Kendall Reviews Vs Andrew Cull
- Paperback: 214 pages
- Publisher: Ifwg Publishing International (16 Sept. 2019)
So here we are, the start of a new year. But before we push forward into the unknown there’s still time to look back on 2019 which turned out to be a fantastic year for the horror genre. Check out the following link for the Kendall Reviews favourite reads. Each member of Team KR has showcased their favourite books of the year. It was a tough year to pick a favourite to be honest, but for me personally there was one book that stood out from the rest. That book is Remains, the debut novel from Andrew Cull. It’s a huge honour to be able to welcome Andy to Kendall Reviews again, this time he is going head to head with Team KR in the latest edition of Kendall Reviews Vs…
You’re a big fan of cinema. Who would be your dream team of writer/producer/director/actor/actress if one of your stories/books was turned into a film?
Good question. Coming from a background of working in film, I often have actors in my mind for the characters I write. If REMAINS was ever adapted, I’d love to see Gillian Anderson play Lucy. I definitely wrote the character with her in mind. In terms of writer and director? That’s a tough one. There was a time when I wanted to take the reins on an adaptation of the novel. Right now though, I’m the happiest I’ve been as a writer, working on my fiction. I don’t see myself returning to film in the near future. I’d be over the moon if someone like Babak Anvari or Ari Aster were to direct an adaptation of the novel. They’re my favourite directors working in horror at the minute.
Is there one activity you refuse to do and one you really want to try? Personally, I could care less about sky diving but I’d love to go into a Great White Shark cage!
The Great White cage sounds awesome! I’d definitely do that! As far as things I refuse to do: anything involving heights.
Do you have a favourite writing format out of screenplays, short stories or novels?
That’s a tough one, they all have distinct pros and cons. I enjoy screenplays because they’re all about the dialogue, and I’ve always enjoyed the rhythm of good dialogue. That said, you’re very limited in terms of what you can and can’t describe. You’re essentially laying down the basics for the director to come along and interpret. I wasn’t very good at keeping my descriptions to a minimum when I worked in film. That’s one of the reasons that a move to prose has suited me so well. I can really take my time, build the scenes I’m writing, (hopefully) draw the reader into the story I’m telling. In terms of length, I’m a firm believer that each story is as long as it needs to be. When I set out to write KNOCK AND YOU WILL SEE ME, I’d originally planned it as a flash fiction story. Well, that didn’t really go how I’d planned. Three months and seventy pages later it was finished. I’m working on four new stories at the moment. I’ve a rough idea of how long they’ll be, but they’ll be finished when the story dictates it. I guess I’m most comfortable in the area between short and novella length.
What was the hardest thing you’ve ever done for charity?
I walked 75kms in 24 hours to raise money for Save The Children. That was back in 2012, just before I moved out here to Melbourne. It was along the canal ways from Leamington Spa to Oxford in the UK. That year we’d had a huge amount of rain, and so a lot of the pathways had turned to sludge or were flooded altogether. Like the idiot I am, I’d decided to do that solo. That was pretty tough.
Are there any video games that you’ve played that really inspired you to put the controller down & get to writing?
I’ve modded and written for Skyrim. I created a series of characters (followers) whose backstories were told through diaries they carried with them. They were a lot of fun to write. RPGs are my favourite genre of games and the ones which fire my imagination the most. I love an immersive world that I can really get lost in. If I was able to work in the games industry, my dream job would be to write on a RPG.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before you started writing?
I guess, if I could go back and change anything, I’d not get so caught up in wanting to write for film. I spent a lot of years working in the UK TV and film industry. A lot of those years were unpaid and pretty tough. It’s not an industry that’s kind to writers. I’d like to tell my younger self to start writing books sooner. Right now, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been with my writing, and it was the move from film to fiction that led to that.
It feels like ghosts play a heavy part in your storytelling. Do you have any close encounters you’d be willing to share?
I would absolutely love to have an encounter with the supernatural. Sadly, that hasn’t happened to me yet. I’ve promised myself, that if I ever have the time and money, I’ll take some time out from writing to investigate the paranormal properly. I’d love to spend a year or so travelling across America visiting the most haunted locations in the country.
Your debut novel, Remains, covers a heavy topic of grief and loss. Would you characterize the story as dark psychological horror or still more on the supernatural realm?
I’d say that it encompasses both those areas. When I set out to write REMAINS, I wanted to write a novel that explored real life horror as much as any supernatural kind. In the story, grief is as much the villain as any other character.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and how would you use it?
That’s a tough question. How about, invisibility? I’d use it to sneak into Area 51, to find out what’s really going on in there.
You’ve been given an opportunity to time travel. You’ll be gone for one week. Do you choose the past or the future? Why?
I’d choose the past. I’d go back to 2015 and spend a week with my Dad. He passed away in 2016 and there are a lot of things I wish I’d had the chance to say to him.
What does your typical day consist of?
Well, I don’t write every day. I spend a lot of time planning my stories before I actually get to the process of putting it all down on paper. Planning can involve working at my plotting board (that’s a long board where I write A to Z plot plans), travelling, reading, and even exercising. Those are all activities that help progress a story for me.
When I do get to the point of sitting down at the laptop, I try to make sure I’ve got a good block of time, a full clear day. I’ll spend eight hours at the computer working. Even if the work’s not great initially, you never really know when something you love will come along (that’s happened many times late in the day) so I make sure I stick at it for as long as possible. I never bother with word counts, that’s an undue pressure that’s not useful to my storytelling. When I was younger, I’d write long into the evening. I rarely do that now. I generally clock off at about 6pm.
When you first get a story idea, how do you decide whether it’s best served as a short story, novella, or novel?
It’s generally at the plotting stage that I begin to realise how long, or short, a story will be. I’m a big believer that the story defines its own length. I’ll work the plot through, from beginning to end, and then I’ll be able to roughly gauge over how long the story will play out.
Are there any specific Australian myths or legends you hope to explore in your writing?
Lots that I’d like to explore and, in turn, to write about. I’d love to visit the spots on the Hawkesbury river where the river monster has been sighted. I’d love to check out the Min Min lights in the outback too. When I lived in the UK, I kept a list of haunted sites, and ticked them off when I’d visited them. I’m making a list for Australia too. It’s a big country though, so that list will keep me going for a while!
Since many of your stories include paranormal aspects, do you spend a lot of time researching purportedly true ghost encounters?
When I was younger, I read every true ghost stories book I could lay my hands on. There’s no doubt that that’s influenced my writing. I’m fascinated by the work of Maurice Grosse and Harry Price.
You write a lot from the female perspective. How have you managed to do this so convincingly?
I really enjoy writing from a female perspective. There’s no doubt that characters like Ellie Ray and Em Walker are based on the strong women in my life. I try to write them honestly and, hopefully, believably. I often find male protagonists to be a bit flat, a bit one dimensional. Of course, that’s a flaw in my writing, for not making them more interesting.
You’ve had spectacular success with Remains, it looks to be featuring in many bloggers/reviewers ‘best of 2019’ lists. How does this affect you and your approach to the follow-up?
Well, the reception to REMAINS has been incredible. I’m hugely grateful that so many people have read and enjoyed the novel. The success of the book has definitely made me think hard about what to work on next. In fact, it was a bit overwhelming for a time. I found myself getting quite tied up in worrying that whatever I wrote next wouldn’t stand up to REMAINS. I’ve not really had that happen to me before, and so it threw me off. In the end, I decided to take some time out, gather my ideas and not start on anything until I was sure it was strong enough. I’m back now, and working on the stories in my new collection. I’m taking my time over the plot for my next novel. I’ve got several stories I’d like to explore. Hopefully, once HEART is complete, I’ll have decided which of those I’m going to write next.
Resident Evil or Silent Hill?
Silent Hill. The first and second one. Playing Silent Hill on my PS1 back in 1999 was my first real experience of Japanese horror. Whereas Resident Evil felt like it took a lot of inspiration from Romero movies, Silent Hill felt alien and unrelenting. It also had some of the best creature designs I’ve seen in horror (movies and games.) The sound of static bursting from a radio was the sound of my nightmares for months after playing the first game!
It’s a real shame that Silent Hills got cancelled. I’m hoping that, in the future, the early Silent Hill games might get remade in the way we’ve recently seen for the RE series.
What can your readers look forward to from Andrew Cull in 2020 and beyond.
I’m currently working on a new collection. It’ll be called HEART. Similarly to BONES, it’ll have five stories. They’re stories of family, love, loss, and hope. I’m hoping to have it completed by late 2020. I’m also working through the plot for my next novel.
Thank you very much for hosting me on Kendall Reviews! It’s been fantastic to talk to you!
Grief is a black house. How far would you go?
What horrors would you endure if it meant you might see the son you thought you’d lost forever?
Driven to a breakdown by the brutal murder of her young son, Lucy Campbell had locked herself away, fallen deep inside herself, become a ghost haunting room 23b of the William Tuke Psychiatric Hospital. There she’d remained, until the whispering pulled her back until she found herself once more sitting in her car, calling to the son she had lost, staring into the black panes of the now abandoned house where Alex had died.
Tonight, someone is watching her back.
Andrew Cull is an award-winning horror writer and director. He’s the author of the acclaimed story collection Bones. His debut novel Remains is out now.
Please visit Andrew’s Official website: http://www.andrewcull.com/
Andrew’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialAndrewCull/
Andrew’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/andrewcull
Andrew’s Amazon Author page can be found here