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The most terrifying thing I can think of is being alone - and I mean utterly alone, like no one else in the world alone - at night. That's the nucleus of the first story in my collection and it's also where the title came from for the book.
As for goals, I don't set myself those anymore. I'm not one of these 'I must have achieved this and that by next year' kind of writers. I take things as they come and find that patience and persistence tend to win out in the end.
I love a good laugh as well, I think that's so important in life, which is probably why I've dabbled in comedy writing as well as horror. I think if you can make someone laugh or smile it's the most special thing in the world.
Writing can be a very solitary business. It's you sat at a desk typing words into a computer. It can get lonely sometimes and lots of writers live quite isolated lives.
Because I'm such a creative person, and I've always got my nose in a book, I suppose it was only a matter of time before non-fiction turned into fiction again. But I never consciously set out to become a writer and I never thought I'd be doing the things I'm doing today.
I'm fortunate in that I'm a lecturer too and this gets me out and about and away from the computer. I also have loads of friends all around the world, plus a core group of special people in my life that I can lean on, chat to, or just hang with.
I also paint, draw and I'm into film and photography as well, and the same thing applies to all of them. You're presenting this material to the general public and hoping that they're going to 'get' what you're doing. Some don't, some do.
I've had a lot of very positive feedback about those stories, and seem to have struck upon something that most people feel. I can also tap dance, and don't know many other authors who can.
I don't know anyone who actually likes the dark or night-time. I don't care how much they say it doesn't bother them. That's why we used to huddle in caves and light fires when the sun went down.
My most intimate secrets? Well, if I told you those they wouldn't be secrets now, would they? Seriously though I don't have too many secrets. I'm a very open and honest person, sometimes too honest for my own good.
For English assignments I was constantly coming up with these strange adventure stories... But I actually wanted to be an artist, or maybe work in the comic book industry.
This sort of encouragement is vital for any writer. And lastly the publication of Touching the Flame, which was on hold for two years and went through a few publishers before finding a stable home.
Unlike life, you've got more or less complete control over what's going on in your stories. That's not to say you can make characters do whatever you want them to - they usually have a life of their own if you've done your job properly.
It was relatively easy to write 'The Cave of Lost Souls', though, because it came to me one night in a dream. I remember waking up and having this idea for a complete story - from start to finish - in my head, so I jotted it down, then later began writing the thing.
Sometimes I'll hear a phrase or a word and write it down in my little black notebook (a writer's best mate), then come back to it and work a plot around it.
I can look back at stuff I wrote in my early days and squirm at some of the mistakes I made. But we're all learning every day; we never stop. I just hope people keep on liking what I do. That gives me such a kick.
I sometimes wonder what would've happened if I'd entered the competition instead - I'd probably have come nowhere and given up on the whole fiction game.
Having said that, I'm a huge Jack Nicholson fan because he just goes nuts in everything he does. Having Jack in his heyday would also be a dream come true.
I believe that, like most writers, my personality comes through in the fiction. So in that respect my writing can't be like any other author's really.
I know it's popular to say this because she's the woman of the moment, but Halle Berry. Not only does she have obvious audience appeal and star quality, but she's a damn good actress too.
Some writers would be kinder than others, I'm sure. Hopefully they might describe my techniques as a mixture of tried and tested formulas - if it aint broke don't fix it - and unexpected twists.
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