Welcome back to Part Two of Confessions of a Reviewers’ interview with the one and only, Willie Meikle.
In tonight’s segment, Willie begins by telling you all about his new collection, The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror, fills you in on what is coming next from him, and he takes on the Ten Confessions in a very honest manner.
You have just got over Monday so grab a beer or two and sit back, and most of all……enjoy!
CoaR – Moving on to The Ghost Club. What inspired this one? What did you want to achieve with it?
WM – I was talking on Facebook about Carnacki and Holmes, and somebody mention H Rider Haggard, and asked if I’d thought of doing an Allan Quatermain story. I hadn’t. Then I had. But that brought on another train of thought, of the dining club, and literary members telling stories for a meal.
Once I had that idea, I knew I had to write it, if only to prove to myself that I could.
And as for why, mostly it’s because it’s a homage to where I come from, a storytelling tradition that I value, one that’s rooted in my psyche.
It’s my way of saying this is who I am.
CoaR – How did you decide which authors to use for the individual stories?
WM – At first, I only had Doyle, Stoker and Haggard, but once I had those three I was able to pick a range of dates where they’d all be around at the same time in the same general area. After that it was a matter of checking Wikipedia to find out who else was around, still alive, and writing at the time, then choosing which ones I wanted to write a story for.
It meant I had to discard some as being too young, and some others as being too dead, and others still as being too dull.
I also didn’t want to include anybody I hadn’t read for myself, so in the end the list more or less wrote itself.
CoaR – Did you want to just write in the style of the authors in question or did you try to actually be the author?
WM – I just wanted to write in the style, and get the voice right. I don’t sit around in a Victorian gentleman’s suit smoking a pipe and stroking my beard.
Well, not all the time.
CoaR – Do you have to flick a switch inside your own head to write in a Victorian style or does it just come naturally?
WM – Because I’ve done so much reading in the period, and watched so many films, it’s a voice I seem to be able to fall into without too much rational thought. It helps to have the likes of Jeremy Brett and Peter Cushing in mind too when it comes to dialogue.
CoaR – I was surprised not to see William Hope Hodgson in this with a Carnacki story. Why did you not include him? Was it an age thing to keep with the time the book was set?
WM – Exactly. Hodgson was too young at the time to be considered and did most of his writing nearly twenty years later than the dates in which these stories are told.
I already had to shoehorn a young, pre-published H G Wells in with a bit of handwaving and trickery. It would have been too big a stretch to get Hodgson in there too.
CoaR – Would you ever consider doing a modern-day Ghost Club book?
WM – Short answer. No.
Longer answer. The genre has moved on from the style I’m most at ease with. I couldn’t even begin to attempt, say, a Ramsey Campbell story, or a Peter Straub story. Those guys are much too good for me.
CoaR – What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
WM – I’ve been playing guitar badly since 1973. These days as I’ve got a touch of arthritis I use a bottleneck and play slide blues a lot. I read a lot, always have, and I like walking on the shore, sad songs, and beer. Lots of beer.
CoaR – What’s coming in the future from Willie Meikle?
WM – I’ve got three new novels (and a big batch of DarkFuse reprints) coming from Crossroad Press, which includes The Boathouse, another in my Sigils and Totems works, Ramskull, a new Scottish Hammer horror tribute about Satanism and bloody mayhem on a Hebridean island, and Deep into the Green, a Newfoundland based dark fantasy about miners delving where they shouldn’t.
One thing I’m quite excited about is a novella appearance in I Am the Abyss, a huge anthology from Dark Regions, mainly because I’m sharing page space with some great writers, and I get a double page color artwork from the great Les Edwards.
THE TEN CONFESSIONS
1 Who would you view as your main competitor in the writing world?
WM – I spread myself too thinly over too many genres to think of myself as having competitors in any particular one of them, but if pushed, I’d probably say somebody like Brian Keene, who also covers the pulpy end of the spectrum like I do.
But he’s got a much larger following than I do, so any concept of competition is laughable.
2 What book or author have you read that you think should never have been published?
WM – The main recent offender is Clive Barker’s, which read like he wasn’t engaged with the material after such a long time away from the characters and bits of it even read like it had been written by someone else entirely. All the old Barker magic I’d been hoping for wasn’t in evidence, and it was all such a huge missed opportunity, and such a huge disappointment.
3 Are any of the things your characters have experienced in your books been based on something that has actually happened to you? What was it?
WM – My recent novella Deal or No Deal is based on the idea of someone selling their soul for beer, and having someone turn up to collect thirty years later. Thirty years ago, about now I sold my soul in a bar in Glasgow for three pints of heavy and a packet of crisps, just like the guy in the story.
I’m not planning to meet the collector though.
4 Have you ever blatantly stolen an idea or scene and adapted it for one of your own books? If so, care to share?
WM – Not blatantly stolen, no, but I’ve often noticed after writing that my subconscious has borrowed from something else.
There’s a scene in The Amulet with Derek and two cops that’s straight out of The Maltese Falcon. It wasn’t deliberate, but once I noticed, I left it in anyway because I liked it.
5 Have you ever anonymously left a bad review for someone else’s book? If so, care to share?
WM – Honestly, it wouldn’t even occur to me to do it.
If I don’t like a book, I either say so or just keep quiet about it if it’s something everybody else likes, and I’m obviously out of step.
Too many people get off on shitting on other folks’ parades. That’s not my style. And neither is doing anything anonymously. If I think somebody’s a wanker, I’ll tell them to their face.
6 What’s the one thing you are least proud of doing in your life and why?
WM – Begging my first wife to stay with me, long after it was apparent the thing was dead and finished. I should have held my head up and turned away, but I went all clingy and pleading one particular night in the worst of it, and in doing so lost a lot of self-respect that took me a long while to get back.
7 What’s the one thing you are MOST proud of doing in your life and why?
WM – Persuading my mum and dad to buy their council house, and helping them out with the payments. It’s meant they’ve been in retirement for many years now without having council rent or a mortgage to worry about, and I hope I’ve helped to make their later years more comfortable because of it.
8 What’s your biggest fault?
WM – I’m great at saying I’ll do something, then not doing it.
Drives my wife mad, and I keep saying I’ll stop it.
But I’m great at saying I’ll do something and then not doing it.
9 What is your biggest fear?
WM – My wife dying.
I faced it this year, in April. We got up on Easter Saturday, and Sue made it as far as the bathroom door before collapsing at my feet. Her eyes went dead and she stopped breathing. I had a bad thirty seconds or so when I knew for sure she was gone, then I got her turned over and banged her in the chest.
Luckily, she came back to me, partly, but she was unresponsive and couldn’t focus on me. Then we had the panic ambulance call, the whole E.R. scene and attendant worry, and a couple of weeks recovery in hospital from what turned out to be pulmonary embolism in both lungs.
A lot of people die straight off when they get them. She was lucky, but I still get the shakes thinking about it.
10 If you had to go to confession now, what would be the one thing you would need to get off your chest?
WM – If I went to confession my mother would kill me – she’s staunch Scottish Protestant from the old school. But apart from that, if I did go, it would be to apologise to her.
Back on the wedding day of my first marriage, my gran, my mum’s mum, died while getting ready to come to the wedding. I had a chance to postpone the wedding, but like a fucking useless git went ahead with it anyway.
And like a fucking useless git, I went on honeymoon, and missed Gran’s funeral.
I was a fucking useless git. And I’ve never really apologised for it.
Fucking useless git.
After those last two confessions, I almost feel like we all need a break! Very emotional and honest answers, Mr Meikle.
But unfortunately, that’s it for the interview. Hopefully you have learnt enough about Willie Meikle to rush over to Amazon (or elsewhere) and buy loads of his stuff, including The Ghost Club, after hearing his thoughts on it.
I want to personally thank Willie for taking the time to answer all of our questions so honestly, and so quickly. I know he is a very busy man and this tour is a long one for him.
It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know him some more.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night for our review of The Ghost Club!
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: