Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I grew up in rural southern Germany, near Lake Constance, the Black Forest, the Hegau Mountains and the Swiss border. I’ve travelled a lot and lived and worked in many countries – including China, Nepal and Mongolia – and the experience of these landscapes and cultures has definitely influenced my writing. The story Turkish Night, for example, is inspired by bellydancing in Bodrum, while Black Karma is set in Nepal.
Now I live on the south coast of England, in a dilapidated town of former Victorian grandeur, near roaring waves clashing against chalk cliffs, cemeteries clustering around ancient churches, and medieval castle ruins washed by rain. All these places feed my imagination, and you will recognise some of them in Thirty Scary Tales.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Most of my horror story ideas come from my own fears – things that frighten me, places that creep me out, nightmares that keep me awake at night. Thousands of ideas flutter around in my head at the same time. Sometimes, two or three of those ideas click together like jigsaw pieces, and that’s when a story starts to form. The location is almost always one of the first pieces to click. I like to set my stories in unusual, atmospheric places.
The stories in Thirty Scary Tales are definitely inspired by places where I’ve lived and travelled – the streets of Nepal, the cliffs on the English coast, the stone circles of Cornwall…
Do you plan to publish more books?
I’ve had about fifty books published (under several pen names, in several genres, by several publishers, in several languages) and I’m definitely not going to stop now!
I’m already at work on several new titles: Writing Dark Stories for my bestselling series of writing craft books, an anthology of dragon fantasy stories, a collection of steampunk stories, another collection of horror stories, a sequel to my bestselling dark epic fantasy novel Storm Dancer, and more.
What other jobs have you had in your life?
While I’ve been writing professionally for over thirty years, I’ve also always done other jobs at the same time: teaching adult education, journalism, magazine editing, consulting… even weird things like belly dancing and tarot reading. I was a museum guide, development aid worker, a trade fair hostess, a bilingual secretary and an apple picker.
Sometimes the writing has been my main job, sometimes a sideline, but I’ve always written, and I’ve always done something else. I need the variety.
The great thing about these jobs is that they feed my fiction. In the Thirty Scary Tales collection, the story Turkish Night is about belly dancing, and The Painted Staircase is about a guided museum tour, and they ooze authenticity.
If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?
Hmm – if there’s a programme combining archaeology, ancient history, mythology and literature?
How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
I find switching between different ways of writing stimulates my creativity. Sometimes I use a laptop, sometimes I type with an Alphasmart, sometimes I write by hand. For longhanding, I like ruled hardback A5-sized notebooks and coloured gel pens.
I write at a desk at home, in quiet coffeeshops and (weather permitting) in parks or on the beach.
Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
Thirty Scary Tales is a collection of creepy, atmospheric, unsettling stories. They’re the suspenseful, psychological, disturbing kind of horror, not the violent gory kind. However, I wouldn’t recommend the book for young readers without parental guidance.
It’s a compilation of volumes 1-5 of the Six Scary Tales series. For this book, I wrote a paragraph for each story about where the inspiration came from. Fans tell me they love these insights into the author’s mind.
The collection includes some of my most popular stories, including The Bridge Chamber (which some readers say still scares them years after reading it) and the award-winning Burning.
What’s your next project?
I’m always working on several projects at once. Right now, I’m revising a steampunk story about a werewolf in a funicular railway car and a fantasy story about an introvert dragon. I’ve started another book for my bestselling series of writing craft books for authors, a practical guide titled Writing Dark Stories. I’m also writing a sequel to my bestselling dark epic fantasy novel Storm Dancer. And of course I’m writing more horror stories! I like having several projects on the boil at once, so I can switch between them and never get bored.
When and why did you begin writing?
When I was six, I told the teacher that the stories in the school book were stupid and I could write better ones. She challenged me to write a story about a letter’s adventures from writing to delivery. When I handed it in, she was startled that a six year-old could write so well. Of course, she didn’t know I’d had the help of my older sister. From then on, when the other kids had to read the dull pieces for their homework, she often assigned me to write stories, and I soon learnt to do it without my sister’s help.
When did you first know you could be a writer?
As soon as I discovered that there were people who wrote books I wanted to become one of them.
Who designed the cover?
I commissioned an artist, Xteve Abanto, to paint an image for Thirty Scary Tales. I didn’t want the usual blood-dripping axe and gory grinning head so often seen on horror covers, because my stories aren’t violent and gory. Creepy, atmospheric, spooky, attractive, eerie, scary… that’s what I asked Xteve to convey visually. He came up with this head of which he says “It scared the shit outta me.”
Which of the stories in Thirty Scary Tales is the scariest?
For me personally, it’s The Bridge Chamber. It scared me so much while I was writing it, I had to stop for several days before I found the courage to continue.
Do you get nightmares?
To a horror writer, nightmares are a gift. What frightens us in our sleep is surely going to scare our readers when they’re awake. I use the dreams as raw materials for stories, changing the plot to make it plausible. However real dreams feel when we have them, in the cold light of day the events aren’t always believable, so I change them. However, I try to stay faithful to the core idea of the dream, and to capture that scary feeling.
Several stories in Thirty Scary Tales are inspired by nightmarish dreams, including The Painted Staircase where I dreamt that I was getting pulled into a shipwreck painting.
Where do you write?
I live in a seaside town in the south of England. My writing desk faces the window, so on sunny days I see the sun dancing like diamond sparkles on the sea surface. In the autumn, I watch the storm whip the water into a dark frenzy beneath angry clouds. Often, the view is mist-veiled or streaked with the rain’s silver drizzles. I love the sounds of the wind lashing against the wall, raindrops drumming on the glass, and seagulls screeching in the wake of the dawn fishing fleet.
I also write outdoors when I can, taking pens and a notebook with me to parks, gardens or the beach. Coffeeshops are also inspiring places to write – I confess that I often eavesdrop on other people’s conversations and use them as inspiration for the stories I write.
What’s your favourite social media network?
Twitter. I’m very active there, sharing #writetip tweets and interacting with my fans. Unlike many people, I’m genuine. I don’t use any kind of auto-tweet, auto-thanks, auto-retweet, auto-response and such, and I don’t post constant buy-my-book tweets. I respect my followers, and they appreciate it. I have over 40,000 followers, and I value every one of them. If you tweet that you’ve read this interview, I’ll follow you back: @raynehall.
Thirty creepy, atmospheric stories by Rayne Hall.
The horror in these stories is spooky, creepy, unsettling and sometimes disturbing. It is not very violent or gory; however, the stories may not be suitable for young readers without parental guidance. PG 13.
This book is a compilation of volumes 1-5 of the Six Scary Tales books. It includes the acclaimed stories Burning and The Bridge Chamber.
All stories have been previously published in magazines, ezines, collections and anthologies. British English.
Stories in collection include:
The Devil You Know, Greywalker, Prophetess, Each Stone A Life, By Your Own Free Will, The Bridge Chamber, Only A Fool, Four Bony Hands, The Black Boar, Double Rainbows, Druid Stones, Burning, Scruples, Seagulls, Night Train, Through the Tunnel, Black Karma, Take Me To St. Roch’s, Turkish Night, Never Leave Me, The Colour of Dishonour, Beltane, The Painted Staircase, I Dived The Pandora, Terre Vert and Payne’s Grey, They Say, Tuppence Special, Disturbed Sleep, Normal Considering the Weather, Arete.
Genre – Horror
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
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