Definitely the last leg of THE GHOST CLUB tour, an interview at spook central, UK’s HAUNTED magazine where I talk about the book, my own spooky experiences, and beer.
THE GHOST CLUB LAUNCH TOUR STOP 19
My as-live radio chat with Armand Rosamilia, talking about the difference between writing short stories and novels, writing for Lovecraftian anthologies, and the vagaries of writing for the independent presses, among other things – I had a blast.
GHOST CLUB LAUNCH TOUR STOP 18
My as-live radio chat with Jimmy Wienholz at The Horrific Podcast, talking about books, movies and big bugs among other things – I had a blast.
The Ghost Club tour is winding down. Some things worked well, others didn’t work at all, some people were early, some were late, I forgot stuff I should have remembered, and remembered stuff I should have left forgotten, and I’m not at all sure it does a single thing for book sales.
But I’ve been having a great time. There’s still a couple of podcasts and an interview to come, but the work at my end is done.
So what have I learned?
People are generally interested in the same things, and the main one seems to be, why do you do what you do? So here’s the condensed answer from all the words spoken, the blogs written, and the interview lies told.
I’m Willie, and I’m a storyteller.
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 choose 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. But a lot of writers have been told that pulp = bad plotting and that you have to have deep psychological insight in your work for it to be valid. They’ve also been told that pulp = bad writing, and they believe it. Whereas I remember the joy I get from early Moorcock, from Mickey Spillane and further back, A E Merritt and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’d love to have a chance to write a Tarzan, John Carter, Allan Quartermain, Mike Hammer or Conan novel, whereas a lot of writers I know would sniff and turn their noses up at the very thought of it.
I know I’m capable of producing readable fiction, and quite quickly at that. I’ve written thirty novels in the last fifteen years, and had them published in the specialist genre presses. I also enjoy writing stories for some of my favorites; Sherlock Holmes, Professor Challenger and Carnacki in the main, with a handful of collections in print.
And again, in some quarters, this is seen as beneath a ‘real’ writer, and has led to more accusations of being no more than fan fiction and hackwork. But recently this ‘hackwork’ has been getting me into professional anthologies from big publishers like ‘The Mammoth Book of’ series where I’ve placed both Holmes and Carnacki stories.
I thought I’d got most of the pastiche writing out of my system about eighteen months back, which is when I finished CARNACKI: THE EDINBURGH TOWNHOUSE. But then someone on Facebook mentioned H Rider Haggard and asked if I’d thought of doing something in that vein. I hadn’t really, then suddenly I had. But not just Haggard. I mentioned earlier about Wells, Verne, Stevenson and Doyle. I’d also read Haggard and Kipling, Tolstoy and Twain and more. And suddenly the Victoriana pulled me back in, I had a ‘what if…’ moment thinking about a ghost club, and there it was, a new idea in my head. I’ve been at it long enough to know that when something like that hits me, I have to write it.
It’s called THE GHOST CLUB, and it’s a simple premise.
In Victorian London a select group of writers, led by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Henry James held an informal dining club, the price of entry to which was the telling of a story by each invited guest.
So I wrote a bunch of stories, containing tales of revenant loved ones, lost cities, weird science, spectral appearances and mysteries in the fog of the old city, all told by some of the foremost writers of the day: Verne and Wells, Tolstoy and Checkov, Stevenson and Oliphant, Kipling, Twain, Haggard, Wilde and Blavatsky alongside their hosts. I had more than a few moments of panic and self doubt, wondered many times whether the sin of pride would bite me on the arse or the ghosts of the dead writers would come along in their own little club and laugh me out of the room.
But you know what, I’d do it all over again, because the story is the thing for me, and these tales resonate with something in my psyche, whether it’s upbringing, early reading, or just plain love for a good tale.
I’m Willie, and I’m a storyteller.
And if you’ve read this far… there’s one last thing to do. The links to all the tour stops are up on my website. And I’ve added one last thing, a Christmas present for three of you.
GHOST CLUB LAUNCH TOUR STOP 17
My as-live radio interview at Madam Perry’s Salon tonight – I had a blast, talked far too much, read a few paragraphs from my Oscar Wilde story and generally enjoyed myself.
GHOST CLUB LAUNCH TOUR STOP 16
A stopover this afternoon at Eric Steele’s place, CONFESSIONS OF A BRITISH WRITER, to discuss how I found the voices for the individuals and their stories in THE GHOST CLUB.
GHOST CLUB LAUNCH TOUR STOP 15
A stopover this afternoon at the Terror Tree blog, to discuss my favorite horror films that have been set in Scotland
Several of the stories in my new collection THE GHOST CLUB fit into my ongoing Sigils and Totems mythos.
It’s a simple enough concept.
There are houses like this all over the world. Most people only know of them from whispered stories over campfires; tall tales told to scare the unwary. But some, those who suffer… some know better. They are drawn to the places where what ails them can be eased.
If you have the will, the fortitude, you can peer into another life, where the dead are not gone, where you can see that they thrive and go on, in the dreams that stuff is made of.
There it is in a nutshell. There are houses where people can go to get in touch with their dead loved ones.
But this gives me lots of things to play with. To even get inside a room, you need a sigil; a tattoo or carving on your skin, and a totem, a memento of your loved one. Then there’s the fact that your loved one might be a parallel universe version rather than the one you actually know.
And where do these houses come from? What’s behind the walls? How do they work? Why do they work? And who chooses the concierges who run them? Or fixes them when they don’t work?
So I’ve got all that to play with, plus the fact that the houses can exist anywhere, at any time. They’re like lots of boxy, multi-faceted Tardis, spread across space time, places and situations into which I can hook in characters and stories.
I think I’ve stumbled into something that could keep me busy for a few years.
When it came to writing THE GHOST CLUB stories, I thought it would be fun to have some of the famous writers stumble into this mythos, as if it’s something that has always been out there, on the fringes of storytelling since stories were first told.
So I have Bram Stoker telling of strange doings in a house in Whitechapel, a tale that is the most directly linked in the mythos of them all, I have Rudyard Kipling’s army officer stumbling into a cellar in the mountains of India where a house is in the process of being ‘born’, and I have Henry James telling of a chess set that may, or may not, have come from another such house, and which will turn up soon in a later story of mine that’s going into the whole mythos in more depth.
These stories add to the novel, three novellas, and another handful of tales that are already published, and there is more to come.
I’m Willie Meikle, and this is my mythos.