I was delighted to find out when it was published that they had included it! Encouraged another regular Den of Geek reader, I submitted a 3000 word story about a spectral guitar teacher to a publishing house for inclusion in a book of ghost stories. I received a very friendly rejection letter informing me that I had made it past the first stage of rejections but ultimately I did not make it into the book. I am currently working on some more stories for the 2017 edition of Hallowscream.
What are your influences?
My favourite author is Stephen King. I’m a huge fan of his short stories The Mist, The Jaunt, The End of the Whole Mess and Crouch End. Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror series inspired the “linked short stories” nature of Badgers Crossing.
I enjoy horror movies, British ones from the 60s and 70s in particular. The Wicker Man and Don’t Look Now are firm favourites. And of course I absolutely love the writing by the legends of horror and strange fiction M.R. James, E.F. Benson, Algernon Blackwood and H.P. Lovecraft.
I first became interested in horror and ghost stories when my headmaster, Mr. McGeown, read a scary tale in assembly about a Napoleonic uniform coming to life. He would continue that tradition with some fabulously scary (but gore free) tales of terror. His stories inspired me to seek out any horror books that the town library would loan out to a nine year old with a junior members’ card! One of the books that really captured my imagination was the Usborne Pocketbook – Haunted Houses, Ghosts and Spectres. I bought a copy on eBay recently and do actually refer to it sometimes when writing. I talk about it in more detail here.
That same year IPC Magazines published the aforementioned Scream! comic. It was cancelled after only 15 issues but had a lasting effect on me.
If there is anything you would like to ask Paul then please visit the Contact page where you can send him a message.