What was the inspiration for your story ‘Shades Hole’ and how was it to write? I’d just been reading Stephen King’s The Outsider, which features scariness in a scary cave, and I was thinking about other scary caves. I have a touch of claustrophobia and don’t like caves all that much, though I am fascinated by them. Shades Hole came together very quickly, though it took me a couple of drafts to tighten it up and get it within the limits of the word count.
Have you ever written a character based on someone you know? Did they find out and what did they think?
My first proper published novel came out of an odd dream I had, which featured a friend of mine. So I wrote him into the story – and told him what I had done. He was quite pleased because he thought the character was a much cooler version of him. Also, he told me once that he used it as a chat up line: ‘I got written about in a sexy novel, do you want to read it?’ But I can’t remember whether it worked for him or not.
How did you celebrate your first story acceptance/publication?
The first book I had accepted was back in the days when you actually got advances from publishers. I got £250 and decided I would buy myself a little present with some of it. I bought a set of custom-made vampire fangs from a dentist in Glasgow, which I think I still have.
Are there any books that you are currently reading and why?
I read all the time. The two books I currently have on the go are Blade of Fortriu by Juliet Marrilier, which is a sword-and-sorcery epic that I picked up from one of those station bookshelves where you grab whatever you fancy and put a few pence in the collecting tin, and The Broken Girls by Simone St James, a vaguely paranormal mystery about a haunted boarding school and crimes of the past being unearthed. I’m enjoying The Broken Girls rather more as I really can’t work out who did what and where the story is going to end up; the sorcery one is a bit generic.
But my central belief about writing is that if you don’t read a lot, you will never be much of a writer. Because if you don’t love books and stories, why would you want to write in the first place?
‘Shades Hole’ by Zak Jane Keir features in Tall Tales & Short Stories Volume One