Monday, 9 December 2013

PUSH-UPS: Charlie Williams

So, what you pushing right now?

A short story of mine called LOVE WILL TEAR US APART has just been released for Kindle. It's part of a new Amazon imprint called StoryFront. There are about 40 stories released in this first wave, but as far as I know mine is the only one named after a Joy Division song.

What’s the hook?

With a title like that, obviously it is a zombie story. Marylebone area of London, post-apocalypse (or nearly - things are not quite under control yet). Two best friends are having a beer together, thinking about walking home. But only one gives a shit about survival. The other lost the love of his life to the outbreak, and life isn't worth living. But how far should his friend go to keep him alive?

And why’s that floating your boat?

It's a mundane situation (a best friend can't get over a lost love) in an extreme environment (zombies). I guess I like the challenge of making mundane situations compelling. Also I do love zombies. Have done ever since I saw DAWN OF THE DEAD (orig.) at far too young an age.

When did you turn to crime?

It wasn't so much turning to the genre as taking inspiration from a new area. When I started writing, for years I was writing in the now, depicting where I was living (London) and the people around me. But getting nowhere, besides a few short stories published in the horror small press. I’m still dead proud of those publications, but I was gagging to get a novel out too, and no one was biting. Trouble was I probably didn’t have enough to distinguish me from everyone else. I was just a face in the crowd. Then I remembered the crazy world of Worcester (my home town) in the 80s, and new voices started coming through. I grabbed them and ran with them. And they were doing bad things. Criminal things. All I knew was that this was different, and would take my face out of that crowd. Little did I know that it would dump me alone in some alley. The crime alley. Faces started emerging from the shadows, and they were guys like Al Guthrie, Ray Banks, Jason Starr. I guess I felt at home.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?

Noir. Classic and contemporary. But if it's the latter, it's got a fuck of a lot to live up to.

And, what’s blown you away lately?

One of my favourite authors is Magnus Mills. His latest is A CRUEL BIRD CAME TO THE NEST AND LOOKED IN (actually a couple of years old – I’ve been holding it back). Can you imagine handing in a manuscript with that title on the front? He is utterly original, deeply off-kilter and right up my street. Also been dipping back into H.P. Lovecraft. Whenever the world starts resembling a safe place, I read a few of his stories to remind myself of the unfathomable horror that is lurking beyond the surface. Crime-wise I've been catching up on some Robert B. Parker. How did I not discover him until this year? This is the beauty of an enduring genre like crime - you've got eighty years of it to dip into.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?

I read a great book earlier this year called FIRST BLOOD, by some dude called David Morrell - I reckon that would make the transition OK. Seriously, it's a great book. This is the problem of a franchise that takes on a life of its own - you lose sight of the source. If you'd just seen that recent Rambo reboot, you probably wouldn't be that inclined to track down the novel it all came from. But you'd be missing out big time.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
Who cares? It's all in the text. As long as I can read the thing and it's not hurting my eyes, I don't give a shit. I'm in the story.

Shout us a website worth visiting ...

It's actually a podcast, not a website. But it has a website:

The podcast is presented as news reports. From a very strange place. Just subscribe to the thing.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …

My latest Royston Blake book, MADE OF STONE, features a LOT of HIGHLANDER-related stuff in it, right down to having Ramirez (Sean Connery) as an actual character... which I get away with by suggesting he is hallucinated by Royston Blake. (Cough.) So I’m in Seattle for an Amazon thing this summer and who should I randomly bump into? Greg Widen, creator of HIGHLANDER. I told him about the book and his role in it, but he didn’t seem that bothered. Unless he was playing it very cool. Thinking about it now, Ramirez is *definitely* hallucinated. Yes.

Thanks for inviting me to push my pulp.