Adrian Chamberlin

ArcheryChamberlinI know…I know…my interviews have been fewer as of late, but the winter months muffle the screams.  But with spring just around the corner, I thought you might enjoy a few shrieks from Adrian Chamberlin.  I lured him in with a pint of Guinness and a bag of squirrels I bought on eBay.

Why writing?  What drew you to it? Why do you continue?

It started at primary school, about the same time I learned how to read! I had a taste for fantastical fiction: space adventures, anything with dinosaurs and big scary monsters, knights and castles…guess I never grew out of those, because my favourite genres are history, thrillers, and supernatural fiction.

The fun I had with writing stories stuck with me; the act of creating worlds and filling them with people and creatures of my own imagination is like a drug. Even now, if I don’t write for a few days (tied up with editing commitments or eBook formatting), I get twitchy and irritable. When I finish a piece – be it a short story, or novel chapter  – I get a mental buzz. And that’s the key, I think; you really do write for yourself first, others second.

As to why I continue…well, I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. I didn’t write for the period  2002-2006 because I was hooked on eBay selling (a real thief of time!), and I’d just come out of a long term relationship. But I was never happy. Trouble is, the longer you leave something, the harder it is to return. The psychological barrier comes down, and self-doubt sets in. It was purely chance that got me writing again; I saw a call for Christmas-themed stories in a local magazine and dusted off an old story for a whim. I had no expectations; it was set in a Cambridge College and dealt with cannibalism, murder, and Satanism during a Midwinter Feast, while the others were about more traditional Christmas themes!

It scored second prize and removed all self-doubt. EBay selling was abandoned, and I threw myself into writing again. I’ve not stopped since.

If you were freezing to death and the only thing left to burn were the books in your library, what 5 books would you burn last?  (And yes, everything else burnable has been burnt.)

Bloody hell, that’s a tough one! To be honest, I would burn my favourites first. That way, as the cold takes its final toll and all hope of rescue fades, I wouldn’t despair at the treasured books left to burn. I’d save the really shitty ones ‘till last, and then – and only then – would I burn The Caretakers, so I could take some perverse pleasure at knowing my debut novel had outlived them!

I’m now going to order umpteen copies of the Twilight saga and Fifty Shades of Bollocks in time for winter!

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done (in life or in writing (your choice)?

The most challenging thing on a personal level was overcoming my depressive illness back in 2009. It took the form of a complete nervous breakdown, triggered by a manager at work forcing me to relocate to another branch. Coming back to work after three months, determined to get myself mentally strong again and not letting the bastard win. It was hard because employment lawyers were involved; quite simply the most nightmarish time of my life. But the breakdown made me stronger, and you can read more about it in Hidden Thoughts Press’s Mental Wellness: Tales From Survivors.

What’s one word or phrase that drives you nuts?  Why?

“Lol”. Mainly because it’s used as punctuation for inappropriate statements. “I lost my job, lol.” Why are you laughing out loud? You’re not, you’re grinding your teeth in anger and despair; laughing (silently or out loud) is the last thing on your mind.

Do you have a favorite character you’ve created?  If so, who is it and why?

Rob Benson in The Caretakers. There’s lots of me in him – or rather, how I used to be! I have a new favourite now, though: Shadrach, an English Civil War soldier I created for the novella ‘Besieged’, appearing in the Lovecraft-themed novella collection Dreaming in Darkness, with works from fellow Lovecratians Aaron J French, John Prescott, and Fighting Fantasy legend and Pax Brittania creator Jonathan Green.

Because I did so much research on the period (and the First Crusade, as he has his origins in the Fall of Jerusalem in 1099), I knew this was a chance to create a series character. Think Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe or Uhtred, along with Guy N Smith’s Sabat, with a dash of Howard’s Solomon Kane – all set during the English Civil War. ‘Besieged’ is a stand alone story, of course, but establishes the character and sets the tone for the series; and marries my love of historical fiction and supernatural terror.

He’s a fighting man, a veteran of many battles and wars, with a mission: to destroy all artifacts and idols the followers of the Great Old Ones use to summon their dark gods to Earth – at great personal cost to himself.

Creepiest place you’ve ever been?  Has it appeared in your fiction?  Why or Why  not?

Scariest place I’ve ever been to was the Cambridge Pet Crematorium. I worked there as a collection driver in December 1999 and saw behind the wall…first thing that greeted me was a pile of decapitated cows. The CPC then had a contract with the MAFF to dispose of BSE infected cattle; the cows would have their heads cut off and a man from the Ministry would come once a week to take longitudinal sections of their brains for analysis while the headless corpses were lowered into the furnace with a telescopic forklift. And that was before I went out on collections! In the words of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons: Worst. Job. EVER.

Yes, I wrote about it: it’s a 9,000 word story entitled ‘The Bodymen’, from Dark Continents Publishing’s The Spectrum Collection.

What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?

Best one was in person, from PS Publishing’s Pete Crowther at the pitching sessions in 2010’s World Horror Convention. I was looking for a home for The Caretakers, but the way the pitching session was set up was that you’d stand in line and go to the first table that was free. I knew PS Publishing wouldn’t be interested in a novel-length work by an unknown writer, but I had a go anyway. He politely sat and listened to the pitch, expressed interest and then said why it wasn’t for him. It was such a contrast to the form rejection emails I’ve received in the past. Don’t get me wrong, pitching in person is absolutely bloody terrifying; but it’s a valuable experience.

How did you get that scar?

The one on my nose? A rat bite, kindly supplied by Morgan Spice, a hooded rat I looked after one week (along with Malibu) as a favour to my sister. I’d kept rats before and had no problem with them, but I got cocky. I stuck my nose in the bars and said, “Hello, Morgan.” CHOMP!

What song would precede your entrance into a room if we all had personal soundtracks?

‘To Repel Ghosts’ by the Manic Street Preachers. An album track, never a single, from one of their weaker albums Lifeblood – but absolutely beautiful. A hidden gem.

Promote yourself and/or your writing

I can’t! I’m absolutely rubbish at self-promotion! Further details of my work (along with sample chapters of The Caretakers and my forthcoming novel Fairlight – along with free short stories and links to anthologies I’ve appeared in – or available at my website . You’ll also find some rather nice reviews of my work from the likes of HorrorZine, Ginger Nuts of Horror, and The Black Abyss.

Please feel free to visit and say hello to Mr Golien.

One thing I do like is public readings of my work, and I’ve appeared at the Storytelling Fringe in my hometown’s annual Bunkfest two years running now. The festival is becoming quite a big fixture in the folk music/ beer festival calendar, and attracts big names in the scene, along with a very healthy beer selection!

Sunday 2nd September 2012 saw me reading ‘Kriegsmaterial’ from Peter Mark May’s/Hersham Horror’s Fogbound From 5 and ‘False Light’, my Lovecraft/du Maurier mash-up that appeared in the second issue of the Lovecraft Ezine and the British Fantasy Society’s Full Fathom Forty. You can see some of the videos of my reading here.

I’m hoping to get another reading slot this September. I’ve also applied for a reading slot at the World Horror Convention. Yet to hear back on that one, so keep your fingers crossed for me…

Final thoughts before you run screaming for your life?

I’ll quote the excellent William Meikle on this: “’Twasn’t me. A big boy did it and ran away!”

Thank you, Mr. Chamberlin, for your time and entertainment value.  I would advise you to take your little drunken squirrels and make your way to the tunnels.  Good luck “LOL.”

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