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WILLIAM MEIKLE

Genre Fiction

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Scottish

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.

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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.

 


 

Old Stories, New words

THE GREEN AND THE BLACK was originally going to be about Kobolds, the goblinesque things that knock in coal mines.

Goblins in the deep places have haunted my dreams since a first read of THE HOBBIT, way back in 1968, and I’ve long wanted to do a modern times novel with them at the center of things. I started one a while back, but that fizzled out and ended up as a story in Dark Melodies. And similarly, when I got to the point in THE GREEN AND THE BLACK for the reveal, there was something else behind the curtain.

The wee folk who turn up drinking and singing in the mines and the camp are close cousins to goblins of course, but give off the appearance of being something more jolly, at first glance at least.

I dredged these ones up out of some old Scottish tales originally, of people being trapped in fairyland after overindulging in booze and song and dance at the wee folks’ party.

And then things took an even darker turn, when I realized what song it was they were always singing in my story. I have my auld grannie to thank for all the snippets of folk songs, lullabyes, show tunes and hymns that provide me with regular earworms. One of those is prominent throughout THE GREEN AND THE BLACK.

The dolls of stick, leaf and branch that became a motif throughout likewise came from old stories from home. Originally, they were going to be scarecrows, with goblins inside, but they too took another turn, when I realized the wood and leaf was still alive, still capable of taking root, and growing.

Some of my family did spells as coal miners, back in the auld country, and their tales too found their way in into the mix, of friendship and bonds, of dark places and sudden deaths.

Mix all of that in with some of my archaeology experience and you can see that THE GREEN AND THE BLACK came from a soup of influences from a lifetime of songs and stories.

I said what I wanted to say, and got out before I dredged up anything more to complicate things further.

You can order the ebook, or buy the paperback now on Amazon here –> https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H6JTYTS

On drinking

I like a drink.

I’ve liked a drink for about 45 years now. People keep telling me it’ll kill me, but at this stage, if it’s drink that gets me now, I’ll consider it a win.

It started back in late ’73 and my first foray at 15 going on 16 to one of the local discos. Beer was 8p a pint, spirits 10p a shot and a packet of ten Embassy Regal 12p. I took to the beer first, fags later, and spirits a wee bit later after that, but by the time I went to University in late 1975 the taste for beer in particular was well developed.

While in Glasgow I discovered hand-pumped real ale, and that became a love that’s stayed with me though University, then 10 years in London, then eventually back to Scotland and a growing small brewery / real ale pub culture that kept me happy for years before I came to Newfoundland, where the search for decent ale in a small fishing town is a bit more challenging.

There’s an old saying, I only drink to be social. Not quite true, but it’s hard to beat banter with old pals around a table in an old bar with decent beer and food on offer.

Alongside the beer during University days I also discovered single malt Scotch. I’m not an aficionado, but I know what I like, and I like it a lot. I took to it eagerly.

By the time I was around 30, back in the mid to late ’80s in London I was mostly working and mostly drunk, a heady combination of good beer, good whisky, Camel filters, curries and Chinese takeaways.

Sue rescued me from incipient alcoholism back then and nowadays I still like a drink, but it’s under control and even diminishing as I get older and try to avoid hangovers.

All of that has come out in several of my books and stories, Derek Adams, The Midnight Eye in particular being a bit of a Mary-Sue character for my love of booze, Chandler and Glasgow.

And it came out again in my newest work, THE GREEN AND THE BLACK, where you’ll meet a lad who doesn’t know that he likes a drink until he has one that transports him, and a man who knows he likes cigarettes a bit too much, but can’t quit the smoke without a push.

In THE GREEN AND THE BLACK you’ll also find Newfoundland and a lot of Irishmen, many of whom, like the Scots, enjoy a few pints, a wee dram, and a song. There’s also archaeologists, cabins in the woods, derelict mineshafts, singing, and drinking in dark places, where the green meets the black.

thegreenandtheblackadvert

Some musings about the S-Squad

The S-Squad books are me having fun.

The S doesn’t really stand for anything apart from the fact that they’re Sweary, Scottish, and Squaddies. Probably not a good idea to get Sir Sean Connery to do the narration.

In these I’ve lightened my touch, and gone for all out, balls to the wall, plot and adventure. They’re pulpy, in the old sense of the word, irreverent, and more than a wee bit sweary. I’m also enjoying the hell out of writing them.

They’re definitely creature feature homages at their basic level, with added influences ranging from ALIENS, PREDATOR, DOG SOLDIERS and any number of Alistair MacLean books and movies. They’re also in a voice that I am able to drop into naturally, that slightly sarcastic Scots idiom I grew up with. Not having to worry too much about whether the dialogue is natural frees me up to write, and these come at me fast and furious. I’ve written four in the past 18 months, and the next one should be done well before Christmas.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have few pretensions. I’m not a literary writer. I don’t spend days musing over le mot juste. I just get on and tell the story to the best of my ability. I tell a lot of stories. That has led to me being called a hack in some quarters, but if a hack is someone who values storytelling, then I suppose that’s what I am. I’m making a definite choice to write mainly at the pulpy end of the market, populating my stories with monsters, myths, ghosts, men who like a drink and a smoke, and more monsters. People who like this sort of thing like it, and the sales of these books are proving to me that there is a definite audience out there for it. So fuck anybody who dismisses it as hackwork. This is who I am, and I wont be apologizing for it.

Now that that’s out of the way… 🙂

I hope to be able to be pitching and selling new ideas for these guys to Severed Press over the next few years.

OPERATION: AMAZON recently came out, I’m working on OPERATION: LOCH NESS, and I have sketchy ideas already for OPERATION: INNSMOUTH, OPERATION: ROCKIES, OPERATION: UR and OPERATION: MONGOLIA, among others.

I’ll be at this for a while I hope, something to look forward to as I march into my seventh decade on the planet, dragging my history behind me as inspiration.

I’d love for you to join me on the journey.

operationamazon

My Scottish Fiction

Got asked a couple of times yesterday about my Scottish fiction, so here’s the gen.

A lot of my work, long and short form, has been set in Scotland, and much of it uses the history and folklore. There’s just something about the misty landscapes and old buildings that speaks straight to my soul. Bloody Celts… we get all sentimental at the least wee thing.

I grew up on the West Coast of Scotland in an environment where the supernatural was almost commonplace.

My grannie certainly had a touch of ‘the sight’, always knowing when someone in the family was in trouble. There are numerous stories told of family members meeting other, long dead, family in their dreams, and I myself have had more than a few encounters with dead family, plus meetings with what I can only class as residents of faerie. I have had several precognitive dreams, one of which saved me from a potentially fatal car crash.

So it’s no surprise the landscape and the folklore and the general high weirdness of my homeland come out in my writing. So far I’ve set novels and novellas over a broad swathe of the country

  • Glasgow – THE AMULET, THE SIRENS, THE SKIN GAME, DEAL OR NO DEAL, THE JOB
  • Edinburgh – THE EXILED, PENTACLE, THE CONCORDANCES OF THE RED SERPENT
  • Skye – TORMENTOR, THE SIRENS
  • Inner Hebrides / Oban area – RAMSKULL
  • Fife / Falkland – THE CONCORDANCES OF THE RED SERPENT
  • Outer Hebrides – ISLAND LIFE
  • North Ayrshire – ELDREN
  • Borders / Hadrian’s Wall – THE WATCHERS TRILOGY
  • Highlands – THE HOUSE ON THE MOOR
  • St. Andrews – THE ROAD HOLE BUNKER MYSTERY

…and historically as well as geographically, in many short stories, too numerous to mention, with pastiches from the likes of Stevenson, Doyle and Mrs Oliphant in the Ghost Club collection, along with stories for Carnacki, Sherlock Holmes, Professor Challenger, Derek Adams, Augustus Seton, Alexander Seton and many more.

As ever, details of all the books on my website. Over there ==> williammeikle.com

I have a deep love of old places, in particular menhirs and stone circles, and I’ve spent quite a lot of time travelling the UK and Europe just to visit archaeological remains. I also love what is widely known as ‘weird shit’. I’ve spent far too much time surfing and reading Fortean, paranormal and cryptozoological websites. The cryptozoological stuff especially fascinates me, and provides a direct stimulus for a lot of my fiction.

I’ve also been influenced by many Scottish writers. Stevenson in particular is a big influence. He is a master of plotting, and of putting innocents into situations far out of their usual comfort zones while still maintaining a grounding in their previous, calmer, reality. His way with a loveable rogue in Treasure Island and Kidnapped in particular is also a big influence. Other Scottish writers who have influenced me include John Buchan, Iain Banks and, more in my youth than now, Alistair MacLean and Nigel Tranter. From them I learned how to use the scope of both the Scottish landscape and its history while still keeping the characters alive.

But I think it’s the people that influence me most. Everybody in Scotland’s got stories to tell, and once you get them going, you can’t stop them. I love chatting to people, usually in pubs, and finding out the weird shit they’ve experienced. My Glasgow PI, Derek Adams is mainly based on a bloke I met years ago in a bar in Partick, and quite a few of the characters that turn up and talk too much in my books can be found in real life in bars in Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews.

Although I now live in Newfoundland, Scotland is embedded in my heart and soul and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I write a lot of material set over here too now, but the Scottish stories will continue. Always.

The next in the pipeline is another Derek Adams novella, FARSIDE, coming soon in the Occult Detective Quarterly Presents anthology, and Derek is once again tramping the streets of Glasgow, in a case that brings together some threads from my recent writings, in the SIGILS AND TOTEMS myths, the Concordances of the Red Serpent, and the Seton family history.

 

Newsflash: THE MIDNIGHT EYE Omnibus on discount

AMAZON currently have THE MIDNIGHT EYE FILES Omnibus on sale at 99c or the equivalent for KINDLE worldwide. Get in quick and snatch it while it’s cheap.

In this you’ll find all three of the Midnight Eye files novels, THE AMULET, THE SIRENS, THE SKIN GAME, and several extra short stories, so it’s a great bargain. Tell your friends. Hell, tell your enemies.

Derek Adams is a Glasgow P.I. who somewhat reluctantly gets involved in weird cases. It’s what gets called urban fantasy these days, but it’s really my homage to classic detective fiction, to B-movies, monsters, and more than a touch of nostalgia for Glasgow as it was when I lived there back when the world was young. This is me having fun, and I think it shows.

THE AMULET in particular has been very good for me over the years, selling well and also appearing in German and Portuguese editions. People all over seem to click with Derek immediately, something for which I’m very grateful.

(The Amulet)… is a loving romp in and out of both the Lovecraft Mythos and the noir detective novel, predictable in its own way but unapologetically so, and ultimately fulfilling because most of us have loved the same two sets of elements forever and can’t resist whenever they are brought together again.Chizine



Get A Bargain Meikle ebook Bundle from Dark Regions Press – 5 ebooks for $9.00

 

 


 

You’d be doing me a favor if you follow me at Amazon and Bookbub

 

 

The Seton family

Regular readers of mine know that I like to seed Seton family Easter eggs in my books. They’re generally wee red-haired Scotsmen and women who either dabble in alchemy, know more than they’re telling, might or might not be immortal, or have sold their souls for a shiny sword and a way with the ladies — they crop up all over the place.

Recently a young member of the family (and another cousin of his too) has turned up in the Rowan Casey / Veil Knights series, an elder statesman is in Ramskull, Occult Detective Quarterly #1, and Sherlock Holmes: The Dreaming Man. Alexander, who was the first to make himself known to me, is in The Concordances of the Red Serpent, and his granddaughter turns up in a new Derek Adams story coming soon in Occult Detective Quarterly Presents.

Then there’s Augustus, still hacking his violent way through late 16th Century Scotland in a sequence of sword and sorcery stories — he’ll be back I’m sure.

They’re also tied to an ancient mystical book, THE TWELVE CONCORDANCES OF THE RED SERPENT, an alchemical tome written by an elder Seton at the time of Bannockburn. There’s a copy in Carnacki’s library in Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, Sherlock Holmes has seen a copy too, as has Derek Adams, and one turned up in my recent novella, THE JOB.

The family, and the book are also in the process of being tied in to my Sigils and Totems mythos, so everything is all spinning around in one big happy dance of chaos.

It gives readers who read a lot of my books something to look out for, a wee wink and secret handshake between them and me as reward for their time spent in my worlds.

Plus, it’s fun.

Fun is good.

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I’m Willie, I’m a Scotsman, and I like horror fiction.

I’m Willie, I’m a Scotsman, and I like horror fiction.

A lot of my work, long and short form, has been set in Scotland, and a lot of it uses the history and folklore. There’s just something about the misty landscapes and old buildings that speaks straight to my soul. (Bloody Celts… we get all sentimental at the least wee thing).

Scottish history goes deep. You can’t swing a cat without hitting a castle or a historic monument or, from further back, a burial mound or standing stone. Five thousand years of living in mist and dampness, wind and snow, lashing rain and high seas leads to the telling of many tales of eldritch beings abroad in the dark nights. Add in the constant risk of invasion and war from Romans, Danes, Irishmen, Vikings and English and you can see that there’s plenty of fertile ground for both fact and fiction to merge into a rich and varied mythology.

I grew up in the West Coast of Scotland in an environment where the supernatural was almost commonplace. My grannie certainly had a touch of “the sight”, always knowing when someone in the family was in trouble. There are numerous stories told of family members meeting other, long dead, family in their dreams, and I myself have had more than a few encounters, with dead family, plus meetings with what I can only class as residents of faerie. I have had several precognitive dreams, one of which saved me from a potentially fatal car crash.

What with all of that, it was only natural that my taste in reading would take a turn towards the spooky.

I think my first close encounter of the Scottish kind must have been with Rabbie Burns. I’m from Ayrshire like Rabbie, and we share a birthday, so he was ever present in my early schooling. I remember learning a recital of the galloping frenzy of Tam o’ Shanter as drunken Tam escapes the witches Sabbath by the skin of his teeth. Walter Scott too wasn’t above slipping wraiths and fairies and fey folk into his romances, and he too was an early sight for me of some old Scots preoccupations with the darker side.

When I started reading seriously for myself, Treasure Island was one of my early favorites, and it led me directly to the man who would be a lifelong companion. Robert Louis Stevenson didn’t just anchor a whole sub-culture of horror with Doctor Jeckyll and his alter-ego — he also wrote some of the greatest adventure novels of all time, and some of the most beautifuly constructed short stories you ever did read. He also introduced me to Scottish history in a way that school books had never managed, and through him I was led to Victorian Edinburgh and London, and directly into the arms of another great Scotsman.

Yes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was Scottish. No, he wasn’t an English gentleman. Now that’s out of the way… I fell in love with Doyle through Challenger more than Holmes at first, from a love of The Lost World that persists to this day. Holmes came along later, and when I started writing Holmes stories of my own, the supernatural kept creeping into them, which gets me castigated by Sherlockian purists, but I don’t care; as a Scotsman, like Doyle, steeped in the stories told in the mists and dark rooms in old buildings, it feels as natural to me as breathing. Doyle also wrote some top notch horror shorts that were a big favorite of mine in those early years.

Also writing at the same time was Margaret Oliphant, a prolific Scotswoman better known for romantic dramas than supernatural works, but in later years I discovered a ghost stories collection of hers and was delighted to discover that she too shared our kinfolk’s love for the things that live in the dark and foggy nights in the auld country.

My later reading in my early teens before I found Moorcock then Lovecraft then King was almost all sci-fi or thriller based, but there too I found Scots with a taste for the darkside, in John Buchan and especially Alistair MacLean, a man who would have made a great pulp horror writer in different circumstances.

Later still William McIllvaney and Ian Rankin, while ostensibly working in the crime field also showed me more than a few glimpses of their familiarity with the dark and the ways of things that creep in the shadows.

And then, in the Eighties, horror came back to Scotland in full measure, in Ian Banks’ The Wasp Factory, in Jonathan Aycliffe’s Edinburgh ghost story, The Matrix, and in the many works of Joe Donnelly, a much missed genre writer who gave us a whole range of Scottish spooks, spectres, bogey-men and monsters in his short horror career during the boom years.

Which brings us round to when I started writing for myself, in the early ’90s. I’ve tried over the years since then to explain in a variety of works what the rich history of Scottish supernatural writing has given me. In my new book, THE GHOST CLUB, I’ve gone right back to basics, and provided as part of it three tales as if told by Stevenson, Oliphant and Doyle, and a wee cameo by Rabbie Burns in another story for good measure. I hope I’ve done them justice.

I’m Willie, I’m a Scotsman, and I write horror fiction.

 

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