Well as promised here is the first of the weirdly imagined Writer Interviews to give you a better opportunity to get to know the authors of the Masonic Plague just that little bit better. I must admit this has turned out just a tad bit more deranged than I even imagined it would so get yourself set with a nice brew and a biccie and enjoy the lunacy of my co-writer and best bud Anthony D Redden.
Q1. So Mr Redden as a sick and disturbed writer what would you say is your favourite fish and why?
I’m not entirely sure where this line of questioning is going, and I can honestly say I was neither expecting this as an opening question, nor have I ever been asked it before. I have a feeling that somewhere hidden in there is an underlying question that you will judge me on, but whilst I fail to identify it I shall simply answer cake. My answer is fish cake. I guess that is cod, but then you can never know for sure. I like it because it tastes nice, whilst in general I’m not a huge fish fan. However, and you may or may not know this, but I am pretty much terrified of whales. I know not technically a fish but lets be honest, they are kind of big fish. I’ve had a lifelong fear of massive sea creatures, specifically whales, but come to think of it I guess sharks also or in fact anything with the potential to eat me. More specifically though is the deep rooted fear of being cast adrift at sea and whilst bobbing along helplessly upon my raft or even worse, not on my raft, having a whale swim up to me. Just the knowledge that the big brute was there is enough to shift my bowels. Refer to the scene in Castaway with Tom Hanks and that is pretty much my worst nightmare. So although, that actually is the complete opposite answer to what you asked, my answer is fishcakes because they are as far removed from being afloat at sea surrounded by whales as possible.
Q2. As we all know when Walt Disney wasn’t courting young men and trying on strange glass slippers he was an avid horror fan. With that in mind which one of the 7 Dwarves would you be and why?
Okay I did not know that. I really must brush up on my Disney. I actually have a biopic at home that I’ve been meaning to watch for ages. Anyway, if I were to be one of the 7 dwarves I guess it would have to be grumpy. I am pretty much grumpy all the time. Not for any particular reason I think, except that the world is crazy and everyone in it is also crazy and they all drive me crazy with the crazy things they do. I don’t really like people as a rule, they do odd things that I find a constant struggle to deal with. So grumpy, although I am pretty much tired all the time also, so sleepy would come a close second.
Q3. Do you believe in ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night? Any strange experiences you’d like to share???
I do not believe in ghosts because they do not exist. That is what my logical and rational mind says. However I have seen a ghost. So go figure that one out, because I can’t. I have a creative colourful imagination which allows me to imagine all sorts of ghostly things and the afterlife and ghosts are a favourite of mine to tinker with. However I have not yet seen or heard anything that would allow me to believe such things are real. As I have said though I believe I have seen a ghost, maybe not even one but many, however one in particular encounter has stayed with me for years. Pull up a chair and put the kettle on and I shall impart my tale. Many years ago, whilst I was living in Bath, I worked in a 5 storey care home. Whilst on a sleep-in shift and during a period of half-sleep just as I was struggling to nod off, I suddenly became aware of a presence. The presence didn’t feel malicious or evil in any way, in fact it felt reassuring and loving. However, I also became aware that I could not move. I was lying in my bed and began to panic that I could not move, I couldn’t speak or call out, I couldn’t wriggle free. It was as if my whole body had become paralysed and all I could do was stare unblinking at the ceiling and scream in my head. This feeling soon passed as I realised that despite being incapacitated I was not actually scared. It was a weird feeling of being trapped yet safe. I could sense something in the room with me though, something floating. Out of the corner of my eye or could it have been in my minds eye? Either I suppose it didn’t matter, it was like continuing to see even when you cannot physically see beyond your line of vision. But a black smokey figure was floating above me and to the side just out of sight. The image is clear even now, even though I may have never actually seen it, but I saw it in my mind. The figure was a small baby dressed in flowing gown that floated and spread like smoke. The figure didn’t speak but I could sense exactly what it was communicating. It said for me to calm down, to not panic and to not be scared. That it was watching over me and it was with me. That it would always be with me and that it would guide and protect me. At that point I spoke in my mind that I was scared and it backed away and then dissipated. I then after a long amount of staring at that ceiling realised I could move again. Now I’m sure so many people would take elements of this story and rip it to shreds and quote all kinds of psychiatric mantra and theory, however I took from it what I have. To me it was real. As real as anything. Whether it actually was or not I don’t know. But it was weird and scared the crap out of me and haunts me to this day. This is just one of a few incidents that have left me questioning my own beliefs about the afterlife. This one felt the most personal though.
Q4. What’s the most unusual/frowned upon thing you’ve ever done in a graveyard?
I’m afraid despite spending a fair amount of time in the cemetery, I don’t really get up to much in them. I’ve spent many an hour taking photographs and visiting loved ones, however nothing that would really be frowned upon. I once had a family picnic in a cemetery amongst the headstones. The kids thought it was great and it was very peaceful. However I think the thing that creeped me out the most whilst in a graveyard was when the two of us were out late one night trying to capture some evp and other such things. When we eventually got home to examine the recordings, we found what I could have sworn were otherworldly voices trying to communicate. However after a briefly sleep, we found those voices to no longer be on the recording. Weird.
Q5. Within the contents of the book there is a rather graphic scene involving a little person, not a child but a dwarf. Is there some sort of latent fetish going on here that you might feel the need to share?
Q6. Bearing in mind that the plate of custard creams has now safely been removed from the room. What is the scariest experience you’ve ever had?
The scariest experience I ever had was when my youngest son fell and cracked his head whilst at a school disco. We took him to A&E as a precaution but en-route he began to lose consciousness and couldn’t speak. I know parents can be overprotective and perhaps over-dramatise what’s occurring but it genuinely scared me because I felt powerless and could do nothing. He ended up being absolutely fine though.
Q7. Favourite horror movie?
Wow. That is a hard question. I have spent a life watching horror movies and they are by far my favourite genre of film. To narrow down a favourite is impossible because there are so many different types of horror movie that I love for different reasons. Okay I shall make this easy on myself and write a list of 5 horror films I love. That way I get to include all sorts. This is in no particular order, just as they come to mind.
- The Thing. 1982 version with Kurt Russell. Absolutely brilliant.
- Saw. 2004. This film for me defined a new era of horror film making.
- 13 Ghosts. Both the 1960 and the 2001 version. William Castle is amazing.
- The fall of the house of usher. 1960. I grew up watching the old late night movies. This one starring Vincent Price was one of my favourites.
- I really liked the films Insidious 1 & 2, although they need to be watched back to back in order
for them to really shine. I think they work really well as a 2 parter.
Q8. It is a well regarded fact that writers tend to enjoy a tipple or two to encourage the creative juices to flow, what is your personal tipple of choice?
I have found over the years that my taste buds have changed and along with it what I can drink and stomach. Most recently I have found that I don’t actually drink much alcohol at all, and what little I have hasn’t always agreed with me. I think age brings with it longer hangovers and killer headaches. However, saying that I do like a Jack Daniels and coke. Or a nice bottle of red wine. The occasional lager is acceptable also. To be honest it really depends what kind of mood I’m in and whether I feel up to it or not. I find alcohol tends to enhance my current mood whatever it may be and as I’ve mentioned before I tend to be fairly grumpy, so that’s not a great mood to enhance. Grumpy x 2.
I find now though that if I’m writing away as I do sometimes, I am fuelled almost completely on coffee. I do like coffee and probably drink in excess of 6 mugs a day. Sometime substantially more if I’m doing the day job.
Q9. What is the silliest thing your imagination can come up with to do with a banana?
I once began writing a story that I named ‘Space monkey and the electric banana’. I have no idea where I was going with it or indeed what the monkey would do with the electric banana, but I’m sure it was all innocent, however that title has remained in the back of my mind even now maybe 20 years later. So maybe the silliest thing I could do with a banana is not write a story about it. Or maybe that’s the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Maybe one day we will find out.
Q10. As an opportunity at revenge for the questions directed at you today. Divulge a strange/embarrassing or simply unusual fact about your co-writer Jon Martin?
Okay, despite the fact that there is a list as long as the night is dark of strange/embarrassing things about my co-writer Jon, I shall share one very unusual and yet almost beautiful fact about him. He was born one year to the very day after my brother died. Maybe not a significant fact, but nether-the-less it has always made me feel close to him in a brotherly way, like there is some distant connection between his appearance and the leaving of my brother. I imagine their spirits high-fiving as they passed each other on their journeys, almost like a tag team.
Anyway that’s enough procrastination for today, I must now get back to editing the damn book.