Interview with Gary Fry
Gary Fry is an author I would like to have on the show. Unfortunately he lives in the UK and scheduling is a nightmare with writers on this continent, so I thought I asked him if he’d mind doing an old fashioned interview on my blog. He was very generous and said yes. So, here I present to you, our little discussion. Enjoy!
Where are you from?
West Yorkshire in the UK. A semi-rural, semi-urban place. I was born in Bradford, a decaying city, once a centre of international wood trade and now rundown and experiencing many social problems. It was certainly a good place in which ferment a love of horror!
What was it like growing up there?
Challenging, I guess, though not always so bad really. For every rough day at school, I had a great day out in the country. In hindsight, I kind of treasure this bipolar way of growing up, seeing a bit of urban blight and rural splendour. It’s certainly helped me to write tales set in varying settings.
You have a strong classic horror style. Which classic horror writers are your favorite?
Well, I do love Lovecraft (not all his stuff, but a selection I totally treasure) and Blackwood. I also enjoy M R James and Hodgson. I tend to prefer a slow-burn development, with gradual, accumulative power, a real vision mapped out over many pages. The Colour Out of Space and The Willows are perhaps the best examples, though I love At the Mountains of Madness, too. Having said all that, I love modern gear, too, including Campbell, King, Klein, McDowell, Barker, et al.
Who influenced you the most to become a writer yourself?
Probably TV writers in the early days; I started out writing sit-coms. But then, as I read TV tie-in novels and got into King, I suppose the switch was made to prose writers. The biggest influence on me as a writer was Ramsey Campbell and it was fitting that he bought the first short story I wrote and properly marketed. I’ll always be proud of that.
You have some mad blurbs from some very well-respected writers like Ramsey Campbell, Kealan Patrick Burke, and Melanie Tem. How does that not get to your head?
I just try and honour them. I always feel I’ve yet to write my best story, and if those kind folk saw merit in my early work, I hope I can continue to fulfil and develop that. But I never rest on my laurels. I know that there are high peaks to scale and that it’s as much as I can do to keep trying to reach higher.
How did you get involved with Darkfuse?
Browsing around online one day, I saw admirable names – Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand, Greg Gifune, et al – associated with them. I was excited to realize that they were open to submissions. I’d been in a writing frenzy at that time and had a completed draft of my novella Lurker ready to go. I was delighted when they got back to me a week later with an offer, including Book Club promotion, limited hardcover and ebook. I hadn’t expected any of that. Encouraged by my success, I submitted a novel I had ready called Conjure House and they made me the same offer. More books followed, each of which was bought, and when the head honcho offered me a nine-book deal I snapped it up.
You have around 8 novels and novella’s published with Darkfuse within the last two years. That’s pretty prolific! When do you sit down to write – i.e. what is your writing schedule like?
I chip away at a new draft all day, doing a bunch of words on a morning, then going for a walk maybe with the dog, before returning to knock out another few hundred words, until the evening when I switch off. Two thousand words a day is good, but I often do either many more or none at all.
Mutator is your most recent from Darkfuse and it has a really awesome monster in it. What was the genesis behind the story?
It’s loosely based on a short story I wrote years ago called Unnaturally Selected. I’d been interested in evolution at university and recognised the tension between Darwin and Lamarck – one saying creatures physically evolve through random mutation, the other through willing change in response to environment. It was simply a case of combining these two theories and thereby confounding earthly processes, making it alien. The secondary theme – involving the human mind being a kind of mental version of the creature’s physical ability, allowed me to explore the idea that people are really as alien as any shape-shifting creature. At the end, I hoped readers might reflect on their own special ability. It’s a celebration of human consciousness, really. But also an acknowledgement of its dangers (as the old guy’s neighbour demonstrates).
What are you currently working on and what can readers expect to see in the near future?
I’ve just finished two novellas for DarkFuse, one called Scourge, which is a weird-race-of-creatures-living-among-us tale, and The Dread Beyond Time, which is at least one attempt to occupy the same fictional territory as Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space. I’m intrigued and a little nervous to know what folk might think of them both, especially the second one. Fingers crossed! I also have a new novel on the boil, but can’t say much about that yet. Should be out next year.
You can buy Gary Fry’s books at Amazon.com.
You can visit him online at his website: http://www.gary-fry.com.