Paul chats with
PA: Many congratulations on the release of your new ghost story 'Printer's Devil Court'. You have released this as an Amazon Kindle single. Why did you decide to release this initially as only an eBook?
SH: Because it isn’t long enough to be a printed book – hence the Kindle release.
PA: Do you envisage doing all future releases of your work this way?
SH: No, none. Other than the occasional short story which will eventually become a printed collection. But it can take years to get enough together as I don’t write many.
PA: Do you think more established authors will start to release eBooks independently and by-pass the traditional publishing methods?
SH: I don’t think so – they will simply co-exist. It will all shake down.
PA: Do you think there are any negatives to e-publishing? Do you think it takes the publishing 'magic' away for a first time published writer?
SH: Negative is that they can only be read on an e-Reader. Every book published as a physical book by a mainstream publisher is now also an e-Book. If you self-publish and can’t find a proper publisher then I expect it does take away something.
PA: Are you now a big consumer of eBooks, or do you still prefer a good old-fashioned hardback/paperback?
SH: I don’t have an e-Reader, have never read an e-Book and can’t see myself doing so. I love printed books. My daughters do both and prefer real books, but for travelling etc, they find Kindles great!
PA: How do you usually celebrate the final edit of a book before submitting to your agent/editor?
SH: I never do. How many people celebrate the end of another day of work?
PA: Fair comment. You are a multi-genre writer, ranging from literary novels, ghost stories, children's books and detective novels. Of these, do you have a favourite genre?
SH: Literary fiction – every single time.
PA: Is there a genre you have not yet tried writing that you would like / may venture into?
SH: I don’t think so now.
PA: Where do you normally like to write? Are you good at keeping to your writing schedule?
SH: On the kitchen table, at a desk, anywhere really. I have recently gone back to pen and paper. I have no schedule. I write when I feel like it.
PA: You say your hunger for writing is as much as your hunger for reading. Whose work do you most admire?
PA: Commercially, 'Woman In Black' is your most well known story, being adapted to the stage and most recently to film. Do you or have you ever felt pressure as a writer when one project really takes off, commercially and critically, to then replicate the success?
SH: No. I’m always onto something new. I never think about it.
PA: How do you feel about the 'Woman In Black' adaptation to the big screen?
SH: I love another writer in another medium taking up my story/characters and running with them. Sometimes in a different direction. I loved the film because Jane Goldman is a brilliant screenwriter. I wasn’t entirely happy with the ending, but I’m not a film-writer.
PA: As a ghost writer, have you ever had any supernatural experiences of your own?
SH: Yes, but not ghostly…
PA: What was the most recent book you read that really impressed you?
SH: If you mean recently published books, I tend not to read much new stuff. Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending, to which we gave the ManBooker prize in my judging year, was a masterpiece.
PA: What other sub-genres of horror do you like?
SH: None. I never ever read Horror. Ghost-stories on the other-hand – I re-read the classic ones but nothing new. I might get ideas from it accidentally.