Walled In – Cover Reveal and Interview with David Owain Hughes

Walled In - Released December 2013

Walled In – Released December 2013

We are pleased to reveal the cover for David Owain Hughes’ post-apocalyptic novel, Walled In, which will be released in December. Featuring cover art by Fernando Sanhueza, the story is set in south Wales, where a military experiment has gone horribly wrong, unleashing a new chemical weapon. The weapon, which had been designed ‘in the dark’ was intended for use on enemy troops when engaged in battle. The chemical, comprised of Bird Flu, Bovine, and Foot and Mouth, turns its targets into murderous lunatics for 24hrs before the body finally shuts down. This is one end-of-the-world novel you won’t want to miss.

Hey David, So, tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born and where do you now call home?

I was born in a little Welsh town by the name of Church Village, south Wales. I came out kicking and screaming at around 06.00hrs, on the 7th of June, 1981. I was a big baby, apparently. Somewhere in the 9-10lbs region; I guess I started how I was meant to go on. I was also late, which is probably the first time in my life. My mother was slightly disappointed I couldn’t cling on another few days, as her birthday is on the 12th. I still reside in south Wales, which will always be home to me, no matter where I am in the world. I’m about to move in with my girlfriend, and I can’t wait to get settled into a new home with her. We’re looking at properties close to Cardiff, where we’ll both be working – I could never live in the city. I’m no city slicker. I couldn’t do it. I’m also a father of one, and I have a disgusting soft spot for cheesy power ballads and 80s metal/rock. Whitesnake rule!

When did you first start writing?

God, that’s a hard question! I thought this was meant to be fun? I kid. I always like toying with this question, because I can never come up with an answer for it. I’d like to say I was still at the tit, but I don’t think so. I know I was pretty young, but not that young. I remember writing stories in my English class from a very tender age, to which the subject matter always raised a few eyebrows. Hey, I was proud of those big red F’s I used to get stamped all over my work. It’s always good to know your writing has got under someone’s skin in one way or another. If I was going to say when I started writing, I’d have to say it was either 8 or 9. But professionally? I’d say around the 23 mark I started taking it seriously.

It’s Friday evening, about 8pm, what are you doing?

Friday evening, hey? Where are you taking me? Some place nice? Will I need to do my hair and make-up? You’d probably like me to say that I’m sacrificing goats on a pentacle in the Welsh hills, whilst spewing incantations, but unfortunately, when it comes down to it, I’m pretty boring in my twilight years. When I was a younger man I’d be at the boozer on a Friday evening, drinking beer as though I’d just finished a shift at the saw mill. But these days I can be found in front of the box with a cup of tea and a Hobnob at hand, whilst watching some classic horror movies with my Bolton beauty. Either that or doing some reading or writing; the joys of old age. I have to say, slowing down is nice. There’s much more time to get my work done at home, instead of trying to jostle three pints past a crowd of five deep at the bar.

Why horror?

Man, you really, really aren’t going to make this easy, are you? Again, like the “When did you first start writing” question, I’m not entirely sure there is a concrete answer to this one. I guess both questions can be tied in with one another, too. I’ll explain. When I was growing up, I had two older brothers living with me. When my parents went out of a Saturday evening, I’d be left with one of them, who would inflict horror, ninja, and pirate films on me. If there wasn’t a drop of gore in it, then it wasn’t rented. I’d probably seen most of the video nasties by the time I was 8. So, horror has been in my life pretty much from the start. And now, at the age of 32, it is never going to go away. It’s who I am. It’s my identity.

Who is your biggest inspiration, professionally?

I have three major influences in my life. Richard Laymon is the first and foremost. When I discovered his books in my early twenties, it inspired me to have a good crack at my writing. I didn’t do very well in school and so my writing and English was shaky. I decided to go back to college and then on to university, where I excelled in my writing degrees. I’m proud of what I have managed so far, especially having started off with no real strengths – just a passion for horror and vileness. Even though I have drawn a lot of strengths from Laymon and his writing, it has to be said a lot of influence has also come from shock rocker Alice Cooper, and legendary film director, George Romero. I grew up on these guys and their works. I also like a lot of comedy, which I tend to mash with my horror writing.

You are in bed, a bump in the night wakes you, you have to go investigate. Using only implements from your bedroom, what is your weapon of choice?

Let it be known, I do love a bottle of Hobgoblin. On many an eve I can be found sipping away the delicious ruby ale whilst at my desk typing away. I sleep in my office a lot, so the first thing that would probably come to hand is an empty beer bottle; either that or my Collins dictionary. Man, that thing could floor an elephant!  And, once the bastard was down, I’d probably garrotte him with my earphones.

Tell us a little bit about Walled In.

I started writing Walled In (which was my first punt at novel writing) as coursework for my dissertation. I was undergoing the final year of my BA and this is what I came up with. Man, it was a struggle getting it submitted. Some of the tutors were not impressed with the graphicness of it; especially the first chapter, where we meet the character of Eddie. But, in true Laymon fashion, I stuck to my guns and wrote what I wanted to. I wrote it how I wanted it to appear on the page, even if it meant dropping marks. I’d always wanted to do a zombie story, but could never seem to get one started. Back then, the whole zombie craze had not kicked off, but I guess it was lying dormant. Waiting to stagger out of the darkness and bite us in the arse. The story’s about a chemical warfare weapon that escapes a military lab outside Cardiff. Even though the story is action-packed and full of zombies and gore, I wanted to make it about the people, the survivors and what we do to each other when we are in drastic situations. The walking dead are the cherry on the cake. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the crew at The Walking Dead for making zombies cool once again.

What projects are you currently working on?

At current, I have a short story on the go which is developing into something much bigger. I may have a novella on my hands, but I’m unsure. The story is called 13A, which is about a young woman who wakes up in a locked car park late at night. Needless to say, bad things happen to her. Also, I’ve not long taken on a job as editor with a magazine in New York, which goes by the name of Blood Magazine. That position is keeping me rather busy at the moment, with lots of subs to read and plenty of writing. The writing mainly consists of film and book reviews, articles and interviews with whomever I can lay my grubby little digits on.

You are stranded on a desert island. Before the ship went down which 3 books did you rescue?

In The Dark and Endless Night by Richard Laymon and The Mailman by Bentley Little. The Mailman is the only book to have ever chilled me to the bone. Little is a fantastic writer, and if you haven’t discovered him yet, I suggest you do. Now.

Do you see dead people?

Only in my nightmares, baby. However, I do see the walking dead every day when I go to work. That 9-5 world in the city is a giant graveyard: people shuffling to and from work, their eyes hanging out of their skulls. Nah, that’s not for me. I hope to take my writing to high levels, and do it full-time. That’s the dream, anyway.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I don’t really have any set formulas nowadays. I did go through a phase of writing short stories that involved an antagonist with an everyday job: undertaker, letting agent, chemist, ventriloquist, etc…I used to make them geeky. That kind of weird-looking creep you see standing at the bus stop of a morn. It’s fun. I do tend to write about everyday people, and you’ll see that in Walled In, especially in Jeff.

Have you ever suffered writers’ block?

God, yes! I’ve not long come off the back of an arid spell. It seemed to last an age, but I broke it toward the end of last year. I guess the best way to get through it is to hang tight, and to try to make yourself write what you can. Even if it’s gibberish. I find going back to a favourite author helps me, too. Settle down with your favourite work and let it engulf you.

If you could leave your readers with one legacy, what would you want it to be?

In all honesty? I’d just like to leave behind a wealth of great stories; stories that will withstand the test of time, and have my readers going back over them time and time again. Isn’t that what we all want as writers? I remember a tutor of mine telling us once, you shouldn’t write to entertain people. Why? What else is there? Okay, so it’s good to express oneself, but when it comes down to it, for me, I just want to entertain. It’s all good. Cheesy? Blame the classic rock. And yes, I am poking my tongue out at you, oh holy Master of Questions.

Chocolate cake or fruity cheesecake?

Chocolate cake, definitely – I don’t really have that much of a sweet tooth, but when I do it’s a hankering for chocolate. We all need our fix now and then, right?

If you could collaborate with anyone in the world on a novel, who would it be and why? What’s the story about?

Hmm, I don’t want to be obvious or boring here, so I’m going to say Shaun Hutson. I love Shaun’s no-nonsense style of writing, and I absolutely love Slugs and Breeding Ground. They are highly entertaining books. I feel Shaun and I would come up with something very sick and twisted between us – it would involve creatures far beyond our darkest nightmares.

Finish this newspaper headline: “David Owain Hughes is….”

…a whoremonger…

Thanks David

Oh, the pleasure was all mine. Cheers.

Walled In will be released this December.

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~ by crowdedquarantine on September 11, 2013.

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