Hi Andrew! Thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy schedule to visit us to answer some questions today.
1. For those of my readers who have just discovered The Gallows Curse would you please give a short summary of the book using just three sentences?
It’s a fast-paced, gore-filled thriller set in London, home of the CRYPT: the Covert Response Youth Paranormal Team. When crimes are committed and there’s no rational explanation, the police turn to the CRYPT, a secret branch of MI5 devoted to investigating paranormal activity. Jud Lester is their star agent, and with his fellow agent, Bex de Verre, together they face the kind of horrors that terrify even me, and I wrote the book.
2. The CRYPT is the name of a top secret organization hunting ghosts, it’s so cleverly made up that I’m almost obliged to ask you if you know something that we don’t?
Well, who knows how many MI5 branches are hidden from view? There’s no doubt in my mind that ghosts really do exist, and who better to investigate them than CRYPT agents – teenagers with high levels of extra sensory perception (ESP)?
3. How did you come to write a main character like Jud? I mean the poor boy has some baggage and as a result he has some major trust issues and he is quite hot tempered.
I’m glad that’s how you see Jud – it’s exactly how I see him. There are too many soppy, sweet heroes in literature. The kind that don’t really exist in life. None of us are perfect and I didn’t want a hero with whom you couldn’t empathise. The most passionate, determined, courageous heroes in real life have flaws too. And besides, when you read Jud’s back story, you’ll see how much the poor guy has had to cope with.
4. What was it that initially inspired you to choose the Tyburn gallows as the story behind the hauntings in The Gallows Curse?
Lying beneath the majestic Marble Arch and the neatly clipped green lawns lies a soil rich with the rotting corpses of felons hanged and thrown in great pits beneath the gallows. They could hang twenty four criminals in one fell swoop on a giant, three-branched gallows they called the Tyburn Tree. They say up to 60,000 people may have swung there – or ‘danced the Tyburn jig’ as they called it. Why wouldn’t you choose it as a setting for a ghost story?
5. What did it feel like to visit on the sites that these cruel events actually happen so long ago?
Weird. I have a very vivid imagination and I’m all too easily startled. It could be in the middle of a traffic-filled, bustling day but you can stand at Tyburn or Newgate and hear the shouts and screams and jeers from the blood-thirsty crowds as the condemned men go past. You just have to ‘listen’ properly.
6. I have to say that I came to regret reading The Gallows Curse in bed one night. My house normally creeks a bit and that night I was expecting ghosts to show up every time I heard a sound. I’ve read that you’re also easily scared and so I wondered how you managed to fall asleep after writing some of these quite scary horror scenes?
With great difficulty. I drink coffee to stay awake and write furiously after the kids have gone to bed and it’s peaceful (I have four of the little angels). But then I find it difficult switching the old brain off. My eyelids give up the ghost long before my brain does. But Chianti helps.
7. Choose a theme song for the Crypt series. To make the task a bit harder I’m deciding that Ghostbusters is not an option ;)
I know it’s a cliché, but Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana wins hands down. Always terrifies me, doesn’t matter where I am. If I hear that, I grab the nearest cushion.
8. The Crypt series will be a five book series and the second Traitor’s Revenge is due out in March next year. Can you reveal a little teaser from the second book?
‘We're coming. The martyrs are awakening. Spirits are gathering. This will be our time...'
In York and London, strange shapes are taking form, emerging from the shadows. And who is the man who lies in a pitch-black room, listening to a voice that seems to speak from the darkness itself?
9. You have been working on fictional titles before but The Gallows Curse is the first to be accepted and published. How long have you been writing on this novel?
I was working on Book 1, Gallows Curse, for about a year and a half.
10. You have gone from writing educational books to writing paranormal fiction for young adults. Now that is quite a leap, I would presume, how has that transition been for you as an author?
Yes, it is quite a leap from educational books to fiction, but I was an English teacher for many years and I’ve taught the age of children for whom I’m now writing. I know what interests them, scares them, intrigues them and grips them. I’ve watched trends come and go and I’ve stocked up enough school library shelves to know what works and what doesn’t. But it doesn’t matter how many books you’ve written, read, taught or bought, it’s still a great thrill to see your own in print.
I can just imagine walking the site and feeling the presence there, even though the surroundings has changed a lot so much horror is bound to leave some energy behind. That is what I think at least. Thank you so much for letting us get to know you and your book a bit better, Andrew.