This edition of My Interview With... is with horror author, William Cook. Author of the horror novel, Blood Related, and of numerous short stories and poems, William has also published two non-fiction book.
Below is William's bio and interview.
William Cook is a writer of the macabre (and non-fiction) from New Zealand, a small antipodean island group in the South Pacific. When not writing, he looks after two small daughters and designs book covers that are designed to scare the hell out of people. Having held down a multitude of jobs he brings to his writing a vast array of experience that translates to the page in the form of strange characters and situations that bleed horror. From slinging timber in lumber yards, cutting plastic film in a meat packaging company, making rat-poison and acid cleaning products, working on a prawn trawler in the Gulf of Carpenteria, selling ads, and teaching English in Korea, to name a few of the roles he has performed - being a starving writer seemed like a completely viable occupation. (Taken from William's website)
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was about twelve years old when I wrote a ‘wish-list’ of future careers in the back of my school note-book. At the top of my list was ‘best-selling author.’ So far, yet to reach best-selling status for longer than a couple of days but working on it.
What are you working on right now?
I’m very busy at the moment. I am just getting the final proofing done for a new, revamped edition of my anthology – ‘Fresh Fear,’ featuring authors such as Ramsey Campbell, Charlee Jacob, Jack Dann, JF Gonzalez and other great authors. I’m also working on the sequel to my debut novel, ‘Blood related’ – which should be finished by Christmas time. The follow up volume to my non-fiction book ‘Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors,’ will be at the formatters next week and should be available by mid-July. Along with these projects I’m a quarter of the way into my Master’s thesis, working title: ‘The Evolution of a Genre: the rise and rise of serial killer fiction.’
How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Not sure really – I try not to constantly compare or compete with other authors in my genre/s. I try and do the best I can within the genre I’m writing in and hope to distinguish myself with quality works, which are edited and formatted professionally, read well and that keep my readers coming back for more.
Why did you choose the genre you write in?
As mentioned above, I write in a few different genres. I basically write what I’d like to read myself. I have particular interests in horror, noir, poetry and non-fiction (i.e. entrepreneurial, literary analysis). I’m particularly enjoying writing non-fiction as there is no limit to what an author can write about and it provides me with plenty of inspiration for my fictional work. Sounds corny but I guess that my genre/s chose me.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Slightly erratic as I usually have two or three things going on at once. I find I work best in the morning after my breakfast coffee, usually with instrumental music on quietly in the background. I try and select music of the type that invokes a similar emotion or atmosphere to what I’m trying to capture on the page.
How much research do you do before and during a writing project?
A lot. I read a lot of books that deal with similar subject matter in order to write something a little bit different or interesting. I also spend a lot of time at the library researching things related to aspects of my stories. For example, when researching material for my novel, ‘Blood Related’ I read every non-fiction book about serial killers I could find. You can see the complete list here: https://bloodrelated.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/non-fiction-books-about-serial-killers/
How does your writing process work?
I usually brainstorm ideas around a central theme or basic plot-line before writing an outline. For me, the outline is important whether a short story or a longer work. If the story involves chapters, I outline each chapter with plot summary and character action and basic dialogue (if any). Either bullet points or rough sentences seem to work well when I go back and put together the first draft. I prefer to plan an outline most times but find that some of my best work just happens in a sort-of organic sense – no planning, or plotting – just writing.
Who are your writing influences?
If I read something I like it tends to influence my writing. At the moment I’m writing a novella that is heavily influenced by Karl Edward Wagner’s fantastic short story ‘Sticks’ and Robert Bloch’s ‘Notebook Found in a Deserted House.’ My main influences are other authors that I admire. Writers like Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, James Ellroy, Jim Thompson etc. The list is long, in fact I have compiled a blog-post on the subject that goes into a lot more detail here: http://www.williamcookwriter.com/2013/08/favorite-books-list.html
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Spending time with my family and friends mainly. I’m looking forward to summer as I would like to spend more time fishing and hiking.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Quiet often, usually the same loyal ones who like what I do. I get a real kick out of hearing from my readers and quite often run new stories past them before I publish to get feedback. The most common positive thing I hear about my writing is that it has a ‘poetic’ quality, which is unintended but nice to hear about via my readers. Probably the most important thing to me is that people who read my work enjoy it, or that it entertains them and transports them imaginatively. Without the readers, my writing would be of no consequence.