Monday, July 16, 2018

Interview With Keith Anthony Baird

CHHR: Please give a brief introduction here.

I'm an English indie author living in the Lake District National Park in the county of Cumbria. My writing could be summed up by the broad term Dark Fiction, in that it can encompass genres such as horror, sci-fi, apocalyptic, dystopian, dark fantasy and crime.

CHHR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I came to the table quite late so to speak. I'm currently 48 and didn't begin my first novel until the age of 45. There's lots of reasons for this but the main one is I simply wasn't ready, given the circumstances of my life, until I met my soulmate Ann, who supported me throughout the process of writing my debut novel.

CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like?

Pretty straightforward in truth. I'm 100% focused on penning my second novel. Until very recently I had a full-time job but felt shackled by it, in that I'd come home having spent the day sitting in front of a computer screen. The last thing I wanted to do was open my laptop and write after shifts dealing with customers, creating invoices and other dreary stuff. I simply wasn't getting enough writing done. So, my partner suggested I go part-time and free up my days to focus more on crafting stories. So far, it's working out well. I also spend some of that time marketing my first book and arranging things like attending conventions etc.

CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing rituals? If so, what are they?

Nothing that's far out like getting the dog to point out words in the dictionary or flossing my ass before I sit down to write. I do, however, get up and pace around sometimes. I find it helps me work certain things out in my head. Sometimes just sitting there can feel a bit of a trap, especially when my thought process hits a brick wall. I guess if I feel a little bit fluid in movement it kind of translates to my thinking too. In truth, I've never really analysed it, but I guess that's probably the reason why I do it. If I couldn't do that I'd probably end up going into meltdown and doing a Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?

Novels without a doubt. Short stories don't really float my boat. That may change at some point, but right now I have so many ideas in my head that I can envisage as being full-blown creations, that I just don't have a mindset for literary sound bites.

CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?

'Horror'ible. Locally, non-existent. Nationally, I'd say it's quite healthy with enough conventions and societies up and running that there's sufficient interest.

CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?

Both. My process is a complex one. It always has to start with inspiration of course and then it will evolve the more I think it through. I don't make a lot of notes but enough to get the essence of characters, setting and the rough outline of the story. I learnt to stay open to those bursts of inspiration that come further down the line when I penned my debut The Jesus Man. They can inject either a subplot I've not considered in the beginning, or some other idea which adds a new aspect to the story. I'd had that story clearly mapped out in my mind for some time but when it came to getting it put down, it evolved with what I call 'light bulb moments' which added new twists and turns. So, now I'm midway through creating my second novel, I'm sticking to the formula which I feel yields the desired result. Plus, I do a lot of research, because I feel I need to convince myself that what I'm writing holds water so to speak, and that's fundamental in making it believable to anyone else.

CHHR: How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?

It established a benchmark for me. The thing is, I was a journalist for ten years so I'd spent a lot of time editing other people's copy. So that process, combined with revision work has always been a very natural thing to me. When it came to creative writing I already had a professional grounding in many aspects of the process. I was also a graphic designer, so things like typesetting and formatting were also second nature to me. So, it didn't so much as 'change' my writing process, but more like it was where I'd been leading up to for a long time. By the time I was ready to write a piece in excess of 100k words, and all the many dynamics that entails, my process and discipline were well oiled, efficient and 100% ready for the task at hand.

CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story?

A certain tension that's really a kind of an intangible ingredient. That thing which makes the whole story hang together. I guess it's a combination of different things, such as suspense, atmosphere and back story, and so on. Then of course the writer's own voice, their unique perspective on delivery and timing. Put it this way, it's the thing that if you could capture it and bottle it, you'd make a fortune from it.

CHHR: What are you currently working on?

My second novel titled Nexilexicon, which is a very different animal to my debut. I'm about midway through at this point and what starts off as a period piece adventure evolves into what I can only describe as a story which contains elements of horror, mystery and science fiction. I estimate it will have a bigger word count than my previous work and will probably be ready to put in the marketplace early 2019.

CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?
The Measurements of Decay by K K Edin is my read at the moment. Waiting in line is The Swallowed World by Tyler Bumpus, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and my royalty statements from Amazon, lol.

 CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?

In truth, it was my debut. One element of it got under my skin at the time of its making. I'd created a character which was a construct of evil and brought into reality from a vision suffered by one of the story's principal characters. It was a little girl whose laughter was eerie and she carried a doll which spoke via a pull cord in its back. Now, generally I think it's fair to say I'm neither scared by little girls nor dolls, but the way in which I brought her into being and the manner in which she behaved, gave both my partner and me the creeps. In fact, so much so that when it came to going to sleep, we both would be hoping we'd not hear laughter in the house. Had we done so, I think it's safe to say we would have both freaked out completely. I recall a reader in America told me she'd really been given the 'what ifs' by the book and had been scared at bedtime the same, and a guy in the UK left a review stating he'd be pulling the bed sheets over his head. That kind of response is cool because it lets me know I've done the job right.

CHHR: What is your favorite horror book?

Dracula. Read it when I was a teenager, love it still.

CHHR: What is your favorite horror film?

The Thing (1982).

CHHR: What type of music do you listen to? What’s your favorite album?

I listen to many types. I enjoy classical at times, but the main genre I grew up with was Metal. I like Punk too and crossover/fusion bands interest me also.

CHHR: What is your spirit animal?

Never been asked that before and never even thought about the concept either. I'd have to have something quite obscure or, failing that, something completely absurd which appeals to my strange humour. Maybe a Honey Badger or maybe the grub they placed inside Chekov's head in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Something like that would be perfect.

CHHR: What is your favorite beer?

I no longer drink beer, it doesn't agree with me. In recent years it's been red wine, heavy ones such as Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

CHHR: If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?

I'd suffer a beer to sit and have just twenty minutes with Lovecraft – that would be fascinating!

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