CHHR: Please give a brief introduction here.
Mr. Cedar – thanks for having me here, boss. Introduction? So:
I’m a London native. Born and raised in the capital and proud of; specifically in the south-west of the capital. 5’10”, about 230lbs, mid forties, author of horror and dark fiction. Still enjoying London: food, scenery, entertainment, you name it. It’s home.
CHHR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Ahhhh …not quite sure, to be honest. There are certain things that might have suggested I’d be a writer, but I don’t know that there was an all-or-nothing event or response that suggested: “yeah, it’s time now.” Back in primary school, the teacher left me to read to the class. Fast forward many years, Kelley Armstrong’s forum was alive with tales of werewolves who could eat and fight. Some sex too. I’d written a little fanfic there that was well-received. I remember reading Brian Keene’s essay “So You Want To Be A Horror Writer” (if memory serves) and nodding in agreement at the rationale. I remember the first review of my first novel post NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) – which was scathing at best.
But ultimately, I fell into writing – and sank deeper, just writing more and more.
CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like?
Currently manic! I’m heading out of town soon for a change of scene and some much needed R&R. So ironically, now’s the time to tie off all those loose ends so I can relax when the time comes. Maybe not completely – since I always have an eye on the writing.
CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing rituals? If so, what are they?
Nothing really outlandish. There are those writers who claim that they can’t write in silence – I’m not one of them. Not only do I need silence, but I need solitude. As a result, I may write late at night when the rest of the house and the neighbourhood have gone to sleep. With quiet and solitude, I can really shut off from the outside world and visualize the world I’m trying to create.
CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?
More so novels, rather than short stories. See, when I first started out as a dark fiction author, one site that got my attention was DarkFuse. In addition to seeing an author’s work, they were also interested in seeing an author’s site – which makes sense to a publisher, I guess: you want to see how that author represents themselves, you want to get a feel for what they’re about.
As a result, I started to write short fiction. Shorter to write, quicker to edit, quicker to submit and hopefully place. I built up a fair back catalogue as a result, but from a reader and author point of view, I prefer the longer fiction. Something I can lose myself in and let the story unfold around me. It’s just a more immersive experience.
CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?
Good question. I start by saying that, for me, London is one of the major cities on the planet, in terms of scenery, art, entertainment, food (yeah, I’m a foodie), etc. – you name it. It would follow that the same may be true for horror. Bear in mind that I don’t watch horror films anymore (yeah, imagine the irony), but I still appreciate a good horror stage. Just on the page rather than the screen. Anyhow.
From what I see in this city, horror here isn’t mainstream, but it’s here. The big cinema chains may have the likes of Get Out and the films in the Insidious franchise, but I don’t see them having the same kind of reach as a film from the Star Wars franchise. I see high street bookstores that have a small proportion of horror fiction, when compared to fiction which is more crime or literary. But this doesn’t stop me – and I imagine for other fans of the genre, it won’t stop them either.
There are gems scattered through the city if that if you want your fix of whatever, you just need to know when and where to look for it. The BFI – British Film Institute on the South Bank – had a celebration of Stephen King’s 70th birthday last autumn. I went to catch Christine: which I’ve not seen since childhood. The play of The Exorcist also debuted here in London last autumn. You’ve got horror conventions like London Horror Con and the London Horror festival. For those people who aren’t satisfied with terrestrial TV, cable opens up more channels for dark viewing, be it Stranger Things or whatever. Again: it might not be mainstream, but it’s here.
CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?
Definitely an outline. Even if it’s just an elevator pitch – it gives me the backbone that the story will hang on; and I’ll always know what the ending is. All my fiction will use this, but longer fiction will use a synopsis as well. Not so detailed that I paint myself into a corner, but enough of a framework to hang the story on and write freely.
CHHR: How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?
Mmmmm. I’m not sure the writing process has changed a whole lot. I know one thing I explore more is those quiet moments: not just when the scare happens, but the aftermath. Those quiet moments when the scare – and the ramifications – really start to weigh on a character.
My story submission process (sending manuscripts to publishers) has probably changed more. The first story I sold (for exposure) was a 100-word short, so I could keep track of that easily. The more stories I wrote, the more there was a need for a spreadsheet to track story name, story length, date to expect response, story status (submitted/accepted/rejected). And because I work fast and often, tracking everything is key.
CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story?
Let me tell you one of the things that stuck with me. I watched Halloween back when I was small and Afro’d. Me and my two older brothers – and it’s the oldest brother that got me into this shit in the first place! Anyhow. I never found the film scary, but more darkly entertaining. I was riveted, from beginning to end. Music, narrative, all of it. But you know what really hooked me? It’s when Loomis looks to see where Michael Myers has fallen after being shot – and there’s no body.
Now I’d seen old-school horror – the Hammer business – where the monster might get killed or maybe the humans catch a bad one, but at least there’s a resolution. To think after all that fight, the monster gets away? I’d never seen anything like it. After all your fight, you still need to look over your shoulder. Now I don’t think that’s necessarily the definitive ingredient for a good horror story, but that works for me.
In broader terms, I like my horror subtle. The idea that something isn’t quite right, that there’s something out of place, but you can’t quite place what that is. And the closer you look, the deeper the horror goes. From an author point of view, I’ll use it all: from gore and viscera to quiet menace. Erring more to the quiet menace.
CHHR: What are you currently working on?
Right now? This Q&A! This is probably my last piece of author business before I take a week off for some much-needed R&R. I can tell you what’s in the works though:
1. Preparing for the release of my novella But Worse Will Come, later this year
2. Reading a novella for another author
3. Mutual novella beta with another author
4. The usual raft of submissions of my back catalogue
5. Research and writing first draft of new novel, to finish by autumn
6. Clean-up of a handful of stories, including one for the next Crossroads In The Dark anthology from Burning Willow Press
You know, as I say this, I’m thinking I have to give the nod to BWP’s Edd Sowder, who’ll no doubt cite that I’m forever writing. And looking at this, he could be right.
CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?
Too much right now. Gary McMahon’s “The Grieving Stones”, James Everington’s “Falling Over”, Will Maclean Jones, “The Showing”, Laura Mauro’s “Naming The Bones”, Gemma Files’ “Experimental Film”, Liz Jensen’s “The Ninth Life Of Louis Drax”… I doubt I’ll get through all the ones listed before the year is out though!
CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?
Ahhh, scared is such a strong word… (laughing)
Films will scare me. Books? Not so much – although I have given myself the creeps when I’m writing at night. As for stuff I’ve read, there’ve been some notable reads over more recent years that hit the spot. Probably most recent was Susan Hill’s “The Woman In Black.” I read that last year, and while I found it a little slow to start, it hit the spot.
CHHR: What is your favorite horror book?
Right now, it’s …probably “Thor” by Wayne Smith – a werewolf story from the viewpoint of the family dog. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read that, and I only bought it about a year or so ago. The nod will probably go to Aidan Chambers’ “Book Of Ghosts & Hauntings”, because I had that since I was eleven years old, and that collection of eerie short stories has always stuck with me. From ‘The Hideous Brown Face With Flaming Eyes’ to the tale of the ghost in the fen, there was nothing tame about those stories. That’s probably the book that helped push me to writing horror.
CHHR: What is your favorite horror film?
John Carpenter’s “The Thing” – my favourite film in any genre. That film has a reputation for being terrifying, truly freakish – but it’s never scared me. Given that most horror films will scare me, that’s kind of special. But yeah, I saw that back when I was about 10 years old, and I’ve loved it ever since. Lost count of how many times I’ve watched it since. And it continues to blow me away. I remember hearing about it all those years ago, and the tagline? “Man is the warmest place to hide.” I was sold.
It’s a masterful piece of film: the music is spot on, it’s an all-male cast – no screaming hysterics, there’s a sense of invisible threat. You can’t even rely on the Thing to have a specific appearance, which is just messed up. But it was a bold film. All-male cast. Claustrophobic set pieces, set in the Antarctic wastes. A black man survived to the end of the film. No tension music when the Thing was attacking. There’s a fan essay that was doing the rounds back on the Outpost 31 site called “All About The Thing” by Robert Meakin. If you’re a fan of the film, seek out that essay, and watch the film again. Seriously.
CHHR: What type of music do you listen to? What’s your favorite album?
I haven’t listened to any new music in a while, partly because I don’t listen to the radio or watch a whole lot of TV. My iPods for when I’m lifting weights will have a mix on there: funk from The Meters, rap from Keith Murray or DMX, rock from Alice In Chains or Jerry Cantrell, or something from a film or TV soundtrack. X Ambassador’s “Jungle.” That’s one to squat to. Generally, I’ll listen to rap, rock, funk, blues, soul.
A favourite album? That’s tough. Eric Benet’s “A Day In The Life” would have to get a mention, because it’s one of those rare cases I where I can listen to an album from beginning to end. From the opening track of “That’s Just My Way”, he sets the bar high, and keeps it there to the end of the album. Solid work.
CHHR: What is your spirit animal?
It’d be a tiger. There’s a saying that cats ‘sleep fat, walk thin.’ That’s the kind of feline sensibility I have.
CHHR: What is your favorite beer?
Budweiser. Cold, from the bottle.
CHHR: If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?
Okay, this is putting me on the spot now! Not sure I can pick just one, but the first pick would have to be Erik Hofstatter. I say this because for all the conventions I’ve been to, he’s not been to so many of them. Although, I did catch up with the man before the anniversary screening of Hellraiser here in London last year. So to Mr. H – it’s your turn to get the drinks in this year, boss.
“London native C. C. Adams is the horror/dark fiction author whose work appears in publications such as Turn To Ash and Weirdbook Magazine. A member of the Horror Writers Association, he also holds a 2015 Honourable Mention from the Australian Horror Writers Association for short fiction.
Still living in London, he lifts weights, practices kungfu, cooks – and looks for the perfect quote to set off the next dark delicacy. Visit him at http://www.ccadams.com”