The legendary horror writer honours the pages of SFX with his presence
Describe the room in which you typically write.
I use two rooms. One is an oubliette lined in unworked jet, lacking either doors or windows (I get in via the air conditioning vent). This is to prevent distraction and surround me entirely in black. The only issue is visibility, as generally I can’t see the page in front of me, nor plug in a desk/lava lamp. The second room I use is an elevated eyrie I erected in my back garden last year in order to look out across distant cosmic vistas, but Barratt are extending the estate further and I can’t get planning permission to go higher.
Do you have any personal mementos on your desk?
I keep a framed X-ray of my brain’s interior close by in case I require inspiration (I never do) and alongside that, a painting of my family and I, skeletal and fully flayed, gorging on the disembowelled body of our dead dog, Tosser. I commissioned it when he died from wasp stings, and it really helped pull us all through a very difficult time.
Do you find it helpful to listen to music while writing?
Music, no. Wailing, yes.
Which of your books are you the most proud of?
Do you have any writing “bad habits” that you have to keep in check?
I tend to get quite hard when writing, but that goes with the territory when you’re penning “balls to the wall” horror. I usually have the room locked and secured, so dignity is assured for all, but it’s largely why I refuse to pen anything “off the cuff” at signings. Alan Titchmarsh does the exact opposite, of course. But then if you’re hawking soft erotica alongside professional gardening advice, it’s hard to prevent worlds (and rods) colliding.
Have you ever come up with a good plot idea in a dream?
I believe you mean nightmare. And yes, of course, fool.
Were you a keen reader as a child? Which books were your favourites?
From my earliest days, I have always been an inveterate reader of my own work, from my first sentient scrawl, “Die, die, die…” to the darkest of my nurseryperiod doodles, “See Mummy Cry”. Hands down my favourite work from the period is “Garth see dog. Car hit dog. Garth poke dog.”
Is there any particular author whose writing ability makes you envious?
“Envied” is a better word here, in which case your sentence will apply to any writer you care to name. “Enraged” is also a good substitute. In which case, Richard Osman.
Where’s the oddest place you’ve seen one of your books?
Between the lower rear cheeks of a young fanatic at Fornicon ’97 – I was there to promote my erotic occult detective thriller Rectus Flagellum. I told him that I would have happily signed it for him pre-slottage, but refused to extract it personally post-clench.
By the time security were summoned, he’d set the thing alight, which negated further discussion.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about professional authors?
That they plot, rewrite, finesse their work and listen to editors.
What’s the most frustrating thing about being an author?
Garth Marenghi’s Terrortome is out on 3 November, published by Hodder Studio.
I tend to get quite hard when writing, but that goes with the territory