Name : Michael Bray
Where are you from: Leeds, England
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc.:
Not much to tell really. I’ve lived in Leeds all my life, I was an average student at school, studied graphic design, decided it wasn’t for me, then got a job and worked ever since.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
It’s quite a busy time for me right now with a lot of projects on the go. I just finished the latest round of edits on the third and final Whisper novel, which is causing a bit of stress as I’m anxious to get it right! I also just released Monster alongside Matt Shaw, which has already met with some brilliant reviews and feedback. Hopefully the strong sales will continue.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I only started writing three years ago when the band I was in at the time split and decided to go their separate ways. I needed a creative outlet, and had always wanted to give creative writing a go, so started thinking about writing some short stories. I had an idea to do a collection in which the stories were linked in a non-chronological way. I went with it and as I always do, dived in with both feet. The end result was a twelve story collection titled Dark Corners. I was unsure if it was good enough for anything at first, but thought I would send it off to a few publishers anyway and try my luck. Fortunately, within a few days I received a reply from Dark Hall Press who were interested in publishing the book. I signed the contracts and just like that, I was in the game.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think anyone who commits a certain amount of time and effort to create something for the reader to enjoy, you can call yourself a writer. Composing anything and putting it out there for people to read takes a lot of guts, especially in those early days.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I have always been interested in horror since I was a kid. Like many, I was first introduced to it by reading Stephen King. From there I explored other masters in the genre like Laymon, Barker, Lumley etc. The inspiration had been there all along, I think it was just a matter of finding the drive and determination to actually commit to starting the process.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I suppose I do, but what it is I don’t know. The whole process feels very natural to me. I see things in a very visual way in my head and seem to be able to get that down on paper in some form or another. As far as content goes, I like to explore the psychological aspect of horror. I like the thin line between sanity and madness, light and dark, good and evil. It’s a recurring theme within much of my work.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Oh, those things are hard! Titling books is almost as distressing as writing back cover blurbs. The additional issue of the genre being oversaturated and trying to find a unique title which stands out from the crowd makes the whole process incredibly difficult.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I touched on it earlier, but I really like the idea of how close good and bad and light and dark are to each other. A fundamentally good person could have feelings and desires to do something crazy which would put them on that dark path, but somehow just about manages to retain control. I like the idea that everyone is on a knife edge between being an upstanding member of society and completely going off the rails.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Realism is something I try to include without going overboard at the expense of the story. For me, there is nothing worse than reading a book and getting bogged down with facts and pages and pages of fluff just because it’s ‘real’. I’m wanting to take you on a journey. If I have to take a few liberties with realism, then I have no problem with that. One book where I did go into a very dark, very real place is for MONSTER, the book I just released with Matt Shaw. I was given the task of writing a back story for two characters in the book, and went to a place where I have never been before, touching on things that were incredibly difficult to write. The book benefited from it in the end, but it was one of the few times I have asked myself if it was a touch too real.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Definitely. I think it’s in the nature of any author to observe what is going on around him. It’s where we get our ideas, or for me it is at least. That person at work who does that nervous hand wringing when you talk to them? I’m using that in a book. The conversation you overhear on the street? That particular line would work well for character X, Y or Z. It’s a constant thing. I’m always watching and listening to everything going on around me, and filing it away for use later.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I couldn’t get enough of King when I was growing up, particularly his short story collections. Even now I still go back and read them again and again. Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series also left a lasting impression on me. Superb books.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m re-reading James Herbert’s The Magic Cottage again. I first read it years ago and recently picked it up again. It’s a superb story.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
There is a lot of talent out there right now, although I still consider myself a new author! I’ve had the pleasure of reading and working alongside some great talents. The High Moor series written by Graeme Reynolds is superb. I also recently read Dan Weatherer’s Only the good Burn Bright, which is a wonderful collection of stories. I was always a big fan of Matt Shaw was thrilled to finally get to work with him. We are good friends now and have a weird insult based relationship. The two books we composed together were really easy to put together as far as feeding off each other and gelling our styles into one. He’s a great talent who is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
There are a few actually! I just returned the latest batch of edits for the third and final book in the Whisper trilogy, which is exciting as I finally get to close that particular universe off for good. I’m also working on a new short story collection for an Award Winning publisher, and another entry into the From the Deep series for Severed Press. In addition to that, I have a new series of novellas which are hopefully going to be the start of a new franchise, a post-apocalyptic novel to finish which has been a year in the making, and a new Graphic Novel / Novel combo for a new story which is incredibly exciting alongside a superbly talented artist who I am partnering up with. It looks like the next year or so are going to be busy!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Without doubt my readers. Without them being so supportive and buying my work or spreading the word through social media etc., I wouldn’t have achieved half the success I have so far. There is no greater feeling than receiving a message from someone to say they enjoyed your book and got something from it. Those moments make it all worthwhile.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Definitely. I treat it like a full time job, even though I already have one of those. I put in an average work week of between 85-90 hours, which can get pretty taxing, but hopefully will pay off. This year should see the release of my fourteenth novel, which is insane in just about three years. It helps if you are a little bit of a workaholic in this business and it certainly isn’t easy!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Nope. I don’t believe in looking back once a book is released. You have to let them go. J
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I have always been very creative, even from an early age. I was into art and design, then into music when I learned guitar. I suppose writing was always there in the back of my mind as a creative outlet, I just didn’t give in to it for a long time. I really wish now that I done it much sooner.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Of course, here is a little unedited excerpt from the upcoming third and final book in the Whisper trilogy:
Driven on by the voices in his head, he showed no mercy, biting down hard on Bear’s throat and tearing away a mouthful of flesh, rupturing veins, severing arteries. Bright red sprayed across white painted walls in an arcing jet as Bear fell to the ground, hands clutching at his open throat as he choked and gargled. He spasmed and twitched, performing a slow half circle on his back and leaving a bloody trail in his wake.
Barlow looked on. Too afraid to move. Unable to do anything but stare. Marshall was on him in two steps, deftly avoiding the gurgling, flopping Bear who was still desperately trying to cling on to his life as it bled out of him.
Barlow tried to step back, but was too late. Henry’s hands were on him, gripping his face. Squeezing. Squeezing.
Barlow saw no compassion in Henry’s eyes, just a distant emptiness behind that blood drenched beard. That image would be the last he would ever see, as Henry jammed his thumbs into his eyes. He managed not to scream until the first eyeball popped, spilling over his cheek in a gelatinous mass. His legs buckled, but with a firm grip on the inside of Barlow’s eye socket, Henry pulled him upright, just seconds before the right eye also popped, like it’s twin exploding in a liquid jelly mass. Barlow thrashed and twitched, unable to comprehend the sheer level of agony he was experiencing and only able to vocalise it with an anguished roar of pain and fear.
Henry tossed him to the floor, absently wiping his wet thumbs on his white t-shirt. He took a deep breath, listening to the sounds of feet racing towards him. None of that mattered to him now. All that mattered was getting out. He reached down and snatched Bear’s keys from his belt and the pass from around his neck, not even glancing at his dead man’s stare. He paused to reach under his mattress, pulling out his toothbrush, the handle split and sharpened into a makeshift blade. Henry took a deep breath, feeling more alive than he had in years, then, driven on by the symphony of voices in his head, set out to meet those who were coming to stop him.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It’s hard to find the energy sometimes to push through and write, especially after a particularly long day at my regular job. It’s all about finding a routine and writing every day even if you don’t want to. It’s not easy, but then again if it was, everyone would do it!
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I know it’s probably the standard answer, but I can’t look much past Stephen King. He has a way of really grounding his characters in a reality that makes you really care about what happens to them. I actually find his human monsters more frightening than the supernatural in much of his work, which is a testament to his skills.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not right now, although hi have plans to hit a few conventions this year and next and get out there. It’s new ground for me as I tend to be a very private person. On the flip side, it will be good to hopefully meet some of my readers in person.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Different publishers I work with use different artists, however one of my favorites is the artist behind the covers for all three books in the Whisper trilogy as well as Funhouse, the incredibly talented Stu Smith. He has a great eye and a real knack of transferring concept to finished piece.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I still think the hardest part of the process in actually starting it. That moment before you commit the first words to a blank document and knowing you are about to make a long term commitment to a project still terrifies me.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learn something from every single book I write, though putting it into words is difficult. It’s like a constant evolution as book by book, page by page, you refine your craft. You keep what works, change what doesn’t. I don’t think it’s something that ever really stops.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t do it unless you can commit the time and energy to finish what you start. People have this misconception that it’s an easy way to make a living, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It is incredibly difficult, sometimes with very little reward financially. The money for me is secondary to the process of creating worlds for people to discover and get lost in. I’m addicted to it, and couldn’t imagine not having it in my life. Anyone who is in it for fame or for getting rich might want to have a rethink.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks for the support and keep buying my books! J
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I’ve read so many I can’t! The first memorable one I recall was Roald Dahl’s Georges Marvelous Medicine. I really wish more people would check out his more adult themed works. He really produced some superb stories.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
In no particular order or preference: people, spiders, balloons, lightbulbs, heights, stupid people, ignorance, racism, paranoia, laziness, people with a sense of entitlement, wannabees, hangers on, bubbly personalities, and err, mushrooms.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I would have loved to have sat down and had a chat with Jim Morrison. He was a brilliantly intelligent man, and I would have loved to have heard his thoughts on the world.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Hmm, something like: Move back, you’re standing on my face!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I like to play guitar, although I don’t play anywhere near as much as I used to. I also dabble in graphic design, so I like to create covers and posters for my work etc.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love a lot of the U.S TV shows. Breaking Bad could well be the best series ever televised. I also love things like 24, Prison Break, The Following, Hannibal, The Walking Dead, and Bates Motel. I also love documentaries. I would actually be a bit of a TV addict if I wasn’t so busy writing all the time!
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love Italian food. Lasagna especially or any kind of pasta. Not mushrooms though. I hate those things. Evil, evil creations! I don’t have a favorite colour, and music wise I listen to anything with guitars and real instruments. I have a playlist I like to put on when I’m writing that has all kinds of diverse stuff on there.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I really enjoyed my time playing guitar in the band I was with. We had a reasonable amount of success, did some touring, recorded an album and released a couple of singles. I suspect that if I hadn’t found writing, I would have been playing in a band of some form or another.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I do! My website is www.michaelbrayauthor.com
You can also find me on my Facebook author page which is really active. The address for that one is: www.facebook.com/michaelbrayauthor