Simon Cheshire Interview

I had a chat with Simon Cheshire, the author of Flesh and Blood. I recently reviewed this book and it's set for release on 2nd March (or now if you download onto your Kindle).

A huge welcome from No Safer Place to Simon Cheshire.

1. The 2nd March sees the release of your new book Flesh and Blood. Can you tell us about it?
It's the first horror novel I've ever written. I've been a published writer for twenty years, but nearly all my previous stories have been comedies or action-adventures. I've always enjoyed horror as a genre, but it's only now that I've had a chance to stir the witch's cauldron myself!

2. I read quite a few reviews of this book and the general consensus was that it's aimed for a slightly older audience than some of your other teenage books. Would you agree?
Definitely! It's the stuff of nightmares – certainly my nightmares – and it's not intended for younger readers at all. Years ago, TV announcers used to warn viewers at the start of something horrific that it was “not suitable for those of a nervous disposition.” That applies to Flesh And Blood.

3. What can you tell us about the Red Eye series, that Flesh and Blood is a part of?
There are four books in the first wave of titles. Two came out in January, and now two are following in March. They're all very different from each other, but they're all filled with shocks, shocks and more shocks...

4. I have to ask, what inspired you to write this book? Did you do a lot of research before starting to write it?
Looking at the story now, I can see many of my own anxieties and neuroses oozing out of it, although I certainly didn't realise that when I was tapping at the keyboard... yeah, I'd start backing away now, if I were you... But seriously, I think part of what sparked the initial idea was this horrible, looming sensation which seems to haunt British society at the moment, the suspicion that those in charge are not only in it for themselves but actively hiding and suppressing things.

I did do some medical research before I started writing: mostly about surgical implements (there are some eye-watering saws and drills out there!) and about organ transplants. Although there are some hideous things going on in the book, most of them are technically possible – or will be soon.

5. Which character do you most identify with and why?
Sam, who feels he's an outsider, a fish out of water, which I guess is something most of us experience from time to time. His sense of awkwardness, especially at school, mirrors what I went through growing up.

6. I found this story shocking. When you wrote this, was that the reaction you were hoping for?
Yes, absolutely. Stephen King once remarked that in horror there's every difference in the world between subject matter that's just plain yukky, and subject matter that's truly frightening or shocking, because it's scary on a conceptual level. The trick is to balance the two.

Believe it or not, there were times writing Flesh And Blood when I actually felt such self-disgust at how nasty I was being to my characters that I had to leave the desk and go and do something else for a while. There's a point in the book (and I'm trying not to give anything away here) when Sam calls out something to his mum, and as I typed the words I burst into tears. All writers get emotionally involved in their stories, but this one knifed me in the stomach. Weird, but true.

7. Most readers always have a handful of favourite books, as opposed to one. What are some of yours?
Oooooh, so many! Some of my favourite writers include Richard Yates, Patrick Hamilton, George Orwell, Donna Tartt, I could go on all day! If I had to pick one current writer, it would be Sarah Waters – her books are structured with such precision and yet such effortless ease, they just make you glow with admiration. Genius.

8. Are you working on any upcoming projects at the moment? Maybe a Flesh and Blood sequel? (that's wishful thinking).
I'm crossing all my fingers that I get the chance to do more horror. I've got a tonne of great ideas, ready and waiting! Meanwhile, I'm working with a publisher on some books about grammar and spelling, for Key Stage 2.

9. What is your favourite genre to write and why?
 As of now, horror! I've always loved writing comedy, but there's something ghoulishly cathartic and fun about giving readers the creeping shudders instead... hee hee heeee...

10. Why are you not on social media? i.e Twitter and Facebook
 Weeeell, I was on Twitter a while back, but to be brutally honest I found it so distracting it was nibbling little chunks out of my working day, so I had to give it up or else turn into a tweet-zombie.

11. Last question. A bit of fun. If you were given 3 wishes, what would they be?
Setting aside proper, sensible answers involving, y'know, world peace etc etc, I think I'd wish for:
1. Zero-calorie cake (and ice cream)
2. Better dress sense
3. A self-charging phone

No comments