Greetings from the Ethereal Plane,
With the release of Hinnom Magazine Issue 003, we would like to spotlight the authors involved. There will be seven interviews in total, including this one. We would like to thank these fantastic writers for believing in Gehenna & Hinnom and for submitting such amazing works.
Alas, without further ado, let the interview commence!
CP: Could you first tell us a little about yourself? Why you find the darker side of fiction intriguing?
DT: I suppose my enjoyment of dark fiction began, like most horror authors, with watching films as a youth. I remember being seven or eight years old, and my local shopkeeper banning me from picking the horror VHS tapes off the shelf to inspect. There was something captivating about the gruesome covers of the videos and the thought of something being frightening, something forbidden, that made it more compelling.
As I got older, my parents allowed me to record the Hammer Horror films starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and I watched them over and over. Then a few years later, I must have been around fourteen, I watched The Shining and I was terrified and thrilled at the same time. That led me to reading Stephen King’s novel shortly afterwards. I’m now 36 and The Shining is my favourite film and I’m a constant reader of Stephen King’s works so I suppose it just stuck.
Something I find really intriguing about horror is the balance with humour. They make for strange bedfellows, but some of my favourite horror works use comedic elements to engage the audience, both in film and literature. There’s a fine line between the two emotions and I try to think about that whenever I write.
CP: “Bonjour, Stevie” has an experimental epistolary structure and Lovecraftian themes. Can you delve into your inspirations for the story? How it came to fruition?
DT: I have to admit I’m fairly new to Lovecraft, and “Bonjour, Stevie” is a bit of a departure from my usual writing style. In fact, I sent it to my mum, as I do for all my short stories, and she described it as “a little strange.” I suppose Lovecraft himself would have taken that as a compliment!
I’ve admired works from other writers where the story unfolds in the form of letters, so I thought I would try it out using emails. There is something about writing in a correspondence format that allows for a more personal approach, especially as the recipient of the emails in the story, Stevie, is the protagonist’s daughter. I also wanted to make Stevie’s character emerge without her ever appearing in the story, to carry that sense of mystery.
In terms of the story itself, I wanted to portray a normal family holiday, with scenes and humour that a reader could relate to, before it progresses to more disturbing elements. I remember a scene from the end of the film Rosemary’s Baby, where a middle class woman raises a glass to toast Satan. I found it so chilling, such normalcy mixed with something deplorable and evil, so I wanted to recreate that feeling with the reader.
CP: While speaking of inspiration, what inspired you to become a writer? What authors helped carve your path?
DT: I’ve already mentioned him but an obvious inspiration for any author of horror is Stephen King. Even if you’re not a fan of his writing, you can’t avoid how excellent his stories are. The fact he’s a renowned horror writer, while several of his stories transcend many genres, is inspirational in itself. His short stories in particular are incredible. It seems strange to say this about one of the world’s bestselling authors, but I don’t think he receives enough credit from some literary quarters for the quality of his work.
Away from King, I absolutely love Donna Tartt. I’ve read all of her novels and there is something about her style of writing and her use of language that really draws me in.
Finally, the author that most inspired my upcoming novel was Justin Cronin. His Passage trilogy was one of the best series of novels I have ever read.
CP: You only recently started writing fiction and have met great success thus far, several of your publications being featured with Gehenna & Hinnom. What are your aspirations and end goals for writing? Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
DT: Wow, that’s a long timescale! I first began writing fiction in January 2017 and I’d finished the first draft of my novel by the end of March. Since then I have signed a contract to publish the novel and I have had fifteen short stories published. If I’m being a bit self-critical I probably need to slow down a little and avoid doing too much, too soon.
Having said that, I’m really proud of my achievements so far. When I first started I really didn’t know where it was going. I didn’t even think that my writing would receive any attention or publication, but I have had a little success in a short time, which has been great. So, in twenty years time, I hope I’m still writing and that someone, somewhere is still reading it and enjoying it.
CP: Tell us something that not many readers know about you.
DT: I volunteer with my local RSPCA branch, an animal charity based in the UK. Animals don’t have a voice so we have a responsibility to look after them, whether wild or domestic. I was motivated to help out after I adopted a rescue dog, Cassie, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier who is now fifteen years old, and I want to help raise awareness of animal welfare.
CP: If you could converse with any person, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
DT: It sounds a little grandiose for a horror writer, but it would be William Shakespeare. I have always been fascinated by his plays and I’m also a history lover, so the thought of discovering more about the life of a creative figure at the turn of the seventeenth century is really attractive. His influence on language, culture, and English history is enormous.
CP: What does the future hold for David Turton? What can our readers look forward to?
DT: At the moment, I’m in the editing process for my post-apocalyptic novel, The Malaise which will be published sometime next year by Cosmic Egg Books. It’s an exciting project, and one that I hope will lead to more opportunities for novels. I’m also underway with another novel, centered on a psychic who finds himself in a German concentration camp during the Second World War — think Carrie meets the Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
I discovered earlier this year that I have a real love for short stories. There is something incredibly creative about the process of crafting a story over a few thousand words. When I first began writing fiction, I only ever saw myself writing novels, but I feel that now I’ve let the genie out of the bottle, there’s no going back! I still have a few unpublished short stories that I hope to find homes for at some point, but one I’m really looking forward to seeing is “The Scrap Metal Man,” which will appear in Gehenna & Hinnom’s upcoming Transhuman Science Fiction anthology. It’s one of the darkest stories I’ve written, so I’m intrigued to see readers’ reactions.
CP: If you could give advice to any new and aspiring authors, what would it be?
DT: A strange one for me as I feel that I’m still the one taking advice rather than being in a position to guide others, but I’ll give it a go.
Firstly, the most important thing to do is write. It sounds obvious, but if you’re just at the stage when you’re thinking of doing it, just do it. Anyone who writes is a writer, so if you haven’t done it yet, make a start, you might surprise yourself at how the words flow.
Secondly, find a network. It’s not easy, most writers are natural introverts. We’re not joining the local basketball team after all, we’re pursuing a pastime that involves sitting with a laptop alone for hours on end. But the biggest surprise to me about writing was the strength and supportiveness of the community, both online and in person. I thought writing was a solitary business, but there are many people out there who are ready and willing to help you, whether it’s critiquing, supporting or helping to motivate you with your work.
Thirdly, if you put your work out there, you will receive criticism. Some will be constructive, some may be blunt. Some may be justified, some may be personal opinion. It can be tough to see someone shoot holes in the story you’ve agonized over, something you’ve excavated from your own imagination. But, unless you’re receiving feedback from the wrong people, criticism usually comes from a good place. Only days ago, I received a long email from a respected publisher, rejecting a story submission and critiquing it in a really expansive way. My first reaction was to feel disheartened. But I read it again and I took the advice on board; someone had spent time reading my story and giving me a detailed analysis on how it could have been better. So, take criticism on the chin. You don’t have to act on all advice, but take what you can, especially when it comes from seasoned editors.
Finally, linked to my last point, if you’re serious about getting your work published, get used to rejections. Most writers around, no matter how successful, will have experienced more rejections than acceptances. It’s the nature of the beast. Sometimes it’s not a good fit for the publication, the publisher, or the agent you submitted to. Sometimes you’ll be told why it was rejected, most times you won’t. It does not mean you are a bad writer so don’t turn rejection into dejection. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. If you enjoy your work, others will, so believe in yourself and keep going.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Turton has extensive training in Journalism, Marketing and Public Relations and has been writing as a career for over fourteen years. A huge horror fiction fan, particularly the works of Stephen King, David has written several short stories, all centred around dark tales of horror and dystopia. He is also in the final stages of his first novel, an apocalyptic horror set in the near future.