Author Interview: Craig Hallam
Hi, Craig. Welcome to my blog. Thank you for allowing me to interview you. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us.
Craig: Thanks for having me back!
Would you take a moment and introduce yourself to us?
Well, I’m Craig Hallam, Nurse and Author of Speculative Fiction. I’ve previously released a collection of short stories called Not Before Bed. The reason I’m here this time around is because my debut novel, Greaveburn, has just been released from Inspired Quill Publishing.
How long have you been writing?
This changes every time I tell the story. I either say that it was when first put pen to paper when I was about thirteen; or I try to forget about those early failed attempts to write a book, and I say it was around 2002 when I started in earnest. I wrote two novels, both which will never see the light of day. But then I started on short stories and eventually my first major project, Greaveburn.
Would you mind telling my readers a little more about Greaveburn?
It’s a Gothic Fantasy tale with elements of Steampunk to spice the pot, so to speak. It takes place in the city of Greaveburn, a place of cramped alleyways and towering gothic structures. The young heiress to the throne, Abrasia, has been left alone after her father’s assassination, and the rival family have succeeded in isolating her even further as they wait for an opportunity to do the same to her. She has to fight back, find out who killed her father and stay alive all at the same time.
Meanwhile . . . (I love using that) . . . beneath the streets, a madman sends his body snatchers to kidnap people to use in his diabolical experiments, an uprising of deformed people who hide in the sewers threatens the city, and the Captain of the Guard succumbs to guilt over killing his friend, Darrant, in the line of duty.
It’s all about the grey area between good and evil; how no one is pure of intention or perfect. Good people can be driven to insane acts, and bad men can seek redemption. Every character has their own selfish motivations. And in some way, most of them see Abrasia as a way to get what they want, be it forgiveness or revenge. She’s really in deep.
How did you come up with the idea for the book?
This is going to sound so cheesy, but I had a really weird dream. I dreamt of an ancient sewer, like the ones they have in London and Paris. I was with a group of disfigured and obscure people, and we were carrying something. A machine. Something like a brass sarcophagus. And inside, floating in a cool blue liquid, was a sleeping girl with gold hair that floated around her head like seaweed.
I woke up, scribbled and doodled for about an hour. And there was the initial idea for Greaveburn. Over the next couple of years, it became a bit of an obsession. Who were they? How had they got there? Where were they going? And who was the girl? I just had to find out.
Was there any research involved for the story itself?
Lots. While the images were vivid in my head, in order to put across the kind of Victorian setting, I had to put in plenty of work to make sure that the details were right. That’s one of the best bits about writing. You learn lots at the same time.
What’s your favorite character in the book?
That’s tough. Really tough.
I think I’d have to say Wheldrake. He’s Professor Loosestrife’s assistant but he’s far from an Igor character you might expect. Tall, lithe, and with just a hint of beast in him, he’s very clever, very sharp-witted, and he’s seeking redemption for all the things he’s been party to in Loosestrife’s name.
Is this the first time you’ve tackled writing for the Steampunk genre?
Yes and no. It’s the first time that I wrote a Steampunk story, but not knowingly. I’d never heard of the genre when I started writing Greaveburn. I just liked the idea of a kind of Neo-Victorian setting with machines and the whole aesthetic. I thought I was being original hahaha. Then I discovered there was a whole scene, and that was it, I was hooked. I’ve inadvertently written a novel in what has later become of my favourite genres. Weird.
Is Greaveburn a part of a series?
Good question. The answer is, I’m not sure. I’m not really into writing trilogies, as some people seem to aim to do from the start. There are a few mysteries in Greaveburn that I’ve debated tackling in a supplementary short story. And from what I can tell, that story might lead onto another novel. But you can be sure that, if there comes a sequel, it will be very different from the first.
How do you find inspiration when writing your stories?
Anything. Movies, music, comics, books. You name it. I just take in everything I can and my brain swirls it around until these images pop out. I write in a very visual way, setting my chapters like movie scenes, nothing is superfluous to the plot. If it’s in there, it means something. All killer, no filler, hahaha.
What’s influenced you the most?
I love my gothic fiction. Lovecraft, Poe, M. R. James. Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein, Dracula. But most of all, the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake. What an incredible piece of work.
Do you have any upcoming projects? If so, are you able to tell us a little more about it/them?
I’m working on my next novel. It’s the first one that has been intentionally Steampunk, just because I’ve become so enamoured by the genre. But it’s very different from Greaveburn. Set in Victorian London, it follows the life of a street urchin named Alan Shaw as he grows up, travels the world, and gets into trouble. It’s a series of longer short stories, each one a pulp-style adventure.
I love my Steampunk, but every story I’ve read seems to drop you into a world where the mechanics and gadgetry is already a solid thing. I wanted to show how the age of Steam evolved, what inventions came first, how that changes the world as it goes along. Telling Alan’s story is a great way to do that. He will see the age progress as we do.
I’m about half way through, and it’s already longer than Greaveburn. I think it’ll be quite the epic by the time it’s done.
Do certain types of music influence your writing? If so, what’s your playlist look like?
Oh dear, don’t judge me. I love my rock music. Vintage rock. Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, KISS, Styx, Kansas…I could go on but I won’t. I’m also a huge fan of the Foo Fighters. But I’m far from a rocker in style. I don’t believe you have to wear black to rock.
One of my favourite songs at the minute is The Organ Thief by Andrew Price. It has become the theme to Greaveburn, actually, being used on the book trailer and such. An incredibly creepy track. Brilliant.
Do you have any recommendations for books that you think the blog’s readers may enjoy?
I’d never be so presumptuous. Reading material is such an individual thing. I can tell you what I’ve enjoyed, though. I’m rocking the Dresden books of Jim Butcher at the minute. Love those. So easy to read and relate to. I get author envy reading them. I’ve also enjoyed Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, recently. That was great.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser, definitely. I’m not one for setting my novel out, chapter by chapter, or anything like that. It all happens in my head. I tell myself the story until it’s no incredibly vivid that I have to set it down on paper, then I just let it go. My research is probably the only planning stage I have.
Do you have any tips, or thoughts, that you would like to offer to the blog’s readers?
Read more! If you want to be good, and that means better than I am, then you have to read. But don’t just enjoy it, really look at it. Stephen King might scare you, but go back and look at how he did it. A dribble of info here, some atmosphere there, then try it yourself. The great authors are there for a reason, and I don’t think they’d mind us taking some tips.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed a wonderful interview with the author of Greaveburn, and the short story anthology, Not Before Bed, Craig Hallam. I hope you’ve all enjoyed learning more about him. Thank you so much for the interview. I look forward to more of your work and wish you the best of success always.
Craig: Thanks for having me! See you next time, I hope . . .
A Hero murdered.
A Girl alone.
A city of Villains.
From the crumbling Belfry to the Citadel’s stained-glass eye, across acres of cobbles streets and knotted alleyways that never see daylight, Greaveburn is a city with darkness at its core. Gothic spires battle for height, overlapping each other until the skyline is a jagged mass of thorns.
Archduke Choler sits on the throne, his black-sealed letters foretell death for the person named inside. Abrasia, the rightful heir, lives as a recluse in order to stay alive. With her father murdered and her only ally lost, Abrasia is alone in a city where the crooked Palace Guard, a scientist’s assistant that is more beast than man, and a duo of body snatchers are all on her list of enemies.
Under the cobbled streets lurk the Broken Folk, deformed rebels led by the hideously scarred Darrant, a man who once swore to protect the city. And in a darkened laboratory, the devious Professor Loosestrife builds a contraption known only as The Womb.
With Greaveburn being torn apart around her, can Abrasia avenge her father’s murder before the Archduke’s letter spells her doom?
About The Author:
By day, Craig Hallam is a Nurse. In the afternoons, he studies English Literature with the Open University.
But by night he writes works of Speculative Fiction. Tackling short stories since late 2008, his tales have graced the pages of the British Fantasy Society, Misanthrope Press, Pill Hill Press, and Murky Depths. He has managed to avoid winning a single award in this whole time and has decided to take that as an accolade in itself, whenever the tears stop falling.
His debut novel, Greaveburn, a Gothic Steampunk tale, is out now from Inspired Quill Publishing.
His short story collection, Not Before Bed, is also available HERE.
He hopes to see you hovering above one of his pages in the near future.
. . . and that he can eventually stop referring to himself in the third person.
Connect With Him Online: