You know those questions you sometimes get asked "if you could have a dinner party and invite anyone from any time, past, present, dead, alive, fact or fiction?" well, just for curiosity purposes mine would be Stan Laurel, Steve McQueen, Spike Milligan and Billy Idol to name but four. Anyway, to cut a long dinner party story short, a genius of a Scottish writer called William Meikle has turned that question on it's head, flipped it sideways, bounced it up and down a few times and has used it to come up with a fascinating book called THE GHOST CLUB. Without wanting to sound jealous I so wished i'd have thought of this idea first, but hey ho I didn't so the best I can come up with is to interview William and promote his fantastic book on here.
So, what gave you the idea for THE GHOST CLUB? How did it start? Where did the thought process come from for this genius idea of a book? Over the last few years I've written a lot of work set in and around the Victorian Era, with a handful of weird Sherlock Holmes books in print, a Professor Challenger collection, and three Carnacki: Ghostfinder collections available, so I'm comfortable working in that vein. Somebody on Facebook asked if I'd thought of doing other characters, Allan Quatermain in particular. I hadn't, until then. But then I wondered, what if Doyle met H. Rider Haggard for a meal and a drink and they got to storytelling? And what if Bram Stoker turned up? Then Robert Louis Stevenson? It all grew from there.
Can you describe William Meikle in three words? Mad drunken fun. (note: our kind of guy)
Do you believe in the paranormal? If so, can you share any experiences that you’ve had?
My Grannie on my mum's side had a touch of 'the sight' and I saw that in action a few times as a lad, so I can't really disbelieve, despite having a hard science degree in my formal education. And there's been a few personal experiences that have me thinking, especially when it comes to precognitive dreams. Some drug induced weirdness as a youth too. And a favourite story, that happened in a burial mound in Orkney in 1979. I was standing inside the mound looking out, taking a photograph. I'd just come from inside the thing, and knew it was completely empty and I was on my own, but as I lifted the camera, somebody tapped me on the shoulder and said, clear as day in my ear, 'Excuse me.' I automatically moved aside to let them pass… but nobody did. When I turned, I was still all alone in the dark corridor. In the '90s we lived in a house in Stonehaven up on the North East coast that used to be a shop downstairs. We'd sometimes hear the distinctive ring of an old-fashioned till, the clatter of coins on a counter and an old lady speaking softly, but we never saw her.
|YES, SANTA CLAUS CAN PLAY THE GUITAR|
The idea of all these legendary authors and story tellers telling ghost stories whilst smoking cigars and drinking various types of Whisky is pure genius, did you have to research the way they write, the way the tell stories? The research was almost all reading, and re-reading at that, for I've read them all over the years, some much more often than others. And some were a lot easier than others. As I mentioned above, I've written a lot of Doylian pastiches, so he comes through loud and clear in my head anyway. Others, because of frequent reading, were also loud and clear, like Wells and Stevenson in particular. Others still were more difficult. Tolstoy was a right bugger to get right, as I was writing screeds and screeds of description, and getting nowhere plot wise until I stepped back and changed the narrator of the story. I introduced a Scotsman, made them a visitor to Russia rather than a Russian, and that gave me the viewpoint I needed to get it moving forward.
The Wilde one was probably the most fun, and owes more to his short stories and plays than to Dorian Gray, but I needed something shorter and lighter to balance out the more serious ones around it.
You swapped Scotland for Canada and now live with whales, bald eagles and Icebergs. Is there anything you miss about Scotland and would you ever go back? I miss family mainly. My parents are getting on a bit, and my sisters have children, and grandchildren that are growing up without me seeing them. I think we're here for the duration now though, unless Britain gets to be a much cheaper place to live, as we certainly couldn't afford housing over there on what I earn from the writing here. Here the mortgage is paid off, and we live simply and quietly. That's the way I like it. Although I do miss Edinburgh, and pubs, and Edinburgh pubs.
What is the key to writing, what makes you get up and decide that you’re going to write today? Any tips for new writers, wannabee writers? You've got to develop, to mis-quote Blackadder, a pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face, and just plough ahead. Get a thick skin when it comes to rejections, and be prepared to put your arse on your chair and put the work in, for however long it takes. Writers write. Wannabee writers just wanna write.
Did you have to get permission from The Ghost Club and the descendants of the authors mentioned in the book at all? Not at all, as they're all public figures, whose work is in the public domain, and I'm not using any of their characters, apart from Doyle's Inspector Lestrade, and he's fair game these days.
You turn 60 next year, I hope you don’t mind me saying that? Anything on the bucket list that needs to be done before this special birthday? Will you miss the fifties? Where they good to you? I turn 60 in Jan 2018, so I'm a bit short of time to get any bucket list items done in a month from when I'm writing this, in Winter here in Newfoundland. Most of my bucket list involves travel, to the Grand Canyon for one, also the Great Barrier Reef, and the Serengeti, all out of the question in the near future. My fifties were good though. I quit full time work in IT at 49 after 25 years in various software companies building and maintaining big systems for big corporate clients. I've spent the years since then writing full time, living in a house on the shore with a great view. I've sold a bunch of books, had stories in anthologies alongside some of my favourite writers, and we haven't starved.
I call that a result, and hope to repeat it through my sixties.
We know that when you’re not writing you are drinking beer, playing guitar and dreaming of fortune of glory. You’d fit in perfectly with us at Haunted Magazine. In celebration of your non-writing interests would you a) tell us your favourite beer b) your favourite guitar solo and c) what do you consider fortune and glory? Beer: Harvieston's BITTER AND TWISTED in bottle, Timothy Taylor's LANDLORD on hand-pump. Guitar Solo: Richard Thompson – Shoot Out the Lights. Fortune and Glory: Probably the Hollywood deal. Many of my books run in my head like big budget movies. I'd like them to run in everybody else's head like that too.
Going back to The Ghost Club, do you think this could turn out into a series of similar books, either the same people or fast forward into the 1920s and ghost stories written by authors of that era? It's not the first time it's been mentioned, and I admit I've thought about a follow up, with an older Conan Doyle presiding over a new club from about 1910 onward to bring in the likes of M R James, John Buchan, William Hope Hodgson, Dion Fortune and many others. But there's already a very healthy M R James following who do that sort of thing very well, so unless somebody offers me a big bag of cash, I'll pass.
Finally, what's the plans for 2018 and beyond? There' a couple of pulp adventure books contracted for Severed Press with sweary Scottish soldiers blowing supernatural and monstrous shit up and firing lots of bullets. About as far away from THE GHOST CLUB cosiness as I can get, but still loads of fun. I've got three new novels (and a big batch of the reprints resulting from a previous publisher folding) coming from Crossroad Press, which includes THE BOATHOUSE, another in my Sigils and Totems works, RAMSKULL, a new Scottish Hammer horror tribute about satanism and bloody mayhem on a Hebridean island, and DEEP INTO THE GREEN, a Newfoundland based dark fantasy about miners delving where they shouldn't. One thing I'm quite excited about is a novella appearance in I AM THE ABYSS, a huge supernatural anthology about the afterlife from Dark Regions Press, mainly because I'm sharing page space with some great writers, and I get a double page color artwork from the legendary Les Edwards. I've also had a whisper of interest about a new Victorian ghost story collection. Don't know if I have time for it, but… I always thought I'd either be dead or slowed right down by now, but I’m still here, and it seems I still have stories to tell.
Please now plug any websites, etc, where people can find out about you and make you richer by purchasing your books? You can always find me at the booze table at parties, or on my website at http://www.williammeikle.com
#dontbenormal BE PARANORMAL!!
#dontbenormal BE PARANORMAL!!