Guy Burtenshaw wrote a unique, intriguing story for the anthology. It’s always nice to read a story in which things aren’t what they seem. We hope you enjoy the interview with Guy as much as we did.
1. At what age did you write your first story?
I started writing my first book at the age of ten. It was science fiction set on an imaginary planet, but I never got beyond a few hundred words. I did not complete my first novel until I was sixteen, and that was a story about a vampire set during the nineteenth century. That is a story that has been put away and is unlikely, just like the main character in the story, to ever see the light of day, but completing my first novel pushed me on to write further novels. My next book titled Ring Of Tabor got a bit out of control and went to 240,000 words. To date it is my best selling book followed closely by The Tale Of The Keeper, a tale of horror from beneath the streets of London.
2.Where have you been published?
I have published several novels through a small publisher, but I have also had short stories published in Dark Eclipse, Schlock! Webzine, and several anthologies published by James Ward Kirk Publishing. I currently have several short stories being considered by publishers.
I have only this year (2013) started publishing short stories having previously concentrated on novels, but it has allowed me to experiment with ideas and write stories that would otherwise have remained locked away in my mind forever.
The plan was to take a break from writing novels, but I’ve found that each time I complete a short story I have an idea for another, so I’m writing more now than I ever was before.
3. What is your favorite genre to write?
My favourite genre to write has always been horror. When I was much younger I always stayed up late on Saturday nights to watch the horror films showing at midnight. They were usually Hammer films or old black and white films such as Night of The Demon or Boris Karloff or Vincent Price classics. Later I was inspired to write horror by writers such as James Herbert and Ramsey Campell.
I particularly like ghost stories, but writing a good ghost story that is genuinely scary is not easy, and it is a rare thing to find a ghost story, even by established writers, that can make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, send shivers down your spine and keep you awake all night.
4. Tell us about your story in the Scared Spitless anthology.
The story is about a person living in the countryside and employed to reduce the vermin population on an old country estate. He tracks the source of the vermin to an ancient small walled cemetery, but what he discovers there is something truly terrifying, and he quite literally has a life changing experience. I will not say any more for those that are yet to read the story.
5. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I realized that I wanted to be a writer from a very early age probably for the wrong reasons. I saw a program on the television about someone who wrote short formula books for a publisher. They could write a book every two weeks, and when I saw the size of the house they lived in, I decided that was what I wanted. Of course, I soon realized that if money is the main motivation, nothing would ever get written. Writing is something that you have to love doing because, other than occasional praise or dismissal, the financial rewards exist only for the very few.
6. Do you view your writing as a career or hobby?
I haven’t made much money out of writing, so I can’t call it a career but, hopefully, one day, it will become a career. I would love nothing more than to share my views of my current daytime employment with my employer, but until the day comes when I can afford to share those views, I keep working days, writing nights and filing those standard responses from literary agencies away so that they can be reminded when I one day sell a million copies.
7. What inspired the story that will be in the Scared Spitless anthology?
There are a lot of large old mansions in the area where I live hidden away in secluded areas at the end of narrow lanes or surrounded by woods, and when I saw a small walled burial ground along one of those long narrow lanes, the idea for the story formed. There was an old iron gate secured with a padlock, and the graves inside looked ancient. There was a small leaflet attached to the gate with a brief history of the family that had once lived in the lane and were buried beneath the tombs. With nothing but the sound of crows as background noise and a narrow deserted lane meandering through an ancient wood it is a creepy place even in the daytime.
8. How do you stay motivated?
My motivation is the fact that I enjoy writing and, although it can be very tiring writing nights and working days, like entering the lottery, there is always the chance, however remote, that one day I may get lucky and write a bestseller and be able to afford to write full time. Sometimes I think, why not take a chance and just write full time anyway, and maybe one day I will listen to that voice in my head that keeps telling me to just do it.
9. Do your stories contain inspiration from real life?
I get most inspiration from places that I have visited. I have been lucky enough to have traveled to, and lived in, some very interesting places. The south east of England is full of many old and mysterious places, isolated hamlets, bleak uninhabited coastline, dark woods and an abundance of haunted houses and castles both complete and in various states of ruin.
10. Would you like to share a bit about your current work in progress?
About a year ago I thought I would try something different, and I started writing a murder mystery novel, which I have recently completed. I only planned to write about fifty thousand words, but the story came to me easier than I had expected, and it ended up being over a hundred thousand words. I wrote the book in a way that will hopefully be enjoyed by a wider audience than the horror genre. Writing the book was easy. Writing the synopsis is proving to be much harder. This is a book that I feel needs to be published by a large publisher. Once the synopsis has been completed, all I need to do is find a publisher that has as much confidence in the book as I do. Easier said than done, but I live in hope. If it takes off, I may write further murder mysteries but, in the meantime, I will return to the world of horror.