When did you first fall in love with the horror genre?
First up, I want to say thank you for having me here.
Glad to have you join us!
My love for horror? Apart from sneaky glimpses of horror movies as a child, I guess the pivotal moment must’ve been when my dad suggested I read James Herbert’s Magic Cottage. I was about thirteen years old and this novel snatched me into a world that kicked my imagination into overdrive.
Which subgenre/s of horror would you say your work falls into?
Dark fantasy and supernatural. I’m not one for a gorefest, and my horror leans towards psychological creeps rather than pathological freaks.
What is it about the horror genre that appeals to you as a reader and as a writer?
For me it’s the unknown, the unnatural, the supernatural. I’ve always wondered what exists on the Other Side, and I guess both my work and my reading choices reflect that curiosity.
What are some of your favourite horror stories?
Some? I’ve read too many fantastic stories to list. One which has for years remained at the top of that unwritten list is Brian Lumley’s “The Thief Immortal”. It tells the life story of a man named Klaus August Scharme who has the unusual gift of stealing the years from any living thing and adding them to his own.
|The Shadow Fabric|
Do you remember being scared by a particular story growing up?
This is incredibly difficult to answer and without coming across as a real weirdo, I must say nothing actually frightened me as a child. Honestly. Though if I had to point at one thing in particular, it would be something about a glass jar filled with a dark, perhaps green, liquid. I’ve no idea how old I was and from what movie it comes from, but I recall what I believe was the final scene before the credits rolled – I guess I’d walked in while my parents watched it.
I remember vividly how the film score reached its crescendo and so conjured a powerful sense of intrigue. My curiosity and imagination burned, and I wondered why this simple glass jar was there. What did it contain? What evil was inside it? Why was the music so intense, so atmospheric? And because the TV screen darkened and the movie ended, what the hell happened up to that point?
To this day, I’ve never found out. Still it bugs me.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I reckon it all started when I was about six or seven years old. I wrote a story, cut the paper into shape (badly) and taped the thing together – you know, to bind it like a proper book. It was called 'The Clockwork Man'. Perhaps an early stab at steampunk? The protagonist was a clockwork boy whose mother had a problem with her arm. I recall the mechanism was faulty or something, and the only thing the clockwork man/boy could do was to find a piece of wire with which to fix it. That poor kid looked everywhere and eventually found one in the boot of their car.
Are there any writers who have particularly influenced you?
Already I’ve mentioned James Herbert and Brian Lumley, and so must include Clive Barker. All these guys, and so many more, have produced incredible work over the years. Barker is famous for the Hellraiser franchise but for me it’s his novel Imajica which I suspect inspired me to pick up a pencil and begin scribbling. The world – perhaps I should say worlds – he created within those pages is incredible.
Tell us a bit about your previous writing work.
My debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, last week became the No.1 best seller on Amazon’s British Horror list. I’m overwhelmed with the response. Since its release, the story has unintentionally become more a mythos than a standalone novel.
The novel itself is about demons, devices, and deceit. We follow Leo, a man who remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day, he witnesses a murder, and the Shadow Fabric – a malevolent force that controls the darkness – takes the body and vanishes with it. Uncovering secrets long hidden from humankind, Leo’s memory unravels. Not only haunted by the past, a sinister presence within the darkness threatens his existence and he soon doubts everything and everyone . . . including himself.
Having had a number of stories published in zines and anthologies, and also a couple on the Shadows at the Door website, I have since released Sinister Stitches. This is a collection of particular horror stories that fall – some intentionally, other unintentionally – into the Shadow Fabric mythos. And it seems there’s a demand for even more, so keep your eyes peeled!
How do you feel about being part of the Shadows at the Door Anthology?
Absolutely honoured to be among some fine names. Being a part of this project is truly amazing, and everyone is so damn friendly. The comradery we’ve developed throughout the inception of all our stories is something I’ve not come across before.
Are you working on anything else at the moment?
For this year’s EM-Con (East Midlands Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention), the SF zine Future Chronicles are set to release an ebook and paperback of Chaos Halo 1.0: Alpha Beta Gamma Kill. It’s a collection of the first episodes of a speculative fiction saga I write for them, blending cyberpunk and science fiction in a dystopian future. With a little bit of horror thrown in, naturally.
As far as my dark fantasy and supernatural work goes, I’m creating a steampunk universe, writing more horror flash fiction, and continuing the expansion of the Shadow Fabric mythos.
Connect with Mark
Free books and free stories: www.markcassell.com
The Shadow Fabric mythos: www.theshadowfabric.co.uk
Where to buy?
The novel, The Shadow Fabric: http://amzn.to/19KZChF
The short story collection, Sinister Stitches: http://amzn.to/1SuHihP