by Timothy Pike
Nottingham, UK. It’s 7:30 in the morning, and a car sits idling outside an office building in a late-October drizzle. The car’s windows, slightly fogged, reflect the gray sky as raindrops slide down the glass, making it impossible to see inside.
That’s perhaps for the best.
This is, after all, where your next nightmare is taking shape. Inside the car sits author Steve Boseley, talking animatedly into his iPhone. But he’s not actually talking to anybody, he’s dictating a story.
And he’s probably just making it up as he goes along. “With a lot of the short stories I write, I generally start off with a beginning and a vague idea of an ending,” says Steve about his writing process. “How I get from one to the other is usually a surprise to me.”
Steve lives with his family in Nottingham, where he’s been all his life. “I’m married, with two children, two cats, and two rabbits,” he tells me. “Although,” he clarifies, “I’m only married to my wife, not the kids or pets.”
There’s a playful aspect to Steve’s personality one may not typically associate with writers of the macabre. A good example of this is his approach to storytelling: “Although the adage ‘write what you know’ is good advice,” he quips, “I have to say that on the whole, I have never dismembered anyone, killed anyone, had any hallucinations that—well, there was that one time…”
Perhaps a career in comedy awaits, but for now, he enjoys his position as a volunteer coordinator at Disability Direct, a local charity that provides free advice and information to disabled people. “I can use my skills of working with and supporting volunteers,” he says. “I have some insight into the world of disability, which helps me in my day job.”
That insight comes from his day-to-day experience. “The biggest challenge to my writing is perhaps not what you would expect,” he says. “I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis eighteen years ago, and it has slowly made the writing more challenging.” With full use of only one hand, typing is difficult, so Steve gets words onto paper any way he can, sometimes scribbling his thoughts on the notepad he keeps handy, other times, like today, showing up to work twenty minutes early to dictate into his phone.
It’s time. Steve cuts the engine, and heads into work.
The words he just dictated have already been transcribed and backed up. “When I get home, it’s waiting for me on my Mac, ready to be worked into my manuscript,” he tells me. Using this method, he says, “I am able to get several thousand words down in record time.”
And the more time saved, the better. In between shifts at Disability Direct and the demands of his busy family life. Steve has managed to write and publish a novella, and also see his work appear in a variety of online horror publications and several horror anthologies. His greatest accomplishment so far, though, has been publishing A Sinister Six, a book-length collection of short stories he describes as “darkly disturbing.”
Darkly disturbing indeed. Two of the stories go like this:
“The Photograph”: A photograph is rediscovered decades after it was lost, only now the picture has several new faces in it, faces that were not there when it was taken.
“Die, Blossom Bloom”: An old man feels grief and guilt from the loss of his wife and the way her life ended. Keeping these details secret leads him to commit acts he never thought himself capable of.
“I like to write about amazing, fantastic, and sometimes brutal things happening to everyday people,” Steve says. “I write horror, but I’m not really a gore freak. Lots of blood doesn’t do it for me.”
Steve was influenced by authors who felt much the same. “I was brought up on a steady diet of Stephen King and James Herbert,” he tells me. “I also find that I spend a lot of time reading short stories by authors like H.P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood. I think there is an awful lot to learn from such masters of their craft.”
And Steve is quickly becoming a master himself, fine tuning his approach to writing with each new story. “Mostly, I’ll start with an ending in mind, and then work backwards until I see how it all started,” he says. “On other occasions, I start off with a broad idea and just start writing. With my current work-in-progress, I am trying outlining, which I am finding very helpful.”
But for all his talent, the man who has made fear the centerpiece of his career is not immune to it himself. “As far as fears go, I’ve had my share of them. They mostly revolve around the quality of the work I produce—is it any good? In reality, I still have doubts.”
“I got my first taste of rejection,” he says, “when a friend suggested I share some of my short stories online, and I started submitting stories to online horror magazines.”
His solution to these fears was to realize that no matter what he produces as a writer, some will love it, others won’t. “I realized that I’m writing for myself,” he says. “I think that’s normal, as it keeps us improving, never becoming complacent, which is a good thing. To improve, I’ve found the answer is to write more—and read more.”
And of course, to continue writing what he likes. “Haunted houses are rare in my work,” Steve says. “No midnight meetings in the cemetery, no visits to an ancient tomb. It’s the same reason that you won’t see many vampires or zombies or werewolves in my writing. I try to look at situations regular people may find themselves in and then tweak it.”
Despite his challenges, it’s full speed ahead for Steve right now. “My plan is to just keep writing,” he tells me, “and start and finish my first novel. It’s a twisted story of survival in a picturesque English park.” In other words, maybe not a bedtime story for the kids, but certainly something to look forward to when it’s finished.
Just a word of advice: keep the lights on.
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