Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, it gives us the greatest of pleasure to welcome you to Confessions of a Reviewer’s interview with a man who, to many, is a living legend in the writing world. A man who can write stories in almost any genre and make it a story worth reading.
Please welcome, the one and only, Mr Willie Meikle!
We have been admirers of Willies’ work for a long, long time. Our love of all things Victorian and Edwardian, when it comes to horror, is what first brought him to our attention but believe us, no matter what you pick up with his name on it, you will absolutely love it. As an added bonus, he is an absolute gentleman. That is something you will find out over this next couple of nights.
Tonight, Willie will tell you all about his life in general and his writing, including some influences and dislikes!
Tomorrow night, Willie will tell you all about his new collection, The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror.
On Tuesday night, Confessions will be publishing our own review of the book, so watch out for that one.
It’s Sunday night so go grab a nice hot mug of coffee and sit back, and most of all……enjoy!
CoaR – So tell everyone a bit about yourself in general. Who is Willie Meikle and what is he all about?
WM – I am a Scottish writer, pushing sixty, now living in Canada, with over twenty-five novels published in the genre press and over three hundred short story credits in thirteen countries. It’s almost all pulp. Big beasties, swordplay, sorcery, ghosts, guns, aliens, werewolves, vampires, eldritch things from beyond and slime. Lots of slime
I have had books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, DarkFuse and Dark Renaissance, and my work has appeared in a large number of professional anthologies and magazines.
I live in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company and when I’m not writing, I drink beer, play guitar and dream of fortune and glory.
CoaR – Do you have a boring pay the bills job or do you live off your writing?
WM – I spent twenty-five years in IT, from 1982 to 2007, working as a suit in London, Aberdeen, Perth and Edinburgh, building big computer systems for big banks and businesses, the NHS and the Scottish government among others.
But I’ve been full time writing since leaving Scotland and coming to Newfoundland in 2007.
CoaR – Why writing? Why decide on it as a career?
WM – What makes you think I had a choice?
Back in the very early ’90s I had an idea for a story. I hadn’t written much of anything since writing some songs in the mid-70’s at school, but this idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I had an image in my mind of an old man watching a young woman’s ghost.
That image grew into a story, that story grew into other stories, and before I knew it I had an obsession in charge of my life.
So, it all started with a little ghost story, Dancers; one that won me one hundred pounds in a ghost story competition, ended up getting published in All Hallows, getting turned into a short movie, getting read on several radio stations, getting published in Greek, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew, and getting reprinted in The Weekly News in Scotland. Not a bad return for one wee idea.
Of course, a quick success like that made me think everything was going to be easy.
CoaR – You are originally from Scotland. Why move to Canada, and particularly Newfoundland? It looks like it is in the middle of nowhere. Was that the plan?
WM – We came over on holiday in 2005 and loved it. When my job in Edinburgh went tits-up in 2007, it was just when I was starting to get some serious pro-level story sales, and we knew we could get a nice house with a great view dirt cheap over here on The Rock. So, we sold up in Scotland, whacked some money in the bank, bought a house on the shore here in a fishing village, and I tried writing full time. I’ve not starved us yet.
It’s not quite in the middle of nowhere. We have roads, a post office, a supermarket and some takeaway places. We even have running water and electricity.
The people are very friendly, mostly of Irish descent around here, and it’s lovely and quiet, which suits me just fine.
CoaR – Ever came face to face with one of those polar bears?
WM – We came close last winter, to within a mile of a big angry male, and two miles from his female partner but we were put under police orders to stay indoors while they dealt with them, so no face to face encounters. I have looked down the gullet of an Orca from less than six feet away though. Does that count?
CoaR – That makes you hard as nails in our books! Unless it was dead already…..
CoaR – Take us through your process for a story. How do you start it and follow it through to the final product?
WM – For me it’s mainly inspiration. I wouldn’t write at all if the ideas didn’t present themselves in my head. I find I get a lot of ideas clamouring for attention all at once. Only the strong survive.
That’s the inspiration part. And that continues when I start putting the words on paper. I’ve tried writing outlines, both for short stories and novels, but I’ve never stuck to one yet. My fingers get a direct line to the muse and I continually find myself being surprised at the outcome. Thanks to South Park, I call them my “Oh shit, I’ve killed Kenny” moments, and when they happen, I know I’m doing the right thing.
There is also a certain amount of perspiration, especially in writing a novel. But I find if it feels too much like work, I’m heading in the wrong direction and it usually ends up in the recycle bin.
And, yes, there’s a certain degree of desperation in that I want to get better, to make the big sale, to see my name in lights, all that happy shit. But I try not to think about that too much.
CoaR – How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you carry a notebook with you everywhere or write stuff on the back of your hand?
WM – I write my ideas down in a notebook that never leaves my side, and sometimes one of them gathers a bit more depth, and I get a clearer image. At this stage I find myself thinking about it almost constantly, until a plot, or an ending, clarifies itself.
Once I’ve written down where the story should be going it quietens down a bit. Then, if I find myself still thinking about it a couple of days later, I’ll probably start writing the actual story. At any given time, I have about twenty ideas waiting for clarity in the ‘wee list of things to make and do’, two or three of which might end up as finished works.
CoaR – Sweary Puffin? What’s that all about?
WM – That’s just a bit of fun on Facebook for me. The picture was one I took on an island off Mull back in 2000, and one night after a particularly bad Scottish football performance, I made a FB meme of the wee guy saying ‘SHITE”.
People liked him, he popped up again saying “ARSE” after another football match and now has a wide repertoire of curses to employ and a growing fan base.
He’s a wee alter-ego for me that lets me swear at things without being too offensive.
CoaR – Can you tell us if any of the characters in your books are based on people you have come across in your life or maybe even yourself?
WM – Derek Adams, my drunk Glasgow PI, is based on a guy I met in a Partick bar many, many years ago. Several of the old guys who turn up in my books and talk too much are based on my grandad’s and dad’s mates from other bars in my youth. There’s a wanker of a scientist in Night of the Wendigo who came directly from one I met at university.
So, yes, some people do come from life. But mostly for me it’s cherry picking wee bits and pieces from here and there, and remaking them into something new, rather than using an existing real person.
CoaR – Who would be the authors you would give the credit of being your influences and who do you just not “get”?
WM – The main influences are people I read when I was young. Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alistair MacLean at first. Then Tolkien, Michael Moorcock, Fritz Lieber and a whole host of science fiction writers before I found Lovecraft and the weirder side of things. Then Stephen King came along. King, Ramsey Campbell, and Tim Powers have been my main three go-to guys for many years now.
As for who I don’t get, Thomas Ligotti is probably the main one. I understand why he gets the acclaim, and see the value to the genre as a whole in what he does, but I find his nihilism too far away from my own view of the world to be able to read it with any sense of enjoyment. Maybe that’s the point and I’m not supposed to be enjoying it, just appreciating it. But that’s not how I’m wired.
CoaR – What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?
WM – Cutting out the boring bits. I have a tendency to let my characters run on and ramble if I’m not careful, being a man who likes to talk to a man who likes to talk.
I cut an awful lot of verbiage out of most of my work. Maybe too much for some people’s liking as I get accusations of running away too fast with some of my plots.
But I’d rather go too fast than too slow.
CoaR – What would your ultimate wish be with your writing?
WM – It’s always been the big deal in my mind, the mass market paperback in bookstores all over the planet, the Hollywood blockbuster, all that happy shite.
But in reality, I’m happy to have the readership I have. If you’d told me when I started out I could have what I have now, I’d have sold my soul for it, if I hadn’t already given it away for three pints of heavy and a packet of crisps in 1978.
Well, unfortunately, that is it for Part One of the interview. You should now hopefully know some facts about Willie Meikle that you didn’t about twenty minutes ago.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night to hear Willie’s thoughts on his new collection, The Ghost Club, and watch him take on the Ten Confessions!
Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!
CONFESSIONS REVIEWS WILLIAM MEIKLE
I am a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with over twenty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries. I have had books published with a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, DarkFuse and Dark Renaissance, and my work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines with recent sales to NATURE Futures, Penumbra and Buzzy Mag among others.
I live in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company and when I’m not writing I drink beer, play guitar and dream of fortune and glory.
I don’t know where the ideas come from. I’m just glad that they come. It’s been over twenty five years now. I think it’s enthusiasm that keeps me going. I just love adventure stories with guns, swords, monsters and folks in peril.
I’m just a big kid at heart.
And for more about Willie, visit his site or find him on social media: