The Spooky Six is Haunting Paul Kane for the UK Ghost Story Festival!
I’ve had the amazing opportunity to interview the stellar cast of authors that are going to be presenting at the UK Ghost Story Festival. First up in the spooky queue is the prolific (and multigenre) author, Paul Kane! (And, ahem, just pretend you don’t see that already-opened bottle of whiskey.)
(Interested in attending? Check out the exciting lineup of the festival events here: https://www.ukghoststoryfestival.co.uk/schedule and purchase your tickets here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/ukghoststoryfestival.)
Paul Kane (he/him/his) is the award-winning (including the British Fantasy Society’s Legends of FantasyCon Award 2022), bestselling author and editor of over a hundred books – such as 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, Wonderland (a Shirley Jackson Award finalist) and Pain Cages (an Amazon #1 bestseller). His nonfiction 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, Black Library Live and the UK Ghost Story Festival in 2019, plus the WordCrafter virtual event 2021 – where he delivered the keynote speech – 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 has also served as co-chair for the UK chapter of The Horror Writers Association and co-chaired ChillerCon in May 2022. 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): Sacrifice, released by Epic Pictures/101 Films. 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). He has also contributed to the Warhammer 40k universe for Games Workshop. Paul’s latest novels are Lunar (set to be turned into a feature film), the YA story The Rainbow Man (as PB 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), Arcana and The Storm. In addition he writes thrillers for HQ/HarperCollins as PL Kane (https://plkane.com), the first of which, Her Last Secret and Her Husband’s Grave (a sellout on both Amazon and Waterstones.com), came out in 2020, with The Family Lie released the following year. Paul lives in Derbyshire, UK, with his wife Marie O’Regan. Find out more at his site www.shadow-writer.co.uk which has featured guest writers such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Olivie Blake, Robert Kirkman, Dean Koontz and Guillermo del Toro. Or visit his Twitter @PaulKaneShadow and Instagram @paul.kane.376.
Willow Croft: “Hey, look at that derelict Victorian mansion . . . let’s go explore it!” What’s the most unusual setting you’ve read about in a horror/thriller book, or included in your own creative works?
Paul Kane: Wow, I’m not sure… Unusual? I’m actually chairing a “location” panel at the UK Ghost Story Festival in February in Derby (https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/ukghoststoryfestival) and we’ll be talking about all the usual suspects, like The Overlook Hotel in King’s The Shining, Shirley Jackson’s Hill House – in terms of hauntings anyway. But I think, genre-wise, if you have weird things happening in a place you don’t expect them to be, that works wonders. So for me one of the most unusual ghost stories is Solaris, because it’s on a space station rather than in a spooky, abandoned building with cobwebs. In my own work, maybe The Storm from PS Publishing (https://www.pspublishing.co.uk/the-storm-hardcover-by-paul-kane-5028-p.asp) because you have a full on “giant monsters on the loose” story set against the backdrop of this old, historical castle at the coast, with the characters using whatever’s to hand to fight these huge lobster things or whatever. Not just old-fashioned weaponry, like swords and shields, but because there’s work going on in the car park I also had a scene where one of the protagonists uses a small digger to fight some monsters, Aliens-style. If you can surprise readers and give them something they’re not prepared for you’re probably onto a winner.
Willow Croft: “It was a dark and stormy night . . .” What are your go-to comfort foods, drinks, or other ways to wind down after a long day (or night) of writing?
Paul Kane: My favourite thing to do after a long day or week of writing is to spend time with my lovely better half, the writer and editor Marie O’Regan. So, having a meal and watching a movie or TV show we’re in the middle of. We both enjoy reading to wind down as well, so very often do that before going to sleep at nighttime – we very rarely get the time in the day, plus which we’re reading a lot for work anyway. We enjoy going out for a meal and a few drinks occasionally, or going to a convention. But I do love a nice whiskey on a Saturday night while we watch a horror movie: our Saturday Night Chillers as we call them!
Willow Croft: “Did you hear that noise?” Everyone, even us horror/suspense writers, have our night terrors. What is it that frightens you the most?
Paul Kane: It’s the same thing that’s always scared me, since I was a kid. I admit I have a fear of the dark, which you can see in a lot of my work – Of Darkness and Light, Shadow Writer, Keeper of the Light etc. – but I guess that comes with the territory of being a horror writer and having a vivid imagination. We just watched the trailer for the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Boogeyman, and that’s absolutely what I’m talking about; things in the shadows, under the bed, in the wardrobe. I also write crime, though, and sometimes it’s the ordinary, everyday things that frighten me the most, like losing a loved one, being in a dangerous situation with unpredictable people.
Willow Croft: “I’m sure it was nothing. But I’ll just go outside and check, anyway. Alone. With no weapons.” Have you ever gotten writers’ block? If so, how do you combat it? Do you have certain rituals or practices that help get you into the writing (or creating) mindset?
Paul Kane: I’ve only had it badly a couple of times in my life, during particularly stressful periods – for example when loved ones were sick or were having operations – but I did feel like I’d lost my writing mojo back there for a while during the pandemic and lockdowns, like a lot of people. I didn’t stop altogether, because I was editing and still writing some short stories, but I didn’t do anything longer for a couple of years. I wrote my first novel since 2020 last summer, so I was just feeling my way back into it and by the end I was enjoying it again. We’d just moved house, so the change of scenery really helped as we love it in our new place. Plus it was the sequel to The Gemini Factor, the first real novel I wrote with an aim to getting it published over twenty years ago, so that felt a little like coming home as well – writing about old friends, if you like. I used to teach writing at college, and I’d always advise students to do little exercises to get going if they felt like they had writer’s block, but really inspiration’s around us all the time so there’s never any shortage of ideas; I’ve got stacks of notebooks full of ideas and snatches of conversations or whatever, which I can always go back to and flick through if I’m stuck. As for rituals, I think just going to the same workspace if you can every day to write helps get you in the mindset.
Willow Croft: “Don’t go into the basement!” Are you an impulsive pantser or a plotter with outlines galore? What other writing/industry advice would you share with your fellow writers & creators?
Paul Kane: Definitely more of a plotter, which probably comes from my background as a journalist – I did that for a living before moving more into fiction. You always had to be prepared with research and notes and what have you. Especially if it’s a novel, I’ll work out the basic storyline then maybe do a chapter breakdown – which helped massively with getting some of the tie-ins and work-for-hire gigs I had back in the day – then set off writing. That doesn’t mean it won’t deviate, or that you won’t add things or take things out, or that it won’t go off on a tangent sometimes, just that you have some kind of roadmap to follow on the journey to get where you want to get. I added an entire subplot to the Gemini sequel when I was writing that, for instance, because something cropped up I hadn’t expected. Shorts I tend to plot less, but I still have some idea of where I’m going before I start, otherwise it ends up being a mess. That’s just the way I am personally, I know working by the seat of the pants works better for some other people. Writing or industry advice? Just to keep at it, really. I used to tell students, remember the three P’s: Patience, perspiration and persistence. It’s hard out there, I know – I started over a quarter of a century ago now and it’s still hard work as a writer. But if you’re in it for the right reasons, and you can maintain that faith in yourself, the rewards are certainly worth it.
Willow Croft: “Ring ring!” It’s the middle of the night and the phone mysteriously rings. Which notable writer, or person from history, would be on the other end of the line?
Paul Kane: I’d love to have had more time to chat to Jim Herbert before he passed away, as I felt like we’d only really started to get to know him properly. Marie and I had quite a few phone conversations with him and sat down and talked to him in person on a few occasions, but then he was gone, sadly. There were so many other questions I’d like to have asked. Stan Winston, we never got the chance to talk to before he died, although we got close. I almost ended up going into special effects, so that would have been very cool. I’ll always regret not taking up the opportunity of going to Switzerland and interviewing Giger – one of my all-time favourite artists. But I was pretty broke at the time and couldn’t afford it, and of course he’s been gone now almost ten years as well. Grab your opportunities while you can, people, because sometimes they don’t come around again.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
“Bringer of Nightmares and Storms.” Horror writer Willow Croft is usually lurking deep in the shadows of her writer cave, surrounded by formerly feral (but still fierce!) cats for company. Visit her here: http://willowcroft.blog, or check out her other services here: https://kirsten-lee-barger.mailchimpsites.com/.