My novella Torment was written while I was enrolled in the mentor program with the Australian Horror Writers Association in 2009. My tutor, author Brett McBean helped me mould it into a much better story than what it was. I also had a short story published during that time, so that was my real start, when I realized my writing was ready to be sent out to publishing markets.
Before I started writing horror I dabbled with crime writing, but I found it just wasn’t dark enough. The mentorship enabled me to find my strengths and isolate my weaknesses.
2. How many hours a day do you write?
Nowhere near as much as I would like. I have a full time job as media and communications officer. I try and write every day for at least one hour (usually in my lunch break at the library). Otherwise I write or draw at night after the kids have gone to bed. So probably 2-3 hours a day if I’m lucky.
3. Do you listen to music when you write, or do you prefer the sound of silence?
Depends on what mood I’m in. I find that music can be distracting when I’m writing, but it’s good background noise when I’m drawing. I guess that’s why I go to the library or barricade myself in the office when I’m writing… I must prefer silence when I’m working intensively on something.
4. Do you use an outline when you’re working on a novel, or do you let your characters dictate the action?
I find I get a spark of an idea and if it stays in my head for days, I know I’ve got something worth writing. I don’t plot every intricate detail, but I work hard to ensure that I have a strong beginning middle and end; that I know what will happen to my characters and I suppose I write the rest of the story around that. I strive to keep the reader in suspense, and that was paramount with Torment. I wanted the reader to feel for the protagonist Jessica in every way, so in between the mystery of her father and his house, I took the reader back to when she was a child, to not only add another layer to the mystery, but to her character as well.
5. Damnation Books published your novella, Torment. How did you discover Damnation Books and is Torment your first published work?
Damnation Books was one of many publishers on Ralan that considered novellas and I’m very happy that they decided to take up Torment. Torment is my first novella and my first longer fiction international publication, but before that I’d had a number of short stories published in the U.S. and Australia.
6. Who influenced you to write horror? Any favorite authors in the genre?
Edgar Allan Poe, Clive Barker, Stephen King and Graham Masterton are probably my biggest influences and fave authors. I have a pretty vivid imagination and I was quickly immersed into Barker’s works, namely, The Books of Blood, Weaveworld and The Damnation Game. Sleepless by Masterton, is also one of my favourite books and Salem’s Lot by King.
Poe was the very first horror writer I was exposed to. I loved his control of language, how with every single word he wrote he evoked a reaction, adding to the horror and the emotional response.
7. What scares you?
I had a fear of the dark when I was very young and perhaps writing is my way of channeling it. The horrors everyday people perform also frighten me. As a former newspaper journalist, I used to report in the courts and I learned just how predatory some people can be and how quick some people can be to violence. True horror is so much more powerful than anything I could ever dream up.
8. What are you currently working on?
I just finished a novelette, entitled Vaudeville and I’m currently editing it. It’s about a young boy who encounters a demonic troupe of performers in the woods – the place where his father died a year before. Apart from that I’m also illustrating a graphic novel on the witchcraft persecutions of the Middle Ages, written by Horror Writers Association Rocky Wood and Bram Stoker Award winner Lisa Morton. It will be published by McFarland in early 2012.
9. When will your next book be out?
Damnation Books will publish my second novella The Noctuary on December 1 this year. It’s much darker than Torment and focuses on a writer who discovers he is a "scribe" for The Dark Muses, a cohort of creatures whose sole purpose is to inspire humanity to sin.
10. Where can readers find you online?
My writing: http://www.wix.com/darkscribe/gregchapman
My art: http://www.wix.com/darkscribe/gregchapman_dark-artisan
My blog: http://www.darkscrybe.blogspot.com/
Torment website: http://www.wix.com/darkscribe/tormentbook
You can also download for free my short story collection, Midnight Theatre: Tales of Terror here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/41734
I intend on releasing a second volume early next year.