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WILLIAM MEIKLE

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DarkFuse

Q&A: What was your favorite story to write?

That’s always a difficult one, as it changes with my mood. But I think I nailed it most in two fairly recent novellas, BROKEN SIGIL, and TORMENTOR, both from DarkFuse.

BROKEN SIGIL was the start of what is growing into a personal vision of mine, a mythos surrounding haunted houses that’s now spun off into more novellas, novels and short stories and is still growing. Broken Sigil itself is a slice of modern noir concerning a cop, a dead, unfaithful wife, a murdered partner and an obsession with the movie The Maltese Falcon. I got a lot out of my system with that one, and emotionally I think it really works.

TORMENTOR is a rather more traditional haunted house tale, set on a remote Scottish highland lochside; a recently bereaved artist arrives looking for seclusion, but the house wants to communicate. Loudly. The idea of a communicating rhythm underlying the real world is also a personal thing for me, and in TORMENTOR I got to figure out the ideas as I went along, and even scared myself a bit in the process. Again, I said what I needed to say, and I think it works splendidly.

But ask me again tomorrow, I’ll probably choose something else, as THE DUNFIELD TERROR is also one where I think I nailed it. And FUNGOID…

Getting away from favorite to ‘most fun’, I always come back to my Scottish PI Derek Adams. The Midnight Eye is really just me in another reality, mooching my way around the streets of Glasgow, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and fighting the dark side. That’s my happy place.

 

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Coming up from me…

After a relatively quiet patch on the publications front, I’ve got a lot of material coming out in the rest of 2017 and through 2018.

On the longer works side I have the following:

  • Songs of Dreaming Gods, a Sigils and Totems novel from DarkFuse
  • The Boathouse, a Sigils and Totems novel from DarkFuse
  • Ramskull, a Hammer horror homage novel from DarkFuse
  • The Ghost Club, a Victorian supernatural short story collection from Crystal Lake Publishing
  • Carnacki: The Edinburgh Townhouse, a short story collection from the Lovecraft ezine imprint
  • The Job, a Sigils and Totems novella from DarkFuse
  • Deal or No Deal, a Midnight Eye novella from Gryphonwood Press

As for stories in anthologies, there’s these to look forward to:

  • The Root of All Things / By the Light of Camelot / EDGE Publishing
  • The Last Quest / Through a Mythos Darkly / PS Publishing
  • Blacktop / I Am The Abyss / Dark Regions Press
  • Nocturnes and Lacunae / Transmissions From Punktown / Dark Regions Press
  • Call and Response / The Arkham Detective Agency / Dark Regions Press
  • The Longdock Air / Shadows Over Main Street 2 / Cuttingblock Press
  • The Pied Piper of Providence / Once Upon An Apocalypse / Crystal Lake Publishing
  • Outposts / Further tales of Cthulhu Invictus / Golden Goblin Press
  • Tumshiehied / Between Twilight and Dawn / Golden Goblin Press
  • The Needs of the Many / The Stars at Our Door / April Moon
  • The Mouth of the Ness / Cryptid Clash / 18th Wall Productions
  • Carnacki: The Lusitania / Fearful Fathoms / Scarlet Galleon

There’s also a whole load of German Language editions of my books in the works at Blitz Verlag and Voodoo Press, with THE INVASION from Blitz Verlag being next in the pipeline.

So there’s that lot, a couple of secret projects I can’t talk about, and a load of other things currently out on submission. More than enough to keep me busy well through 2017 and past my 60th birthday in January.

If you want to keep up to date with publication dates and releases of the above, announcements will be made first on my newsletter.  ( there’s a free ebook of my HOME FROM THE SEA collection in it for you too if you sign up ).

Onward!

 

No retreat, no surrender.

I was tidying up my Facebook history and came across this, from Sep. 2008.. It seems I was going through something of an existential crisis with regards to my writing. These nine or more years later I can’t really remember feeling that low, but I suppose I must have been; I wrote this, after all…

I turned 50 this year. At the time, back in January, I though little of it, but slowly and steadily it’s been preying on me at the back of my mind.

It’s not that I mind getting older. Hell, I went mostly bald when I was 30, and grey when I was 40, so it’s not as if I didn’t see it coming.

No, what I mind is that I can hear the clock ticking. For most of my life until now I’ve been too busy living to notice, but I recently realised that my dreams and aspirations are no longer those of a young man looking ahead. They’re in danger of becoming the regrets of an old man looking back.

I still have the drive. I still want to write books, and have them read by a lot of people. But I’m wise enough to realise that the mass market deal I’ve been coveting is probably less rather than more likely to happen now. My view on life, tainted as it is by my experiences, is that of a middle aged man. Today’s fiction markets are full of youthful exuberance with their young fads I know little about and care even less.

The last novel rejection I had told me that I wrote well, but I needed more cultural references to connect with the readership demographic. I don’t know if I have the energy to try, never mind the will.

In two years time I’ll have been writing for twenty years. I’ve been asking myself, is a dozen pro story sales and a handful of small press novels enough for me? Can I lay down my pen, happy I did my best?

Or do I keep going, keep searching for that one sudden inspiration that will get me over the hump?

Truthfully, at the moment, I’m having trouble seeing a way forward.

I can still feel that clock ticking.

But if I’d given up then, I would have missed the best of my writing career so far. I wouldn’t have all the novel, novella and collection sales to Dark Regions, Dark Renaissance and DarkFuse among others, I wouldn’t have that shelf of hardcover editions of my work, I wouldn’t have a bookcase full of anthology appearances, and I would have missed out on another sixty or so ( so far) professional short story sales.

I wouldn’t have those 5 sales to Nature Futures, or the sales to ‘The Mammoth Book of…’ series.

And I wouldn’t be having fun writing Carnacki stories.

I’m bloody glad I didn’t give up.

FUNGOID

There’s been a bit of chat around about FUNGOID in the past few days. Here’s some thoughts from me on how it came about.

When the end came, it wasn’t zombies, asteroids, global warming or nuclear winter. It was something that escaped from a lab. Something small, and very hungry.

In this one you’ll find a chunk of Newfoundland, a fireman, some nasty rain, a bit of real science, a lot of unreal science, some Canadians, many cigarettes, some trucks, boats and planes, and plenty of spores, mushrooms and rot.

It’s for fans of John Wyndham, William Hope Hodgson and H P Lovecraft, and is a wee homage to a lot of the things I’ve loved since childhood. As such, its origins come from several different life strands.

There’s something a lot of people don’t know about me: I used to be a botanist. And no, it doesn’t mean I know about gardening. For my honors thesis I studied how much archaeological information could be gleaned from analyzing pollen grains in the strata of peat bogs in Central Scotland, I spent a year after graduating in cataloging the plant fossil collection in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, and after that I had an abortive attempt at doing a PhD in the causes of rot in apples as they ripen.

Along the way I also learned quite a lot about fungi. The pollen analysis stuff hasn’t made it into a story of mine yet, but the fungi have; there’s something insidious about the creeping of mycelium, something obscene in the flesh of the caps, something scary in the fact that they spend so much time in the dark, just sitting there… growing.

I started to get a germ (or should that be spore ) of an idea a few years back of a fungal takeover of the planet, and I tried it out in a piece of flash fiction that I sold to NATURE FUTURES. It was just one image I had in mind, of a dark sky and vast, endless fields of high fruiting bodies. The image wouldn’t leave me, and it came back in another story, THE KEW GROWTHS, in my Challenger collection where the Prof has to tackle a giant fungal menace threatening London. That story was fun, but the image I had in my head was still for something a lot darker – something insidious, obscene and scary.

Then in early 2016, another, accompanying, image came, this time of a man in a HAZMAT suit, with nothing inside that was remotely human, just creeping filaments and bursting spores. As soon as I had him in my head the story all came together.

So that’s one thing. Another is the fact that I love end of the world stories.

There’s something cathartic about seeing everything being torn down. It also makes for amusing daydreams when the boss is being a tool or when the commute seems to take forever. And who doesn’t think they couldn’t do better at building a society if given a chance?

So there’s that, and there’s also the sheer spectacle of the thing… the same reason people like to slow down to look at car crashes. There’s a “there but the for grace of God” vibe you get when watching or reading the world being torn down. Emmerlich and Devlin hooked into that early and have made a pot of money out of those very same vibes.

I started my fandom of the genre young and at first it was from a Science Fiction perspective. The British ones from the ’50s and 60’s got my attention, in particular John Wyndham’s DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS and THE CHRYSALIDS. Them, and A CANTICLE FOR LIEBOWITZ were my earliest introductions to the form. After that came tales of cosmic disaster, mainly Lieber’s THE WANDERER and Niven and Pournelle’s LUCIFER’S HAMMER. My interest was further piqued by Terry Nation’s TV show THE SURVIVORS, and Stephen King’s THE STAND, the first to being real horror to the genre IMHO. But my favorite in the genre is by Robert Macammon. His SWAN SONG is a roller coaster blockbuster which eschew’s King’s religious trappings for non-stop action and gritty realism mixed with a slug of the supernatural. My kind of tale.

There is much that is good about civilisation that I’d certainly miss if it went, such as books and entertainment, central heating and modern medicine. But on the whole, civilisation as mankind defines it is hell-bent on destroying the ecosystem and we’re too stupid to stop shitting where we eat. I don’t think it’s a matter of why or why not. We’re now at a stage where it’s only a matter of when. I just hope it’s a few more years yet.

As for FUNGOID – it’s pretty obvious there’s a big Day of the Triffids influence, and that’s deliberate, as Wyndham was one of my favorite writers when I first started reading in the genre back in the late 60s/early 70s. There’s also several William Hope Hodgson touches, again, mostly deliberate. If there’s any unintentional ones there, I haven’t spotted them.

The third strand that weaves its way through FUNGOID is a sense of place.

Having written a lot of stories set back home in Scotland or in London, and now a bunch in Canada, there’s no real difference between them at all for me. A story is a story is a story. This one, however, is set firmly in my new home.

We came over for a holiday in 2005, and fell in love with the place. I was considering writing full time, and when the opportunity came up to sell our house in Scotland, we took the plunge and came on over and got a great house on the shore with a sea view for a tenth of what it would have cost back in the UK. I’ve got a great view from the writing desk, I can write full time, and watch the eagles fly over the bay and icebergs go past in Spring. It’s a quiet fishing village, and it suits me just fine. It’s still pretty rural and unspoiled, a lot of the old traditions, mainly Irish ones, are still followed, and a lot of the old songs are still sung in the bars. It feels more like a Scots/Irish community than anything else. It feels a lot like home to me.

The story begins with spore-filled rain over Newfoundland. I’ve trashed my new homeland in this book. Sorry.

All of the above were in my head when I sat down to start. And thats the fourth strand that makes this book what it is – the writing of it itself.

Below are two quotes from reviews of FUNGOID, and both of them pleased me greatly. I love it when I connect with a reader who gets what I’m up to.

“William Meikle is a talented writer, the story is perfectly paced so that the story isn’t bogged down by character, drama or the science – instead it’s a perfect blend of all three. He doesn’t mince words or add any excessive detail, each word he writes is essential to the story.”

“The story is extremely fast paced, leaving little room for breathing as you flip through the pages.”

I work hard at getting the pace and flow of my work right. Actually, I work hard at all of it, but the pace and flow is what I concentrate on. FUNGOID came through fast and hard, and I let it come at its own speed. It rolled along so smoothly it was as if a film was being unwound in my head.

And that’s how I think of it, now that its done – a glorious, ’50s influenced, B-movie with a creeping menace, an end of the world scenario, and plucky survivors – and scientists – trying to save the day.

I love it, and I hope you do too.

Get it HERE

 

Latest book sales and what’s up next

 

I’ve got three big bits of news to report on the recent sales front, a novel and two collections.

1/ I’ve sold a novel, RAMSKULL to DarkFuse, the first of my most recent three book deal with them.

This one’s a return to Scotland, and this time I’m in Hammer horror territory again, on a small island with a pair of cops investigating the strange disappearance of the locals. There’s a cave, old bones, an ancient skull, some mad monks, a lighthouse, a bar and a lot of blood spatter. My roots are showing.

2/ I’ve sold a new Carnacki collection, THE EDINBURGH TOWNHOUSE, to Mike Davis’ Lovecraft ezine fiction imprint.

Ten all new stories, featuring a couple of Captain Gault crossovers, more meetings with Winston Churchill, the story of how a pentacle came to be left in an Edinburgh Townhouse, high jinks with Arkwright on the cricket field, and more.

This is my third, and possibly last Carnacki collection, although I still have a few stories uncollected as yet so I’m not saying never.

3/ I’ve sold a Victorian supernatural story collection to Crystal Lake Publishing.

This is a bit of a pet project for me. The premise is that they are stories told by members of an exclusive dining club in London in the late 19th Century. Storytellers include Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and more. I had a lot of fun with this one and I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction it gets.

 

Before all that, next up will be THE JOB novella from DarkFuse. It’s running as a serial in their magazine in March for subscribers, then will be later available in ebook and pocket sized limited hardcover.

Again, this one is set in Scotland, and features my ongoing sigil and totem mythology in a tale of a burglar in the wrong house, at the wrong time. The cover has just been released, a nice representation of one of the aforesaid sigils. Groovy.

Onward, to infinity and beyond.

In the pipe, five by five.

carnackitwatgI’m a bit stuck on starting a new big project – this is the first time I’ve not actually been contracted for anything for a few years, and I also think the demise of Dark Renaissance threw me for a loop for a few weeks, but I’m starting to come out of the fug now and can see light ahead.

In the meantime, the list of work I’m waiting to see in publication in print and/or ebook continues to grow apace, with plenty of stuff to look forward to in the remainder of the year and into 2017

There’s two new novels coming.

  • Fungoid – novel / Darkfuse / September 2016
  • Songs of Dreaming Gods – novel / DarkFuse / Feb 2017

There’s also new Ebook editions of work already in print coming soon

  • Carnacki – The Watcher at the Gate – collection / Dark Regions Press
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Quality of Mercy – collection / Dark Regions Press
  • Sherlock Holmes: The London Terrors – 3 novellas / Dark Regions Press
  • Professor Challenger: The Kew Growths – collection / Dark Regions Press
  • The House on the Moor – novella / Dark Regions Press
  • The Amulet – The Midnight Eye #1 – Gryphonwood Press
  • The Sirens – The Midnight Eye #2 – Gryphonwood Press
  • The Skin Game – The Midnight Eye #3 – Gryphonwood Press
  • The Concordances of the Red Serpent – Gryphonwood Press

I have three German Language editions coming of novels

  • The Hole – Voodoo Press
  • The Dunfield Terror – Voodoo Press
  • The Amulet – The Midnight Eye #1 – Blitz Verlag

Alongside that little lot, I’m waiting for 20 stories to appear in anthologies ( including a couple of new HOLMES stories in big mass market books), there’s a juicy novella I can’t tell you about yet, and I’ve got hopes for several other current submissions, so keep everything crossed for me…

Onward and upward.

What’s next?

dunfieldterror

Today I delivered another novel to DarkFuse, my seventh for them and, along with the four novellas, that fulfills the book deals I’ve been contracted for with them. ( I also placed THE HOLE with Voodoo Press for a German language edition, which is nice.)

What with that, and the demise of Dark Renaissance, I’m now, as of today, at a place I haven’t been for some years – I have nothing I absolutely have to write to meet a deadline, and no contracts to fulfil.

It’s slightly scary, given that I’m a full time writer these days, but also, in a way, could turn out to be liberating.

I have a big ideas file and I’m not afraid to use it.

So is it going to be…

  • a cold war spy thriller with supernatural overtones
  • a big, blowsy, epic, fantasy doorstopper that I’ve had the plot of in my head for a long, long time
  • a new Derek Adams book, possibly about what Rudolph Hess was -really- doing in Scotland
  • an old school devil worshipping / Hammer horror thing set in modern London
  • more Carnacki

Decisions, decisions. The way forward might be determined by what happens to the material I’m trying to rehouse from the death of Dark Renaissance, and I’m not going to rush into anything too quickly.

These things need time to fester and rot to weed out the weak…

Plus I’ve got a story to do for an anthology invite that requires some research first, so that’ll keep me busy – for this week anyway…

Onward and upward.

Meaning of life stuff…

clockworkdollsI’m not a believer in either a God or a benign universe.

I grew up Church of Scotland, R.E. at school, church and Sunday school on Sundays. It didn’t take. I also have a scientific background with a degree in Biological Sciences that leads me to tend towards the “clockwork dolls” analogy of who we are being a complex function of genetics, biochemistry and nurture.

But I have had encounters that I can only class as supernatural that have given me a curiosity as to how everything hangs together, and I’ve had a couple of precognitive dreams have led me to think more deeply about the nature of fate and time.

I wrote this in one of my books, and as a personal philosophy, it’ll do for me:-

Life is an opportunity to create meaning by our actions and how we manage our way through the short part of infinity we’re given to operate in. And once our life is finished, our atoms go back to forming other interesting configurations with those of other people, animals, plants and anything else that happens to be around, as we all roll along in one big, happy, ever changing, universe.

Don’t try to understand it – just enjoy the dancing.

Plus, I like the idea that some of my atoms will be around to see the death of Sol. That’ll be cool.

I covered the territory a few years back in my novella, CLOCKWORK DOLLS.

This one is a bit of a departure for me. It’s darker than a lot of my other stuff, and features a protagonist who is very hard to like.

Dave is a shit; a self-obsessed wanker with few redeeming features. The fact that he reminds me a lot of myself at a certain stage of my life is neither here nor there. He’s also a skeptic of all things paranormal and likes to show off.

I wanted to write about such a person having an epiphany, of sorts, and it took me down some strange alleys, into studies of philosophical discussions, and thoughts of beer, love, and my place in an uncaring Universe.

As I’ve said, it turned out darker than I anticipated, but there’s also hope here, and I learned some stuff about myself in its progress, which was nice.

clockworkdollsA novella from DarkFuse. Does all human passion, all memory, all imagination come merely from the chemistry in our brains, like the movements of a clock follow from the arrangement of its cogs and wheels? Are we just clockwork dolls? Or is there an organizing principle at work, something we can ask for answers to the important questions of existence… something that might answer?

Dave Burns has asked.

Now he, and his friends, might not live long enough to understand the reply.

Full of strong and well written characters, an ever building sense of dread, topped off with a satisfying conclusion. This novella hits the mark perfectly. – Ginger Nuts of Horror

I know William Meikle’s writing chiefly through his pastiches of the work of others, the role of pulp chameleon one at which he is very good indeed and never less than entertaining, but if this is an example of what he can come up with under his own steam then it’s something I most definitely want to see more of. – Pete Tennant, Black Static #34

DarkFuse | Amazon | Amazon UK

My writing year in numbers

PuffinswriteI’ve just finished a large secret project, the last big thing of 2015 for me.

Looks like the final tally of writing for the year will be 2 novels, 3 novellas and 32 (maybe 34 if I decide to squeeze another couple in) short stories.

Almost 400,000 words in total so far and about equal with my most productive year previously. I had planned a quiet year…

On the publications front in 2015 I’ve had

  • a novel, THE DUNFIELD TERROR at DarkFuse,
  • 6 novellas ( the 3 Holmes novellas in THE LONDON TERRORS and THE HOUSE ON THE MOOR at Dark Renaissance, TORMENTOR and PENTACLE at DarkFuse),
  • 2 story collections (CARNACKI: THE WATCHER AT THE GATE at Dark  Renaissance and MYTHS AND MONSTERS at Knightwatch Press, all of which are in hardcover editions and most also in paperback.
  •  14 other short stories in print, the personal highlights for me being another story in Nature Futures, and two appearances in the ‘MAMMOTH BOOK OF’ series of anthologies with stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper – a wee dream I’ve had for a while that came true.

Details of all of this at my website for anyone interested

2016 looks like it’s going to continue the good run – I have 2 more novels coming from DarkFuse (FUNGOID and SONGS OF DREAMING GODS), a new Sherlock Holmes short novel from Dark Renaissance (THE DREAMING MAN) and some other very nice (but currently secret) projects lined up. Alongside that I have 20 short stories sold and awaiting publication, including some where I’m sharing page space with some of my writing heroes.

Alongside all of that, I’ve got a small bundle of about a dozen story submissions currently out and waiting for reply. Fingers, toes and tentacles crossed.

On the actual writing front for 2016, I have another novel, my last in the current contract, to write for DarkFuse, 2 novellas to do for other publishers, and, currently, 3 stories to write for anthologies that I’ve been invited to. It’s a bit strange to have so much work in hand after years of submitting blind, but I’m not complaining…

Onward and upward

To infinity and beyond.

 

 

 

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