A big welcome to first-time novelist, Laura Huntley, and one of Crooked Cat‘s latest finds; her book, Black Eyed Boy, promises some dark excitement, but she’s no newcomer to writing.
You say Black Eyed Boy is your first novel. Please tell us about your other writings and their genres
My work has appeared in several anthologies now. I mainly used to write flash-fiction and short stories. The vast majority of my published pieces are horror works; the scarier the better. I do love to add twists and turns and I am a fan of quirky characters so some of my stories are quite unusual.
One reviewer of Black Eyed Boy has commented on your description of the seaside town of Whitby, saying the “setting is as much a ‘character’ as typical teen Emily and gypsy Dylan.” That strikes a chord with me, as it’s been said of the setting in my book, too. Where have you travelled, and what is your favourite place?
I was delighted to read that particular comment as it was vital to me that I did Whitby justice. Whitby is my most favourite place; a true jewel of North Yorkshire. I haven’t travelled much in my life, though I have been to some beautiful places. Whitby is the one place that I keep going back to and I leave my heart there, every single time
Do you have a particular theme in Black Eyed Boy?
There is a lot going on within those pages. It is described as a romance but there is certainly not much fluffy about it. I would say that there is a running theme of belonging. All Emily has ever wanted is to feel that she belongs somewhere, she is very much a lonely child. She experiences some truly heart-breaking and harsh realities but she manages to cling on to some hope.
I wonder if you are having as much trouble as I am, with writing a sequel. What is the most challenging thing about it? And are you using a similar way of going about it, or have you learned from past attempts?
The first (oh so rough) draft of the sequel has been written. I am now back in the editing process, eternally arguing with myself over words and punctuation. It has been strikingly different to writing the first one (I am now convinced that it wrote itself). This has certainly been trickier. It will be the middle book and it’s harder to get that right, I think. The third and final instalment will give me a chance to tie up all the loose ends. Also, several chapters of the sequel are incredibly tense, I have frequently likened penning this book to dangling off the edge of a cliff.
I see you run a writing group. How long have you been doing this, and how does it help with your own writing?
It will be a couple of years old soon. I love my writing group and I adore my writing group ladies. We have a lot of fun. I provide word or picture prompts or opening sentences and it often feels electric as the other members are talented and super creative. We read our work aloud and I set them work to do for the following session. It’s especially brilliant if you find yourself in the occasional writing rut or you simply need a little break from your current project. It’s a wonderfully relaxed and friendly environment and I always tend to feel happy with something I write there.
How did you find Crooked Cat?
Quite early on in my writing career I noticed a call for submissions. Crooked Cat were putting together an anthology (which later turned out to become two) full of horror stories. Well, I couldn’t resist. I had such a creepy and bizarre idea and I was delighted when they chose to include ‘The Lost Souls’ in Fear: An Anthology of Horror and Terror Volume Two. I enjoyed working with them and I had a strong feeling that it wouldn’t be for the last time. As soon as I had finished writing Black Eyed Boy, I knew exactly who I wanted to send it to. The whole experience has been a blast. Choosing the cover artwork was particularly exciting.
Something tells me you like to cook (or eat?). What is your favourite dish?
I am seriously hoping that my partner doesn’t read this question. He would laugh his head off as he gets stuck with making most of our meals. I’m not very good (or at least that’s what I have convinced myself). I don’t have huge amounts of patience for cooking although I do make a mean chocolate fudge Malteser cake when I can be bothered. I am a huge foodie though. I love food! I made a nacho pizza this week and it was insanely delicious. Italian and Mexican are my favourites so combining the two resulted in my own personal food heaven. For those drooling over the notion of the chocolate fudge cake, here is the recipe: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/6652/naughty-chocolate-fudge-cake
What do you do when you’re not being an author or a mum? Favourite hobbies?
I love reading, I have a frankly stupid amount of books now and I can’t seem to stop buying new ones. I am interested in Tudor history, watching horror films and I adore high heel shoes. I like to teach myself astronomy, figuring out where all the different constellations and planets are in the night sky. Also, I am into crafts. I make jewellery, cards, hair accessories, cushions and purses.
If there were no barriers, what would you like to do / be / have?
Of course, I would write best-selling novels that are celebrated all over the world. And I would live in a gorgeous cottage I have seen called Poet’s View. I would look out at the North Sea and spend my days writing, inspired by the beauty around me. At night, I would walk around the old-fashioned cobbles of the Whitby streets and eat the best fish and chips in the world.
Huge thanks for inviting me over to your blog and for the interesting questions.
It’s been a pleasure having you, Laura.
You can find out more about Laura HERE on her blog.
And her book is on Amazon.co.uk if you click on the cover:
You can dip into her other stories HERE.