(This interview originally appeared in Horror Bound Magazine
on 28 August 2010.)
Christopher Fowler is a multi award-winning author of over 30
books and is the author of the critically acclaimed Bryant and
May mystery novels. His first thriller was the bestseller
ROOFWORLD. Subsequent novels include DISTURBIA,
PSYCHOVILLE, CALABASH and SPANKY. His books have been
optioned by everyone from
Guillermo Del Toro (Spanky)
and Jude Law (Psychoville).
In the past year he has been
nominated for eight UK book
awards and is the winner of the
Edge Hill prize (2008) for OLD
DEVIL MOON. Fowler's short
story "The Man in the Rain" is
featured in Horror Bound
Magazine Publications’ Fear of
the Dark: An Anthology of Dark
Stories - now available as an
We are pleased to feature Christopher Fowler in our Issue 13
featured author interview.
You have been a successful author for quite a few years now.
Start from the beginning. When did you decide that you had to
At school. I didn't get much pocket-money so I used to write
to newspapers to get 'Star Letters' printed for a fiver. I was
pretty successful once I figured out what papers were looking
for. Nobody pays for letters now.
You have a very impressive body of work behind you and you
continue to entertain with your excellent "Peculiar Crimes Unit
Mystery" series. Your horror work is not quite as well known
here in North America. Why do you think this is so?
It's interesting that in England
I'm still best known for horror,
with around a dozen genre
novels and ten volumes of
short horror stories to my
name. I didn't get US
distribution, simple as that. By
the time I'd made a name in
the field, horror in the US was
going through a bad patch. I
hope to get all the rights back
to my best stories and publish
a bumper edition in the US one
day, as I'm very proud of their
What is it that draws you to the horror genre both as a writer
and as a reader?
There's something about an author removing the safety net
from you when you're reading that appeals. A sense of 'My
God, where on earth can we go from here?' that you don't get
anywhere else. I'm not interested in the physical effects of
horror - the most horrific thing you could ever do is describe
someone's journey through a fatal illness - but in the invisible
fears that lie behind our lives. By understanding them we
confront them and learn to deal with them.
The horror genre itself is a reflection and sometimes makes a
statement on the human condition. Would you comment on
that? Is there a place for modern horror in literature?
Good horror allows us to see what happens at the extreme end
of human nature - when someone begins to doubt their own
mind, their very existence. It's a wonderful litmus test for the
soul, which is why I think so many great authors from Dickens
to Forster have been drawn to writing such tales.
I ask this of almost every writer I
interview and I have to ask it
again. There seems to be a stigma
attached to writing horror. As a UK
writer, is the stigma as
pronounced in your country?
Probably more so than anywhere.
The literary community is
horrifically snobbish about horror
because they think of, say, the Saw
films rather than Arthur Conan
Doyle or Robert Louis Stevenson.
Despite winning many awards for
my horror stories, occasionally a critic will tell me it's not a
genre worth reviewing!
Who are some of your favourite underrated writers?
I have way too many favourites. Ira Levin was a genius.
'Rosemary's Baby' isn't just frightening because Rosemary is
having the Devil's child, it breaks the heart because Guy, her
husband, has deliberately chosen to betray her. Michael
McDowell's wonderful novels and his astonishing six volume
Blackwater Saga are highly underrated, as are Thomas Tryon's
'The Other' and 'Harvest Home'. For short stories, the almost
forgotten Dino Buzzati and writers like Elizabeth Jane Howard
are favourites. If you want to be disturbed, read Howard's
'Three Miles Up'.
What writer(s) influenced
you the most as a young
author. Who has the
greatest influence on you
Four big influences. JG
Ballard managed to see
the future and couldn't
touch pen to paper
without being subversive. I
love his clinical writing
style. Ray Bradbury is the
greatest analyst of
childhood hopes and
fears. Evelyn Waugh's
black humour touches
everything I do (The end
chapter of 'A Handful Of Dust' often appears in horror
anthologies as 'The Man Who LOved Dickens' - and of course
the greatest writer in the world - Charles Dickens, especially
for the utter darkness of 'Bleak House'.
The realm of the paranormal definitely informs and inspires
horror writers and horror fans. You have had some personal
experiences with this realm. Would you tell us about your near
death experience? You have also spoken about your ability to
contact your best friend during times of great stress. How do
you believe this to be possible and what impact has it had on
These are areas I'm still not comfortable dealing with. I nearly
died on two separate occasions, and each time my best friend
Jim appeared literally out of nowhere to save me. I can tell you
about one of these; I totaled my car and was dragged from the
wreckage by two ladies who ran a Greek restaurant. They
didn't know what to do, and as they were deciding, I saw Jim
come into the empty restaurant - he'd had a bad feeling about
me and had come to find me from miles away. I do feel we had
a psychic bond that lasted many years. When he died I lost part
of myself. There's a photo of him in 'White Corridor' because
he was the inspiration for my main character.
Movies have had a great impact on your life and work. Would
you introduce us to your film work and how did this begin?
After working in half a dozen ad agencies, including J Walter
Thompson, I teamed with my producer Jim, launched a
company and began creating campaigns for movies. I went to
LA to head up an office in Beverly Hills, but didn't enjoy my
time there, and eventually headed home. Our company,
Creative Partnership, gained a reputation for opening
‘problem’ films like 'Company Of Wolves', ‘The Cook, The
Thief, His Wife And Her Lover’, ‘Reservoir Dogs’,
‘Trainspotting’, ‘Moulin Rouge’ and the Mike Leigh films. I
loved working on the Bond films because we traveled the
world. I worked on all of the original Nightmare On Elm St
What are some of your favourite horror movies and why?
I think a list would have to include 'Spoorloos' (for its sheer
creepiness of death in bright sunlight), 'The Others' and 'The
Orphanage' (for their tragic fatalism), 'Witchfinder General'
(best historical horror), 'Theatre Of Death' (for
outrageousness), 'Rosemary's Baby', 'The Exorcist', 'The
Abominable Dr Phibes' (for its Avengers-style vibe), 'Plague Of
The Zombies', and some obscurer titles like 'Dr Petiot',
'Bienvenu A Cadavre-Les-Mains' and 'Calvaire'.
Any advice to aspiring writers?
This is a partial version of a list I put into my memoir
'Paperboy' (which has an awful lot in it about horror films). The
book hasn't been published in the US, which I'm sad about. It's
my favourite book to date.
My Rules For Writing
-Fiction means you can make
-Don’t be ashamed of
-Ask yourself what your hero
-Be prepared to think the
-When you imagine your
story can’t go further, go
-You don’t always need to
explain why people do
-Crisis moments are better when they’re completely still.
-Some of the best stories occur because the hero is slow to
correct a mistake.
-Everyone has the same feelings; they just think differently.
-Leave room for your characters to breathe.
-You have to love something about your hero.
-Always keep the story moving forward.
-Characters who contradict themselves are more human.
-Dialogue is not conversation.
-Life is a mess to which fiction brings a shape, which is why
it’s called fiction.
-There’s a difference between being realistic and being
-Make sure that something always remains hidden.
-Nobody knows why people fall in love.
-Believe what you write, even when it’s all made up.
-No matter how deeply hidden, there will always be love.
Would you introduce us to any upcoming work that we can
look forward to?
Well, the problem with me is you never ever know what you're
going to get next, as I'm working on a dozen things at a time.
But upcoming is a big new serious horror collection called 'The
Horrors' - it will be a limited edition, but hopefully after that
I'll sell mass market rights if someone wants to buy it!
Then a horror thriller called 'Dream World', set in a housing
compound in the Middle East, a dark thriller called 'There's
Something I Haven't Told You', and 'Hell Train', my homage to
Website Content © 2009-2014 Horror Bound Publications. Website Design © 2014 Extraordinarium Digital Press. All rights reserved.
Short stories featured in this anthology and excerpts featured on this website are © their respective author. Horror Bound logo © Michael Brennan.
You can find Christopher Fowler’s story
“The Man in the Rain” in our anthology, Fear
of the Dark - now available as an ebook!
ABOUT HORROR BOUND
TABLE OF CONTENTS / ABOUT FEAR OF THE DARK’S AUTHORS
EXCERPTS FROM THE ANTHOLOGY
> INTRODUCTION BY PAUL KANE
> “A DISTINCTIVE CURIOSITY” BY DAVID INGALLS (excerpt)
> “NOCTURNAL VISIONS” BY MARK LESLIE (excerpt)
> “FOR FEAR OF LITTLE MEN” BY SANDRA M. ODELL (excerpt)
INTERVIEWS WITH THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE ANTHOLOGY
> MARIA GRAZIA CAVICCHIOLI, Co-Editor/Founder, Horror Bound
> JASON ROLFE, Co-Editor/Former Associate Editor, Horror Bound
> CHRISTOPHER FOWLER, Author, “The Man In the Rain”
> PAUL KANE, Author, “Keeper of the Light”
> LISA MANNETTI, Author, “Spy Glass Hill”
> AARON POLSON, Author, “Keeping the Dead”
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You can find
short story “The Man
in the Rain” in our
anthology, Fear of the
Dark - now available
as an ebook!