So excited to share with you all, my Q and A with Catherine Cavendish. Why? Well, she’s a paranormal horror author with a gothic twist, which is awesome. But she also lives in a haunted 18th century-era home. In Wales. Now, if that isn’t cool and spooky, I don’t know what is!
LP: You write paranormal horror fiction. Tell us how you became a horror author and why?
CC: I loved reading Edgar Allen Poe, Dennis Wheatley and Sheridan le Fanu when I was growing up. I then progressed onto James Herbert, Stephen King, Anne Rice and a host of others as I grew older. I have also been writing since I could hold a pencil, so my love of reading horror – and watching horror movies – led me to wanting to write them.
LP: Do you scare easily or are you a tough customer? And do you ever scare yourself when you are working on a book? Tell us about that?
CC: Oh, I am a complete scaredy-cat – especially when I’m working on a story. I get so completely involved in the plot that I have been known to cry out if I’m disturbed. Mind you, I have also found that’s a good thing. I mean, if I scare myself . . . There are some horror films I have watched where I’ve hidden behind a cushion at the scariest bits. I’m getting a bit better as I grow older – but not much.
LP: You ACTUALLY live in a haunted house in Wales (were you born in Wales?) – you must be surrounded by spooky stuff every single day! What inspires you? Tell us about that.
CC: We have an apartment on two floors above a social club in North Wales. The building dates from the mid 18th century and has been reconfigured so many times that it’s difficult to work out what originally went where. Certainly, it has been adapted from more than one dwelling and at least one shop. On our top landing, there is a very old door. Unlatch it and inside is a dark and mysterious room. To the right, you can see the remains of some aged wallpaper and an old doorway. To the left, the room disappears off into the darkness. My husband has heard footsteps leading up to the door and then stopping. He’s heard a voice and caught sight of someone out of the corner of his eye. He believes it was a woman in Edwardian dress.
We have both experienced spooky stuff happening with the television, lights and the washing machine. We have come back home to find the TV switched on, even though we knew it was off when we left. On one occasion, I went into the kitchen to take the washing out of the machine, only to find the detergent drawer had been pulled right out. Literally wrenched out. It couldn’t have been caused by the vibration of the spin cycle and it never happened again. That did spook me, I can tell you. It seemed out of character for our particular spectral visitor. Normally the things that have happened have been almost like a ‘welcome home’. Friendly really.
On checking with local people who have lived here forever, the consensus is that it could be a Miss Edwards. In the early to mid- twentieth century, she lived above her haberdashery which was in the part of the building where we now live. A nice lady by all accounts.
Elsewhere in the club, a darker presence has been felt and this was caught on CCTV once as a flash of white smoke. No one was around at the time. At least, no one living.
The building – and especially that creepy room (which we now use as a storage cupboard) provided the inspiration for my novella, The Demons of Cambian Street.
I am inspired by all sorts of things. On my daily walks along the river, I often come to a willow tree that must have been struck by lightning years ago. It has continued to grow – but like an octopus. I call it the Tentacle Tree and it was the first inspiration for my latest novel, The Devil’s Serenade.
LP: Do you write mostly stand-alones? Or do you also write series books? Why stand-alones? Which do you prefer?
CC: I have never written a series, although I did return to the setting forThe Demons of Cambian Street. forThe Devil’s Serenade. I referenced some of the same events, but it is definitely not a sequel. I enjoy the whole process of creating something new. Plot. Characters. The whole works. Besides, given what happens to most of my leading characters in my books, there wouldn’t be much left for a series!
LP: What social media networking sites do you use? Which one(s) work best for you and why?
CC: I use Facebook – book groups, horror sites and so forth. I also use Twitter, G+, Pinterest and Tsu.co. Oh, and Goodreads, although I know I could make better use of that one and engage more with some of the active, horror interest groups there. The problem is, I want to get on with writing my stories. At present, I find Facebook and Twitter work best. Probably because I reach more of my kind of audience with them.
LP: Where do you set your books? Are they all set in Wales or the UK?
CC: I have set two books in North Wales, one in Scotland and the rest in various parts of England. For my next book – Wrath of the Ancients– I have travelled to Austria and it is mostly set in Vienna – my favourite city. I know it better than most places. It’s a fascinating, quirky, elegant capital and doing the background research was simply an excuse to sit drinking delicious coffee in the Café Central.
CC: I love historical fiction and have incorporated this love in The Pendle Curse and in Saving Grace Devine – both of which move between an earlier age and the present day. My novella, Miss Abigail’s Room is a Gothic historical horror. I also love crime novels – Agatha Christie has always been a favourite, but I also find Kerry Greenwood and Joanne Fluke are great fun. I would love to try my hand at writing a cozy ‘whodunnit’ one of these days.
LP: What is the most important thing you do when you release a new title?
CC: Promo, promo, promo. I write individual blogs which contain some relevance to the story I am promoting and then I approach some fantastic fellow horror authors, good friends and writer colleagues for a guest spot on their blogs. Writers helping writers. It’s a wonderfully supportive community.
LP: What do you have coming up?
Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…
“Madeleine Chambers of Hargest House” has a certain grandeur to it. But as Maddie enters the Gothic mansion she inherited from her aunt, she wonders if its walls remember what she’s blocked out of the summer she turned sixteen.
She’s barely settled in before a series of bizarre events drive her to question her sanity. Aunt Charlotte’s favorite song shouldn’t echo down the halls. The roots of a faraway willow shouldn’t reach into the cellar. And there definitely shouldn’t be a child skipping from room to room.
As the barriers in her mind begin to crumble, Maddie recalls the long-ago summer she looked into the face of evil. Now, she faces something worse. The mansion’s long-dead builder, who has unfinished business—and a demon that hungers for her very soul.
LP: When readers message you – which series or book comes up most often as a fan favourite and why?
CC: It varies, but The Pendle Curse is frequently mentioned. Readers tell me they like a ‘proper’ witch story – no sparkly, do-gooder warlocks or kind witches. Mine are an evil bunch, hellbent on revenge and on getting what they want – whatever the cost..
LP: Bonus: What is the scariest place you’ve ever visited? Tell us about it.
CC: There have been so many. One I would certainly choose is West Kennet Long Barrow in Wiltshire, England, not all that far from the Neolithic Stone Circle at Avebury. To get to it, you walk through a farmer’s field and whenever I’ve been there, I have always been the only one – or just with my husband. It is so quiet. Built in around 3650BC, it was used as a burial chamber for a time and the atmosphere is like nowhere else I have visited. I have always felt someone was watching me.
Of all of them though, arguably my favourite is The Real Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh. This is a network of underground streets – enclosed, narrow, really creepy. Of course the guided tour makes the most of that, but even without their special effects, this is one seriously spooky place. A number of ghosts have manifested themselves over the years and I defy anyone to go down there and not be struck by the extraordinary atmosphere of sadness, death and unquiet spirits.