Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Adam Davies

Meghan: Hi, Adam. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Thanks for joining us here together. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Adam Davies: I’m forty-five and live in a village in Yorkshire in the north of England (Stark country, not as far north as wildlings). I have an amazing, supportive, beautiful wife and two incredible daughters soon to turn eight and six. My real-world job is procurement and supply chain director for a business that distributes medical consumables. Two of my three cats that passed away in the last eighteen months so I’m down to an incredibly handsome, long-haired ginger tom, Jambo.

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

Adam Davies: I’m a huge introvert and find people totally exhausting, but you would never know this if you met me because I can come across as quite outgoing and I like to joke and gossip. I didn’t realise this introversion about myself until well into my mid-thirties. I’m very good at conflict, I have to be as part of my job, and my colleagues would all consider me quite feisty and combative at times, but very few people realise that I absolutely hate it and it eats away at me whatever I have to disagree with somebody. This is another revelation about my character that I only discovered in later life.I’m a high-functioning insomniac but have been able to bring that under control in the last four years by following a CBT online program. If there are any insomniacs reading this, I cannot recommend CBT highly enough it has changed my life. Where I previously averaged two to three hours sleep and had bad nights four nights in seven, I now average six to seven hours sleep I only have bad night’s one night in seven. The difference is incredible.I was a stage child taking dance and drama classes from the age of three and, by virtue of being a boy in a female dominated world rather than Talent on my part, I ended up appearing on national television on Christmas day and even as an extra in a film with Michael Palin and Dame Maggie Smith.Last summer I had a panic attack on a small aerial assault course on holiday in Italy. I’ve never been scared of heights before and I was no more than twenty feet off the ground. Fear of heights is something else didn’t know about myself.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Adam Davies: I have two iconic childhood reading memories. The first is Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish, by Michael Foreman. My favourite book as a young child which I recently bought for my own daughters. It was very much ahead of its time with an incredibly relevant environmental message that we as a race have failed to heed. I also remember a book called Wereboy, by Terrance Dicks. As an eleven or twelve-year-old I borrowed this from the local library dozens, if not hundreds of times to read over and over again. I’ve never linked that memory to the fact that I write horror, but I guess a seed was clearly planted.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Adam Davies: Vox by Christina Dalcher. It’s set in the immediate future where the ultra-conservative right has the presidency and women are prohibited from speaking more than one hundred words per day. It’s thought (and anger) provoking, chilling and well written. I recommend it.

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

Adam Davies: I was lucky enough to backpack around the world for a year in my mid-twenties. I read a succession of medical thriller novels by Robin Cook that I picked up at various hostel book exchanges. I found them all incredibly gripping despite the fact that they are ultra-formulaic and very not my thing in normal circumstances

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

Adam Davies: This is probably the most interesting questionable for me. I first put pen to paper three years ago in my early forties. I never knew I wanted to write, and I’ve never had the remotest inclination to try it. My youngest was coming up to two years old so we still had a baby monitor. I had the thought what have you heard somebody whispering to your child through your baby monitor while you were both downstairs and, on a whim, I decided to try and write that story. It quickly became an exploration of what happens to a couple’s relationship when they have a baby anthropomorphized into horror. I have seventeen thousand unpublished words somewhere that I hope one day to complete, but it became clear to me writing a novel was too hard for me and I had no idea what I was doing. In parallel I stumbled on a few Creepypasta I really enjoyed, Candle Cove, Mr Widemouth and Penpal stick in my mind. The Creepypasta led me to NoSleep on reddit and I suddenly realised I could write short stories and that would be easier than a novel and would help me learn. That probably marks the actual beginning of my writing. Over the course of twelve months I wrote around thirty-five stories I posted across r/NoSleep and r/shortscarystories on reddit. Through these subs I met a bunch of Incredible, talented fellow writers who I am part of various groups with to this day. I have been lucky enough to have a few short stories published in anthologies run by groups I met through NoSleep.

If that’s the how & when, the why is less clear. Now that I am writing I realise I have always imagined stories and always wanted to tell them. I’m under no illusions, I don’t have what it takes to have a career as a writer, that’s not my goal. I just want to write what I want and tell the stories that mean something to me. If anyone wants to read them that’s the icing on the cake.

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

Adam Davies: Special places to write don’t really exist in a house with young children in my experience!

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

Adam Davies: In terms of quirks, due to the amount of time I spend in my car with work, around four hours a day, I do an awful lot off my writing on a voice to text app as I drive. Without that I wouldn’t get the time to write anything. It takes an awful lot of getting used to. Not being able to see the words on screen in front of you adds a layer of complexity and wordsmithing is out of the question, but it’s good for rough drafting and just getting words on paper. There is significant editing required as the speech recognition with the background noise of the car can be pretty sketchy at times. This often leads to some hilarious sentences like “Callow 10 hatch Rossi akon hashish ready 2 evade.” I then have to figure out what I was actually saying at the time and translate back.

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

Adam Davies: I never enjoyed studying English in school, so I dropped it aged sixteen. As a result, I lack a lot of fundamentals. I particularly struggle with punctuation and grammar. I seem to have a complete blind spot on how to correctly use commas despite reading dozens of articles about the rules for doing so. The fact that I find it so difficult part of the fun for me. I love mastering things I find a challenge.

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

Adam Davies: A short story called ‘The Worm King.’ I remember being told about the cellular memory of worms in my mid-twenties and the concept of an all-powerful worm has sat in the back of my mind for decades. It’s short and snappy, with just enough science to make it almost plausible and make it a bloody scary concept. It also elicited a really fun set of interactions with the readers who commented on the story which really made it for me.

I also have a huge soft spot for the only children’s horror story I have written ‘Granny Heckle’s Teeth.’ I have a bunch of stories planned for the formidable Granny and I’d love to publish them one day with my daughter doing the artwork. (She’s only eight but seriously talented.)

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

Adam Davies: I think writing is still so new to me that I’m not sure I actually have a style yet. I love Clive Barker. His anthology The Books of Blood remain one of my all-time favorites. He has an incredible, vast imagination and tells stories on an epic scale which is something I aspire to. In non-horror I think A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin are the best books ever written. Again, the vastness and depth of the world and character building really appeal to me.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Adam Davies: Engaging characters and storylines that make you think.

I’m a horror writer that isn’t scared by horror. When I get a chill down my spine, it’s because something has made me think wow, that could really happen and it’s a chilling prospect. I enjoy psychological horror and technology horror as they tend to elicit those kinds of reactions in me.

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

Adam Davies: I like a sharp wit, and a misunderstood character will often draw me in, so somebody like Tyrion Lannister is a great character for me. He is deeply flawed and thoroughly unpleasant but mostly vilified for the wrong things. He has the confidence and acid tongue to deliver some stinging one-liners.

My own character development is something I struggle with. Short form horror is by its nature plot driven more than character driven, and in venturing into writing my first novel, I’ve had to try and force myself to address that in my current work in progress. I think there are some decent characters, but I am about to overhaul my main character. I think he lacks enough depth and interest to carry the book. I can’t visualize him clearly, and I don’t always know how he will react in a situation. If I don’t know that, how can the readers care?

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

Adam Davies: William Bridge the main character in my novel (who isn’t interesting enough to carry a book!) probably represents many of the less positive things I think about myself. He is a loner, disengaged from the world and doesn’t care about other people’s live. Captain Harold Stubbs, a homeless veteran from the same novel, probably possesses some of the positive qualities I’d like to think I have. He is loyal and honorable.

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

Adam Davies: I don’t know if they turn me off as much as a good cover definitely draws me in. My published work to date is in group anthologies where I had visibility of covers, and a small amount of inout between options. When I finish my novel and get to the point of needing a cover, I’m looking forward to being heavily involved in that. I confess to having a soft spot for a gold old fashioned eighty’s horror cover.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Adam Davies: So many things! The most enjoyable thing I’ve learnt is a reminder of how important imagination is. More than anything, writing for me is a gateway back to my childhood where imagination was more powerful than reality. I am lucky enough to have a happy and stable life, but reality can still suck at times. Writing means I get to create my own reality where ultra-cool shit happens, and monsters abound. Even though I don’t write about happy things, I get to write about things I find intriguing.

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

Adam Davies: My cheating answer is some of the scenes I haven’t written yet. I find endings difficult (we all do, right?), so the fact that I can’t yet conceptualize the end of my novel makes it hard to write. I don’t do happy endings so in my head the bad guys win. I’m not sure people are going to want to read that.

I’ve found some of the earlier, more mundane, character building scenes from my novel difficult for some of the reasons I mentioned above about finding character development a challenge. Not really being in love with my own main character has been a factor, and as the scenes have intrinsically less plot, they are further away from my comfort zone. I’m a horror writer so I have my fair share grisly scenes and even a few sex scenes. (I have a story in a horror erotica anthology, don’t judge me, it was huge fun.) Unpleasant stuff I’m fine with, mundane stuff I find harder.

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

Adam Davies: I don’t know yet is the honest answer. I’m trying to write a novel that is vast and complex with intertwined stories as part of a larger narrative arc. It has a message about how I view the world today and gives a uniqueness to some tried and tested horror bad guys. If I actually achieve one of those three things, I’d be pretty happy.

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)?

Adam Davies: With the birth of my writing career being on NoSleep, the title e is often the single most important factor in the number of eyeballs your story gets. When it comes to a novel, I think the significance of the title drops several pegs. The cover, the promotional activity and reviews are more important for visibility, I think.

My current WIP title comes from a prediction made in the story by something called ‘The Reaper App’ that predicts how and when people will die…with unnerving accuracy.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Adam Davies: Short stories give instant gratification. Write it, get it out, look at the feedback and move on. It’s a really nice feeling. But for me, the real sense of fulfillment has to come from the novel. It’s a huge challenge for me on so many levels. I’m a rank amateur, I lack the fundamental skill set, I don’t have the time, all of these are challenges I can overcome and get a big, bold story out there.

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

Adam Davies: I want to tell stories that terrify by making you think. I want them to unnerve and unsettle because they are a dark spin on a reality that is a little too close for comfort. My only real target audience is people like me, who read horror stories that are tropey and come away feeling a little disappointed that the book didn’t just go a little bit further.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Adam Davies: I have an extremely graphically unpleasant scene that may not make the final cut. It’s a transformation scene where a character is basically tortured into taking their own life to escape the agony. It’s borderline gratuitous, but it is important for the story. I’m on the fence.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Adam Davies: I have two. My Granny Heckle stories and the completion of my first baby monitor story that I suspect would end up as a novella.

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

Adam Davies: I love #vss365 and do a horror themed tweet every day, so If nothing else there will be that.

All current efforts are focused on the first novel. I’m at 50,000 words so making decent progress, but it could easily be another year before I even have a finished first draft at the rate I write.

I also have a second novel idea and about 15,000 words written. I would describe it as ‘Dune, with Faeries,’ so yeah, that one’s a bit left field.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Adam Davies: Twitter ** Facebook

I have a lousy website that needs an overhaul, nothing to see there currently.

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?

Adam Davies: Just a huge thank you for interviewing me. I’m a complete nobody but I’m having a whale of a time writing and this is a huge opportunity for me that I really appreciate. The questions were thought provoking and I enjoyed the process.

Adam Davies writes thinking person’s horror for fun, and to free his imagination, if he didn’t, all those crazy thoughts would stay trapped in his head and who knows what would happen? Adam has six short stories published across four anthologies and is currently working on his first novel. Adam is an active part of the indie online horror community and founded the NoSleep Writers Guild in 2017 to help improve relationships between internet horror writers and YouTube horror narrators, and combat IP theft. His published works can be found in:

A Cure for Chaos: Horrors from Hospitals and Psych Wards
Monstronomicon: 100 Horror Stories from 70 Authors
Goregasm: Seductively Scary Stories
Sirens at Midnight: Terrifying Tales of First Responders

A Cure for Chaos: Horrors from Hospitals and Psych Wards

Life is chaos. Death is the only cure. 

You’re never so vulnerable as when you surrender your body to a hospital.

You trust the doctors to know what is best, but these stories show what happens when they have other plans.  

What if a maternity doctor pretends your child died during birth just so he can steal it? Or a simple operation is used as an excuse to harvest parts? Discover the truth of the asylum in the woods, take the pills which induce mind-bending phobias, and try to escape when you’ve been institutionalized against your will. 

A CURE FOR CHAOS is an anthology of horror stories from 30 authors, each with a unique way to thrill and terrify you. From stalking supernatural monsters to the psychopaths hiding in plain sight, these quick reads are perfect for adding excitement to your daily life. 

Monstronomicon: 100 Horror Stories from 70 Authors

THE MONSTER BOOK OF MONSTERS is a collection of 100 stories from around the world, inspired by the legendary book from Harry Potter. These aren’t your everyday Werewolves and Wendigos either. Each story is told by the survivor of an encounter with a unique and mysterious creature more wild and varied than you can imagine. This book has something for everyone with a dark mind, so read now to find the perfect monster for you.

Some monsters are quirky and friendly, while others are apocalyptic behemoths crawling up from the depths. Some stories are heartwarming, funny, or profound, while others are a blood bath.

Goregasm: Seductively Scary Stories

Goregasm is a compilation of the hot and the horrifying, the sexy and the scary, the titillating and the terrifying. Featuring X stories from over X authors, Goregasm contains the most vile tales of lust the human mind can conjure. 

From a father’s bequeathal of his sordid sexual proclivities, to a glory hole made by the devil himself, to a computer program that allows its users to partake in their most depraved fantasies, Goregasm takes a frightening dive into the sexual psyche, with blood-curdling tales that are presented with the hardest, deepest, most throbbing details the written word allows. 

Prepare to be aroused and appalled as Goregasm brings you to what will unquestionably be the most divisive climaxes you ever achieve.

Sirens at Midnight: Terrifying Tales of First Responders

Each and every day, first responders are thrown into situations most of us can barely comprehend. These brave souls are pushed to limits far beyond the average imagination, be it physically, emotionally or something…else… 

Like a police officer who arrives at a scene that defies all logic and reason… 

A firefighter who rushes into a house only to be met by the very flames of Hell… 

A paramedic who can’t restart a heart…because the patient doesn’t have one… 

A 9-1-1 call from beyond the grave… 

With 40 terrifying tales from 31 authors, join the heroic men and women of those professions and more as they attempt to rise above the darkness…and avoid having the last sounds they ever hear be… 

Sirens at Midnight