How long have you been writing for?
On and off for as long as I could read and write, but in 2016 I decided to make a proper go of it. I’d taken part in NaNoWriMo a couple of times in the years before that (with varying levels success), but I hadn’t written anything that I thought I’d could share with someone else. By the time 2016 rolled around, I’d completed a 4 year degree and found myself in desperate need of a project. The novel I began writing in that year’s NaNoWriMo became that project. Wow, that wasn’t a straightforward answer, was it?
What is it about horror that made you think ‘This is the genre for me’?
I’ve always been drawn to the darker things in life. I don’t think I’m evil or anything like that, but when I first watched Star Wars, I rooted for Darth Vader and when I watched He-Man, I wanted Skeletor to win. The baddies just always seemed so much more interesting than the good guys. It’s like the goodies were bound by a set of rules, while the baddies were free to do as they pleased. There’s a song by Greensky Bluegrass called “Burn Them” that goes “What a relief from the pressure to just be hated / And learn that being bad ain’t nothing but a pleasure”. There’s something in that idea that’s rather appealing.
Anyway, when I discovered horror (largely through this dude called Stephen King…. I wonder if anyone’s ever heard of him?), I was able to really embrace this darkness. BUT, rather than rooting for the baddies, I discovered characters. King’s characters are rarely completely good or completely bad (I mean, Pennywise is just a being that has to feed, right? Everybody’s gotta eat…), they just make decisions that can be perceived as being good or bad. Horror, for me, is not about the body count or the blood, guts and gore (although I do like those things to feature heavily in the stories I read and write), it’s about human beings. It’s about being human. It’s about how fear can either drive us to being extremely heroic or can see us running to the hills. Whenever I read a horror story or watch a movie, I ask myself what I would do in that situation. Sometimes I’d do what the character is doing, others I wouldn’t. I’d love to say that I’d always fight against the big baddie, but, more often than not, I’d probably just end up hiding in a cupboard or something.
Any tips for combatting writer’s block?
HIT IT WITH A SPOON!
I have two ways of combating writer’s block: Stop writing or keep writing. That seems like the least helpful answer in the world, but trust me.
If I’m really stuck and I have other things I can do, I’ll stop writing. I’ll go for a walk, or read a book or talk to my cats about their plans for world domination. Then, the next day, I’ll go back to it and find that the words are miraculously there. It’s some kind of witchcraft… I don’t know how it works… maybe I sold my soul to Skeletor when I was a child…
The second option is to just power through it and keep writing no matter what. Even if it’s complete gibberish about how much a character likes spaghetti (maybe it reminds them of our lord and saviour Cthulu? Mmm… tentacles… )…. it usually serves to wake up the creative muscles again. Fair enough, you do have to delete a load of words afterwards, but it does work.
Any rituals you have before starting a new story?
This is disappointingly boring, but… No. Sorry!
How do you handle character creation? I find using Dungeons and Dragons character sheets helpful but it’s fun to see the many ways other people go about this.
I’m not sure if this makes sense, but my characters already tend to be pretty full in my head before I start writing. Sure, I find out things about them along the way, but I usually have a good idea of what they look like and how they act straightaway. Most of the time this is the bit that’s clearest in my head… I’m one of those people who tends to make it up as they go along when it comes to plot (I know how I want it to end, I just haven’t planned out the journey yet), so my stories are character and situation driven. I often find that new characters crop up along the way and, when that happens, I’ll start with a name and the character will develop around that.
Any projects coming up (or currently out) you’d like to share with us?
I have a series called “The Others” that currently has two novels in it (“The Other’s Voice” and “The Others: A Bleak Reflection”). A third and final installment will be along within the next year or so. I also have a novella called “Jingle Bells” and a short story called “Lydia”. Oh, and there’s a piece of flash fiction called “Wasted Time” that’s lurking out there on the internet somewhere.
But, the project I’m most excited about is called “Hellhound”. I’m in the editing phase of it at the moment and I’m hoping to publish it later this year. I’ve had a great time writing it, so I hope it’s as much fun to read as it was to write.
How can we support your work?
My stories are available digitally from loads of places, including Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, etc. Just go to your favourite store and search for “Lou Yardley”. If I’m not there, let me know! Print books are currently only available from Amazon, louyardley.com and CreateSpace. I’m planning to try a different distribution method with “Hellhound” as it would be wonderful to see it in some bricks and mortar stores.
If you don’t want to buy a book yet (or if you have them already – if so, thank you!) then it would be great if you could follow me on Twitter (I’m @LouciferSpeaks) or give me a ‘like’ on Facebook – http://facebook.com/louyardley. Shares and retweets are always appreciated. Plus, reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and other eBook retailers are fab!
Any advice to people just starting out in their writing careers?
I’m still starting out myself, so I’m by no means an expert. But, I would say this:
- Give it a go, you’ll probably surprise yourself.
- Be active on social media, but not TOO active. You need time to write!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Pretty much every author I’ve communicated with online has been amazing.
- If people do help you, remember to thank them.
- Be excellent to each other.