Today's Author Spotlight is author Craig Wallwork! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: September 15th, 2021 Amazon |  Goo...

Author Spotlight || Craig Wallwork, Author of Human Tenderloin

Today's Author Spotlight is author Craig Wallwork!

Read on for the full interview.

Publication date: September 15th, 2021

A prematurely ageing girl learns to fly during the end of the world. A husband makes the ultimate sacrifice for his dying wife. Two brothers endure a rainstorm that lasts five years. A father tries to save his daughter from a sleeping epidemic. A man books into a hotel where the guests check in but never check out. A group of fine-dining cannibals worry where their next meal will come from. And a grieving mother goes in search of ghosts in a haunted house.

Human Tenderloin is a collection of horror stories with heart. Some will goose the skin. Others will leave you bloated with terror. But each one will stay with you.

What's your latest release? 

Human Tenderloin: A Collection of Horror Stories. Think stories that are very dark, but with heart. 

It'll be released September 15th on hardback, paperback and Kindle. I was fortunate enough to get author quotes from some very cool writers in the horror world too. So if you don't believe me that it's a great collection worthy of being next to your Stephen King's and Clive Barker's, listen to these wonderful people: 

“From old school in-your-face horror to quiet dread-fueled chamber pieces, Wallwork infuses a uniquely absurd, macabre sense of humor as well as a sense of the humane. Bon appetite.”—Paul Tremblay, author of Survivor Song and A Head Full of Ghosts.

“These stories don’t just leave you moving through the world differently, they leave you moving through your own head differently. And don’t look behind yourself, either. There may just be bloody footprints.”—Stephen Graham Jones, author of My Heart Is a Chainsaw.

"Craig Wallwork's Human Tenderloin will carve new paths in your heart. Straight through the meat, to dark pockets you didn't even know were there. It will change your emotional geography, and there's no changing back."—Sarah Read, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of The Bone Weaver's Orchard.

"There is a dark immediacy to the worlds within this collection – a bony finger beckoning us into Wallwork's haunted mind. A compelling blend of bleakness, grief, horror and hope."—Laurel Hightower, author of Crossroads and Whispers in the Dark.

"These stories will slice through the skin, slip into your bloodstream, and shape your nightmares. Craig Wallwork is your curator and guide through this wonderfully macabre gallery of sharp tales. Ranging from the tragic to the mythic, to the heartbreaking and horrific, this collection is sure to leave you unsettled."—Tyler Jones, author of Criterium and Almost Ruth.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

I’ll be jumping back into the Tom Nolan thriller/horror series. The first book is called Bad People, which follows Detective Constable Tom Nolan as he uncovers a strange cult that has been abducting children from a small Yorkshire village in England. The second book, Labyrinth of the Dolls, continues his pursuit to track down a new serial killer involved in the cult. The one I’m writing now will be the last in the series, and a fitting end to the trilogy. It’s had comparisons to Se7en, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Silence of the Lambs, so if readers like police procedural thrillers that are dark and gory, then they’re worth checking out. I can offer an exclusive - the last book in the Tom Nolan series will be titled Kill Room. And it’s going to get bloody. Very bloody. 

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

The one that sticks out the most is Daniel Crabtree from my debut novel, The Sound of Loneliness. Crabtree was the cynical, bitter, misanthropic person I push down deep inside myself so I’m able to function in society. Though the story is loosely semi-biographical, Crabtree was also a pastiche of author John Fante’s character Bandini from the novels Ask the Dust and The Road to Los Angeles - a struggling author embittered by the hand life dealt him. Taking Bandini as the blueprint, and amalgamating him with my cockeyed view of the world, I found writing that character very liberating. Crabtree was the protagonist, and the antagonist, rolled into one. He was funny and annoying, and a tonic to the stuffy middle-class characters often found in British literature. Many hated him. Some found him hilarious and endearing. But above all else, he wasn’t boring to read. That I’ve not revisited that book in over ten years is probably a good thing. I was a different writer then, trying to find my groove, and just how nostalgia has that ability to paint over the cracks of our past, I will always remember him fondly. 

In your opinion what makes a good story?

Solid writing, rich characters and a half decent plot. To be honest, I’d compromise on plot if the writing is sublime and the characters are engaging. I found that most of the books I loved as a younger man were character driven, literary novels. I fell in love with words, metaphor, and syntax. This is what I look for now. I struggle to read airport fiction - the mass market paperbacks where the writing is compromised for plot. For a long time, the thriller genre never interested me. It was only until I read books by Thomas Harris, or Laird Barron’s crime series, that I jumped into writing in that genre. Those two authors, and many others that fall outside the usual Lee Childs, Baldacci, Grisham and Pattersons of this world, taught me you can have a literary edge when writing thrillers. It also helps that I work alongside detectives for my day job, so I had a wealth of knowledge at my disposal. 

Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?

Yes. But I only remember the bad ones. And I'll tell you now, that's the same for all writers. 

What led you to start writing?

I’m a failed film director. Writing is the nearest I can get to directing a movie without having to find funding, spend months in the cold at all hours, and go begging to a distributor. What I do is transcribe the little movies in my head to page, which is probably why I spend a long time on things like sensory perception. It’s important to me that the reader sees the world I’ve created, that they feel the emotions passing through the characters. If I could, I would recommend reading my novels in a dark room while eating a box of popcorn. 

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?

I grew up in the Video Nasty era of cinema, and my father was an alcoholic. Those two combined meant that my father’s friends passed various pirated copies of banned movies around in the local pubs, which inevitably ended up in our home. From an early age, I was privy to some gory scenes, albeit all were tempered by my father’s counsel that the blood was really corn syrup, and the decapitated head was from a mannequin. So you could say it exposed me to the darker side of storytelling from an early age. This could have unbalanced my mental state, but I grew to understand that horror is fun, and later, as my understanding of the genre grew, it was used to help translate bigger issues without being so direct. It’s in the realisation that the shark in Jaws is not only a Great White terrorising the small town of Amity but also a metaphor for the recession; or that The Brood was really the director’s way of coping with the horror of his divorce; or that Carpenter’s The Thing could be viewed as a story about aliens coming to earth, but it may well also be about the AIDS epidemic and the paranoia surrounding that era, that I fell in love with horror. It became the blanket we throw over the atrocities that some find hard to articulate. And because I lack a backbone when talking about personal issues, I naturally gravitated to the genre so I can hide behind the metaphor. 

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

├ôlafur Arnalds and the works  of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

What you write is indelible, so be careful what you commit to paper. And for the love of God, take your time.

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?

The Exorcist. And maybe something like Harold and Maude or Cinema Paradiso. 

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

I actually live in a cottage, though I have seen no fairies in the back fields or garden, so I’m going to opt for the haunted house. That said, I’m sceptical of supernatural phenomena or anything seated outside of reality. I work in a reputed haunted building, and one of the horror stories in Human Tenderloin, my new horror collection, tells of true-life incidents and accounts from staff members who have seen ghosts or experienced paranormal activity. Listening to all those accounts should have helped convinced me ghosts exist, but it’s left me leaning more towards science and pragmatism. In that story, titled The Ballad of Windsong House, I don’t discount or bolster the existence of ghosts. I play, no pun intended, Devil’s advocate, presenting the stories as they were told me, all wrapped around a fictional narrative about a group of work colleagues staying in the haunted building. It’s not my intention to discount or convince, but if the reader goes away believing there’s life after this world, I’ll be happy. All a writer can do is provide a story, and if that story resonates, or changes a person, then there is no better reward. And that’s my hope for The Ballad of Windsong House, and all the stories in Human Tenderloin - that at least one story changes the reader, however small that may be. 

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

You can find me mostly on Instagram: @craig_wallwork. Even though I have a Twitter and Facebook account, I prefer the sanity of Instagram. I also have a website where you can subscribe to my newsletter and receive a free book, or just read my jibber jabber on the blog section. 

What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

You're going to get hurt. You're going to doubt everything you write. You'll resent your peers when they get published and you don't. So write like you're the only person left on the planet. Write for you, and if you do that, you'll realise you're not alone. 

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?

Thank you for having me. And I don't know about you, but I could really do with a coffee. 

Craig Wallwork is the author of the novels, Bad People, and The Sound of Loneliness, as well as the short story collections, Quintessence of Dust, and Gory Hole. His stories have been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize, many of which feature in various anthologies and magazines both in the U.K. and U.S. He currently lives in England.

Craig, thank you so much for taking the time to be my guest on Cats Luv Coffee! Be sure to check out Human Tenderloin when it releases on the 15th!