Night Voices: Paul Edwards & Frank Duffy
On 4th September DEMAIN will be publishing a joint horror collection from Paul Edwards & Frank Duffy
Two writers. 12 Stories.
Personal experiences. Imaginations running riot. Horror explored and realised. Difficult and challenging. Interconnected but unconnected. Troubled families. Terrifying transformations. Ghostly wraths. Descent into madness and murder…
…these are the voices of the night.
“Vibrant story-telling with delicious twists and turns … I’m happy to declare Paul Edwards is a new talent to watch.” – Simon Clark
“Frank Duffy approaches the dark night of human existence from oblique angles and with a craftsmanship akin to Thomas Ligotti and the late, great Joel Lane.” – Laird Barron
Paul Edwards Talks To Demain Publishing
(Originally featured on the Demain Publishing Blog 3rd August 2020 HERE)
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Good to speak with you again Paul, hope you’re doing okay…for those that don’t know you, can you tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer.
PAUL EDWARDS: Hi! And yes, well, I am 44 years old and I live in the market town of Frome in Somerset with my wife, Mandy, and our two daughters, Lily aged 17, and Poppy aged 14. I’ve always had a drive to write; ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved writing my own scary stories! Being a lifelong horror fan, I’ve always written, read, and watched horror. It’s a genre that’s endlessly intrigued and fascinated me.
DP: You and me both – I feel I’m learning something new about the genre every day. In terms of your stories…
PE: My six stories were actually inspired by my day job as a Family Support Worker. Writing them felt cathartic – a way, I guess, of trying to make sense of some of the more difficult and challenging behaviours I’ve encountered through the job. After reading Frank’s tales, I was surprised by how (unintentionally) we’d touched on similar themes and ideas. I think the stories complement each other really well.
DP: They really do and that’s why I/we thought the collection really works with two authors…did you find any of your stories particularly difficult to write?
PE: I actually surprised myself by how quickly I wrote them! The ideas came fast and fully formed, and I wrote the first drafts in under a month. It’s the editing side I find most difficult – trying to hone and edit the work into reasonable shape can be a frustrating, exhausting process. I’ll reach a point where I’m absolutely sick of the work, and it’s then I know I need to put it away, to give myself a break. To come back another day and look at it through fresh eyes. But all that effort is worth it when someone likes your work enough to publish it. I get a big kick out of that.
DP: I’m with you there! Paul, what was it like working with another writer – can you explain that particular process?
PE: Working with Frank was great. He initially approached me with the idea of writing a joint collection. It was pretty daunting at first, having to write six new stories in a relatively short space of time. And I had to be strict with myself, fitting it around family life and the day job by setting writing goals and objectives for myself each day. We only read each other’s stories after we’d finished them, so there was no conferring! I’m a big admirer of Frank’s fiction, so it was an absolute honour and a pleasure to have collaborated with him.
DP: Oh I bet. Perhaps ‘Night Voices’ might be the first in a series of joint collections – we’ll have to give that some serious thought ha ha! What would you say was your biggest creative success to date?
PE: I would say my novella Where the Wounded Trees Wait, which was published by DEMAIN in ‘The Darkest Battlefield’ – an anthology of supernatural World War 1 novellas that I was massively proud and honoured to have been a part of. I approached that story in a different way too, as I actually spent time researching by visiting Mametz and other battlefields of the Somme, in order to try and get a sense of the place and history. It turned into a very humbling and moving experience all round. I was really proud of how that story turned out.
DP: And rightly so, having also visited those battlefields your story brought back a lot of memories. Who do you read and are they an influence?
PE: As a horror fanatic, I do tend to read mainly horror fiction. Some of my favourite authors include Ramsey Campbell, Joel Lane, Jack Ketchum, Poppy Z. Brite, Gary A. Braunbeck, Stephen King, Thomas Ligotti, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert Bloch, to name but a few. My favourite writers inspire me to pick up my pen and write straight after I’ve finished reading them. I’m particularly drawn to cosmic horror – I love the original ‘Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos’ anthology edited by August Derleth; it’s a book I’ve returned to again and again. One of the stories, Return of the Lloigor by Colin Wilson, inspired a novel that I’ve started, which mixes cosmic horror with my own experiences as a Police Community Support Officer!
DP: Oh, I’d love to read that! What is Paul Edwards frightened of?
PE: I guess I’m afraid of losing my mind…of losing my identity. Of losing touch with reality in general. These are things that truly scare and unsettle me. Also, the thought of losing my family; the people that are closest to me. I’m pretty sure these fears get worked into my stories all the time. I think, as a horror writer, it is vital to draw on your own fears for inspiration. To make the horror real, I guess.
DP: Dead right. Thinking about your creativity, is there something you haven’t yet done?
PE: 1) I’ve always wanted to finish a novel, so completing the first draft of one this year felt like a big achievement. I wrote it longhand in my car during lunch-breaks at work. There’s still tonnes of work left to do on it, though…fingers crossed I’ll see it published someday… 2) I’ve always wanted to write my own Choose Your Own Adventure book, as I was a HUGE fan of CYOA, Fighting Fantasy, etc. in the 80s. I still have most of my old gamebooks, which I nostalgically return to from time to time. My favourite gamebook is House of Hell by Steve Jackson, which definitely helped to nurture my love of all things horror. I have actually started writing my own CYOA book, and have plotted and planned most of it out already. It’s set in Northern France, with a fair bit of local mythology and folklore involved.
DP: Oh my lord! House Of Hell! I remember that…and doing your own, Northern France – seems a winner to me already – we might have to talk about that in the future ha ha. So, we’re apparently coming to the end of the Lockdown – how was it for you?
PE: I’ve handled lockdown pretty well. I’ve loved spending more time with my family. I’ve been keeping in touch with friends and extended family members through Zoom, and even managed to run a ‘Call of Cthulhu’ RPG campaign with my dad and brothers via video conference, which was a lot of fun and not something I would have done under normal circumstances! I’ve also found a lot more time to write, and as a result I’m close to finishing another collection, which I hope to submit somewhere in the not too distant future…
DP: That’s brilliant – thanks a lot for your time Paul, it was great connecting with you again. Truly the best of luck with Night Voices!
Frank Duffy Talks To Demain Publishing
(Originally featured on the Demain Publishing Blog 3rd August 2020 HERE)
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hi again Frank, hope you’re well since we last spoke. Let’s get straight down to it – in writing your stories in ‘Night Voices’ did you have to do much research?
FRANK DUFFY: Hi! As a rule of thumb (for me) short fiction requires a degree of economy. Therefore, I like to keep research to a minimum. To be honest, I find that life experience often serves as the best research for short fiction. For example, my story, Missing Country, is me drawing on personal experience. I did that exact job, the location is real, and that school exists. I simply relied on memory. But more often than not, it’s my imagination going for a run and exercising its artistic license.
DP: And working with Paul – can you explain that process?
FD: I’ve always wanted to work with Paul (Edwards), and we’d even talked about doing something together long before ‘Night Voices’ came about, but it never panned out at the time. Then last year, I floated the idea of doing a joint author collection. Neither of us had done one before and although it’s hardly a new idea, neither is it particularly common in the genre [DP – you’re dead right and that was why DEMAIN picked the collection up]. The basic premise was that we’d write six stories apiece, keeping it relatively simple. There was no discussion about linking them, which I believe works in our favour. We’re both thematically and stylistically very different authors. Plus, it also offers the reader a bit of variety. Since I’ve always admired Paul’s work, I was very happy when he agreed to work alongside me.
DP: What is ‘horror’ to Frank Duffy?
FD: I try not to get bogged down in what constitutes horror and what doesn’t. So the question is a good one. Because while the fiction I write might not always be what traditionalists call horror, it would almost be impossible for me to describe it otherwise. My definition is very broad. And I find I’m most often more likely to read and be interested in people who share this view. Horror for me is in some ways tied into the existential. It permeates ordinary life. Horror is the realisation life has passed you by without realising it. Horror is living in the past. Horror is failure to learn from mistakes. Regret. Stagnancy. Bitterness. Waging a perpetual war of competition. For me, all of these things represent horror in some way.
DP: That’s some great definitions Frank, I’m glad I asked that question – thank you. What frightens you then…
FD: Since I was a kid, I’ve been deeply phobic about flying. For many years I often dreamed about being stuck on a plane, or even being tricked into flying on one. However, it has only ever found its way into one of my stories, The Regression. I started out writing it as a serious piece, but somehow an element of macabre humour crept in there, and changed its overall tone. I guess the humour helped alleviate some of the emotions I was feelings as I was writing it.
DP: Ah, flying. Not my best subject so I’m going to quickly move on. The Lockdown – how you finding it?
FD: Since I was last asked this question, life in Poland has returned to normal, all things considered. I’m not sure this is a good thing, but it at least offers a semblance of the ordinary. Of course, there some residual effects. Most people (at least here in Warsaw), myself included, still wear masks in public places, despite this no longer being a legal requirement. The irony being, it’s probably more disconcerting to see people not wearing them. But generally speaking, everything has gone back to the way things were pre-pandemic.
DP: Ah, that’s great to hear. Finally then Frank, can you tell us something surprising about you?
FD: I once broke International Maritime Law to get my beloved dog, Mr Mole, across the Channel. The story is much too long to relate now, but suffice to say, the story also involved 47 hours spent travelling across land with Disco Polo music blasting for the entirety of the journey. And believe it or not, my mother’s home was once thought to be genuinely haunted. Only, another irony, I never noticed a thing until many years later, which shows I’m about as sensitive to the paranormal as a lump of coal. A rather poor admission to make being a horror author…
DP: Ha ha ! A great place to finish. Thanks a million for your time again Frank, all the best with ‘Night Voices’.
Horror fan and writer from Frome, Somerset, UK. Paul has had around 50 short stories published in various anthologies, magazines and webzines, and have had three books published – Black Mirrors (Rainfall Books), Now That I’ve Lost You (Screaming Dreams) and Infernal Love (Rainfall Books).
You can visit Paul Blog www.pauledwardshorror.com
Paul is also on Instagram @infernal__love
Frank Duffy is the author of three short story collections, The Signal Block & Other Tales, Unknown Causes, and Hungry Celluloid. A single volume of his novelettes was published under the title Mountains of Smoke, comprised of the eponymous tale, ‘Ambiguous’, and ‘Not Yet The End of The Story’. He grew up in Rainford, a provincial village in the north-west of England, but now lives in Poland with his wife Angelika and dog, Mr Mole.