Book Squirrel chats with Rebecca Lloyd, author of dark fiction and magical realism.
Welcome, Rebecca! It’s great to have you here.
Thank you, Book Squirrel!
I’m a big fan of the darker side of fiction. What is your favourite thing that you have written?
My novella Woolfy and Scrapo, available from The Fantasist Magazine, and it’s because, even though the characters are just a pair of gloves, their love for each other, as brothers, is very deep, slightly troubled, but happy. This book along with my novel Oothangbart is very different from my usual literary horror material because they celebrate innocence.
What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?
Right at this moment it would be Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam, although I could have as easily chosen something from Walter de la Mare or Kevin Barry.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
The best book I’ve read this year is Lamb, a book which some people were very much against. What a brave writer to have written that and so beautifully.
What would you like people to know about being an Indie writer?
Although the distribution of your books might be a whole lot less than if you were an author with one of the gigantic publishers, there can be a great deal of pleasure in writing for a quite small body of readers, and pleasure as well in having a rewarding working relationship with your publisher if it is a company that is careful and respectful of its writers. Very few writers make much money from their books anyway whoever the publisher is, and so there’s a lot to be said for being involved with decent thoughtful independent publishers and those people they employ to do the artwork and editing. A lot of people might not agree with this thought… but it could also well be a blessing not to be tangled up with literary agents, those gate-keepers of the big publishing houses.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A biologist, and then later on someone who studied parasites. First I became an ecologist and then a medical parasitologist which led me to Africa, which led me to writing.
What inspired you to write?
My very moving and humbling experiences of working as a medical parasitologist in a remote hospital in Tanzania. I wrote my first novel as a result of that work but I’m pretty sure no-one would want to publish it…. it being a very uncomfortable read, and equally sure that I wouldn’t want it published. But it was a great writing exercise.
What are you working on writing now?
I’m thinking about starting something new, having just finished a novel, but I haven’t settled on anything for certain yet. I wrote a horror story called What Comes? that was published in my collection Mercy and Other Stories with Tartarus Press, and I was thinking it could be expanded into a novella and that I should have a go at it. [I always get scared that if I stop writing for too long that I won’t be able to do it again.]
Who designs your book covers?
Usually my publishers have had their own book cover designers and although they will run the idea past me to make sure I like it, I haven’t had a lot of involvement with that side of things. But my novella Jack Werrett the Flood Man with Dunhams Manor Press included illustrations inside and a book cover by the artist Dave Felton, and he worked very closely with me always being careful that I liked what he was producing. Then the amazing and very crazy book cover by Steve Novak for my collection The View from Endless Street [WiDo Publishing], was stunning and I loved it immediately, and still do. Oh! And I nearly forgot that I did design the book cover for my novel Oothangbart with Pillar International Publishing in 2014 and I loved doing that.
Name three people you admire, and give reasons.
I admire the wonderful perfectly mad Irish writer, Kevin Barry for his magical and breath-taking ability with words and language. I admire that strange, highly intelligent man Doctor Samuel Johnson, [1709 -1776] for his wit and kindness to the people he knew and hung out with, not the least of which was the twisted weird guy Richard Savage, poet and liar. I admire President Obama for all he tried to do for the US, the way he attempted to civilise it, and for his elegance and sophistication in a very ugly job.
What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?
I don’t think I’ve got a pet hate; there are a few little behaviours that I really dislike such as when cold callers phone me and call me Mrs Lloyd as if even if you weren’t married to anyone you wouldn’t mind being called Mrs anyway, but to my way of thinking that title makes me less than I am because it implies that I belong to someone, and I resent the idea of that hugely. On that same note, I did once use an entire argument that I had with a man in my short story Fetch which is in my collection Ragman and Other Family Curses published by Egaeus Press. I can tell you that it felt so very cathartic to have created something useful out of that argument. I also modelled the main character on the man himself and since I knew him well, I had his pomposity really accurately drawn in the story. [He never read it, nor ever will].
What’s the best vacation you’ve had?
I think that is yet to come, and every Christmas I go away on holiday to another country, so I’ve got plenty of chances to arrive at the best one in time. But one of the most useful was a holiday in Sicily in a little town called Cefalù which was where the terrible Aleister Crowley tried to set up a religious retreat. I was working on Seven Strange Stories, my second story collection for Tartarus Press and I was in need of one extra story to finish it. It was co-incidental that I happened to be holidaying in that town, but it occurred to me that because I had always been fascinated and horrified by Aleister Crowley, that he could be the subject for the last story. It was pretty hard to write, but very inspiring to stare down at the ruins of the ‘Abbey of Thelema’ and imagine Mr Crowley and his followers doing their thing in there. [I didn’t break into the place, not my style, and there are so many photos of it online that I didn’t feel the need to… besides I didn’t want to give myself the creeps!]
That’s fascinating and spooky at the same time!
Where can readers buy your books?
My books are all available on Amazon.
That’s great! Everyone knows how to find the ‘Zon. Thanks for being here today, Rebecca!
Thank you, Book Squirrel. It’s been fun!