Author and avid reader BP Gregory brings monsters, machines and roaming cities, insanity, betrayal and lust! With such tales you shouldn’t always feel comfortable or safe.
Hailing from sober corporate beginnings she’s been an archaeology student and a dilettante of biology, psychology, and apocalypse prepping. However, her love of frogmarching hapless characters through hell drew her to science fiction, horror and urban fantasy: all vehicles for peeling screaming layers to discover what, if anything, lurks within. Do we each treasure some inviolate core of self, kept safe from our actions and choices? Would it matter if nobody saw it?
BP Gregory is the author of four novels including the recently released outback horror The Town, about a mysterious hidden town and those desperate souls who vanish seeking it. A stroll down life’s eerie back alleys with a few fistfuls of short stories, and a novelette which was a messy love letter to her adolescence in the city round out the piece.
She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and is currently working on Flora & Jim, the frozen post-apocalyptic tragedy she’s always wanted to write. For sneak peeks, more stories, reviews and recommendations as she ploughs through her to-read pile visit www.bpgregory.com/
It’s always a joy when BP Gregory visits Kendall Reviews, a long time supporter of my blog, a talented writer, genuinely funny (you should follow her on Twitter @BP_Gregory) and an all round good egg. I felt it was time to find out more about her.
What’s your poison?
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I’m just here puttin’ my pants on one leg at a time like everyone else.
Actually, I recognise that while it hasn’t been easy, I’ve been incredibly privileged. A lot of valuable voices don’t get heard because of the obstacles keeping them from writing.
These days by living modestly I’m able to write to my heart’s content, meet the bills, AND work a day-job that contributes to society. And if people buy my books, I can go out and buy a tasty coffee which is always the best.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
Well, at the mo my niece and I are running a sketching club via text message. I’m usually up for wine in nice bars, long walks, weird architecture, learning new things. Narrative based computer games and VR are another favourite.
At work I’m trying out a D&D group: so far we’ve flung a mermaid through the back of a tent, and I can confirm the mustard coloured goblins do NOT taste like mustard. This year I’m getting into deprivation tanking, and tonight I’m off to a film described as “the legendary underground horror-comedy-porno from the David Lynch of the queer set”.
So, you know. All the usual things.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
My folks have this urban legend that I first read The Lord of the Rings to myself at age six. I’m not sure that can be true. Free bookshelf access certainly characterised my upbringing; but instead of getting into why The Valley of Horses isn’t the most responsible young introduction to “adult themes” I’m gonna go with a genuine childhood book: The Velveteen Rabbit.
Anyone who adored this book as a kid will probably have tears in their eyes already. The Velveteen Rabbit taught me resilience, that it’s ok to be a bit shabby, not so fancy, that you’re still important and worth loving.
KR: What are you reading now?
I finished Helen Marshall’s Gifts for the One Who Comes After this morning and it BLEW MY MIND! With the richness of its engagement with reality and fantasy it’s the kind of collection that requires a deep breath and a bit of a think between each story. The Year of Omens particularly took me right back to early adolescence, viscerally, in a way murky memory just can’t anymore.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Every time I read something particularly lyrical it’s inspiring and makes me work harder. Most recently that’s included Steven Sherrill’s The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break which was my #1 read of 2017, Ralph Robert Moore’s You Can Never Spit It All Out, and Kelly Link’s Stone Animals. All have this beautiful balance between the conscious and unconscious mind.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
Usually the genesis of a story begins with a protagonist, their beginning state, and their shattered end state. Writing is a process of working out what it took to reduce that person to what they became by the end.
Brainstorming involves a big piece of brown paper and a fistful of coloured textas. All ideas are vomited out onto the map. That gets broken into chronological order from which I can extrapolate rough chapters.
A lot of the story springs up in the doing, but a framework gives me something to start with, rather than an empty page leering at me when I sit down to write.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Research is always busiest during brainstorming. I’ll read books, journals, letters, articles, watch documentaries and webseries, attend lectures, installations and exhibitions. If it’s within my means I’ll travel. To help a story along I’ve explored storm water drains, oiled a barbarian, eaten bugs, sculpted pots, evacuated from a fire, stood out in the snow at midnight … you never know when something’s going to be useful.
The only thing I’m not up for is ghost chasing. It sounds fun in the safety of your living room, but once you’re in some corroded wreck and the temperature is waaay colder than it should be so your breath frosts all around your face – suddenly everything you smugly know about infrasound and pattern recognition means diddly.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
First up my partner sneakily puts a cup of coffee on the bedside table so that the smell coaxes me back to consciousness. Next is a nice big walk, to convince myself I’m actually awake. The walk is very important, especially during early drafts which are handwritten: handwriting means sitting down, means my legs might drop off.
If the coffee’s working then item three is one of those poops. You know the type. Space and time bend around the bathroom. The neighbour’s dog starts howling. Rome falls, etcetera.
Once that’s out of the way it’s either to my cosy corner chair (now with actual daylight and fresh air, a far cry from my prior corporate working conditions), or standing desk (books piled on a cabinet with keyboard and screen perched atop).
KR: Which is your favourite of the books/stories you have written?
They say you can’t have a favourite child. I’m fond of everything I’ve written. Even the utter crap.
I can take them off the shelf, open them up and see what I wanted to accomplish. The ambition. It’s a slice of where I was developmentally. Even if past-me fell on her face in the attempt I want to cheer her for not giving up, for pushing on down the line and getting me closer to where I want to be.
That said, my fondest spot is for my nasty fast food story It’s All About the Love. I wrote it very young when I was so sure I was the funniest thing since hilariously sliced bread. G Wells Taylor accepted it into his Wildclown Chronicle, and out of the blue two other authors emailed me to say how much they’d enjoyed it.
Didn’t cost them anything, but for me it was genuinely life-changing. Now I always associate the story with that awed floaty feeling.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
Not so much that it leads to leaping out the nearest window, but reviews can be valuable.
Once, someone left a scathing review of one of my short stories, closing with what I can only assume was a spittle-spraying rant that they abhor violence against women.
Mind = blown. So do I!
Turns out their reading list was 100% bodice rippers and they’d picked up my psychological urban horror by mistake. No wonder they were outraged! As a result I went back and clarified all my blurbs to make it easier for readers to find what they’re actually looking for.
Besides, nobody has to like anyone’s stories. It’s not compulsory. Not like there’s some kind of review gaunt who’ll come slithering across their sheets at night to bite their fingers off …
KR: What scares you?
Especially if it’s “point the stick at you and you’ll die” or “Bloody Mary comes rampaging out the mirror.”
Most nights I have tons of vile dreams. At 2am I tend to roam about, either mumbling with eyes rolled back or screaming that it’s coming through the window can’t you see it?! Been that way ever since I was a kid; a habit my father tried to cure with a “dream sword” and later when that failed an actual knife to keep beside the bed.
It’s why I love horror. Unlike the chaos of nightmare, horror has rules. Want to survive? Just don’t bone that jock on Sleepaway Camp, don’t feed your chirpy pet after midnight. And of course on the meta level a novel/film is self-contained: no matter how scary it will end.
Horror puts boundaries on fear and makes it tolerable.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
All of the above!
The advent of ebooks was a game changer for me. Turns out my consumption is only limited by access. Ebooks being cheaper than print has dramatically increased the proportion of my wage spent on books. It also decreases risk: not only am I more inclined to try new authors, I seek them out.
When I love something I’ll also buy the paperback, so I can gift it to somebody and they’ll finally get what I’ve been raving about.
And should I really love it, I just have to have that limited edition signed hardback. Pop that bad boy on the shelf I pretend is a wise investment portfolio for my retirement.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
The Town came out in 2017 (I try to release a new novel every year). It’s about a woman named Kate who thinks she saw the remains of a burnt-out town on satellite footage where no town should be.
However dear Kate’s a red hot drunken mess. When she wakes up the evidence is gone and nobody believes her. She and her fearless co-worker Lin leave the safety of the city and set out into the rural outback to solve a creepy mystery neither of them are prepared for.
KR: What are you working on now?
Flora & Jim, which I’m hoping to release late 2018. Jim pursues the “other father” across a grim icy apocalypse, and he’ll do anything to keep his daughter alive. I’ve been looking forward to writing this for a couple of years now, and I’m so happy to be into it. I’ll enjoy sending a special edition to Kendall Reviews when I’m finished. (KR: I’ll keep you to that!)
KR: Fast forward ten years! Where do you see yourself?
Society has collapsed. Broken by alien plagues, humanity scurries among the ruins searching out augmentations to replace their slowly crystallising flesh. In a tunnel under an overpass I hide books and scavenged bottles of vodka, to trade with those fast enough to catch and flambé pigeons. Black market history for grey market meat.
By day I work as a janitor in one of the massive orphanage-factories. Nobody checks inside my coat, and I secretly smuggle in and read books to the children between the hours of 3 and 4 when rolling brownouts mean no power to the cameras. State indoctrination can’t match what I’ve watered these sweet little seeds with. When they grow up the world will split apart.
KR: Thank you very much Bronwyn.
Running from the 19th – 31st March 2018, you can buy the excellent The Town for only 99c!
Please visit https://www.bpgregory.com/ for details on the offer and to find out more about BP Gregory.
BP Gregory Amazon author page is here
Follow BP Gregory on Twitter @BP_Gregory