Interview With Stephen Cross

You’ve probably seen my posts about Stephen Cross’s The Fall Series, but not much about the author himself. Well, he’s been kind enough to do a little interview where he talks inspiration, writing tips, and what make his zombies so scary. It’s the perfect way to celebrate Halloween.

1. When did you first start writing?

I remember in primary school (about aged 10) we were tasked to write a story about being trapped on a desert island. Mine ended up being 104 pages long and had orcs and elves in it (I had just finished reading The Lord of the Rings). I’m sure it was a load of nonsense! I would write a page or two each evening, and then the teacher would read them out to the class the next day. I seem to remember he stopped that practice though, once the elves and orcs appeared…

2. Have you always been interested in the horror genre? If so, what draws you in?

In my early teen years I progressed through Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke to Stephen King, and read everything of his I could get my hands on. The first novel of his I read was Salem’s Lot, the next was The Stand. The Stand changed my world! It was my first introduction to apocalyptic fiction and I have been obsessed with that genre ever since. How do people survive? What ingenious and terrible things – in equal measure – will happen? How do people learn to live together again without the forced civility of society? You can probably see the attraction for an author.

And what about horror in the wider frame? Horror sets out to terrify us – but the best horror doesn’t just make us jump, it makes us think in dark and terrifying ways. The mind is where our true horror lives. All these nasty things that we write and read about – the vampires, the zombies, the demons – they aren’t just terrifying creatures, but archetypes that represent our most primal fears. A mainline into our archaic unease of the beast outside the cave, but if we go even deeper still – what about the beast inside the cave, the demons that live in our own souls?  

Our society and civilization does its best to shield us from the darkness. A good horror story reminds us that the modern world is really only a thin veneer of safety, beneath which our darkest nightmares still reside… I think people like to be reminded of this

3. Do you write outside the horror genre?

I have written in the science fiction and magical reality genre. But even those have had a horror tilt to them, with some dark character hiding in the shadows… I would like to write a good spy novel, something in the vein of John Le Carre, but I don’t think I’m clever enough to pull it off!

4. Favorite zombie movies or shows?

Walking Dead of course 🙂 I also love 28 Days Later and The Girl with all the Gifts.

5. Do you have zombie apocalypse survival plans in real life?

Haha… I think, being in the UK and given how population dense we are, and how terrible our weather is, the best plan would be to hunker down for a few months in the house until the initial panic settled down. Nail up the windows, live in the attic. Playing dead 🙂

6. Your books take place in the UK. Is that where you’re based?

Yes, originally from Ireland, but live in England now. Up north.

7. Favorite book you’ve written?

Always the one I’m writing 🙂 I’ve loved every book I’ve written, but I could spend forever fine tuning, so there has to be a cut off. Once I reach that point it stops being my favorite and I turn my attention to the next novel.

8. Favorite books to read in your personal time?

I usually have two books going at once. There’s one for the evenings and downtimes – this is my fun read and I have no preferred genre; sci-fi, horror, crime thrillers, spy and political thrillers. Anything really! Then the second will be my finding-out-about-stuff read. This is for during the day; travelling on the train, a break at work. It could be scientific, self-improvement, spiritual, historical. A book that will hopefully teach me something.

My reading list is a few miles long – There’s not enough time in the world to read everything I want to!

9. What does a typical day of writing look like?

I wake up early, I get the train into the city. Once there, I get my latte, grab a seat and write in a mad flurry for about 30 mins. This will get me between 1000-1500 words depending on what flow I get into. I’ll then go to work, and if it’s not a gym day, I will go back to the cafe at lunch time and put in another 30min sprint.

I rarely get time in the evenings or weekends to write; spending time with my family takes precedence then.

So I will usually get in 1,000-3,000 words a day, five days a week. I’m always thinking about the current novel though. Building plot, the next character development, etc. By the time I sit down to write, I should know exactly what’s going to happen.

10. Do you write on a schedule or write when inspiration strikes?

On schedule. It has to be. Two reasons – 1. I have so little time in my life that without rigidly imposing a schedule I would never find the time to write. 2 – Habit. There has to be habit. So even when I feel like the last thing I want to do is write, I sit down and write, as my whole physiology is expecting it. Inspiration turns up usually a few minutes into my writing. Good books on this topic, if you are interested, are The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, the War of Art by Steven Pressfield, and On Writing by Stephen King. Habit and structure are VITAL aspects of my writing.

11. Any writing vices? Coffee, tea, chocolate, whisky, etc?

A large latte :)

12. You have many varied characters/character groups. Are they based off people in your real life?

I would say my characters are an amalgamation of people that I know, have known, and even people I know from fiction, either film or literature. I usually start off with an idea of who a character is, and how they will develop. Invariably, however, the character starts to take a life of their own as they get drawn into the story – they start making their own decisions, going to places I don’t want them to, and generally making a mockery of any plotting I’ve done!

13. Is there any specific character you root for or see yourself in?

As I mentioned, the characters change and develop and usually end up very different from how I  originally envisaged them. So a character who was meant to have a particular story arc and development, may end up taking an entirely different path. Example – Sergeant Crowe from The Fall series was only meant to be a minor character without about a page of screen time. His nihilistic toughness kept him going though, and he ended up being one of my favourite characters.

14. Favorite things to do outside of writing?

Lifting weights, surfing, snowboarding, and spending time with my family.

15. Hardest part about writing?

Making myself sit down to write is the first hurdle – hence why habit is so important! And then, the few minutes whilst I set up my laptop, open up the file, etc. is time enough for a million thoughts of failure to rush through my head. I need to get writing as quickly as possible, and trust that flow will arrive.

16. Advice for new or inspiring authors?

I would still class myself as an aspiring author! So I guess any advice would be what I tell myself each day – Just sit down and write. The rest of the stuff will become clear as time goes on and the pages build up. Just keep it simple – sit down and write.

17. Any upcoming works or plans?

I am 60,000 words into a new horror thriller, the working title is Dark Island. I hopefully will have the first draft finished within a month if I keep to schedule. And no zombies in this one 🙂

Now that you know a little more about Cross and his inspirations, check out his Amazon page HERE, his website HERE, and follow him on Twitter HERE.

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Love in the Air

Guess what readers…I’m back! It’s Sarah. I’ve been gone for awhile as work and moving took over my life. Now that things have calmed down, I’m back to help Kelsey find the best books to keep your interest. And today, I have just the one for you.

While I know Halloween and spooks are in the air but I want to talk about love instead. A little while ago, we talked about Love on the Sound. It’s a book about a woman moving to a small town. It’s a very Gilmore Girlesque place and book two is out and FREE. That’s right ladies, it’s free. Click HERE to check it out

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Rating- 5/6 Glass Slippers

Heat Level- ♥♥♥♥

The book stars Nell and Adrian. Nell is a pilot, she wears leather, has short pixie hair, and prefers a one night stand to a romantic dinner. Of course, she does have one true love, or someone she thought was her one true love. While she loves the excitement of the mystery man, she’s begun to wonder what it might be like to sit across the breakfast table from a man, instead of sneaking out before the light of day. So she’s decided to talk to that true love and tell him exactly how she feels. But it doesn’t go well. And now, she needs a night of sin to forget the pain of the lose. However, she chose the worst possible partner…her love’s best friend.

Adrian is tall, dark, and handsome. He’s an artist who works on sculptures. In case you were wondering, that means he’s good with his hands. And he speaks Spanish. All I’m picturing is waking up in a fabulous studio apartment, looking across the room and seeing a shirtless and muscular man forming a work of art, before he makes love to you while whispering dirty, dirty things in your ear in Spanish.

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Okay, we should get back to the book because scenes like that actually take place. Adrian looks at Nell and sees the person his best friend considers a sister. But he also sees legs he wants wrapped around his waist, pouted lips he’s eager to kiss, and enough sex appeal to power a small city…like Lopez Island.

Of course, she’s afraid of commitment, he knows he’s risking a friendship, and there’s this whole nothing stays secret in a small town thing threatening to ruin everything. So what do they do? Well, I know, read it to find out.

I fell in love with this town when I read the first book so I was very excited when Jamie Matthews contacted me about this review. What’s nice is she keeps you updated on the other characters, while not making the whole book about the side characters. I also enjoyed the difference in the main characters. The female lead from this book is completely different than book 1 which is something I am always nervous about when I read sequels. Nell is lovely, and I did enjoy her, but Adrian stole the show. He is sex on a stick, caliente, if you know what I mean. As someone who speaks Spanish, I enjoyed the bit of Spanish in there. It was pretty formal Spanish, so I did expect it to be more casual in the scenes where it was used. However, it still fit.

This is a hot book, with hot scenes, and hot characters. Prepare yourself. Maybe use a fan, some cold lemonade, a freezing shower…whatever you gotta do to get through the book. But when you do, you’ll enjoy it.

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As always, you can find my books on Amazon. Interested in New Adult romance…

Click HERE

 

Thrice to Thine

  • Y’all, the lovely Meredith Stoddard is back with the third book in her Once & Future series. I’ll try to keep this spoiler free, but I highly recommend you read all the books in her spellbinding collection. Interested? Take a peek at her Amazon page HERE to snag the whole series. So, without any more introduction, here’s my review of Thrice to Thine.
    • Heat Level: ❤️❤️
      Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Romantic, Mystery
      Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

    Sarah has been looking for answers to her family’s secrets for years. Yet the more she searches, the more tangled they become. She doesn’t have much to work with, only her grandmother’s stories and some folklore. Luckily, she still has Dermot to help her, although he never thought he’d see her again, being with him is still a major distraction to her work, and his coworker Kirstie is less than hospitable to “the American.”

    More than anything, Sarah wants to find out what happened to her mother in the mysterious village in Scotland. Between a diary and some hazy dreams, she needs something more tangible, and her supernatural gift isn’t much help. She wants to tell Dermot about her abilities, but fears what would happen it came into the hands of James Stuart, who is growing a little too close for comfort. She can almost grasp the answers, but someone else may find them first.

    Ugh, book three and I still have so many questions! Poor Sarah may never find what she’s looking for, but I have hope that Stoddard will put me out of my misery in book four! At least I hope she does, because just like Sarah, I can almost taste the answers.

    The writing, as always, is simple, yet vivid. You really get a proper feeling for Scotland, between the stone buildings, rolling hills, and perfect Gaelic, it’s a picturesque view of an imperfect situation that has been decades in the making. I also enjoyed learning more about Sarah and Dermot, really diving into their backgrounds to get to the root of what draws them together. Overall, I suggest any fan of mysteries and fantasies should pick up this amazing series.