Horror After Dark welcomes William Meikle! Author of over 20 novels and hundreds of short stories published in 13 countries, we are incredibly honored to chat with him today! Thank you, Willie!
A Few Writing Questions:
I’m going to start with questions from a few of my HAD teammates, who are very excited to have an interview with you going up. Jon Recluse wants to know:
HAD: You have brought to life so many characters: Carnacki, Sherlock Holmes, plus all the different flavors of yourown creations……the Derek Adams and Augustus Seton stories, Clockwork Gods, The Dunfield Terror, etc., How do you juggle so many voices?
WM: The simple answer is, 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 swinging barbarians and gibbering Lovecraftian entities, all shouting to be heard. The ones who shout the loudest are the ones that get written down.
I 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.
What with that, the depth of Scottish folklore on my doorstep, reading comics then Wells, Verne, Haggard, Burroughs and Doyle, and ’60s TV shows like Doctor Who, the Avengers, Adam Adamant, The Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, The Man From Uncle et al you can see where it all comes from.
HAD: Jon also very much enjoys your Scottish myth-based tales. He thinks you have a knack for making them work in the present world. Is it difficult for you to place those myths into the modern world? Are you planning on any more stories like The Auld Mither in the future?
WM: I haven’t used that many actual Scottish myths – I think I’ve made more up than used old ones 🙂 That said, I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing modern day Scottish based supernatural fiction – it’s who I am, it’s what I do.
THE AULD MITHER is one of the ones based on actual legend, and I had an awful lot of fun with it. It was originally written as a proposed screenplay that unfortunately never got taken up – I live in hope that someday, Hollywood, or Hammer, will notice its brilliance and get back to me with loads of money 🙂
As for it being in the modern world – I don’t think the wonder and awe of supernatural possibilities is bounded by any particular period of history and as far as it goes in my writing, the story dictates the venue so modern, historical or future, if the voices are talking, I’m listening. I doubt that they’ll ever stop – I hope not, as then I’d have to retire, and I’m not ready for that yet.
HAD: (Good luck with that loads of money thing!) Kimberly would like to know if you plan on writing any more Lovecraftian stories?
WM: I’ve never stopped 🙂 I have a whole slew of them lined up in anthologies over the next few years from the likes of CHAOSIUM and Dark Regions Press, I just had THE DUNFIELD TERROR novel published a few months back, and I’m working on a new Lovecraftian novel right now. There’s also Lovecraftian stories in my new CARNACKI collection coming soon from Dark Renaissance, and I’ve got a bunch of stories out on submission waiting to hear back.
Like Scotland, the ‘uncaring things from beyond’ genre is also rooted deep in my soul and it’s another area I hope never goes away.
( P.S. I maintain a list of my Lovecraftian work at my website, so that’s where to go if you want to keep up with it. http://www.williammeikle.com/lovecraftian.html)
HAD: Do you have a favorite genre or type of story, among all of those in which you write? Why?
WM: I love writing occult detective stories. Nowadays there is a plethora of detectives in both book and film who may seem to use the trappings of crime solvers, but get involved in the supernatural. William Hjortsberg’s Falling Angel (the book that led to the movie Angel Heart) is a fine example, an expert blending of gumshoe and deviltry that is one of my favorite books. Likewise, in the movies, we have cops facing a demon in Denzel Washington’s Fallen that plays like a police procedural taken to a very dark place.
My interest goes further back to the “gentleman detective” era where we have seekers of truth in Blackwood’s John Silence Sherlock Holmes and William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki, and, mixed in with that, a deep love of the American PI books and movies of the ’40s and ’50s. And of course, there’s also Derek Adams – he is a modern day Bogart and Chandler fan, and it is the movies and Americana of that era where I find a lot of my inspiration for him, rather than in the older period of Holmes et al.
But I’ve written numerous stories set in the late Victorian / Early Edwardian era, for Sherlock Holmes, Carnacki, and Professor Challenger. I was raised on Doyle, Wells and Robert Louis Stevenson and I love that historical period they covered in their work. It’s also the time period I’ve come to prefer for my own writing and I can see me settling in there for a long time to come. As I said upstream, I’ve got a new CARNACKI collection in late 2015 and I’ve already started thinking of stories for a third book in the not too distant future.
I’ve also got a very exciting project for 2016 writing stories in the voices of different Victorian supernatural and science fiction writers, but that’s all a bit hush hush at the moment – more details when I can.
Pentacle Questions: (Get your copy here!)
HAD: Please tell us a little bit about Pentacle and how it came about.
WM: A couple of years back in BROKEN SIGIL I wrote about a very strange house in New York. Pentacle is about another of these houses, following the same rules, but with a different set of problems that the concierge needs to solve. It’s set in Edinburgh, and features the return in the present day of an Electric Pentacle that some of you might recognize if you’ve been paying attention.
I don’t think I’m done with this concept yet either – there’s something about the rules and set up of these houses that suggests to me a growing Meikle Mythos that will need expanding at some point, so watch this space.
HAD: What would you say to someone to entice them to read it?
WM: It’s a story that features many of the things I’ve spoken about in this interview – it’s got deep Scottish history, a supernatural element, a link to Victorian occult detection, some guitar playing and singing, and Edinburgh, possibly my favorite place on the planet. What’s not to like?
HAD: You’re a Scottish writer living in Canada. How did that come about?
WM: We first came over here on a whale watching holiday in 2005 and fell in love. Then, in 2007, the IT company I was with in Edinburgh went bust at the same time as I was just starting to make progress on the writing front in professional markets. We took the plunge, sold up in Scotland and came here to live a much more frugal, but much more satisfying life in a fishing village in Eastern Newfoundland. I’ve got a sea view from my window with icebergs, whales, dolphins and bald eagles for company, I don’t have to commute, and I get to write all day, every day. I’m living the dream I’ve had for a very long time.
HAD: I’ve read that you have a Biological Sciences degree, but worked with that degree for only two years. What happened there?
WM: I graduated in Botany from Glasgow University in 1980, in the middle of a recession in the UK. I was unemployed for 6 months, then got a one year job in an old museum in the city cataloging their plant fossil collection. It was a great job, and I had a lot of fun perusing the stacks in the basement, but it was a fixed term job and I had to say goodbye at the end of ’81.
After that, I followed a woman to London (long story, big mistake) and started a PhD in a research laboratory. A major screw up with the wrong concentration of a plant hormone meant that I killed all my test plants six months into the job so I started looking around for other options.
(HAD: Never ask Willie to watch your plants while you’re on vacation!)
I happened to be at Reading University using their electron microscope when a job fair came round. I went along and two weeks later found myself with an offer of a job in a software house in the City of London, paying five times what I was getting at the research lab. It wasn’t hard to make the decision to jump, and that was the end of my scientific career, and the start of 25 years in IT.
HAD: I’ve read that you didn’t start writing until into your thirties, other than what you had written when you were in school. (According to your interview with Fantasy Scroll Mag.) You’re a great example of a late bloomer! Do you ever wish that you had started earlier?
WM: I certainly do – it feels like I’m always playing catch up to get where I want to be. And I’m fifty seven now, and feeling the cold hand of old Father Time on my shoulder. As you say, I started in the early ’90s when I was already into my thirties, mainly as a result of my wife Sue realizing that I needed a push, and giving me a big kick up the arse. But the IT job was a high pressure one for much of the time, which meant that writing time was limited as well, so I didn’t get to write nearly as much as I’d have wished. It’s only really since 2007 and getting settled here that things have taken off and I’m finally beginning to feel like a proper writer. I hope to make the most of however many more years I’m given.
We hope you you make the most of those years as well, Willie! Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview and best of luck with Pentacle!