'The Evidence of Ghosts' is set in present day London where ghosts are everywhere but few people realise. You're sitting next to one right now. DI Jonathan Dark must solve the murder of one woman, and prevent the death of another, by engaging with the spectral world and the horrors that lurk inside it, his house, and himself.
First memory of reading horror
When I was a child, Storyteller Magazine, a fortnightly magazine with stories on print and cassette, introduced me to horrific fairytales and legends. 'The Boy who Drew Cats', a strange and ghostly Japanese fairytale, haunts me to this day.
I also bought an audiobook of Dracula with my pocket money when I was at primary school - I was seven, I think. I loved it, playing it over and over, but my cousins and friends were too spooked by it. That's when I realised that horror makes me happy.
Did you write in other genres or straight to horror?
I straddle lots of genres. I write speculative crime thrillers that have elements of horror, science fiction audio dramas for Torchwood and Doctor Who, weird poetry, fairytales, strange short stories... I don't think in genre. It doesn't bother me, or seem that important - genre may be the clothing but the skeleton of the story stays the same.
Tell us briefly about your route to being published
I started by writing a novel about an undercover god that went nowhere at all, and never should go anywhere. It should stay in its room and think about what's it's done. I then went back to basics and wrote short stories and poetry as well as co-writing a no-budget film. This attracted the interest of an agent who asked about 'The Beauty of Murder' and loved the high-concept, one sentence pitch (Cambridge lecturer pursues a time-travelling serial killer across the centuries). I sent him the first few chapters and was taken on. We worked on it for some time, then it was sent out to publishers and went to auction in Germany and the UK.
Tell us about your fans
Fans! There's a thought. I do get people writing to me, occasionally, saying that they are using information from 'The Beauty of Murder' to try and time travel or from 'The Evidence of Ghosts' to talk with ghosts. I tell them to persevere.
Horror doesn’t seem to be as well respected as other genres of fiction. Why do you think that is?
Respectability is over-rated - it could potentially back you into a clinical corner, not one filled with strangeness, wonder and the horror of the human condition. Horror writers are often disregarded as pulp hacks, as if pulp hacks weren't marvellous in themselves. Horror writers considered 'worthy' of merit, like Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood, Shirley Jackson and David Mitchell, tend to be co-opted into canon and dubbed 'literary'.
Do you think horror is ready for a resurgence?
Like any good villain, horror is always ready to return. It would be wonderful if the surge in film and TV horror were reflected in literary sales
Tips for new writers of horror fiction.
Write about what scares you, what unnerves you and makes you look over your shoulder. Unmask the horror of the everyday.
Do you believe in evil?
I don't believe in an abstract concept of evil but rather in the evil actions, banal and otherwise, of humans.
What scares you?
The thought of friends and family dying.
Do you celebrate Halloween?
One of my most annoying phrases is, 'Is it Halloween yet?' My house is decorated with mummies, coffins, ventriloquists' dummies and clowns all year round but we step it up in October, building up to Samhain and Dia de los Muertos. I read ghost stories from the first of October and wear Halloween perfumes that smell of graveyard dirt, dead leaves and clown face paint. My favourite day of the year is visiting Shocktoberfest, a scream park open throughout October with wandering horrors and 8 maze haunts filled with clowns, chainsaws and nightmares. I don't stop grinning, even in the one where they put a sack over your head and lead you through hell. I can't wait.