1. Who is Mark Cassell?
Mark Cassell lives on the south-east coast of the United Kingdom with his wife and plenty of animals. His jobs have included baker, lab technician, driving instructor, actor, and was once a spotlight operator for an Elvis impersonator. As the author of the best-selling Shadow Fabric mythos, he not only writes dark fantasy horror but also explores steampunk and sci-fi. He has seen over fifty stories published in anthologies and zines, and remains humbled in the knowledge that his work shares pages with many of his literary heroes.
2. When did you start writing horror?
Properly? Around 2012. That was when I finally decided to sit down, learn the craft, and write stuff. However, I remember at school during the late-1980s (I guess I was ten years old or so) when I wrote a weird story. It featured a kid who found a treehouse that contained jars of brains and shrunken body parts.
3. Describe your writing style as if it were the demonic love child of 2 or more of your favourite authors, genetically spliced together in a lab and growing in a vat of green goo.
I recently received a review for Monster Double Feature that said: “Cassell’s descriptive ability is there with King, his ideas with Koontz, and the blunt tool horror matches Laymon.” Okay, so that’s three authors… Perhaps those guys had a grotesque ménage à trois. Apologies for THAT image!
4. Tell us about your biggest achievement or proudest writing moment to date?
There have been many highlights. Quite recently though, I’ve landed a book deal with Red Cape Publishing. It’s a collection of short stories titled Six!
5. Now tell us about your lowest moment and how you overcame it? Go on, be a hero…
Damn… In my book Hell Cat of the Holt there’s a sad scene where the main character is utterly stricken with grief. At the time of writing, I was not in a good place where my life had turned upside down, so that particular scene was a tough one. I overcame it by not sleeping and focusing all my energy into writing that bastard scene. All is good now, by the way, which is why I guess I’m suddenly more prolific.
6. Have you got any strange writing habits?
Perhaps not particularly strange, but there’s a certain process I go through and often more than once during a project, no matter the length. I print out a hard copy and attack it with the Red Pen of Doom. That printout follows me around the house, so I end up revising and editing the thing in all different places. Sitting in all kinds of contorted ways! Just ask my wife. And my cat. Sometime’s I’ll print out that manuscript a dozen times if it’s doing my head in enough!
7. What’s wrong with you? Sorry, I mean what attracts you to writing horror?
It’s the ultimate escape. I mean, quite honestly, this world is fucked up on many levels. There’s enough real life horror out there, and I guess that’s why I focus on the dark fantasy side of horror. You know, the stuff that’s just on the other side of reality, something leaning on what is known as cosmic horror. That’s where I like to be. It’s nicer over there.
8. What’s your all-time favourite horror movie and why?
I am such a hard viewer to please. Try as I may, I find it difficult to find movies that tick all of my boxes. Yet there’s one that remains top of my list: Sinister. And it was the soundtrack that truly topped it off. The composer, Christopher Young, did a fine job in pulling that whole movie together.
Dan: I loved Sinister. The premise of how the demon comes through was great. Also the domestic setting worked really well.
9. What’s your favourite horror TV show and why?
I don’t have a favourite horror TV show (quite honestly, there’s not enough of them!). But I’ve recently watched The Typewriter on Netflix and absolutely loved it. Yes, it’s about a typewriter.
10. Who’s an indie author everyone should be reading?
Ah, dammit, I can’t be seen to have favourites! I network with many, many fellow authors within the horror community. Plus, I’m constantly meeting new people. Such as yourself! So, um, I’m going to remain neutral and not single anyone out.
11. Best horror novel or novels and why?
To this day, I rate Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series top of the game. And those books are from the 80s. I’ve yet to discover anything more recent that has such a superb blend of sci-fi horror.
12. What’s the best book you read this year and why?
The year’s only just begun, but I’ve just finished a re-read of a book I read back when I was a teenager. By an author who kicked my love for horror into overdrive. James Herbert and his fantastic novel Magic Cottage.
Dan: James Herbert is one of my favourite horror authors. He’s still so readable, although I find his gender relationships have dated badly. I think they were dating when he wrote them. But still, what a writer. His novels are real page turners.
13. What are you currently reading?
I’ve just started reading the complete works of H.P.Lovecraft. Over the years I’ve read random stories of his and I thought it about time to read the whole lot.
14. Which monster from fiction – books, TV or film – would you most like to be and why?
Pinhead. He has a cool puzzle box and lives in Hell. Plus he has a great outfit. And Clive Barker is another inspiration from my teenage years.
15. Which one of your books would be best adapted into a movie? And who would you cast in the lead roles?
Seeing that The Shadow Fabric novel became so much more with a sequel and follow-up
stories, I’d love to see that reach the big screen. As for the star? Leo, the main character, is a very ordinary kind of guy thrust into absolute chaos, and he’s British. I dunno, Tom Hardy
so the movie appeals to the masses? He seems a favourite right now. Actually, his performance in Venom was on point as his life was turned on its arse. So yeah, I reckon he’d make a fine Leo.
Dan: Tom Hardy is a solid choice. He’s a great actor. I don’t think he’s ever not done a great job. He’s compelling.
16. What’s your spookiest life experience?
Crap answer alert: absolutely nothing. I am desperate to see or hear of FEEL something, but nope. Nothing. And it’s not as though I haven’t tried. I’ve been to all sorts of supposedly haunted places. But nothing. Maybe one day, huh? One day I hope to experience something supernatural or paranormal. I mean, dammit, I write about that kind of stuff!
Dan: I have some from being younger, but adulthood stripped away the supernatural – alas. Still, we get to escape into it on a regular basis from a safe distance.
17. Have you ever had a recurring nightmare you can tell us about?
Aside from night terrors when I was a kid, I’ve never had a nightmare as such. However, my dreams are frequently apocalyptic. I have no doubt that’s why I’ve turned my hand to dystopian cyberpunk, and also my novel Parasite Crop is set in a desolate landscape. Yet, unlike my dreams, they don’t feature the British actor, Sean Bean. Seriously, that guy makes regular appearances in those recurrent dreams of dystopia. Weird, huh?
Dan: lol – Sean Bean. Good actor though.
18. Where did the idea for your last book come from?
Again, I’ll mention Parasite Crop
which is currently in the hands of a publisher (fingers crossed!). The idea came from a visit to a town not too far from where I live: Dungeness, famous for its barren landscape and the power station at its pennisular. That place immediately inspired me to dig up some history regarding shipwrecks, and the plot unfolded from there.
19. What does the next year of writing and publishing look like for you?
I’m neck deep in a cyberpunk horror book, and I’m still waiting on another two books sitting on two different publisher’s desks. And there’s the usual short stories I tend to randomly tackle. Plus, as mentioned, in May sees the release of my short story collection Six!
Dan: Well, let us know when they are being released and I’ll be sure to give them a shout out, for what it is worth.
20. What book of yours should people start with?
Two choices: If you’re looking for dark fantasy horror, then it’ll be The Shadow Fabric novel. If it’s gore and body horror, then I’d say Monster Double Feature.
Dan: I love the cover on Monster Double Feature. It reminds me of the old movie posters of double features, which I guess was the idea.
21. Have you got a newsletter/reader magnet?
Yep, there’s a newsletter and free book on my website: www.markcassell.co.uk
22. Where can people stalk you online like a serial killer?
23. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for letting me talk about myself.
Dan: My pleasure, thanks for taking the time. It’s been great to chat.