Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Interview With Mark Cassell


Thanks for doing this interview, Mark! 

CHHR: What was your first published story? Who published it?

MC: My first published story was on the back of a writing course I attended in 2013. I scored a few brownie points with the course tutor, Rayne Hall, and she put me in contact with a friend of hers who at the time was editing an anthology for Lafcadio Press called HELL’S GARDEN. I ended up submitting the story I wrote on the course, and the editor, April Grey, loved it. So, in January 2014, I had my first published piece.

The featured story “Ten Minutes Till Deadtime” is one tale among many in the Shadow Fabric mythos.


CHHR: What inspired or influenced you to write the Shadow Fabric mythos?

MC: It makes me feel old to admit the concept is now almost 25 years old. Yet it wasn’t until 2013 I began to stitch it together. I never imagined it would become as complex as it is, unravelling to include not only demons, but also witches and ghosts and some horrific creatures.

Honestly, it began as a couple of words without direction. When it came to finally wanting to do something about it, I knew one thing: I’d been getting fed up with all those typical horror tropes out there, on screen and on page, so I set out to flip everything we know about demonology and ancient evils on its head.

Now, to have readers demanding more in the mythos, is an incredible feeling. Last year at Sheffield Horror Con a reader approached my table with a well-thumbed copy of my debut novel in hand. He wanted me to sign it, have a photo with him, and demanded to know more about the history of the characters and what else was in store for them.

And that, my friends, is why I write; such a humbling experience.


CHHR: Who is your favorite football club? Why?

MC: I don’t do football. In fact, there’s not one sport that swings my chicken.

CHHR: What do you do when you are not writing?

MC: I’m a keen gym-goer who’s always happy when plugging into rock and metal tunes, all the while throwing weights around. In truth, lately I’ve been slack with working out but I’m back on it. Doesn’t take me too long to get into it again.

Also, I find cooking relaxing, and I’m always making up recipes. Modesty aside, I do make some tasty dishes. Other than that, I don’t watch TV nor am I gamer. However, I do love a good movie. Horror, of course, but I guess that’s probably an obvious statement. Ha!

CHHR: Do you have a favorite author that is writing today?

MC: These days I have no particular go-to author. There are so many old and new guys out there, especially some awesome voices on the indie horror scene.

If I must name a hero, I’d stick Brian Lumley on a well-deserved pedestal. His work, the way he expertly balances horror and fantasy and science fiction, is outstanding. I’ll be the first to admit he inspired me to begin writing… and most likely, he’s the reason why the Shadow Fabric has become more than a standalone novel.

His Necroscope series rips apart all we know about vampire and werewolf legends, and the way he’s thrown in necromancers, Russian spies, British intelligence, extra-sensory-perception, time travel, teleportation, and so much more, still amazes me. Every book in the saga is phenomenal, in particular the original trilogy written in the mid-80s. Groundbreaking.

CHHR: What scares you?

MC: I am unashamed when I hold up my hand to reveal that heights scare me the most. I’m good for rollercoasters where velocity snatches away that fear, replacing it with adrenaline. However, I have been known to experience some stomach-tugging moments high up mountains and even on regular overpasses.

It’s a rational fear though, right? I mean, think about it, I would die if I fell.

CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing habits? What does a typical writing day look like for you?

MC: Habits? Like tea drinking and hair pulling? Since jumping on this writer’s game, I’m forever topping up the tea bag jar. And my hair has seriously thinned.

When it comes to writing, I can sit anywhere with or without my laptop. I often scribble in my notebooks before I begin any project, whether flash fiction or novel. I used to be a morning writer, but these days I’m happy to write at any time of the day.

Also, I love going on location with a notebook. I once visited castle ruins at 3am on a foggy morning. It paid off, because that story became another mythos tale later to feature in an anthology by Shadows At The Door.

CHHR: Do you have a favorite pub that you frequent? What is your favorite beer?

MC: What a fantastic question… to which I have an incredibly crap answer. I hardly drink beer these days, or anything else for that matter, so I don’t have a Local. However, when I do jump on the alcohol train, it’ll be either gin or rum. Most recently it’s been a lot of rum, like a pirate.

CHHR: Do you have any advice for future writers or writers who are just starting out?

MC: Be honest with yourself and write precisely what you want. Get down and dirty with your inner-self, and don’t let your mum or dad read it. In fact, don’t get excited and show it to your closest friend. Not yet! Keep it for yourself. That way, you’ll find your true voice before you’ve allowed anyone else to hear it.

I believe that you can lose enthusiasm with any project if you throw parts of it out there too soon; it kind of dilutes the passion.

That energy you have when you first start out should make you so damn high you pour it onto the page, just for you rather than anyone else. Learn the craft, layer your work in all that you absorb, and once you’ve discovered your voice – and it takes time – that’s when you’re ready to show the world.

If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll recognize it.

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HELL CAT OF THE HOLT - a novella in the Shadow Fabric mythos
Available from Amazon

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Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK where he often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines. His best-selling debut novel THE SHADOW FABRIC is closely followed by the popular short story collection SINISTER STITCHES and are both only a fraction of an expanding mythos of demons, devices, and deceit.

Mark’s 2017 release HELL CAT OF THE HOLT further explores the Shadow Fabric mythos with ghosts and black cat legends.

The dystopian sci-fi short story collection CHAOS HALO 1.0: ALPHA BETA GAMMA KILL is in association with Future Chronicles Photography where he works closely with their models and cosplayers.

For one of Mark’s FREE stories go to: www.markcassell.com

Or visit the website: www.theshadowfabric.co.uk

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