If you haven't read Rob Shepherd, you're missing out. He's a terrific author and a recurring guest of Darkness Dwells. I (virtually) sat down with Rob and we talked about early influences and writing philosophies. Enjoy!
1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town called Corringham in Essex in the UK. Small place that seemed a lot bigger and full of adventures when I was a kid. The area is almost unrecognizable now compared to when I was a young child.
2. Who did you read as a kid?
I spent a lot of my time as a kid reading Roald Dahl, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens. Later progressing to discover Edgar Allen Poe and Oscar Wilde. Though interspersed in amongst these were Jules Verne and Arthur C Clarke, particular favourites as a child.
3. Were movies a big influence?
I suspect they were, inadvertently, as I had no ambitions of writing at that age. I was more interested in being stolen away from the world and transported into an entirely new one that was being created by the movie. I was always drawn to ideas that revolved around different realities, dimensions and ways that you can access them, even at that young age.
4. When did you start writing? When did you decide to pursue it as your career or vocation?
I dabbled briefly in my teens but being a very insular, shy and introverted kid, it never amounted to anything, and I certainly didn't have the nerve to let anybody read anything, never mind sharing any of it publicly. Which is probably no bad thing; it was pretty terrible, even worse than my work now. Lol. But I really started much later, after life had thrown some pretty rotten curve balls my way. It became a tonic for my unspoken thoughts and feelings. I wasn’t and have never been a big blogger, expressing that in an open forum, being silently and not so silently judged according to my thoughts and perceived privileges by nameless and often faceless strangers, so telling my thoughts, ideas, pains, sadness and hurt and so on through stories was and continues to be a powerful and cathartic way of communicating with people and telling people my own story in a strange way. I began to add humorous little episodic stories on a social media site and it seemed to attract a number of people, eventually from all over the globe. One of those people became a dear friend—very good at listening, helping me through some tough moments, and also genuinely, amazingly encouraging and insistent on how I needed to tell the world more of my stories and never failing to tell me I had a talent. Fast forward many years and several books and many anthology contributions later and here I am. No richer in the pocket, but richer for the experiences I have had as a result, getting to know and share work with some of the best authors on the entire planet who, like yourself, have since also become some of my dearest and most cherished friends.
5. Why do you write, and what drives you?
The main reason that I write is because I love it. It is a passion that I can not live without doing, one way or another. I always end up needing to tell a story, whether the wider public ever gets to read it or not is largely irrelevant because the art and act of writing is what attracts, addicts and drives me every time, every day. However, the thought of leaving people, readers feeling decidedly unnerved, with a distinct feeling of unease does keep me going back and writing another story and twisting them just to see how far I can go. It is an addictive feeling.
6. Who inspires you?
There are so many people who inspire me, from classic greats like Poe, Dickens, Wilde and others, through to modern literary legends such as Clive Barker, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Graham Masterton and Joe Landsdale. However, the biggest influences for me right now are fellow indie authors, all who put out the most incredible work, from Horror, sci-fi, dark fantasy, erotica, thriller and suspense. People such as Jasper Bark, Carmilla Voiez, Nicola Jane Taylor, Kindra Sowder, TJ Weeks, Kerry Allen Denny, Alex Laybourne, Paul Flewitt, Jason White, Anthony Crowley; the list just goes on and on, there are so many people I could mention. I am influenced not just by their talent, stories and ideas, but also by their kindness, generosity and humanity. That influence is much more keen and important than anything else.
7. What inspires you?
Anything and everything. Music, film, but most of all, throwaway remarks or comments not intended to be remembered let alone to gain immortality. But a simple statement given in a particular way, dialect or even the language used can give the basis for a story, even if it's just an idea.
8. How do you dream up your characters and situations?
Much like the rest of the story, characters and situations grow organically. The story dictates which direction it will go in, likewise it dictates which characters will grow and how they will turn out.
9. Is there a single thread/ idea/ belief which appears in everything you write?
It has to be the idea of a different reality/dimension/plane of existence that exists within our own and that depending on what we want, demand, desire of ourselves and our lives, we can access that sphere of alternative realm, that polar world of you like. A world that reflects your heart and it's deepest desires.
10. How can we find you and your work?
Born in Essex, U.K in 1978. Rob still lives in Essex with his wife, son, daft dog and grumpy old cat.
Rob's books to date include; Life With Boris Karloff!, Sofiah, Stripped Unconsciousness, The Grays Anatomy, Friends Like Us (novella, taken from The Grays Anatomy) & The Caretaker. Rob has featured in many anthologies including Dark light 2 (by S.J. Davis), Liphar – Short Stories Vol.1 & Unleash the Undead (Collated & Edited by Samie Sands), Kevin Hall's Thirteen 2: The Horror Continues, Horror on Halloween Night and A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words both also by Samie Sands. Keep an eye out for appearances in more anthologies to come.
Rob has also written scripts for several short films, such as Silentwood Films' “Sofiah” & other forthcoming short films, as well as feature length films due for completion soon.
Rob is working on many more new books, scripts, films & projects.
Rob is scheduled to appear in several new horror anthologies as well as appearing at Author and Book signing Events across the UK during 2017 & 2018 and is scheduled to release further books of various genre over the next 12-18 months