R.H. Hale was born in Scotland, where she currently resides. Hale lived in England for a while where she received a science degree from Kingston University in lovely Surrey. She’s been a ghost tour guide and performed in several small-scale theatre productions including the Edinburgh Fringe. She can’t make up a tune to save her life but loves music and has written dozens of lyrics, poems and two screenplays, all unpublished. Church Mouse is her first complete novel, published in October last year.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
This animal-loving, chocoholic, daydream addict was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. I got my BSc Hons from Kingston University in Surrey before baffling my lecturers by returning to Edinburgh and joining a ghost tour company where I worked for several years as a guide. Tourists are a lot scarier than ghosts, hence terrifying them out of their wits on a daily basis in the underground vaults was beyond satisfying and partially inspired my debut novel, Church Mouse.
I could read books and watch movies all day. (And night.)
I hate ABBA and I love scary clowns.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
I’m lucky to live on the coast with lots of woodland walks and shores nearby, so I take advantage of that when I can. Otherwise it’s reading, Netflix and absently fidgeting with my hair.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
Probably Matilda by Roald Dahl.
That and a fabulous weekly Storyteller series during the 80s that came with cassette tapes per issue. I still have all the issues, excellent collections of stories from all over the world, old and new, with an amazing variety of illustrations. It really opened my eyes to storytelling and helped boost my imagination.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
Hmm… I’m rubbish at naming specific albums but my first serious favourites were the red and blue Beatles albums as a child. They were original vinyl records, and I wish my mother had kept ahold of them!
I love music, but it doesn’t directly inspire the plot in my work, more often scenes during the writing process, e.g. music plays a strong role in a couple of scenes in Church Mouse and its sequel.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
That’s easy. The Changeling, made in 1980, starring George C. Scott.
Most terrifying and well-made ghost story I’ve seen yet. And -speaking of music – the chilling score still sends shivers down my spine. I remember literally hiding behind my mother on the couch when I first watched it as a kid.
KR: What are you reading now?
There’s a growing army of books lined up on my Kindle, so it isn’t unusual for me to be reading two or three books at a time. I recently started Vivien Amberville by Louise Blackwick, and am loving it so far. It’s enticing, brilliantly written and reels you in.
Also Hounded by Ellie Douglas, a brutal story of survival, blood and desperation, following two groups of survivors caught up in a zombie dog apocalypse.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Angela Carter (possibly my all-time favourite), Peter Straub, Charles Dickens, Stephen King, Daphne Du Maurier, and Charlotte Bronte.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
All three really, though mainly the first two. Usually I’ll start with an outline which gradually takes shape as a plot and go from there. I need at least a basic structure in place to begin with. But often unexpected ideas and twists pop up in your mind whilst writing, and it’s great when that happens; it’s the real deal, because you’re in the heat of the moment.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It completely depends on the story, e.g. what locations are involved, the characters’ jobs, any historical references, etc. In Church Mouse for instance, I spent a lot of time researching the terminology for Gothic architecture and the layout of churches, including old weaponry, explosives, antiques, even medieval music, which I already loved.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
Locked in my room, propped up by pillows, drinking lots of beverages, probably cursing at my laptop, intermittently yelling at my poor housemate to be quiet so I can focus; getting good ideas only when falling asleep then rapidly scribbling notes in the dark, hoping I can read my handwriting by morning.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
As part of an anthology in the works, I’ve written a short tale which is inspired by a true ghost story that happened to me and my mother when I was about three years old. My late mother was never a believer in the supernatural, and neither am I, nonetheless there was a very strange experience during our stay at an old rectory on the northeast Scottish coast near Banff, which shook her up quite a bit.
No spoilers at this time, but it was next to an old graveyard and a church ruin…
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
I have read some on Amazon and Goodreads. Though I’m glad to say they’ve so far been good, you have to accept the risk of a sting each time and digest constructive criticism with a wedge of humble pie. Equally though, readers’ opinions vary, sometimes considerably depending on the number of reviews, so I wouldn’t recommend obsessing over every single last one, trying to please absolutely everybody, or you’ll drive yourself crazy. On a positive note, good reviews can be very helpful for marketing and promotional purposes.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
I haven’t been here long myself, but I find reading a lot really helps get your brain into gear, and once you start writing, keep at it. It’s best to find a professional editor, and definitely don’t try proofreading it yourself, because it’s amazing the number of little things you miss even after re-reading it a zillion times.
KR: What scares you?
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
Paperback and eBook. Nothing against hardbacks, but they can be the bit of a devil to read and cart around if big and bulky. I’ll always be grateful for the existence of eBooks, since online publishing quickly helped my debut gain recognition, and has introduced me to a fantastic community of indie authors, many wonderful people.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
My novel, Church Mouse (Book 1): Memoir of a vampire’s servant, is a Gothic literary horror for adult readers, first published in October 2017 as an eBook on many online stores worldwide including Amazon. It is a fictional memoir told in first person by protagonist Rona, describing what life is like for possibly one of the most underrated niches in the vampire genre; that is, the “watchdog” or servant to the undead, who not only must live with them, but knows them intimately better than anyone. It’s an emotional and psychological journey of transition told by Rona, who must discover her own dark side in order to survive her inhuman employers. In October last month, the second edition was published in paperback and is currently available for purchase from my website at www.rhhale.co.uk
Its sequel has long since been completed and will hopefully be published in Spring 2019.
KR: What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m afraid writing is difficult in the absence of a decent laptop, but once that’s sorted, I have a number of short stories I’m eager to get on with, most of them supernatural fiction.
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
Ok to use an as yet unpublished character? Considering the undead from my writings would likely starve on a desert island, I’ll instead go for ‘Blake’: a supporting character in his twenties, from Church Mouse Book 2. Long as he’s on your side, he’s loyal, a formidable weapon against any danger, and for reasons I can’t reveal yet, very useful for tracking food.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
Meera Reed from Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.
A very underrated character and one of the purest souls in the books. Apart from the fact that everything she does is for other people, she’s also a brilliant survivor, an expert hunter, fighter, and you’d be hard-pushed find a more faithful friend.
c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.
Sir David Attenborough.
It’s a desert island. If he can’t help identify dangerous beasties, what’s safe to eat, finding shelter, etc, I don’t know who can. Plus I like the guy.
KR: Thank you very much Rebecca.
You can find out more about Rebecca by visiting her official website www.rhhale.co.uk
Follow Rebecca on Twitter @RHHaleAuthor
Rona never imagined her old church housed a terrible secret, until immortal eyes flickered from the dark and a mutilated manservant fell at her feet. Coerced into replacing him as ‘watchdog’ for the undead, Rona must discover her own dark side in order to survive.
You can buy Church Mouse: Memoir Of A Vampire’s Servant from Amazon UK