Nightmares Can Get Under Your Skin: Strange Ink author Gary Kemble talks to Kendall Reviews

I’m delighted that Kendall Reviews can help kick off a week-long Promotional Blog Tour for the sensational debut novel Strange Ink by Gary Kemble. (Titan Books). Please look out for the Blogs listed below for more Strange Ink action, including reviews, guest posts and much more.

Gary Kemble’s award-winning short fiction has been published in both magazines and anthologies, and his non-fiction has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online. Born in England, Gary now lives in Brisbane with his wife and kids, where he is the Social Media Co-ordinator for national news broadcaster ABC News. Strange Ink is his first novel, published by Titan Books.

KR: Coffee?

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KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

I was born in the UK and migrated to Australia when I was six, so as a kid I felt like a bit of an outsider. I was drawn to the paranormal from a young age and read lots of books about ghosts, hauntings and so on. I remember being disappointed when the monster in Scooby Doo turned out to be a crotchety old man.

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KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

I’ve recently taken up indoor rock climbing, which I really enjoy. I have a wolfhound/amstaf-cross who loves to take me on walks. I also read a lot (duh!) and I’m a Netflix addict. Drinking beer is fun too.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

Where The Wild Things Are. I loved the detailed illustrations of the monsters. And I loved the way Max goes on this intense adventure but when he returns home only a few hours have passed. (I choose to believe it wasn’t all in his imagination).

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

I’m a bit of an omnivore when it comes to music – Counting Crows’ August And Everything After and Rage Against The Machine’s debut album both get name-checked in Strange Ink. I’m also a fan of Billy Bragg – it’s a toss-up between Don’t Try This At Home and Talking With The Taxman About Poetry.

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KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director? 

The Babadook blew me away with its psychological intensity. My favourite horror director is John Carpenter – he’s given us so much over so many years. Halloween and The Thing are two of my other top horror flicks.

KR: What are you reading now?

The Troop by Nick Cutter. It’s about a troop of scouts who get stranded on an island with a man who’s recently escaped from a biological research facility. Think Slither + Lord Of The Flies.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

Mostly Stephen King. The Shining was the first book that actually scared me. I remember thinking, ‘I want to be able to do that’.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I’m somewhere between a plotter and a pantser. I like to have a rough outline before I start writing but I’m not afraid to go off the reservation if it feels right.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

For Strange Ink I read a lot of books about outlaw motorcycle gangs and the SAS. I watched half a season of Miami Ink and also spent some time at two different tattoo studios. And I did a lot of googling about drug-running and money laundering. Because I don’t obsessively plan out my novels, I don’t worry too much about obsessively researching before I start writing. I enjoy the research process but it’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole and not get any actual writing done.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

I’ve got a day job and two kids (as well as the fur baby) so the writing fits in around that. On a good day I get four mini writing sessions – before breakfast, on the bus to work, on the bus home, in the evening after the kids are in bed. I think a lot about my story in between so when I sit down to write, I can pound out the words pretty quickly. (I write really rough first drafts).

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

Saturday Night At The Milk Bar’ (Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012). I really let the darkness in with this one.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

Yes, but I probably shouldn’t.

KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?

It sounds really corny, but if you are passionate about writing, don’t give up. Earlier in my career I ran an arts blog and interviewed lots of writers. Their pathway to publication was different each time, but the one constant was that they didn’t give up. I’d also say that making a career out of writing (which I haven’t yet managed to do) involves a lot of stuff that’s not writing – attending conventions, running workshops, building digital communities. The writing comes first, of course, but it’s worth thinking about these things from the outset.

KR: What scares you?

The thought of my kids or wife going missing, or something terrible happening to them.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

I’ve been getting into ebooks lately, mostly because they’re easier to carry when I travel for work, and also I don’t feel so guilty about all the dead trees. But my house is full of books and I like being able to look at their spines and remember the stories.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

Strange Ink is about Harry Hendrick, a failed journalist (and failed boyfriend) who wakes up with a tattoo he doesn’t remember getting. At first he passes it off as a drunken mistake, but then more tattoos turn up, and with each tattoo comes a terrifying nightmare of someone else’s life. He’s desperately trying to unravel the mystery before he’s consumed by the vengeful spirit.

KR: What are you working on now?

The follow-up to Strange Ink, Dark Ink, is in the can (Titan Books, slated for an October 2019 release) so I’m editing two more in the Harry Hendrick series.

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.

Harry’s mate Dave, because he has medical training

b) One fictional character from any other book.

Hermione Grainger, because she’s awesome at magic

c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.

Australian SAS trooper Corporal Mark Donaldson, because he seems like the sort of bloke you want on your side in a crisis

KR: Thank you very much Gary.

You can follow Gary on Twitter @garykemble

To find out more about Gary please visit his official website

Spine-chilling horror in the vein of Joe Hill. After moving into a new house, journalist Harry Hendrick wakes up with tattoos that aren’t his…

When washed-up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes one morning with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out. But soon more tattoos appear: grisly, violent images which come accompanied by horrific nightmares so he begins to dig deeper. Harry’s search leads him to a sinister disappearance, torment from beyond the grave, and a web of corruption and violence tangled with his own past. One way or another, he has to right the wrongs.

You can buy Strange Ink from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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