Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi Fiona, I’m Nick Stead, currently aged 30 but I’m not far off 31 now!
Fiona: Where are you from?
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Well, as you might expect English was always my strongest subject but for a long time I had dreams of being a zoologist and studying wolves in the wild, so after school (which I hated with a passion) I went on to do an animal management course at college. By the end of that I’d decided I didn’t want go into working with animals for various reasons and I’d drafted Hybrid by then and already had dreams of getting it published, but I knew I needed a back-up plan in case my writing never took off so I then did a second course on IT. I fully intended to go straight into work after that but the college were also offering a HND (higher national diploma, which is a university level qualification) course in web design and the tutor did a good enough job of selling it that I ended up doing that as well, though all that course really taught me was that web design isn’t for me! I struggled to get my head round the coding side of things and I’m not a natural when it comes to designing either. Since finishing my studies I’ve mostly done proofreading to pay the bills, but that work’s come to an end now so I’m waiting to see what 2019 will bring.
As for my family life, currently it’s just me and my two cats. They drive me crazy at times but they do keep me company through the long hours sat at my pc trying to write, as long as they don’t jump up on the desk! There’s been times when entire paragraphs have disappeared because one of them has managed to walk across the keyboard while I’ve got text selected and replace those carefully crafted sentences with random letters. I’d be screwed without the undo button!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Hmm there’s been a few exciting things this year but I guess the most recent news is the horror anthology I’m going to be featured in with my short story, Raven’s Curse. The anthology is titled Made in Britain, compiled by Kevin J Kennedy and published by Hellbound Books. It’s set for an early Dec release in time for Christmas so keep an eye out!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I always had a love of stories from an early age but it’s really thanks to my cousin, ‘Lady’ Sarah, that I started writing my own. Basically, she’d written some short fantasy stories featuring close friends and family as the main characters and I couldn’t get enough of them, so I kept nagging her to do more and more until it reached the point where she was sick of my nagging and suggested I write my own. She helped me brainstorm the first three chapters of what eventually became Hybrid, though I seem to remember her main input was to do with her own vampire character. Originally it was just going to be a short story like she’d done but I had so many ideas that it soon began to grow into a full length novel, and then a series.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably at around 15, once I’d started on Hybrid and realised I had a full length novel on my hands.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
When my cousin got me started on it, there was no question as to what type of story it was going to be – I’ve had a love of werewolves for as far back as I can remember and spent most of my childhood pretending to be one, so Hybrid pretty much started out as my own personal werewolf fantasy and grew from there.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
A werewolf is essentially a hybrid of wolf and man in my opinion. Even when my character looks fully human, his inner wolf still lurks beneath the surface and he still experiences lupine cravings for raw flesh and offal. So I went with Hybrid as the title.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I would say my style is pretty descriptive and atmospheric, which is something that has evolved over the last few years spent honing my skills. I tend to write a lot of action packed stories but I have done slow build horrors for some of my short stories as well. And I generally write graphic gore scenes.
Probably the most challenging thing now is the gore and the werewolf transformation scenes, simply because I’ve written so many of them already! It’s becoming increasingly difficult to think of new and creative ways for characters to die and to make the descriptions for those bloody deaths feel fresh, and trying to write transformations without repeating phrases I’ve used elsewhere can be a struggle at this point.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Hybrid is a very personal story on a lot of levels. I was bullied at school like my character is, and I did suffer with depression back then which my character also goes through (in his case brought on by his lycanthropy). There are some scenes taken straight from real life, and my fictional self’s family life is reflective of how it was growing up. There were a lot of arguments between me and my dad, but I’m happy to say we get on a lot better these days.
Hunted and Vengeance are more or less pure fiction, and I imagine the same will be true for the rest of the series.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’ve not really needed to for my Hybrid series, but I did take a trip to Pendle for my next book on the witch trials of 1612. It’s only just over the Yorkshire border but it was good to see more of the area they’d have lived in. Google maps was invaluable for that as well.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My current publisher, Wild Wolf Publishing, sorted the covers for me. But they are great at being open to suggestions, unlike some publishers who I’ve heard give the author little to no say in the process!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’ve always been passionate about animal rights and I believe animals are far more intelligent than we give them credit for, so I tried to get that message into Hybrid through the voice of the wolf side to my werewolf (it’s essentially like a split personality in my books). So many people seem to think human lives are worth more than other species and I wanted to challenge that view, and pose the question: why? What makes humans so special? Just because animals can’t talk English doesn’t mean they’re stupid, lesser beings to mistreat and abuse as we see fit, or slaughter needlessly. Killing for food and survival is one thing – that’s nature’s way, and I do enjoy a good steak as much as the next man – but killing for sport or poaching endangered animals for their body partsare both terrible practices it’s about time we stamped out. Hopefully my character’s musings about these things will make some readers think more about our place in the natural world and the respect we should have for nature and other animals, and I hope the day will come when blood sports and the like are brought to an end, and sick people who kill and mutilate animals face the same consequences as they would for harming other people. I just hope that day doesn’t come too late for all the species already on the brink of extinction.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I don’t read nearly as much as I used to so I’m probably missing a lot of great new authors, but I’m really enjoying S.L. Mewse’s Primal Progeny series (also about werewolves). And Graeme Reynolds’ High Moor trilogy is one of my favourite werewolf series to date.
I’m not sure I have a favourite writer as such. There’s books I love because the stories really grab me, but there’s not really any authors where I’ll buy every single thing they write because I’m a huge fan of their style, etc. It’s more about the stories than the writing for me as a reader, though the writing obviously has to be good enough to grab me and draw me into the story, or I’ll just lose interest and move on to the next book.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I’m gonna name Huddersfield Author’s Circle as an entity – the group has really helped me grow as a writer and without their continued support I probably wouldn’t have got this far, or improved so much since finishing that first draft of Hybrid all those years ago.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Definitely; my dream is to one day be successful enough as an author to live solely off my writing, but I’ve a way to go yet before that becomes a reality.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Well, technically my latest book isn’t out yet so I still have plenty of time to make changes before my publisher sees it. But with the last one that was released, no, I haven’t thought of anything I wish I’d done differently.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
During writing the Pendle witches (currently in the beta reading phase) I learnt a lot about the early seventeenth century whilst researching, including some of the customs of the time and the politics that led to the witch trial of 1612. I also learnt a lot about the witches themselves and the craft of the cunning folk, as they’d have called themselves.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I honestly have no idea. I have mixed feelings about film adaptations of my work – on the one hand, if it was given the right treatment to really bring my book to life on screen that would be amazing to see, but on the other hand so many book to film adaptations don’t really do the original book justice, and it would be so disappointing if that proved true for any of my books. So I’ve not given it that much thought to be honest.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Writing can be tough and often you put in a lot of hours of work for little reward, but when people read and enjoy your work that can be really rewarding in itself, even if you’re not making much money from it. So stick with it if it’s something you enjoy. Just don’t get into it thinking it’s going to be a get rich quick scheme – because for 99% of authors it really isn’t.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I would just like to take this opportunity to thank them for reading my work and give a big thanks to those that take the time to leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, etc. and share my posts on social media as it really helps with reaching a wider audience. I especially love when readers engage with me on Facebook or Twitter, whether it’s just a quick tweet/comment to say they can’t wait for my next book or a tweet to say they’ve finished a book and really enjoyed it – that sort of thing really makes my day and it helps motivate me to keep on writing.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve just started The Talisman by Stephen King, on the recommendation of a friend.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No but I do have vague memories of reading at home with my mum, who encouraged me to learn before I’d even started school. I can tell you the first werewolf book I ever read though – Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R.L. Stine, part of the Goosebumps series.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I don’t cry often – I think the last time was when my cat got run over, 4 years ago. But I am always laughing with my mates or at TV shows.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Probably Old Demdike after a year spent living in her world (or at least, the version of it brought to life in my imagination after doing all the research on what we know of the Pendle witches). I’d love to see her work her craft and hear her side of the true story, which I hope I’ve done justice to in my fictional take on it.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I used to be an avid gamer but don’t really get time for it anymore, and I read far less these days because I’m always so busy writing and then reading over my own work! I love going to gigs and enjoy theme parks, and I’m a larper (live action roleplay). Think that about covers it.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Mostly horror and fantasy, so for TV, things like American Horror Story, Supernatural, Game of Thrones, Constantine, etc. but I have got into a bit of historical drama recently as well like Vikings, The Last Kingdom and Black Sails. My favourite movies include Van Helsing (for the awesome werewolves), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser and Lord of the Rings.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Food wise I love my meat, especially steak and roast beef. Favourite colours, I’m a bit of a goth so it would have to be black and blood red. Music wise I only listen to rock and metal. My favourite artist is still Alice Cooper but I also love Metallica, Megadeth, Powerwolf, Rob Zombie and Hammerfall to name a few.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Probably pretty similar to what I do now, just without the writing stuff which would mean a lot more free time on my hands! I’d still be playing World of Warcraft (which I had to give up when Hybrid came out as there just wasn’t the time for it anymore) and other video games, and I’d be reading other people’s work a lot more if I wasn’t so focussed on my own. I used to go through several books a week back in my school days!
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I’d probably spend it with close friends and family and a lot of beer, laughing and drinking and trying to forget what was coming when the 24 hours were up. Maybe I’d spend an hour or two looking into a supernatural way out, like rituals to summon demons so I could try making a deal for more time. You never know, one of these ancient rites might work!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Here lies Nick Stead, author of all things dark and monstrous. Now enjoying a well-deserved retirement. In Hell.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?