PS: You’ve written a lot about monsters including two collections with that name, Monsters and More Monsters. Where does your love of them come from?
PAUL: I’ll start this one by giving you a little exclusive, that there’s yet another collection in the works called Even More Monsters – so yes, it’s fair to say that I’m quite obsessed with the monstrous. Where does that come from? It’s probably down to my parents, or more specifically my dad who was a big fan of shows like Doctor Who, Star Trek and The Incredible Hulk. Those are shows packed full of monsters – the Daleks, Cybermen and Gorn spring instantly to mind – and I used to watch them with my dad when I was very small, so it was almost definitely that. I also used to watch all the old horror movies with my folks, from the black and white Universals to the Hammers and Amicus films, which boast their fair share of monsters. It was these that introduced me to the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman, for starters, then I graduated to creature feature novels, beginning with Jim Herbert’s Rats trilogy, and video nasties. I was a bit obsessed with George A Romero and Lucio Fulci’s zombie movies back in the day. You can imagine my delight when I actually got to meet and chat with George, who was such a lovely guy; a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment. Then of course there were the Godzilla flicks I saw as a kid, King Kong… The list is endless. I guess you could say I was surrounded by monsters – the fictional kind – from a very early age and that love of them hasn’t really gone away.
PS: You actually won an award for one of your monster tales didn’t you?
PAUL: That’s right, ‘A Chaos Demon is for Life’ – which won the Editor’s Choice Dead of Night Award. That one was my homage to the giant monster movies I’ve enjoyed in the past, right up to films like Cloverfield and Pacific Rim. There was a black humour to that one, and an emotional edge as it’s about a boy’s relationship with a pet monster that just happens to start growing until it’s massive and begins stomping around London. I’ve had people tell me they’ve shed a tear or two over that one, which was an unexpected side-effect. The story was reprinted in the first Monsters collection, which itself was short-listed for a British Fantasy Award, so obviously it’s been quite a lucky one for me that.
PS: Where did the idea for The Storm come from?
PAUL: Apart from all the creature features I’ve seen in the past, the revenge of nature novels like The Rats, The Crabs, The Slugs… probably the biggest influence on this one was Stephen King’s The Mist. The book’s even dedicated to him, as there are other nods to his work in there as well. I first read The Mist when it came out and adored it, then I was even more impressed with the movie adaptation from Frank Darabont, who for my money has done some of the best King films. So I began to think about how I could do a story like that, but in a different way. I’ve always been interested in sea monsters, which again probably comes from my childhood and Jaws. And at the time I was thinking about writing The Storm I’d also been commissioned to do an Innsmouth tale, which involved my doing a lot of research into that particular mythos, plus coastal legends and the likes. I also used to go on holiday to the seaside every year when I was young – as we had a caravan at Flamborough – so that fed into things too. Not to mention the frequent trips to Scarborough when we were having StokerCon meetings… I’ve incorporated all that into my second HQ/Harper thriller as well, which is coming out this summer. So it was a mixture of all that stuff swirling round in my brain, plus military strategies which I’ve always been keen on; you can see a lot of that in my Hooded Man books. I also love siege stories, and was delighted when I was able to write one for the novella Flaming Arrow – which also includes modified human monsters, coincidentally. This just gave me the chance to do another one, at yet another old castle.
PS: How did the book itself come about?
PAUL: The road to publication? It doesn’t always happen this way, but The Storm was part of a two-fer with PS, the first book of which was already pretty much there: a collection of rare and unused film and TV scripts/treatments called Dark Mirages. That launched at FantasyCon 2018, a gorgeous hardback publication – if you’ve haven’t bought it yet, then drop everything and check it out here (https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/dark-mirages-hardcover-edited-by-paul-kane-4692-p.asp). The two-book deal also included an – at that time – unwritten novella, which I pitched to Pete and Nicky. Thankfully they liked the sound of it and so I started to write it. I had so much fun it actually morphed into a short novel by the time I was finished, I don’t think I wanted it to end. I then asked my good friend Rio Youers, he of The Forgotten Girl and Halcyon fame, if he’d have a read in the hopes he might contribute the introduction. Thankfully he liked it too, in fact he really got where I was coming from and wrote a terrific intro. Then it was down to artist Ben Baldwin who once again did me proud where the wraparound cover art was concerned. We were actually at Pete and Nicky’s in January when the sketches for the endpapers came in, which Nicky showed me on her computer – and I just thought ‘wow!’ It all came together nicely to make a pretty special book.
PS: As with a lot of your books the characters are just as important as the story or even the monsters in this case aren’t they?
PAUL: I’m a big one for character studies, in fact I have to rein it in sometimes. But I do believe that if you’re going to present the reader with a scenario that’s as outrageous as this one – where eel-monsters, giant crabs or whatever come through a crack in reality disguised as a storm to attack a castle – you have to make the characters who are being attacked as real as you possibly can. Otherwise you’re not invested in what happens to them. The central characters in this case are an American family who are visiting these shores, and the main duo of Keegan and Gemma – one a workman there, the other a tour guide – who are kind of star-crossed lovers. How Keegan feels about Gemma fuels a lot of his actions, as he’s always said he’ll never abandon her, will always be there for her. Then of course when they get separated by all the chaos, he does everything in his power to reach her. Someone asked me in an interview just recently what I thought made a horror story inherently British, and I gave the answer that we just kind of get on with things no matter what’s thrown at us. You can see it right now with what’s happening with the pandemic, we’re all just dealing with it however we can. In this instance, though, it’s a case of going ‘F**k it!’, monsters are falling from the sky so we’d better just get on with fighting them.
PS: Do you have a favourite monster of all time?
PAUL: If we’re taking the Cenobites and Nightbreed as read, then I think I’m going to have to give it to the Xenomorph from the Alien movies. I absolutely love those guys in all their forms, from the Facehugger to the Chestburster – or Dogburster, or whatever species the host happens to be – to the fully grown Alien itself. Giger’s one of my favourite artists anyway, and these just scream Giger…because he designed them! Everything about them is beautiful and terrifying and disgusting all at the same time, which is not an easy thing to pull off. So, yes, I’m going to have to give it to the Alien.
PS: What projects are you working on or do you have coming out soon?
PAUL: At the moment, like so much of the world, you catch me in lockdown mode because of the virus. That’s also necessitated a shift in our plans for StokerCon which was due to be happening – at time of writing – next week. It makes me incredibly sad that it’s not happening, as we’ve been prepping for it for two and a half years, and it would have been awesome. But with a bit of luck it’ll happen in some form down the line. So, I’m keeping myself sane by working on admin, parking my bum and getting on with fiction writing that I owe – a novelette to begin with and I need to get on with the third thriller for HQ/HarperCollins – and watching lots of films and boxed sets: we just started Doom Patrol, but are in the middle of Mr Mercedes, Ozark, The Witcher and various others; at the weekend we watched The Shining and Doctor Sleep back to back, which was fun. As for what’s out and coming soon, as well as The Storm obviously, my first thriller as PL Kane Her Last Secret just dropped as a paperback and audio in March, our latest anthology through Titan – Cursed, edited with my better half Marie O’Regan – is also out, plus a novella called Blood Red Sky from Silver Shamrock. Luna Press are releasing the official movie tie-in for The Colour of Madness, a film that’s based on my novelette ‘Men of the Cloth’, this month, then the second thriller comes out over the summer from Harper. I’ve also begun working with Mark Miller and Christian Francis at Enclopocalypse to bring out some of my back catalogue as audio books, including Signs of Life, Of Darkness and Light and Sleeper(s). The rest of the year is taken up with collections essentially, but more about them as and when.
PS: Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us Paul!
PAUL: My pleasure.
Paul Kane is the award-winning, bestselling author and editor of over ninety books – including the Arrowhead trilogy (gathered together in the sellout Hooded Man omnibus, revolving around a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood), The Butterfly Man and Other Stories, Hellbound Hearts, The Mammoth Book of Body Horror and Pain Cages (an Amazon #1 bestseller). His non-fiction books include The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy and Voices in the Dark, and his genre journalism has appeared in the likes of SFX, Rue Morgue and DeathRay. He has been a Guest at Alt.Fiction five times, was a Guest at the first SFX Weekender, at Thought Bubble in 2011, Derbyshire Literary Festival and Off the Shelf in 2012, Monster Mash and Event Horizon in 2013, Edge-Lit in 2014 and 2018, HorrorCon, HorrorFest and Grimm Up North in 2015, The Dublin Ghost Story Festival and Sledge-Lit in 2016, IMATS Olympia and Celluloid Screams in 2017, plus Black Library Live and the UK Ghost Story Festival in 2019, as well as being a panellist at FantasyCon and the World Fantasy Convention, and a fiction judge at the Sci-Fi London festival. A former British Fantasy Society Special Publications Editor, he is currently serving as co-chair for the UK chapter of The Horror Writers Association. His work has been optioned and adapted for the big and small screen, including for US network primetime television, and his novelette ‘Men of the Cloth’ has just been turned into a feature by Loose Canon/Hydra Films, starring Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, You’re Next). His audio work includes the full cast drama adaptation of The Hellbound Heart for Bafflegab, starring Tom Meeten (The Ghoul), Neve McIntosh (Doctor Who) and Alice Lowe (Prevenge), and the Robin of Sherwood adventure The Red Lord for Spiteful Puppet/ITV narrated by Ian Ogilvy (Return of the Saint). Paul’s latest novels are Lunar (set to be turned into a feature film), the Y.A. story The Rainbow Man (as P.B. Kane), the sequels to RED – Blood RED & Deep RED – the award-winning hit Sherlock Holmes & the Servants of Hell, Before (an Amazon Top 5 dark fantasy bestseller) and Arcana. He also writes thrillers for HQ Digital/HarperCollins as PL Kane, the first of which, Her Last Secret, came out in January. Paul lives in Derbyshire, UK, with his wife Marie O’Regan and his family. Find out more at his site www.shadow-writer.co.uk which has featured Guest Writers such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Robert Kirkman, Dean Koontz and Guillermo del Toro.