Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Grant Hinton

Meghan: Hi, Grant. I’m so excited to have you here today. Thank you for agreeing to take part in this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Grant Hinton: I was born in London, United Kingdom, back when the world made sense, but now resided in sunny Australia. I love writing, it’s a passion that’s taken over my life. I have a long-suffering wife who doesn’t read much of my stories, (she’s not a horror fan,) but supports my decision to scare people. Along with that, I like to make beer and I’ve gotten pretty good at it, well, that’s what my friends tell me.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Grant Hinton: I’m an open book, even on the Internet forums I frequent. But I will go with:

  • I couldn’t write my name until I was six.
  • I’m a very good singer, as in I could make a living off of it, and when I was younger I did for a while, but it’s not the life for me.
  • I wrote my first story – which was a total rip-off of The BFG – but I was only ten.
  • I’ve never been in a fight outside of self-defence classes and boxing training.
  • You wouldn’t think this by looking at my rather rotund form, but I can do the splits.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Grant Hinton: The BFG as a kid, although I was never a big reader and never finished any book assignments from school. I only started getting seriously into reading when I was about 28. I picked up a copy of Eragon by Christopher Paolini. It was incredible and I was hooked from the get-go. It was the first book I read fully in one sitting.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Grant Hinton: Nowadays I have a few books on the go, I don’t just read fiction either. So, currently, I’m reading Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, which is super impressive and informative. It’s changing the way I approach writing stories. I’ve always been a mixture of a plotter and a pantser. I would have a great idea and kinda know where I wanted it to go plot-wise and then I would pants my way through it. This book has changed that, and I’m thankful.

I love reading indie authors like myself. I think there are so many great writers out there that get overlooked. Take my other book for example. Escape from Samsara by Nicky Blue. It’s about a ninja gardener from England that goes on a quest to find his missing father. It’s comical and easy to read, it also has a cockney spirit guide that keeps cropping up in bushes, so I was sold.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Grant Hinton: Umm, this is tough, most people expect you to love all books and genres when they find out you’re an author. Especially the genre you write.

Gosh, this is tough. I’ve read so many. Pass. Sorry I just haven’t got an answer.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Grant Hinton: So after my plagiarism of Roald Dahl, I had a spat of writing poetry in school and after that never thought about writing again until I was 28. I was sat in a hotel room in Waikiki, Hawaii. I don’t know where the idea came from or the compulsion to write it but I grabbed the closest piece of paper and started writing. It was a dungeon scene between an evil sorcerer and a captive elf. I didn’t know what I was doing back then, so that single chapter got edited several thousand times. Each time I would go to write I would re-read, change a few things and then progress the story. I still have it somewhere. It’s around 23k words (unedited) and should have been a heroic fantasy. One day I might dust it off and write it with the skill set I now have.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Grant Hinton: No, is the short answer. I write everywhere. Unlike most authors, I write about 90% of the time on my phone. It’s actually how I wrote the answers to this questionnaire. Inspiration can hit me anywhere so I like being able to whip out my phone and get it down. Google docs are amazing for that. I can access them anywhere at any time. The last thing I want to do is limit myself because I’ve tried the whole make time to write in a special place and when I get there to do just that, nothing wants to come out.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Grant Hinton: I have several processes when polishing a piece, but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking. The one thing I like to do with a WIP is re-read what I’ve written so far. It adds a little time onto the workload but It allows me to get the mindset right for the characters, what the style of the story is, the undertone, plot, conflicts etc.

If it’s a fresh idea, I like to let it simmer away in the back of mind for a time. I think a lot when I’m in bed trying to sleep. The silence allows me to really play out the story in my head. I can run scenarios, tweak ideas, ask a lot of what-ifs moments; get involved in the plot-line and stir things up.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Grant Hinton: Politics. I’m not one for all that, so I intend to leave it out of my stories. I’m a simple man, I want to scare you to death, not bore you

What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

It’s a short story called ‘Tunnel Vision’ in my collection The Wraith Within. Essential it’s about a lady stuck on a train. But she doesn’t know that until the end. It heavy with dialogue but of all the author friends I’ve asked to critique it, they have found it amazing, so I’m happy it’s done it justice. It’s a futuristic tech horror, one of my favourite sub-genres.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Grant Hinton: The opening paragraph of GOT A Song of Ice and Fire inspired a whole story around the Irish mythology of Badb. The triple crone. Other inspirations come from Lovecraft, his style is mastery, Neil Gaiman makes telling stories seem effortless, I envy him for that. Margret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s Dragonlance adventures were my first looking into an epic fantasy setting that motivated me to devour the whole collection. And Brendon Sanderson, I’ve watched every YouTube video of his lectures, the guys incredibly talented and a must for any new writer. He will break stuff down for you in a way that you can understand.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Grant Hinton: Conflict. Without conflict, it’s not a story. I like to throw my characters into the worst situations possible and then make it even worse. Flaws are also a biggie. We all want to related to our characters. No one wants to read about a perfect MC, that’s plain and boring. We want flaws, so we can relate and feel better about ourselves as our characters change throughout the story.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Grant Hinton: I kill most of my characters, so I’m not showing much love, haha. Na, I’m just kidding, well kinda. I’m going to go back to the flaws. It’s what makes them like you and me. We want them to be messed up like we are, we want them to not know the answers because we don’t. We want to see them struggle and we love them for that.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Grant Hinton: I write predominantly first-person POV. So a lot of myself pours through in my stories. But if I were to pin one character it would be a recent creation. Bison Dawson. He’s a Cherokee angel I wrote for the second season of a popular internet ARG called Brighter Futures suicide hotline. He has a massive arc to go through while fighting to fit into a world he doesn’t belong in. I felt the same since I was little. Not knowing my place in the world. But as I’ve grown older I’ve stopped thinking that way and now understand that you don’t have to fit in as much as carve out that space for yourself.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Grant Hinton: Absolutely. It’s the first impression of the writing world. If you don’t get it right it can bum you book. I don’t know what makes a cover great, to be honest, I’ve been caught by a plain cover with a catchy title and I’ve been caught by great artwork. I think it’s a medium between the two.

My cover for The Wraith Within is drawn by an amazing artist called Lee Marej, an engineer from the Philippines. When I saw the picture two years ago, I knew I wanted to use it for my collection. I purchased the right to use it and designed the rest of the cover from there. That was a huge – but enjoyable – learning curve.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Grant Hinton: A lot. It’s one thing to write but all the behind-the-scenes technical stuff that goes into getting those words in front of people is astounding. I’ve had to learn how to format for ebooks, Kindle, Amazon, design book covers as above, learnt how to promote that book and even interact with fans. Some days I relish just being able to delve into the worlds inside my head and write.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Grant Hinton: The ending to a story called ‘Why you don’t bring back people from the dead.’ It’s about the entities latching on to you when you die and come back. It was heavily influenced by my idol. My father. So the ending has him die, that was hard. Imagining that made me choke up when I was writing it. He’s still very much alive, healthy and strong. I felt that way because he’s my father and I have a strong bond with him.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Grant Hinton: Have you seen my front cover! It’s badass. Just kidding. Why is my book different… umm, well the one thing I can think of other than I wrote it is that I’ve given each story an epilogue. I wanted the reader to get a look into how the story came about and any feeling I had while writing it.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Grant Hinton: I think the cover of a book is more important than the title. A good cover catches the eye and makes you stop and read the title. Get those both right and you may get someone to pick your book off the shelf or even read the blurb if online.

How hard is it for me to choose? I’ve only got the one book so far, but I have an answer for you anyway. I think you should do a poll. If that’s with your family and friends, or fans on your page or whatever. Line up the choices and get some feedback.

With my current collection, I chose The Wraith Within because one; it symbolises the demons inside of us wanting to get out. I believe humans are fundamentally good and bad, it’s a choice to do either. You have a choice to not hit someone who’s shouting at you. You have a choice to give back the money you saw drop out the guy’s wallet. You have the choice to not buy a gun and shoot people with it.

And two, It’s also how I see the stories in my head, all pulsating and pushing their way out.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Grant Hinton: I enjoy writing short horror stories, its how I began so it’s easy to slip back into. Shorts can be punch 500 words or be a colossal 10K words, either way, they can break novel rules. You can play with syntax and prose, throw structure out the window and experiment with the joy of writing a thrilling piece. With a novel, you can’t really do that.

Most of my stories follow the ‘learn a lesson’ style, be that don’t do drugs or don’t chase white see-through things down dark tunnels with a phone and nobody with you because that’s shits gonna end bad kinda lesson. I like my readers to still be thinking about my story well after finishing it.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Grant Hinton: A trunk? Mine’s a whole garage. Haha. Ideas crop up all the time, sometimes that inspiration needs the motivation to get out on the paper. If I don’t have the time to smash it out, I’ll leave plot points or notes so I can come back to them. When I do come back to them sometimes the fire is gone or I leave it for so long that I can’t remember the pattern of thought surrounding the storyline. These one sit at the back of my mind and in a folder on google docs. I often go through what I got in the drafts there, I’m meticulous like that. I have a master file with all that I’ve written, every collaboration I’ve been in and all my drafts. Just the other day I picked up a plot point of a man turning to my character. His face decaying with weeping wounds and open sores. A maggot crawls out from his hairline and creeps across his face, slipping in and out a fresh wound. The maggot crawls into the decaying man’s mouth and he bites down on it.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Grant Hinton: Twisted Fairytales and Secondhand Nightmare. Twisted Fairytales explain itself precisely, but to sum up, essentially I wanted to take 8-10 popular tales and twisted them back into something Hans Christian Andersen would be proud of.

Secondhand Nightmares is a joint collaboration with my amazing author friend, Melody Grace. We have taken 30 pictures from a Facebook secondhand finds page and with the owner’s permission written stories inspired by them. My favourite is a shrunken head picture. My character is a cheeky student with a wit sharp enough to cut grass. But then lady he meets a lady on holiday that’s more than a match for him. It’s a little sexy and quite dark. It was fun to write. I won’t spoil it for anyone out there.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Grant Hinton: Facebook is my jam, you can message me there and I’m fairly active.

Or Twitter. I participate in a daily writing challenge called VSS365. It stands for Very Short Story. Once a day a prompt word is given by a preselected person. With the word and the confines of the Twitter character limit, you have to write a short compelling story. You can interact with me there too.

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Grant Hinton: Horror surrounds us in our daily lives, not just the words on paper or scene of a horror movie, but in the actions of the people surrounding us. Don’t be one of them. Use your time here on earth to make people happy. Especially yourself. Because if you’re happy you’ll find the world will be a happier place. And we could all do with a brighter future.

To all the budding authors out there. Read. Read like an MF, and write and show that shit to your friends and other authors. It’s the only way to learn and progress. Oh, and also grow some thick skin. Because you’re going to get feedback on your baby that you might not like but it’s essential that you learn from it. If it’s hate feedback, like the person just say you’re crap and you shouldn’t write, don’t listen to them. Feedback and criticism should be constructive, it should help you learn. If it doesn’t, it might not be you, it might be them.

Grant Hinton is the wifi password to the world of horror. His technological knowledge mixed with the grasp of the human condition results in devastatingly chilling results. Not only that, this bestselling author is hauntingly gifted in all things to raise the hairs on the back of your neck, all the ways to quickening your heartbeat, and leave you with a lesson that stays long after your eyes have left his words.

There are great things on the horizon coming ahead, stay tuned for more soul gripping content.

Grant Hinton – horror author, writing advocate, teacher and family man.

The Wraith Within

From supernaturally scary to real-world horrifying, this collection boasts 32 harrowing tales. Each accompanied by a brief epilogue into the author’s deranged mind, adding a little insight into their creation. A lady is trapped on a train, but she doesn’t know it until too late. I professor sells sex toys for one purpose only. A policeman finds more than he bargained for on a routine call to a place that doesn’t exist.

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