Brian Paone

Author // Musician

Special guest, author C.E. Rickard

Today’s special guest on my page is author C.E. Rickard, whose short story, “The Hangman’s House,” was just published in the anthology A Contract of Words, which features 28 authors from all over the world, including my new short story, "Two Gunslingers." Here is what she had to say about life, writing, and her story:

1. Besides writing, which is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
The answer to this question is easy for me. My family. Without a shadow of a doubt they are the one thing I could not live without. They are support and motivation in every aspect of my life. This fabulous writing journey would not be happening without them.

2. What was the inspiration for your story?

Nathaniel Locklie, the hangman in my story was inspired by a real hangman, William Calcraft. A cruel and sadistic executioner whilst alive, the idea of encountering him after his death was truly terrifying.

3. If a genie could grant you three wishes, what would you wish for?

As I am writing this, I am on holiday with my family. I am looking out the window at the beautiful Welsh countryside and it is pouring with rain. My first wish for today would be that there is a break in the weather so that we can go for a long walk. A waste of a wish maybe, but that is my wish right now. Simple things!

Okay, my second and third wishes might have to get a little soppy I think. I would wish for the health of my family. My family has the hereditary condition R.P. (Retinitis Pigmentosa) R.P. slowly takes away the peripheral vision, gradually closing in until it has all gone. As yet there is no cure and no way of slowing it down. My second wish would be for a cure.
I am lucky to be blessed in many ways. My third wish would be to continue to write, (this is a dream,) whilst always having my family close by. I am one happy horror writer!!

4. Has reading influenced your decision to be a writer? What book(s) made you want to write?
I have loved to read ever since I was a child. I remember having a tall pile of books beside me and that feeling of excitement as I was about to embark on the new adventures contained inside or returning to familiar and much-loved characters and places. If I can create this for even just one person then I would be very happy.
I don’t think there is one particular book that made me want to write but many that ignited my love for books and reading and this developed into me wanting to write.

5. How would you describe your writing process? For example, do you write in a specific place, have music playing or is that a no-no, lean towards outlining specifics, or are you a pantser?
I most often write at our family’s dining table looking out into our garden, surrounded on two sides by bookshelves. I prefer to write in silence if possible but having two children, one dog and a husband often makes this tricky. So, if the house is a little noisy I listen to music. Usually classical without words, (or I will just sing along.) There are some great film and T.V. soundtracks. I am listening to The Game of Thrones soundtrack at the moment and music by the 2cello’s who are amazing! When coming up with ideas I listen to many types of music, rock is my all-time favourite. “Here Comes Revenge” by Metallica helped inspire my story The Hangman’s House and features on the companion soundtrack to A Contract of Words available from Scout Media.
I generally start with a rough idea, often just a particular scene and let the story unravel. I don’t tend to outline in too much detail just a few key points. I am often surprised how the story turns out, I love being surprised!

6. When faced with the dreaded “writers block”, how do you push through and find inspiration? Is there a ritual or process you have to get yourself back on track?
For me, “writers block” tends to have very little to do with actual writing and more to do with what is happening in my life outside of writing. It is as though my mind gets too crowded and there is little room left for words. Going for a long walk, listening to music and reading often help.

7. Did you know how your story would end when you started writing it? If not, did plans change while writing or did you improvise when you arrived?
I did know how “The Hangman’s House” would end. It was important to make sure the contract element was fulfilled, so, I had this worked out from the beginning.

8. If a movie were to be made of your story and you were in charge of casting, who would play your characters? Who would direct?
I would choose Jennifer Lawrence to play Melissa, Chris Pratt to play Karl and Gary Oldman to play my hangman, Nathaniel Locklie as I am big fans of each of these and I feel they would portray the characters how I have imagined them. There are no actors that I can think of that look at all like them though.
I would choose Alfred Hitchcock to direct as there is no one better at building suspense and tension!

9. How close did your story end up being to the original concept you had in mind?
I had the conclusion to “The Hangman’s House” set from the beginning with a couple of scenes planned along it’s way. There were no real changes made.

10. What book were you reading when you thought, this stuff sells??? Oh, hell, I can do that…
I admire and aspire to many writers, Stephen King, James Herbert, Neil Gaiman, Shirley Jackson to name a few. But I don’t think I have ever thought I could do that.

11. Did you have to do any odd research for your story?
The majority of the research I conducted for “The Hangman’s House” was about the real hangman, William Calcraft. Disturbing maybe but less odd than the research that has been necessary for some stories!

12. If you could pick one place to sit and write, where would it be?
The perfect place for me to write would be in a large library of an old and secluded mansion. Sat at a large wooden desk beside a roaring fire. Preferably with a glass (or two) of wine.

13. How closely do you relate to/identify with your characters?
In the past I have worked in various old English pubs and I have always loved that work. Meeting the vast variety of characters. So, I can relate to Melissa in that kind of work and how she is trying to find her place in the world.

14. What do you consider your all time favourite novel? One that you would read again and again?
I think that for me Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” is one of my all time favourite novels. I love a classic ghost story and this is about as perfect a ghost story as I have ever read. Shirley Jackson’s Characters are so believable and relatable I feel as though I know each of them personally.

15. How much of your writing is outlined from the beginning and how much of it is pantsed or written on the fly?
I tend to have a few main scenes and a rough outline. I like the story to develop naturally on its own. What happens came often be a surprise, even to me!

16. What are you favourite snack-as-you-write or eat-as-you-write foods? How do they help your creative flow or process?
I always have a bowl of Liquorice Allsorts nearby when I write. I love them. I don’t think they help my writing (or my waistline!) in any way.

17. How is your ACOW story typical or atypical of your writing?
I mainly write psychological horror, so, “The Hangman’s House” is very typical of the stories I like to write.

You can order on Amazon (worldwide), Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, or get a FREE companion soundtrack CD if you order through Scout Media’s online store here: http://www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/of-words-series/

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