Today Toad welcomes horror author Lee Mather to the corner. Welcome, Lee, and thank you for dropping by.
The Green Man touches on the theme of belief in the supernatural, but also on fears. Care to elaborate?
The story centres on the uncertainty of death and how we use religion, faith and our spiritual beliefs as safety nets. The protagonist in The Green Man is a product of the modern world, where we find it increasingly difficult to place trust and faith in anything not easily explained. It was a natural progression that he would see death, viewed without any support system, as a pretty terrible and hopeless concept. Generally speaking, I think we find comfort in control. We like to have answers to our questions. The fear in death comes from not knowing, from not having control.
Are there any events that sparked off The Green Man?
Not specifically The Green Man – in terms of an origin for the story my Mum once claimed to have seen a "little green man" when I was younger and this used to annoy me as a boy. Her tall tale stuck with me and this is where I got the idea of the clash between two belief systems, and in essence two cultures. I adapted this to be spiritual rather than alien and brought in the premonition and plane crash elements to suit the themes I wanted to address. With regard to writing in general, this is only my second published piece and I guess I got to a point in my life where I wanted to stop thinking about writing something and actually go out and do it instead.
Who are some of your favourite authors, and what is it about their books that keeps you reading?
I do enjoy horror, fantasy, science fiction – but to be honest I’ll read anything with a good heart. As a reader I want to care. As a child, when I first became interested in reading (and writing) I used to love stories with a sense of adventure and heroism – Enid Blyton, Willard Price, that kind of thing. Stories that stick with me these days are usually ones that can operate on a number of levels and make me think.
In terms of modern authors, then Joe Hill is someone I would recommend, in particular his short stories. Twentieth Century Ghosts is a must read, but only a few of the shorts I would class as pure horror so don’t buy it expecting a fright-fest. John Ajvide Lindqvist is also a writer to watch – it’s already had two successful film interpretations but Let The Right One In is a stunning book, particularly juxtaposed against the tween horror culture that is so massive right now. The works of Alan Moore are also well worth a read for the uninitiated out there.
When did you know you had to be a writer?
I remember writing a short called Blue Fire when I was twelve years old for a school project (I drew a lizard man in chainmail for the front cover!). It was a fusion of fantasy and horror thriller – kind of a rubbish fusion of Terry Brooks and Dean Koontz. But I loved piecing it together – and after that my grades in the creative writing bits of English got better and better and I thought that writing was something I could do for a living one day. But my path didn’t take me there straight away. I studied business, went to university, got a job, met a girl, bought a house. But there was an itch – the desire to be a writer never left me, and only recently have I been able to draw enough focus to sit down and actually write. To be honest, what I’ve found is you don’t need much to start a story, the trick I’m still learning is being able to finish one.
How do you approach your writing: do you plot beforehand or write however the story flows?
A bit of both really! I have a concepts file where I’ll jot abstract ideas – and these could range from anything from a full outline, to an idea for a character, or a place, or a scene. I then select one and focus on what I think is particularly interesting about that idea and try to put it in the context of a story. If I don’t have an outline at that point I’ll pull something loose together, with a few points on the qualities the key characters should have as well as any crucial plot points. Sometimes I can have quite a tight focus at this stage and the outline may not differ too much from the end product, but even in the few things I have written to date, I have been flexible enough to let the story or the characters take over. I think you have to be as a writer – the characters need to be as real to you as possible and it makes sense to me that their decisions may take you in a slightly different direction to what you originally planned. The challenge comes from reshaping, from adapting and improving until you come up with something you’re proud of as a writer.
Any useful links?
My website is www.leemather.org.uk which contains details about me and has excerpts of my writing.
I also have a blog site http:\\leemather.livejournal.com where I post articles, interviews and the occasional short story.
And if anyone wants to look me up on Facebook then they are more than welcome!