Today, I am very excited to have Stewart Bint stop by my blog for an interview. Stewart is a novelist (science fiction and supernatural) signed by Booktrope, and a magazine columnist. He has also worked as a PR writer for one of the world’s leading CAD/CAM software developers and a radio presenter, newsreader and phone-in host. The first experience I had reading Stewart’s work was a great time travel adventure titled Timeshaft which is fantastic. Time travel for me is exciting to contemplate and usually ends up twisting my head a bit. Stewart’s latest release In Shadows Waiting is a great ghost story, another one of my favorite subjects. A ghost story is always chilling and I never know what the author has up his sleeve and Stewart had quite a few jumps and scares for me. If Stewart Bint isn’t an author your familiar with please go and pick up a book of his, the writing is very good and I know you’ll love what you read.
The Scary Reviews: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from?
Stewart Bint: I was born in the dim and distant past (under extreme torture I have been known to confess to 1956), in Derby in the UK. I worked for the BBC as a radio newsreader, current affairs presenter, and ‘phone-in host, but always wanted to fulfil my boyhood dream of becoming a published fiction writer. I am now a novelist, Public Relations writer, and I have my own column in a fortnightly magazine.
TSR: Let’s start at the beginning: How did writing find you? Or did you find it?
SB: A bit of both really – I found it because I was hopeless at maths and figures, and quickly realised that unless I could make my living with words I was going to starve! But it definitely found me when I was just seven years old, thanks to my favourite television show, Doctor Who. The original series way back in 1963 inspired me, when I became enraptured by the storylines which could take place at any time in Earth’s history and future, and absolutely anywhere in the universe and beyond. I started creating my own worlds and my own characters, writing my stories in little blue notebooks until my parents bought me a portable typewriter for my ninth birthday. And those make-believe worlds became invaluable after my Dad died when I was 11. I retreated more and more into those places where I was in control of my characters’ fate – knowing that whatever happened to them during the story I would make sure they were okay in the end. My worlds were certainly better than the real one at that time.
TSR: What is your writing process? Do you plan everything in advance or enjoy letting the story take you wherever it’s going to go and not know the details yourself in advance?
SB: I have a good idea of where the story’s going, and I usually know the ending right from the start. But sometimes the journey between the two takes me down uncharted roads, as the characters want to do their own thing. But I’m always happy to let them. In fact, a fairly minor character in my novel Timeshaft suddenly said something which changed the entire premise that the hero had been working to through his entire life…and that did actually change my planned ending, too.
TSR: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
SB: The first thing is being able to transfer the words from my brain to my computer screen fast enough. As my fingers fly across the keyboard they invariably mis-spell, and my neat and ordered mind becomes at odds with itself – do I go back and correct the spelling immediately, or do I wait until I’ve finished that scene? Decisions, decisions. (mind you, if you think that’s unco-ordinated, you should see how my arms and legs take on a mind of their own during my keep-fit class).
It’s also quite challenging deciding which of the thousands of ideas floating around in the malt whisky and red wine that comprises my mind, can actually make it into one of my books or short stories.
TSR: What do you love and hate about writing?
SB: I love the overall creative process of seeing one of my ideas come to the printed or e-page. As I physically write, the scene unfolds before my eyes, rather like a film and I find that extremely enjoyable. When the first draft is finished, my impatient nature swings into action as I want to bring the next idea to life by moving on to the next book. I don’t like accepting that the first draft is probably not even half-way through towards getting the book out there. For example, I’m currently working on extensive developmental edits for the new edition of Timeshaft, which will make it a much better book than the one I originally wrote.
So I suppose what I’m saying is, I hate the fact that I’m not a competent enough writer to polish my story to the point when it’s deemed to be acceptable for the public to read, by myself, and I need the help of my superb team at Booktrope. (I love you guys really – you made In Shadows Waiting the book that it is, and you’re currently doing the same with Timeshaft).
TSR: How much of yourself finds its way into your writing? Experiences, philosophies, personal views?
SB: Quite a bit, sometimes subconsciously and other times intentional.
A reader of In Shadows Waiting who knows me well, said he could see a lot of the main character, Simon, in me. But that was definitely not deliberate. Probably Simon’s strongest trait is the love for his family. Maybe I’m a little jealous of him. However, the supernatural being that I describe in the story is based 100 per cent on an apparition that I saw many years ago.
The inspiration for Timeshaft came from a walk in a park on the outskirts of London, and actually forms a scene in the book. I have a little cameo role, along with my wife, my son in his pram, and my father-in-law. The premise of that book is an environmental protection group, and I do feel strongly about the damage Mankind is doing to this beautiful planet.
The Twitter Bully, in my Thunderlands short story collection, came about as a result of sustained bullying and harassment being directed at me on Twitter.
TSR: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
SB: Two things. My son makes his living from tennis. He is a professional tennis coach, and plays competitive matches. Whenever I can I love to watch him play. He’s also played at Wimbledon, which makes me incredibly proud. He is also ranked around 8 in the world (it fluctuates between 7 and 10 at the moment) in the fast developing tennis spin-off game, TouchTennis, and I watch his matches on the TouchTennis live TV stream, and listen to his commentary on other games.
I have gone barefoot whenever I can, since my teens, and now belong to a barefoot hiking group. So I can often be found hiking with bare feet on woodland trails.
TSR: Let’s get to your works. The Jigsaw And The Fan was your first published novel. How did that story come about?
SB: During my time as a broadcaster I covered a number of industrial disputes in the UK, including two damaging miners’ strikes. On one level, this novel is a light-hearted ghost story, but it can also be read on a second level, as a satirical poke at those strikes.
TSR: Your follow up book Timeshaft was a great book and then you wrote In Shadows Waiting. How do you as a writer move from a great time travel book to a horror/thriller?
SB: My two genres, horror and science fiction, both represent the unknown. But I really wanted to focus on that fear of the unknown to send a tingle down my readers’ spines. And I wanted to create a story involving ordinary people in an ordinary setting so that readers could personally identify with the characters more easily than they could with those in Timeshaft. Once I had grasped what made each of my characters tick in In Shadows Waiting, I developed their own personalities in the same way I did for those in Timeshaft. My writing always revolves around my characters and their personalities…it’s always character driven rather than plot driven, so the move from one genre to the other was actually quite seamless.
TSR: To your mind, what makes something horrific over, say, thrilling?
SB: What could be more idyllic than the summer facing my young character, Simon Reynolds, in In Shadows Waiting? So imagine the impish glee that ran amok from my soul when I set the chain of events into motion that tapped into his family’s basic fears. Firstly, the unease of thinking they may be targeted by burglars. How basic is that fear? The fear of your home being invaded? I want my readers to experience that fear and unease – only through my book of course, not in real life! Then I positively love making my readers squirm as my characters’ unease turns to fear and fear turns to horror. Maybe writing horror is my way of compensating for not being able to pursue my first career choice. My careers teacher at school was having none of it when I said I wanted to be an assassin.
TSR: Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
SB: There is one negative review that I never even saw, and don’t know to this day what it said. For a year I ran an anti-bully campaign on Twitter, which brought me into contact with some thoroughly unpleasant people. One of those posted a highly critical, one-star review. My good friend, fellow novelist DM Cain, saw it, and she explained the situation to Amazon, who instantly removed the review. I will never forget two things about that: one, that I have friends who are looking out for me, and two, it shows how malicious people can be, attempting to hurt me in that way for a totally unrelated activity.
But, hey…that’s just one tiny incident compared to the positive reviews I’ve been lucky enough to receive. One reviewer said Timeshaft was the best time travel novel he’d ever read, and another reviewer was so scared by In Shadows Waiting that she couldn’t read it alone in the house, and had to wait until her family came home!
TSR: Who are you favorite authors? Which author(s) had a significant impact on you growing up?
SB: My favorite mainstream author is, and always has been, Stephen King. And would I be totally uncool if I also said J.K. Rowling? I love the way she developed the Harry Potter series from a fairly light and fluffy initial story (albeit with a few darker overtones), into a plethora of unease and pending doom.
As a child, it was the then-ubiquitous Enid Blyton, and I then progressed to Ian Fleming and his James Bond series (hey, did you know he also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?) and two thriller writers who have dropped out of fashion nowadays (well, I am very old): Dennis Wheatley and Alistair MacLean. I also loved (and still do) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.
TSR: What book are you reading now?
SB: Mr Mercedes, by Stephen King. My daughter bought it for me for Father’s Day. It’s absolutely brilliant!
TSR: Tell us about the origin of In Shadows Waiting.
SB: Three aspects combined to inspire me.
Firstly, my own personal experience of seeing the ghost that I describe in In Shadows Waiting. It stood at the top of the stairs at around 4.30 a.m. one cold November morning when I was leaving my lodgings to go to the BBC for my job at the time of early morning newsreader on a BBC radio breakfast programme.
Secondly, although my book is not a vampire story, I have always been fascinated by the concept that vampires can only enter a house by invitation. In my story the apparition is outside first of all, and then makes its way into the house.
Thirdly, my previous home bordered a massive farmer’s field, which had a bomb crater in it from the second world war. I wove those three aspects into the story, and In Shadows Waiting was born.
TSR: You have a wide range of books you’ve written, what piece of your own work are you most proud of?
SB: It has to be my new paperback, In Shadows Waiting, for the critical acclaim it has received. I’m also proud of my short story The Twitter Bully, which appears in Thunderlands. It was my knee-jerk reaction to harassment from those of the titular persuasion.
TSR: What’s next on the your agenda?
SB: I am currently working on the substantial developmental edits suggested by my publisher’s editor for the forthcoming new edition of Timeshaft. Booktrope could also be bringing out new editions of Thunderlands and The Jigsaw And The Fan in 2016, ahead of a completely new novel, To Rise Again, in 2017.
Thank you Stewart for talking with me today, it sounds like you have a very busy year. I am very excited to hear you have a new novel set for 2017 for all of us avid readers.
Where can you find Stewart Bint?
Also on his Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Stewart-Bint/e/B00D18IARS/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1