Method to my madness

Sometimes readers and fellow writers ask me why I write my stories in longhand with pen and paper.

“Why don’t you just type it straight into Word on a computer?”

For me, it’s simple: in my everyday job, I am stuck at a desk staring at a computer, typing in media releases, newsletters, and other content, so when I write fiction (an entirely different beast), I choose to disconnect and pick up a pen and a nice fresh notebook.

I find it easier to engage that part of my brain where the imagination lies. There’s a fluidity to my writing that only happens when I start to move that pen across the page that I can’t achieve by typing into a keyboard. It’s obvious that my brain is hard-wired to write this way.

All of my long fiction has been written with pen on paper. I usually write the story from start to finish, re-reading what I’ve done and scratching out mistakes with a different coloured (usually red) pen. Then, when I think the draft is done, I’ll start the process of transcribing it into Word.

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-6-24-41-amTyping it up allows me to edit as I go too. With the novel I recently finished – a sequel to my 2011 novella, The Noctuary – it took me several weeks to type it up, but the length of time would have been much greater if I’d started the story straight into word.

 

Another quirk I have is printing out the typed up manuscript with track changes and then working through it page by page with the document open on the screen. Like I said, there is a method to my madness and it works for me.

track-changesEvery writer has a different process. The author Joe Lansdale has a method to his madness that he outlines here. I also avoid writing multiple drafts. I always strive to get it right the first time. I am a pretty fast longhand writer (a skill learned from my days as a newspaper reporter), but a pretty crap typist, so I feel I am not wasting my time writing this way.

The key message here is to write how you write. Embrace your own method of madness and use it to write the best possible story that you can.

What’s your method of madness – let me know in the comments. 🙂

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Hollow House on Preliminary Ballot for Bram Stoker Awards®

So my little haunted house novel, HOLLOW HOUSE has made the preliminary ballot of the Bram Stoker Awards®.

Hollow HouseWhile this is just the first hurdle in a long and detailed process, it’s humbling to have my debut novel on this list amongst some of the best writers in the horror genre.

Each year, the Horror Writer’s Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards® for Superior Achievement, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the seminal horror work, Dracula. The Bram Stoker Awards were instituted immediately after the organization’s incorporation in 1987.

The response to my novel has been very gratifying, with many reviewers and readers taking the time to share their thoughts about the book online, for which I am most grateful. HOLLOW HOUSE even made The Horror Fiction Review’s Top 10 Books of 2016!

Here are just some of the reviews HOLLOW HOUSE has received since it was released last July:

http://www.glamadelaide.com.au/main/book-review-hollow-house-by-greg-chapman/

http://www.tabula-rasa.info/AusHorror/HollowHouse.html

Greg Chapman ‘Hollow House’ Review

http://michaelrcollings.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/greg-chapman-hollow-house-read-book-but.html

http://andreya.booklikes.com/post/1445305/review-hollow-house-by-greg-chapman

http://frankmichaelserrington.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/hollow-house-by-greg-chapman-much-more.html

http://lindawatkins.biz/2016/09/

http://thehorrorfictionreview.blogspot.com.au/2016/12/reviews-for-week-of-december-5-2016.html

At the very least, having HOLLOW HOUSE on the preliminary ballot is a huge encouragement to keep writing. I don’t write full-time (yet), but this will certainly spur me on to keep striving for that goal. Even if I don’t make the final ballot, it’s a pretty big achievement for me, something that’s only just starting to sink in. I’d like to thank Omnium Gatherum publisher Kate Jonez and my editor Janet J Holden for helping me bring my horror novel to life. 🙂

For the full list of authors on the preliminary ballot follow this LINK. I’d like to congratulate everyone on the preliminary ballot and wish them the very best of luck (make sure you go out and buy a copy of their works!) The final ballot is expected to be announced in late February with the winners announced at StokerCon 2017 in April.

Here’s a video interview I did with my local newspaper about HOLLOW HOUSE

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2016 – Year in Review

2016 has been pretty damn good writing-wise.

Since January, I’ve had my fifth novella and first novel published, two of my old novellas re-released, a short collection of Halloween stories published, and even a colouring book unleashed upon the unsuspecting public.

the-horrible-cb end-of-halloween-smalltorment-cover

The reception to all these publications has been, on the whole, really great and I’m most thankful to those publishers, peer reviewers, booksellers and readers who took a chance on me.  The horror fiction game is a very challenging one, but it’s also turned out to be a very satisfying.

Hollow HouseI think the top achievements this year were seeing my novel, Hollow House in print and securing re-publication of my 2013 novella, The Last Night of October, with Cemetery Dance. Hopefully it’s just the beginning.

The one aspect to my writing that I haven’t really excelled in this year was short stories. I’ve written very few and most of them, unfortunately, have been unsuccessful in securing publication. This is an area I know I need to work on, but for the foreseeable future novels will be my primary focus.

This year tlnoo-coverhas also been great in respect to making new connections with the horror community. I’ve worked with a number of authors and publishers to create book covers and internal art and it’s been a whole lot of fun. Did I mention I’m available for hire? 🙂

Working with the Australian Horror Writers Association and the US Horror Writers Association on their various projects, including StokerCon, has also been fantastic.Image may contain: one or more people and text

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2017 will see me hitting the keyboard and notebooks. I hope to finish my novel-length sequel to The Noctuary early in the year and begin a new series of novels, and maybe even engage in a collaboration.

It’s going to be a hard slog for this part-time writer, but it’s also going to be a blast. I hope you’ll continue to be along for the ride.

Until next year!

 

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Loving horror doesn’t mean you’re disturbed

I love to watch, read, write and illustrate everything horror-related – so that must make me mentally disturbed right?

According to this ridiculous article yes, I must be.

Right now, my front yard is all decked out for Halloween. I live in Australia, probably the only country where Halloween isn’t widely celebrated (there is a revolution happening, however, people). When my family and I put out our display every year, I’m sure there are a few neighbours who wonder whether we’re all serial killers.

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I love Halloween and horror the same way other people like to watch romance movies or sport. It’s my thing. I am a creative person, so Halloween and horror are my creative outlets. My wife and kids get involved too, but we don’t sit around while we’re doing it teaching them black magic, despite what you might think.

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Also, I’ll be clear, I don’t let my kids watch horror movies. The creepiest movies they’ve seen are films like The Addams Family, or Beetlejuice and Gremlins. I’m not out to terrify them. My wife doesn’t read horror and I have friends who don’t read horror, but do I judge them? No.

So why does this person at Glamour Magazine feel the need to judge people who appreciate horror as an art form?

Why? Probably because they needed a clickbaity article that week.

Ironically, the article author’s response to horror films is exactly what we writers and film-makers strive for. So the best I can do to rebuff her claims is to sit back and laugh and point at her, because what I really enjoy the most about watching horror films is watching people who don’t like watching horror squirm in their seats.

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Write whatever the hell you want

Maybe I’ve limited myself to only writing horror?

But honestly, I’ll write whatever the hell I want.

My most recent novel Hollow House was a twist on the haunted house tale, but the story was also about how we are a society of apathy; how we really couldn’t care less about our neighbours.

The novel I’m writing now is a sequel to The Noctuary, but instead of just a continuation with more of the same monsters, the work is slowly turning into a much deeper mythology which goes right back to the beginnings of civilisation to find out where the darkness inside of all of us comes from.

When I go to any author events fledgling authors approach me and talk about how they want to write a sci-fi novel or a dark fantasy novel. It usually takes me a few prompts to get them to tell me what the story is about and why they want to write it.  That’s what writing is all about for me – the meaning of the story. I’ve written about this sort of thing before, but I don’t want to go over that again. What I want to talk about (in a very round-about way) is self-doubt.

I think self-doubt comes to writers because at the outset we feel we have to slot our stories into genres and sub-genres. First and foremost, the story should be the central focus and nothing else. Screw all that genre stuff, or premature editing. Just write the story that first comes into your head. Seek the meaning of the story within yourself and the rest will flow from there.

Years ago I contemplated writing crime, and I penned a few short stories in the crime/mystery genre, but my tales seemed way too dark and exploratory for it. I realised I was boxing myself into a “genre”. I shrugged off the labels and let my ideas and concepts lead me to what I wanted to write. I wanted to tell stories, and those stories just happened to be dark and neatly slotted into the “horror genre”.

I like to explore dark themes. The human race is inherently flawed and you only need to turn on the news on any given night of the week to see what we’re capable of. Not all of my stories have a happy ending or even a clear ending. You might not even find a hero within the pages of my books, nevertheless, they’re the stories I wanted to tell.

And if you’re reading this and doubting yourself, shrug it off and write whatever the hell YOU want to write.

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The Last Night of October – re-released

Hot on the heels of the release of my first novella, Torment, I’m very excited to announce word that Cemetery Dance Publications in the US just re-released the digital edition of my Halloween themed novella, The Last Night of October.

This novella was first released in 2013 in e-book and paperback, and I’m glad to see it in the very capable hands of CD.

Lynne Hansen has provided killer new artwork for the cover and captured the feel of the read perfectly. I’m humbled to hear that this novella is on the yearly Halloween reading lists of several reviewers.

tlnoo-cover

Whether you’ve read the story before or are looking for a creepy Halloween read, I hope you’ll give this new edition a whirl.

Thanks to Norman Prentiss and CD for bringing this tale back for Halloween.

(Incidentally if you want even more Halloween tales from me, you can pre-order this bad boy as well).

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Torment re-released!

After five years my very first novella, “Torment” is back in print!

This new edition, published by the fine folks at Lycan Valley Press in Canada, contains five black and white internal illustrations by yours truly, and will be available in paperback, hardcover and digital formats.

torment-advert

The illustrations will only be available in the print formats, so if you would like to have some of my art to compliment the story, I encourage you to get it in print. Really, don’t we all prefer print books? 😛

As Torment was my first novella-length publication, (first published in 2011 by the now defunct Damnation Books), I really wanted to make the re-release special and I’d like to thank Jo-Anne Russell and LVP for allowing me to create some art for it. There’s a sample in the below promo ad:

torment-advert2

The trade paperback has just been released. You can grab a copy HERE. Hardcover and digital formats will follow soon.

 

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