He may not be as well-known as Stephen King but Salford’s finest horror writer, Gary Buller, was only too pleased to stop by Grim Reader Reviews to answer a few questions about writing and life. I hope you will check out Gary’s stuff. His collection, Mechanisms of Despair, shows huge promise and contains some fab tales. Check out my review here.
Money raised from this collection goes to The Alzheimers Foundation and Sarcoma UK so it is for a very good cause. Next week BP Gregory stops by! Thanks for reading.
TGR: Where did your love of reading and writing come from?
I’m not sure, aside from newspapers my parents rarely read, we weren’t exactly the King household. That said mum and dad encouraged me academically and purchased books for me. I think reading Roald Dahl got me into it. The worlds he created were amazing.
TGR: What are some of the books/writers that had an impact on you and inspired you to write?
Tell Tale Heart by Poe really hit a chord with me. My parents bought me his illustrated collection for Christmas when I was ten years old. I’d never read anything so grown up and frightening. Following that ‘The Amityville Horror’ by Jay Anson scared me because it was ‘true’ and then, thanks to a neighbour moving away, I received a box full of old Stephen King books. The rest was history.
These days, I love Adam Nevill (The Ritual is brilliant) MJ Arlidge, and I’m a fan of Joe Hill’s short stories.
TGR: What does a typical day look like for you?
Nothing special. Get up at 6:15am, check social media and catch the bus to work. I get there as early as I can and get half an hours writing in before I start. I finish at 5pm get the bus home where I’ll try and squeeze another hour in between playing with my kids.
TGR: How much research do you do before you begin writing?
A little. I have a rough idea of a plot or concept before I write. Sometimes I’ll just have the ending. I tend to research during writing rather than beforehand, as and when I need to.
TGR: What genres are you comfortable writing in and is there any other(s) you would like to write in?
Mainstream Horror, of course, and speculative fiction. I’d love to write adventure and crime, MJ Arlidge’s ‘Eeny Meeny’ books are amazing, but it’d mean a hell of a lot of research and I’m not sure if I have the patience.
TGR: What is the most important aspect of your writing? Is it character, plot, tone, or something else?
Ideally, I’d like to think my readers take something from my stories and walk away thinking about them. I want to unsettle them.
TGR: What writing lessons have you learnt from you first publication to your most recent?
I think the list would be too big to fit here. I was a late bloomer when it came to writing for submission, starting early 2016. I was a sucker for over description, passive voice, flowery prose and unnecessary dialogue tags. I’m lucky enough to be an associate member of the HWA and I signed up to their mentor scheme. My mentor is Bram Stoker award-winning Hank Schwaeble. I speak to him roughly once a month and he sets me exercises to get me out of bad habits.
TGR: I’m a big fan of ambiguity in stories. Particularly with short stories, I like to be made to think about the story and its meaning long after I have finished reading. What are your thoughts on ambiguous stories? Is ambiguity something you incorporate into your stories?
My girlfriend absolutely hates an ambiguous tale. She likes to be spoon-fed the information throughout the story. I love it, though. It’s a hard craft because, as a writer, you need to have complete trust in the reader and not over-elaborate. Something I can be guilty of. The story I’m working on at the moment is ambiguous and is open to interpretation.
TGR: Social media is a tool for getting yourself noticed. Do you think it is easier or more difficult these days to get your work noticed? Why?
I think it’s almost impossible to get noticed these days, especially in the short story game. Novels and books are where it is at. Even then, there are so many writers out there on Twitter and Facebook. A few are great, but a lot are crap. It’s like being a little fish swimming about in a massive, crap filled pond. That said hard work, natural talent and a little luck pays off.
TGR: As a writer, what do you consider to be the do’s and don’ts of self-promotion?
Don’t send out those mass marketing DM’s offering your latest book. You look like a tool.
Don’t be fake, or have delusions of grandeur about your work.
Do be yourself. Follow people that genuinely interest you, and don’t troll.
TGR: Tell us about your work. What does your back catalogue consist of and what is your most recent release?
My first story was published by Deadman’s Tome, a little horror story called ‘The Way Out.’ Even with all its literary faults, I’m very proud of it.
‘Gallery of Curiosities’ was one I’m very happy with too. My story ‘PET Shop’ was bought by them for their podcast. They did such a great job with it. It is more of a dark tale than a horror story and is something I’m comfortable letting my seven year old listen to.
More recently I’ve had a story published in the ‘Monsters VS Zombies’ anthology by Stitched Smile, Tricksters Treats # 1, Aphotic Realm Magazine # 2 and my very latest will be published in Unnerving magazine # 5. I’ve been gunning for that publication from their first issue (not in a prison slang sense) and was delighted when Eddie Generous accepted it. It feels like a real step up. It’s a creepy tale titled ‘Porcelain Skin.’
My style has been described as ‘slow-burning psychological’ horror. I can’t disagree with that.
TGR: You’ve been invited to contribute a story to an anthology! If you could choose 5 other writers (living or deceased), who would they be and why?
1. Stephen King (for obvious reasons)
2. Adam Nevill (My favourite British horror writer.)
3. Jack Ketchum. (Such a talented short story writer. Love his stuff.)
4. Clive Barker. (Dark and Twisted.)
5. Roald Dahl. (The man I grew up reading.)
TGR: Your latest book is being turned into a movie! Well done you! Who stars in it and who directs it?
Sam Raimi would have to direct and I’d have a role for Bruce Campbell somewhere in there. Love the Evil Dead trilogy. I might throw in porn star Ron Jeremy and author Will Marchese just for good measure. In the same scene.
TGR: What are you working on now (apart from these questions) and where can we stalk find you on the World Wide Web?
I’m working on a couple of things at the moment. The aforementioned ambiguous horror story and something for Deadman’s Tome. I can have as many as four of five stories in different stages of completion.
The best way to find me is on Twitter. @garybuller or at www.garybuller.com
You can purchase my short story collection ‘Mechanisms of Despair’ here; Mechanisms of Despair https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1520708009/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_7.2tAb4JXJ024
My latest story ‘Porcelain Skin’ will be available at all good online retailers in Unnerving Magazine #5: https://www.unnervingmagazine.com/
Thanks, Adrian, you’re not bad for an Arsenal supporter. 😆👌🏻