Kendall Reviews Interview
I’m delighted to be able to talk to welcome Frank Duffy to Kendall Reviews again. I hope you enjoy our chat, Frank also offers a book excerpt and has survived a week working the Kendall Reviews Graveyard Shift
Kendall Reviews: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
Frank Duffy: I’m forty-nine years of age and a British ex-pat who has been living abroad in Poland since 2000. My home is Zielona Gora, a beautiful town in the west of Poland, not far from the German border. I live there with my wife Angelika, and my dog of sixteen years, Mr Mole. I’m originally from Rainford on Merseyside, a provincial village close to Liverpool.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
FD: My wife and I like to go long distance walking quite a lot. I really love exploring places I otherwise might never stumble upon. I’m also heavily into music, and have been playing (I’m the vocalist) with a band on and off for fifteen years. I guess you could describe us as post-punk revival with garage rock thrown together, with a grunge aesthetic. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. Obviously, like anyone who writes, I read a lot.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
FD: The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall. I can’t quite remember when I first read it, maybe in secondary school. I still have the same copy I bought shortly afterwards in a jumble sale. I’m very sentimental about the book.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
FD: I’m up and down with this answer. When I was young I would use music as an aid, stuff like Tangerine Dream (Sorcerer, Thief, Near Dark), Kate Bush (The Dreaming, The Kick Inside), which I later discovered were favourites of plenty of other writers working in the horror genre. Then later I was very stern with myself about not playing anything, very over-the-top in being hermetically sealed into my room without any distractions. Very silly to be honest. These days it all depends.
I don’t have a favourite anything, although I can make top ten lists (as I did for the Graveyard Shift a month ago) when motivated to do so. There’s just too much variety out there, and so many albums are precious to me. I did write in the Graveyard Shift that Fever To Tell by Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, was my favourite record of the 21st century, but my favourite album ever…impossible to say.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
FD: When I was kid it was John Carpenter, and only last weekend I watched the original Halloween with my wife, who is from Belarus, and had never heard of him, so it was really fascinating to get her take on him. For the record, she loved it.
These days I’m always excited by anything Christopher Nolan does, and I’m definitely a fan of the work of Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie, whose Uncut Gems and Good time reminded me of some of the best crime films of the 1970s. But probably more than anyone else at present, I adore the films of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead who gave us Spring, Resolution and The Endless. I could watch those films on repeat all day long.
KR: What are you reading now?
FD: I’m reading Andrew Marr’s A Modern History of Britain. That sounds very English and middle-aged, and I feel like I’m a character out of Peep Show related to Mark Corrigan, but it’s a fantastic read.
KR: What was the last great book you read?
FD: I can honestly say, hand on heart, Peter Ackroyd’s London: The Biography. Stunning achievement, and one of the most illuminating books I’ve ever read.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
FD: E-books I’ve gotten used to despite the early years of warring that went on over them in the industry. However, truth be told, I wish they never existed mainly due to the damage they wrought on publishing in general. Hardbacks look great, but aren’t recommended for travelling on public transport.
Paperbacks do it for me. I love the smell of them. Even the cheap ones. Sometimes especially the cheap ones.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
FD: There were many, but in the beginning Walter de la Mare, E.F.Benson, and Ramsey Campbell.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
FD: Mainly I don’t plot, although before I start writing I do have a real idea of what’s going to happen. That’s not to say I haven’t plotted before, my debut novel The Resurrection Children which is due out next year from Demain Publishing was plotted. And I must say I really enjoyed the process.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
FD: I don’t research very much with short stories, and with the seven novels that I’ve written so far, it’s depended on the subject matter. I try not to write something that requires lots and lots of research in a subject which is scientifically or technically complex, because I would come off sounding like a phoney. I want my work to be authentic, to be as near to the truth as I can get. I don’t want my readers to call bullshit on my clear lack of knowledge in such an area.
KR: How would you describe your writing style?
FD: I was very influenced by lots of writers when I started out, and I experimented quite a bit. Now that I’m out there on my own and really enjoying it, I’d say my writing is aiming for a lyrical, elegiac quality. But if that’s something I’ve achieved or yet to achieve, I can’t honestly say.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
FD: My current job (I work as a Production Director) is spent writing scripts for a team of film-makers creating online ad content. So writing starts at 9 am and finishes at 5 pm. But then there’s my own writing, so anywhere from 8 pm to 11 pm. When I write the scripts I have lots of work distractions – discussions with the team, e-mails, the organisation of shoots on location – but when I’m working at home, I work without any distractions, except for my dog snoring.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
FD: I think that’s a tie between a published story and one yet to be published. I’m very fond of Know Our Hearts Bleed from my second collection Unknown Causes, and a short story called Hold Close The Truth of Yourself from my sixth (unpublished) collection Private Ceremonies.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
FD: I read them with a pinch of salt, the positive ones especially. I really think it’s important not to get carried away with positive reviews, because when the negative ones come, which they will, they’re often effective in knocking one’s confidence.
KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?
FD: I think I’ve developed my themes and subject matter in terms of what I want to do and say. That might sound very grandiose, very self-important, but I think I know where I’m going with my fiction. I’m very fixed on what I want to achieve.
KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?
FD: To let go with my imagination.
KR: What scares you?
FD: All the things which scare everyone else I guess, family sickness, paying the bills, making one’s life mean something. Although I admit I have a problem with flying, and sometimes with heights. Funnily enough, I love films set on planes or on mountains, so who knows what makes me tick in that department.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
FD: My latest release is in fact two collections. The first is Distant Frequencies a collection of stories selected from my previous collections. And the second is Night Voices, a joint author collection with my friend Paul Edwards. Both have been published by Demain Publishing.
KR: What are you working on now?
FD: I’ve just finished my sixth collection Private Ceremonies. I’m also about to do another draft on a crime novel called Grimwood.
KR: Thank you very much Frank.
For the first time, all these stories together in one Frank Duffy collection!
Permanent Hunger – a terrifying human population control experiment pushes one man’s faith to the limits
A Greater Horror – a school reunion reveals a decades-old crime and some very familiar monsters waiting in the shadows
Appearances – an alcoholic businessman is exiled by his superiors to a rundown housing estate, and discovers he has more than one addiction to battle
The Seat – a young teacher searching for answers visits an abandoned Polish church, only find something else is waiting for him
The Places – reality and fiction blur as a successful crime writer grapples with the collapse of his marriage
And When The Lights Came On – Warsaw’s last gas lamp attendant is plagued by a series of bloody visions. But what exactly do they mean?
Not Yet Players – The inhabitants of a provincial village become players in a macabre reality TV show
Among Flames, Darkness – A boy and his father take shelter during a German bombing raid, only to find themselves in even greater danger
The Extra – A failed relationship, a night at the opera, and a young man with romance on the brain.
Frank Duffy is the author of five short story collections, The Signal Block and Other Tales (Sideshow Press), Unknown Causes (Gallows Press), Hungry Celluloid (Dark Minds press), Distant Frequencies (Demain Publishing), and Night Voices (joint author collection with Paul Edwards – Demain Publishing). He’s also the author of three novellas collected together in a single volume, Mountains of Smoke (Gallows Press), as well as a chapbook, Photographs Showing Terrible Things (Sideshow Press. In 2021, his debut novel The Resurrection Children, will be published by Demain Publishing.
Frank works as a production director writing scripts for a company creating online video content. He’s originally from the UK, but lives in Zielona Gora in Poland with his wife Angelika and their dog, Mr Mole.
You can visit Frank’s Facebook page TheOnlinePresence