IWU Interview 004 – Horror Writer G.R. Yeates
This week, I had the privilege of interviewing indie horror author G.R. Yeates about his influences, opinions & work. He’s the author of The Eyes of the Dead which you can read more about and purchase at links following the interview. Many thanks for your time, G.R.!
CR: Where did your fascination with the macabre begin?
G.R.: It’s been there for a long time and I can almost exactly date when it began. My maternal grandfather passed away in 1983, when I was three years old, and I distinctly remember ruminating, in a very un-childlike and serious way, on death, what it was, what it meant, how it would feel and what it would be like to know you were leaving the world behind. They say you lose your innocence once you have an awareness of death so I guess mine was lost pretty early on and so my fascination with the morbid aspects of life grew in its place.
CR: In your opinion, what makes quality horror literature? Do you feel your work fulfills that standard?
G.R.: I think it is for a reader to decide whether my work fulfils a literary standard. I’m the writer; I’m too close to it to be able to judge it from a distance, proud as I am of the achievement.
Also, I think what makes up quality horror literature varies from person to person so I can only comment on this according to my own literary prejudices. I would say I most value atmosphere in a horror tale and that is what a writer needs to evoke to engage me. I’m not necessarily against explicit gore-soaked horror or for implicit horror that favours suggestion but I do think that, whatever the content of the tale, there needs to be a sense of unease and disquiet present in the text. This makes for horror at its best, in my opinion, as it then becomes a form of confrontational escapism that I don’t think the other speculative genres, science fiction and fantasy, can approach or duplicate. In short, something is wrong with the world and whether it has ever been ‘right’ becomes a matter of contention.
CR: What do you dream about? Do you see the things you write about there?
G.R.: I do. Everything I have worked on so far has its roots in my dream-life. Sometimes from lucid dreams, I had my first in 2001. Then, I had a whole week in 2010 where I had a lucid dream every single night and I noted all of them down to use subsequently.
CR: Your fascination with WWI is intriguing. Do you believe in reincarnation and — if so — do you feel you may have experienced the period of your obsession in another life?
G.R.: Interesting question. I’m not someone with serious spiritual leanings so it’s not a thought I had considered before. For this reason though, I have to say I can’t really answer the question, I’m afraid.
CR: Do you find it challenging to cause terror in the characters you create?
G.R.: I think it’s challenging for any writer in this genre because you have to make the unreal seem real and then make it convincingly frightening as well. That’s not easy, I think, with the supernatural as there are no familiar precedents in everyday life to draw upon as there are when one is writing about a serial killer, a rapist or a police state, for example. So in that respect, you have to draw heavily upon your imagination and that is why it is most important to be honest about the fears and insecurities that lurk under the mask of you as horror writer and to then go deep into those aspects and exhume what’s there. Otherwise, you won’t be able to create something that is either convincing or frightening.
CR: Who is your favourite horror author of all time and why?
GR: Difficult question, but the one who has resonated with me the most and completely changed how I look at the genre in recent years is Thomas Ligotti. His work fits into the lineage already established by Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft and, to my mind, forms a very natural progression as he removes altogether the macrocosmic and microcosmic relationships that obsessed Lovecraft and Poe respectively, or he at least whittles them down to nothing, and then casts us adrift in a lightless universe peopled by death rattles and crawling, crumbling insects.
CR: Could you ever see yourself writing, say, a children’s book?
G.R.: I could, actually. I have no specific ideas as yet but I do have fonder memories of childhood than adolescence which makes me more inclined to write something that would entertain children.
CR: Horror authors are known to take on a younger audience with their visions. For instance, Clive Barker’s “The Thief of Always” was successful and stirring. If you wrote horror for a Young Adult audience, what would your approach be?
G.R.: This follows on somewhat from the previous question. I will be putting out a standalone novel next year, The Thing Behind the Door, that addresses adolescence but it won’t be Young Adult fiction. It’s very likely to be the most personal work I ever write and nothing it has to say about that time of life is good, redemptive, hopeful or pleasant in the conventional sense, so I honestly don’t think I have much to say that would be considered suitable for a Young Adult audience at the moment. This might change in the future though. We’ll see.
CR: What message or inspiration, if any, do you hope audiences will take away from your work?
G.R.: First and foremost, I hope the readers are entertained by my work, even the grim and nasty stuff. I hope they are scared because otherwise that would defeat the point of writing horror stories. As for a message, I think readers take away what they wish from a work so the message is up to them, how they decipher it or how they create it out from what I give to them.
CR: What’s next for G.R. Yeates?
G.R.: This year, I will be releasing the next books in The Vetala Cycle; Shapes in the Mist and Hell’s Teeth. I will also be writing a Christmas novella set during the 1914 ceasefire of World War One called The Last Post. Next year, as already mentioned, I will be releasing The Thing Behind the Door and another standalone, Lonely Water. Nothing else planned as yet but, as you can see, I have plenty to be going on with.
The Eyes of the Dead is currently available from Amazon:
Further information about G.R. Yeates: