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WILLIAM MEIKLE

Genre Fiction

My 2018 writing round up

It’s been an up and down year on the writing front. Mostly up.

On the negative side, my hopes for my Sigils and Totems mythos have died a slow death with both the longer works, Songs of Dreaming Gods and The Boathouse failing to make much of an impression on either readers or sales. I’ve recently sold a couple of short stories utilizing the framework, and I think that’s where the idea will find its home in the future.

On a brighter note my Victoriana collection, The Ghost Club, came out just before Christmas last year, got me some of the best reviews of my career, and sold steadily in the first half of the year. It failed to live up to my hopes of maybe making a mark in the Years’ Best anthos but as that’s a hope I have every year that has never yet come to fruition, it’s nothing new 🙂 Ellen Datlow mentioned it in dispatches as ‘entertaining’ in her Years Best summing up, so that’s something.

The second half of the year saw my novel The Green and the Black come out and while it hasn’t set the world on fire, sales are at least steady, and reviews positive.

But by far the highlight of the year has been the wee sweary Scottish squaddies of the S-Squad. People have taken them to their heart, and the whole series is selling steadily, especially in ebook. I wrote 2 at the back end of 2017, and 4 this year, and I have so much fun with them I’ll be doing more in 2019 if Severed Press will have them. #6, Operation: Syria, has been delivered to Severed Press along with some possible ideas for more, so fingers crossed.

Of the other stuff in the pipe, I have a fourth Carnacki collection, The Keys to the Door, coming up from Dark Regions Press, and several stories in anthologies with big name writers coming up. I’ve got a historical fantasy trilogy done with a co-writer, of which more news anon, the possibility of more German language editions of my work to come, and several more audiobooks coming down the line.

Having turned 60 in January I thought I might slow down. That might still happen. But not yet. 2018 proved to be my best year financially of the last 5. Here’s to 2019 bringing more of the same.

Onward.

Publications in 2018

Longer works

  • Operation: Loch Ness / Severed Press
  • Operation: Amazon / Severed Press
  • Operation: Siberia/ Severed Press
  • Operation: Antarctica / Severed Press
  • The Green and The Black / Crossroad Press
  • The Boathouse / Crossroad Press

Audiobooks

  • The Dunfield Terror / Crossroad Press
  • Eldren: The Book of the Dark / Gryphonwood Press

Anthology appearances

  • Tumshie / Halloween Haunts / Dark Regions Press
  • Nocturnes and Lacunae / Transmissions From Punktown / Dark Regions Press
  • Carnacki: The Keys to the Door / Nightland Quarterly / Nightland (in Japanese)
  • The Root of All Things / By the Light of Camelot / EDGE Publishing
  • Carnacki: Bats in the Belfry / Tails of Terror / Golden Goblin Press
  • The Midnight Eye: Farside / Occult Detective Quarterly Presents / Ulthar Press
  • Leader of the Pack / In Dog We Trust / Black Shuck Books

 

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My writing process

I’m a sixty-something Scotsman, now living in Newfoundland, a graduate of Glasgow University, in Botany, after which I had a career in IT in London, Aberdeen and Edinburgh before I came over here to write full time.

I grew up on a council estate in a west coast of Scotland town where you were either unemployed or working in the steelworks, and sometimes both. Many of the townspeople led hard, miserable lives of quiet and sometimes not so quiet desperation

When I was at school my books and my guitar were all that kept me sane in a town that was going downhill fast. The local steelworks shut and unemployment was rife. The town suffered badly. I -could- have started writing about that, but why bother? All I had to do was walk outside and I’d get it slapped in my face. That horror was all too real.

So I took up my pen and wrote. At first it was song lyrics, designed (mostly unsuccessfully) to get me closer to girls.

I tried my hand at a few short stories but had no confidence in them and hid them away. And that was that for many years.

I didn’t get the urge again until I was past thirty and trapped in a very boring job. My home town had continued to stagnate and, unless I wanted to spend my whole life drinking (something I was actively considering at the time), returning there wasn’t an option.

But my brain needed something to do apart from write computer code, and fiction gave it what was required. That point, back more than twenty five years ago now, was like switching on an engine, one that has been running steadily ever since.

Back in the very early ’90s I had an idea for a story… I hadn’t written much of anything since the mid-70s at school, but this idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I had an image in my mind of an old man watching a young woman’s ghost. That image grew into a story, that story grew into other stories, and before I knew it I had an obsession in charge of my life.

So it all started with a little ghost story, “Dancers”; one that ended up winning a prize in a national ghost story competition, getting turned into a short movie, getting read on several radio stations, getting published in Greek, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew, and getting reprinted in The Weekly News in Scotland. ( You can read it now in my SAMURAI And Other Stories collection from Crystal Lake Publishing )

Since then I’ve sold over 300 short stories in 13 countries to a wide variety of paying markets and I’ve had 30 novels published in the horror and fantasy genre presses, with more coming over the next few years.

The biggest influences on my particular style of writing would have to be the reading I did as a teenager in Kilbirnie in the early-seventies, before Stephen King and James Herbert came along. I graduated from Superman and Batman comics to books and I was a voracious reader of anything I could get my hands on; Conan Doyle, Alistair MacLean, Michael Moorcock, Nigel Tranter and Louis D’Amour all figured large. Pickings were thin for horror apart from the Pan Books of Horror and Dennis Wheatley, which I read with great relish. Then I found H P Lovecraft and things were never quite the same.

Mix that with TV watching of Thunderbirds, Doctor Who, the Man From Uncle, Lost in Space and the Time Tunnel, then later exposure on the BBC to the Universal monsters, 50s scifi and creature features and the Hammer vampires and you can see where it all came from. Oh, and there was Quatermass. Always Quatermass.

I also grew up in a storytelling environment – my granddad, dad and their cronies down the local pub, my gran, mum and a whole squad of aunties and cousins sitting around drinking tea in gran’s house, and me and my mates vying to scare each other in the local woodlands, rivers, ruined castles and disused factories. It all comes together like a finished jigsaw when I start writing.

Probably as a result of consuming a lot of film and TV media, for me ideas come visually at first, I have a notebook in which I jot them down. It tends to be full of fragmentary pieces of information such as “Remember the fat man with the umbrella”, but it is enough to jog my memory later on.

For me it’s mainly inspiration. I wouldn’t write at all if the ideas didn’t present themselves in my head. I find I get a lot of ideas clamoring for attention all at once. I write them down in a notebook that never leaves my side, and sometimes one of them gathers a bit more depth, and I get a clearer image. At this stage I find myself thinking about it almost constantly, until a plot, or an ending, clarifies itself.

Once I’ve written down where the story should be going it quietens down a bit. Then, if I find myself still thinking about it a couple of days later, I’ll probably start writing the actual story. At any given time I have about 20 ideas waiting for clarity, two or three of which might end up as finished works.

That’s the inspiration bit. Soon after that I hear them all in my head, like actors reciting lines, or people telling me stories. Having that kind of auditory hallucination can be a curse when you’re trying to get to sleep, but it’s great for me as a writer, as I just listen, and write it down. At least, that’s how it feels sometimes, when it’s going well. The voices in my writing are also the voices of my favorite entertainments – Victorian Britain, hard boiled detectives, Scottish history, mad scientists, sword wielding barbarians and gibbering Lovcraftian entities, all shouting to be heard. The ones who shout the loudest are the ones that get written down.

At this stage, some people like to have a plan.I’m not one of them.

I’ve tried writing outlines, both for short stories and novels, but I’ve never stuck to one yet. My fingers get a direct line to my mojo and I continually find myself being surprised at the outcome. Thanks to South Park, I call them my “Oh shit, I’ve killed Kenny” moments, and when they happen, I know I’m doing the right thing.

That’s the inspiration part.

There is also a certain amount of perspiration, especially in writing a novel. But I find if it feels too much like work, I’m heading in the wrong direction and it usually ends up in the recycle bin.

And, yes, there’s a certain degree of desperation in that I want to get better, to make the big sale, to see my name in lights, all that happy stuff. But I try not to think about that too much. 🙂

At the first draft stage, the most important thing you can do is sit on your rear-end at a table and write. It doesn’t matter what medium you use, pen and paper, word processor, charcoal or crayon. Get the idea out of you and onto something else. Only then can you sit back and look at it without passion.

I generally start about noon, having spent the morning getting the chores / shopping / admin / pissing about on Facebook etc squared away. I sit at my laptop and write in bursts of about 300 words at a time punctuated with more visits over to Facebook and email and trips downstairs for coffee and biscuits. That goes on through the afternoon until teatime. After food I’m generally back at it for a couple more hours. I average, what with editing, deleting and rewriting, around 1300-1500 words a day. The day usually ends with us watching a movie or some old scifi series. I used to have regular breaks for guitar playing but that’s been curtailed quite a bit in recent years by the onset of a touch of arthritis in wrists and fingers. Luckily it’s not stopped me typing – yet.

Writers write. It’s who I am, it’s what I do.

December Newsletter

Details of my latest release, a Christmas giveaway, and general writing news in the newsletter this month.

My latest release: OPERATION: LOCH NESS has been out for a couple of weeks, and is picking up nice sales and reviews. It follows the survivors of the Scottish Special Forces squad from INFESTATION, OPERATION: ANTARCTICA, OPERATION: SIBERIA and OPERATION: AMAZON, home to Scotland, and a meeting with a legend.

Click on the image for details and buying links, or go straight to Amazon here

Please give me a hand with the launch, and retweet this Tweet. Make an old man very happy.

S-Squad are relieved to be home, and even an order to investigate animal mutilations at a local wildlife park does not seem like an onerous detail.

But things take a turn to the twilight zone all too quickly around the S-Squad, and even their homeland is not immune.

Something is feeding, ravenously, on animals, wildlife, and now people in the Scottish Highlands, and the trail leads to only one place, a place of legends, and the dark waters of Loch Ness.


In other news, S-Squad #6, which will be OPERATION: SYRIA, is well underway. Deserted ancient cities and temples, an ongoing war zone…and spiders. Big Spiders.

Speaking of the S-Squad, the series now has its own page on Amazon, so if you need to catch up, you can get them all in the one place in paperback or ebook at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

I’ve sold my older Scottish supernatural novella, THE AULD MITHER to Unnerving Press for a new print and ebook edition, coming in February.


Three lucky winners will get 6 William Meikle eBooks for Christmas

Click on the image for details

 


I have a large back catalog of 30 novels, 12 novellas and 9 story collections still in print and/or ebook and 16 audiobooks with more coming, so I hope you’d find something to take your fancy. Every month from now on, I’ll pick one and feature it here as a teaser.

FEATURED BOOK OF THE MONTH

Click on the image for details

 

 



 

CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY

Three lucky winners will each get all six of the ebooks listed.

Use the form HERE to sign up for my newsletter and then
retweet a tweet or follow me on Bookbub.

All activities get you points, and points mean prizes!

The draw will be made on Christmas Day.

 

Newsflash: Operation Loch Ness Launches

New today: OPERATION: LOCH NESS follows the survivors of the Scottish Special Forces squad from INFESTATION, OPERATION: ANTARCTICA, OPERATION: SIBERIA and OPERATION: AMAZON, home to Scotland, and a meeting with a legend.

Click on the image for details and buying links, or go straight to Amazon here

Please give me a hand with the launch, and retweet this Tweet. Make an old man very happy.

S-Squad are relieved to be home, and even an order to investigate animal mutilations at a local wildlife park does not seem like an onerous detail.

But things take a turn to the twilight zone all too quickly around the S-Squad, and even their homeland is not immune.

Something is feeding, ravenously, on animals, wildlife, and now people in the Scottish Highlands, and the trail leads to only one place, a place of legends, and the dark waters of Loch Ness.

 


 

A Relationship With an Old Lady

I mentioned my time in London earlier this week. Here’s something I prepared earlier, that originally appeared on my pal Steve Lockley’s blog last year.

I went to London to seek my fortune, or rather, to follow a woman, back in early 1982. My relationship with the Old Lady proved to be the healthier one of the two, a love affair that I still carry with me even though it lasted less than ten years.

For the first few months I was living and working outside the main city while making forays into the museums, cinemas and pubs of the city center at weekends. But the love only came after I started working in the old city itself. I got a job in a converted warehouse in Devonshire Square near Liverpool Street Railway Station. My desk looked out over Petticoat Lane Market, my lunchtime wanderings took me to the curry cafes of Brick Lane and the bars of Whitechapel in the footsteps of the Ripper. I was supporting computer systems down in the financial sector, and my wanderings down there took me to Bank and Monument, to indoor markets and gorgeous old pubs, to tiny churches and cemeteries hidden away in courtyards, and across the river, to Borough Market and even older pubs, like The George and The Market Porter. If you’re after a true whiff of old London, there’s few finer places to seek it.

A few years later we moved office to Farringdon Road and more old markets, Guardian journalists in the pubs and forays into the area between there and Euston. Then we settled in High Holborn which for me meant Skoob Bookshop, the British Museum and yes, more pubs, in the Victorian splendor of The Princess Louise, the high gothic weirdness of The City of Yorke and many more, including forays down to Fleet Street for some Dickensian musings in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, the Strand for The George and the Coal Hole under The Savoy for some slices of theatrical history, and many other bars, too numerous to mention or too lost to memory in alcoholic poisoning of the brain cells.

For a while London got into my soul. I got able to find my way around from just about anywhere inside the M25, I lived south of the river in Bromley, Beckenham and Ladywell, where I discovered that the flat I’d bought didn’t just have a bogeyman in the stairwell, but that the Old Lady’s Well bubbled up in the cellar, to my eventual enormous financial cost, But at least I got to know the similarly drunken patrons of a variety of night buses after concerts or drinking sessions during my time there.

London is indeed a fine old city. Almost, but not quite, the equal of Edinburgh or Glasgow in my heart. My real love for it came from not just the place, but from the people I met there. I met many Londoners, but I also met people from all over the UK, people from India, Pakistan, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Poland, Greece, Turkey and many other far flung spots. I made great friends and a lot of them are still friends today, 35 years on. We spent many happy hours in those aforementioned old bars, telling each other stories. They heard mine, and I heard theirs, and the telling of them bound, and binds us in friendship all across the globe to this day. That’s been better than any fortune to me over the years.

Towards the end of my time in the Old Lady, I met my wife there too, in another of the old bars, and our courtship was spent over beer, curries, film and theatre around Covent Garden and in the West End.

We left London for Scotland in 1991, but the Old Lady came with me, in my friends and, eventually, in my own writing. When I started to drift into writing Victoriana, it was London that called loudest to me, from Baker Street and Cheyne Walk, from Whitechapel to Embankment and yes, from bar to bar, Charringtons IPA, Fullers London Pride, Young’s Special and all.

November Newsletter

A bargain book today, general writing news in the newsletter this month.

My book of late Victorian ghost and science fiction tales as written by the greats is only 99c on AMAZON for a few days as part of the Crystal Lake Publishing Halloween promotion, so get in quick if you want a read in the old-fashioned style.

If you feel like giving me a hand, please retweet –> this Tweet and make an old man very happy.

‘The Ghost Club is a massively ambitious anthology of stories ‘by’ classic authors as imagined by the extremely talented William Meikle. Massively entertaining, too.’Simon Clark, author of the award winning The Night of the Triffids

There are a number of solid reasons to add The Ghost Club to your reading list. For example, you love a good ghost story, or maybe you’ve read and enjoyed Meikle’s Carnacki tales, or perhaps you’re a fan of Victorian terror, or maybe you just enjoy a good read. Whatever your reason, happy reading.CEMETERY DANCE

 


In other news, I signed a contract with Dark Regions Press for my 4th CARNACKI collection, THE KEYS TO THE DOOR and Other Stories

I’ve delivered OPERATION: LOCH NESS, #5 in my S-Squad series. to SEVERED PRESS and signed a contract for #6, which will be OPERATION: SYRIA. Deserted ancient cities and temples, an ongoing war zone…and spiders. Big Spiders.

I got interviewed for the local paper here about horror, writing, and horror writing if you’re interested.

 


 

I have a large back catalog of 30 novels, 12 novellas and 9 story collections still in print and/or ebook and 16 audiobooks with more coming, so I hope you’d find something to take your fancy. Every month from now on, I’ll pick one and feature it here as a teaser.

FEATURED BOOK OF THE MONTH

Click on the image for details

 

 



Onward and Upward – Captain’s Log

With OPERATION: LOCH NESS finished and delivered to Severed Press, and OPERATION: SYRIA set up as my winter project, I’ll have written six of these S-Squad books in two years.

And I’m still having fun. After the disappointments of DarkFuse and Dark Renaissance going under, and the fact that my Sigils and Totems idea hasn’t grabbed many of you the way it grabbed me, fun is exactly what was needed.

I was in a funk for a bit, a combination of life circumstances, turning 60, the afore mentioned publishers closing, and having a few hits to my confidence at once, but I’m slowly coming out of it, thanks in the main to the S-Squad lads, and the fact that THE GREEN AND THE BLACK is being well received, as was THE GHOST CLUB earlier in the year.

A look at what’s in the pipe also cheered me up.

Coming up I have:

  • Operation: Loch Ness – Severed Press
  • Operation: Syria – Severed Press
  • Carnacki: The Keys to the Door collection – Dark Regions Press

On the shorter work, there’s a bunch of anthology appearances (I just need one of these to take me over 100 in the ‘wall’ )

  • Operation Severn / Prehistoric / Severed Press
  • Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation / Tales from Arkham Asylum/ Dark Regions Press
  • Blacktop / I Am The Abyss / Dark Regions Press
  • Tumshie / Halloween Haunts / Dark Regions Press
  • Nocturnes and Lacunae / Transmissions From Punktown / Dark Regions Press
  • Something for the Weekend? / Voices in the Darkness / Ulthar Press
  • Into the Light / Their Coats All Red / 18th Wall Productions
  • The Color From The Deep / Summer of Lovecraft / TBA
  • Carnacki: Bats in the Belfry / Tails of Terror / Golden Goblin Press

Before Operation: Syria, I’ve got a couple of stories to write for anthology invitations, and a nice new invite just came in this morning.

Plus there’s a historical fantasy trilogy I’ve been working on with another (much more famous than me) writer, my first full-length collaboration, and it’s getting near to be done. More on that as and when I can.

So although I was thinking things aren’t that great, counting my blessings, and writing this down, has done the trick.

Onward and upward!

Newfoundland and Me

Newfoundland is worming its way more and more into my soul, and out again in my writing.

When I started writing in the ’90s in Scotland most of my stories were set either there, or in London where I spent the ’80s. I appear to need to be tied to a sense of place for work to come easily. With Newfoundland, the ties fell into place naturally.

We came over on holiday in 2005, primarily on a whale watching trip to Trinity, and fell in love immediately with the area. There is much here that reminds me of home, in both the maritime landscape, and the warmth of the people, and although they’re mostly of Irish descent around here, I felt an immediate kinship with their stories of ekeing a living out of a harsh sea, as it’s something my own family have much experience of on the opposite side of the same ocean.

When my IT job in Edinburgh went tits-up in 2007, I’d had just about enough of working for the man after 25 years of wearing a suit and commuting into busy cities, having worked in London, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. I talked to my wife, Sue, about the possibility of downsizing totally, and it was just when I was starting to get some serious pro-level story sales. We knew from our holiday that we could get a nice house with a great view dirt cheap (compared to Scottish prices ) over here on The Rock. So we sold up in Scotland, whacked some money in the bank, bought a house on the shore here, and I tried writing full time. I’ve not starved us yet, more than ten years down the line.

We chose Catalina, a fishing town up on the Bonavista Peninsula. It’s a long way from any kind of night life, bookshops or cinemas, but it’s not quite in the middle of nowhere. We have roads, a post office, a supermarket and some takeaway places. We even have running water and electricity. The people are very friendly, as I said earlier, mostly of Irish descent around here, and it’s lovely and quiet, which suits me just fine.

The local accent here is very strong, and strange on the ear at first, but I’ve come to understand most of the people well enough, although there are still a few old timers in the town who leave me completely baffled, and we communicate mainly by smiles, hand-gestures, and nods of the head.

We have an open view across a wide bay, the opening of which is out onto the Atlantic, we have whales out there, moose and bear in the hills, bald eagles overhead and squirrels in the garden, as well as the ever shifting moods of the bay itself. It’s not a bad way to live.

It also seems to suit my writing. As I said earlier, the ties to the landscape fell into place quickly. The third Derek Adams book, THE SKIN GAME was stalled in its opening act back in Scotland and I hadn’t been able to get past a blockage, but that first winter after we got here I realised that if I could come to Newfoundland, then Derek, The Midnight Eye and protagonist, could come here too. After that the rest of that one fell quickly into place and a pack of Scottish werewolves howled at the moon under a Newfoundland sky.

After that I wrote a handful of short stories set on The Rock, testing the waters as I let the place seep into my soul. It’s got its hooks deep in me now. My home will always be Scotland, but The Rock has my heart and soul on loan in the meantime.

Since those early short stories I’ve been exploring various parts of the island and its culture in my novels. THE DUNFIELD TERROR takes place around Trinity, where I spent my first year here working on a whale tour boat, FUNGOID takes place in the island capital St. Johns, and also up this peninsula where I live while SONGS OF DREAMING GODS is set in a corner townhouse in St. John’s again. THE BOATHOUSE is set here in our home port of Catalina, and my latest, THE GREEN AND THE BLACK, is set in a derelict Victorian mining colony in the island’s interior.

There will be more, as I haven’t covered the whole glorious gamut of this place yet.

And I still need to get a moose in somewhere.

If you’re at all intrigued by any of this, check out the books I’ve mentioned. You never know, you might fall in love with the place too.

fungoidad

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