ER: Welcome to the blog, Tony. Let’s jump right in. Give us a short blurb about your “Bloodstream” story. How did you get the idea?
TF: My “Bloodstream” story is entitled, ‘The Averish House’, and it tells of the terrible fate which befalls a young girl who makes the foolish mistake of stealing candy from a strange house belonging to a couple of witches on Halloween night.
I remember seeing this photograph by Diane Arbus, which showed an elderly woman sitting in a wheelchair, wearing a witches Halloween mask, and I remember just being really drawn to the image. It had that really unsettling quality which is common in an awful lot of Diane Arbus’ photography, and I remember just thinking that the woman in the photograph would make a fantastic character for a horror story. Their was so much mystery behind her, and all that mystery fed into the character which would become Penny Averish in my story, and the idea just built from there.
ER: Why did you start writing? What drew you specifically to horror?
TF: Initially, the first thing I was really interested in writing was screenplays. I was (and still am) a major film geek, and I remember when I was about 13 years old I was given a DV camera by my mother, and I used to write and direct these short movies with a gang of friends I was in school with. I remember the first two short films I ever made were horror movies. One was called ‘Restless Deep’, which was essentially a thinly veiled ‘Friday the 13th/ I Know what you did Last Summer’ rip off, and the second was called ‘Revelations’ and was without any doubt the very worst film ever made by a human being ever! I’m pretty sure I still have a VHS copy of both films somewhere.
I think I always had an interest in horror, even when I was very young. I remember my dad was a huge fan of old Hammer horror films (Horror of Dracula; The Curse of Frankenstein etc.) so I was aware of those movies and those characters from a very young age and I think that interest and that attraction to the genre has been with me ever since. (ER: Classics! That reminds me of a song I heard once. See the caption below:)
ER: Is writing horror different from other genres? What makes a great horror (or dark fantasy) tale?
TF: I think that there’s a purity to the horror genre which makes it very special. As opposed to a genre like Drama, which is so vague and can have so many different meanings, horror is almost mathematical in its simplicity. Something will either scare you, or it won’t. A story is either frightening, or it isn’t, and if it isn’t, then it’s not a horror story. I love the puzzle of horror. I love trying to figure out what combination of story and character and atmosphere will result in a story which is genuinely chilling.
I think the most important thing in a horror story is character. Horror is a genre which specialises in putting characters in peril, and the horror of a given situation will only really have impact if the reader is interested in the characters who are under threat.
ER: What scares you?
TF: Almost everything scares me, which is why I think I’m attracted to the horror genre. I’m an arachnophobic, so that would probably be top of my list. Trees also freak me out. I’m not sure why. Also the sea scares me. So do cities at night. And being alone. And being with too many people. I’m a terrible coward all round, really. (ER: I see where you get the attraction to writing horror. It’s a way to control the fear…)
ER: What do you do when your muse deserts you? How do you stay inspired?
TF: I think that the most important thing when you’re not sure what to write, or if you get stuck on a project, is to just power through and write something. Write anything, even if you’re convinced what you’re putting down on paper is rubbish. Just get words on the page, and don’t be afraid to screw up, because you can always fix it later. There’s nothing more demorilising than just staring at a blank computer screen, or wandering around doing something else, wishing you knew what to write, so I would say just keep getting words on the page.
ER: What’s your next project? Will you share with us?
TF: I just recently started working on my first novel, which will be a horror story called ‘The Lost Ones.’ There’s not an awful lot I can say about it at the moment, because there’s still so much I don’t know, but I’m really excited about it.
Aside from that, I have a couple of projects which have yet to be released. A poem I wrote, entitled ‘The Burning Man’, is set to be released as part of the ‘Darkness ad Infinitum’ horror anthology from Villipede Publications, while another, entitled ‘Where the Lost Ones Dwell’, is set for release as part of the ‘Fossil Lake’ horror anthology from Daverana Enterprises.
I also co-wrote a horror/ fantasy film, entitled ‘Taryn Barker: Demon Hunter’ which is currently in production and is being directed by Zoe Kavanagh, who co-wrote the film with me, so I’m really excited to see how that turns out. I think it’s going to be a great movie. (ER: That sounds fantastic! I’m excited for you.)
ER: Do you listen to music while writing? What’s on your playlist?
TF: Yes, I find music really helpful when writing. Most of the time, I find myself becoming obsessed with a particular piece of music while working on a project, so that sort of becomes my soundtrack for the work. I remember while writing ‘The Averish House’ I listened to a piece of music from an Irish instrumental band named 3epkano. The piece is called ‘They Are Flying’ and is from their album ‘At Land’
ER: What authors/artists inspire you?
TF: I think with ‘The Averish House’ I really wanted to give it a Brothers Grimm/ Hans Christian Anderson fairytale quality. The thing I always loved about those stories is, they’re essentially morality tales, trying to teach children how to be good human beings, but they were always so violent and vicious, and had such a strong horror element to them. It’s a shame that they tend to be so watered down and sanitised for children these days, because when you take the horror out of those stories you really lose the point.
Aside from that, I think if you’re working in the horror genre you are working in the shadow of Stephen King, and when he’s on top form he’s absolutely untouchable. I also love John Connolly (Nocturnes; Every Dead Thing) and John Ajvide Lindqvist (Let the Right One In; Little Star)
ER: What’s the most difficult part of writing? What do you love most?
TF: I think the hardest part of writing is just the discipline it takes. It’s so hard to sit down at a computer or a typewriter and commit to the work, when it’s so easy to just watch TV or play video games. Avoiding procrastination is the hardest thing, I think.
What I love most about writing is the feeling when it’s all going well. When you’re thinking faster than you can type and are so full of energy that there is just no stopping yourself from getting those words down on the page.
ER: I always picture writers with a beverage close at hand. What’s your poison?
TF: I start off with coffee, and then depending on how the work is going proceed to drinks with a higher and higher alcohol content.
Thanks for chatting, Tony! If you’d like to keep up with Tony (and see that film) check out his social media site:
“In the Bloodstream: An Anthology of horror and dark fantasy” is available in eBook and paperback from Mocha Memoirs Press.