To coincide with our competition giving away a free SIGNED copy of The Crows, we interviewed C.M. Rosens to find out her writing influences, her motivation behind the novel and more. Check it out!
How did your interest in writing start?
My interest in writing started when I was really little and as an only child I had some imaginary friends – my mum and her parents encouraged me to write them down or to tell them about the ‘adventures’ I had in Dinosaur Land (I was obsessed with dinosaurs when I was 5/6). I’m fairly sure you got there via a magic bubble that appeared around you when you jumped down a hole under a bridge, like Alice in Wonderland meets Journey to the Centre of the Earth / The Lost World. I’d seen the Disney film of Alice and read the illustrated Ladybird abridged books of JCE and TLW, so it was mostly a mash-up of that, but with a T-Rex called Lucy who was the queen who let me ride her. I’ve been making up stories pretty much all my life – writing is just a way of remembering them!
What made you choose horror?
I didn’t exactly choose horror as a genre, I’d always thought I couldn’t write anything like that. It turned out that the story I wanted to tell had a lot of Gothic elements (my favourite!) and was based on a romantic cosy paranormal mystery I’d written in 2013 for fun. The rewrite got a bit darker, had more body horror, and went into the darker side of Gothic tropes and conventions. The gory bits are fairly few and not that bad (in my view) but that’s very much dependent on personal taste, I guess. Horror is such a broad genre with so many facets, but it gives you as a writer a lot of scope to explore personal and/or socio-cultural anxieties and concerns, the reasons why certain things frighten or horrify.
What was your inspiration behind The Crows?
Stephen King’s Rose Red was a big influence on The Crows in its current form, and Salem’s Lot, with the idea of a house being evil (Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson was actually something I read after the draft was done!) I wanted to invert this and create a house with a personality that was more three-dimensional than just ‘evil’. Other influences include the Lovecraftian mythos, my own working class background and some real life experiences (not all my own), Hammer Horror films, the early seasons of Midsomer Murders and quite a lot of Terry Pratchett. I have a lot of time for the idea of people just trying to live their lives while surrounded by magic and various things going on.
Will there be a sequel to The Crows? Or anything else written in the Pagham-on-Sea universe?
There is a sequel to The Crows – the next novel is called Thirteenth, and follows the Porter clan more closely. I also have a short story, The Sound of Darkness, which is set in the council estate on the edge of Pagham-on-Sea, coming out in the anthology F is for Fear with Red Cape Publishing. There are a few more books linked to the town in various stages of planning and drafting, which will use overlapping settings and some overlapping characters, but will be standalones. One of them, Eldritch Girls Just Want To Have Fun, is a slasher-romance or goremance co-written with Nita Pan (author of Life and Death, a dark, tragic and philosophical short story in the Supernatural Beings anthology From Ashes to Magic). That follows a different member of the eldritch family you meet in The Crows, but that’s mainly set in Brighton c.2016. It looks like it has series potential on its own, so watch this space.
Now you’re a published author, what advice would you give to those just starting out?
I think my main advice for those starting out on their publishing journey is that it’s not one-size-fits-all. There are pros and cons to every route, and in my case I chose self-publishing as I’d had good feedback from traditional publishing houses but it ‘wasn’t what they were looking for’. I also wanted to collaborate with artist Tom Brown (co-creator of the Hopeless, Maine graphic novels) and wanted to retain the creative control to include illustrations that I would otherwise have to negotiate with presses. However, I’ve got a publishing contract for my non-fiction popular history book, which is being published under my real name rather than my pen-name. I would say in both cases that a good editor makes a world of difference, especially one you can work well with. I’ve also had the benefit of good alpha and beta readers, and my books tend to have about eight pairs of eyes on them before they make it to the editor. I want to produce a quality product as well as a good book, so I think investing in that, however you do it, is really important.
When you’re not writing what are you generally doing?
When I’m not writing, I’m not doing anything particularly interesting – I do like to travel though! Obviously not at the moment… and honestly, apart from walking and working, I don’t think I’ve got anything exciting out of lockdown! I did take up Burlesque and Belly dance online though, but I can’t continue with them due to my shift patterns.
If you were to set a goal for your future what would it be?
In terms of goals… I think my main one would be to get Eldritch Girls out there, which is one of my favourite passion projects and just so much fun to write. I would also like to get an anthology of Pagham-on-Sea short stories completed (co-written with Guillaume Velde) and get the sequel to The Crows out by Jan 2021. For personal goals – I would just like to be able to travel again. I haven’t been to the USA/Canada since I was 14, and I’d love to go there again and visit friends I haven’t seen for years.
And finally, who is your favourite horror icon?
My favourite horror icon is Sir Christopher Lee. I love Hammer Horror films and out of the greats of that era he’s my favourite. Vampires were always my favourite monster as a kid and I will always have a huge soft spot for his Dracula.
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You can find out more about C.M. Rosens here