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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Author Interview: Rob Shepherd: Life With Boris Karloff, Sofiah and Field Of Hope

He was born in Essex, England in 1978. He has been published by Poetry.com/ International Society Of Poets, made a poet fellow of Nobel House publishers.
He is the author of Life With Boris Karloff, Sofiah and Field Of Hope. Along with 3 books of poetry called The Human Condition vols. 1-3. Currently unavailable. His short story; The Poe Paradox was printed in Dark Light 2 Anthology, his short story Butterflies was featured by Lit Art Magazine and is included in their print and online magazine "Liphar".

He is currently working with Stanhopebooks publishers.

A very warm welcome to Rob Shepherd!


Your real name and pen name?:

My real and pen name are both the same Rob Shepherd. I did consider using a pen name very recently due to there being quite a few other authors with the name Rob Shepherd. However I decided that it was best to keep my name as it is and simply mark myself out as different through my work and my style. I have no particular genre I write so that already marks me out as a bit different to most authors any way.


Please share some of the best memories of your childhood:

Wow, it's been a while since then, I'll have to think for a second. I think the best ones I remember are holidays in the countryside and the freedom to wander and explore. I think they were the best times of my childhood as with the freedom to explore came the freedom of imagination sewing the seeds for much later on in my head. 

About your education:

My education isn't particularly impressive, I went to a secondary modern school in Stanford-Le-Hope, Essex. I didn't particularly excel at school and didn't attain much in the way of grades. I think I mostly excelled at eccentricity, which in the time I was at school, wasn't the most endearing attribute for people, it definitely marked me out as different to other kids. I was happier once I gave up trying to be like the other kids and was just me. That was hard for some to accept and I was definitely not the popular kid. 

What career did you plan during your education days:

When I was a kid I was fascinated with sea-life, I still am actually. I wanted so much to be a marine biologist, studying life under the waves around the world. But the further into education I got, the clearer it became that I was never going to be able to attain that goal with my academic abilities. So I ended up without having much of a plan for a career. I flirted with many ideas but none of them came to anything. However all the way through, writing was always there in the background. I always loved writing and it took many years to pass to realise exactly quite what a passion I had for writing. 


What languages you can speak and write?:

I am well versed in exactly 1 language, English and that's it. Quite shameful really and I am always trying to pick up and learn other languages and unfortunately I always fail at them. I am quite awful at learning different languages, but I do wish I could speak fluently in at least one other language.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?:

My biggest inspiration in life is life itself. You only need to look around with open eyes and an open mind and you see that inspiration is all around you, wherever you go. However in terms of people there are a few people that really inspire me and also push me on with support and friendship. All of those are unsurprisingly authors/writers as well and all of them are magnificent in my opinion. People like Clive Barker, Barbie Wilde, Nicholas-Burnam-Vince, Gregory Norris, Andrew Laybourne, Tony Eldridge and Thomas Schafer, as well as classic authors such as E.A Poe, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelly and Bram Stoker. All of which have inspired me greatly.  


What hurts you most in this world:

The thought of anything bad happening to my family obviously, however on a deeper level that would have to be selfishness and narrowmindedness. The fact that people still believe it is OK to discriminate against other people because of their fashion sense, their sexuality or gender. That upsets me greatly. Then there is the arrogance of people to believe that other life on this planet is expendable without any regard for any consequences to the animal/life, to themselves or everybody else. We as a species are capable of so much, yet we waste it on the biggest pointlessness in this world, and that is ourselves. We need to learn that what is around is is more important than us and that we are quite insignificant in the wider picture, if we can do that, then we can learn to love each other for who we are, no matter what differences we have, it is those differences that make us all so wonderful.    

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?:

Having a large self criticism and loathing of myself is the biggest difficulty I have had over my lifetime so far. I am my own worst enemy and find it difficult to get on with myself, more than with others, so that is something I have had to learn to deal with. I have and continue to manage by distracting myself from my own thoughts of myself, the best way is by becoming deeply enthralled and connected with my characters. Their strengths and weaknesses seem to rub off on me while I write their parts in the stories and that helps me through each day. Thinking about them, what they would do or say, what they are going to do next, it seems to help a great deal, almost cathartic in it's nature. Work wise, the biggest challenge was to write a script and screen play for a film for the first time. I leapt at the chance when I was asked by Silentwood films, yet I didn't know the first thing about writing a script, I had nothing to go on and nothing to compare anything I wrote to, I was learning everything for the first time, whilst on the go, doing it. I didn't so much overcome it, i simply learnt as I went by asking everybody I knew that may have done anything similar for advice whenever I came across a problem. Help and support of friends and fellow authors is the biggest thing you can ever have whenever writing anything. 


If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?:

That is a tough question. I think it would have to be either E.A. Poe or Charles Dickens. Both were absolute masters of the art of building tension and atmosphere with beautiful language manipulation, taking you anywhere in just a few lines, even a few words. But crucially both lived in incredibly challenging and dynamic times when the world was changing by the day. I would have also liked to live a day as either in either of their times to experience their world they inhabited, what inspired them, what scared them, what made them tic and what addicted them. 

What is your favorite genre and why?:

Reading, I love Horror and Fantasy above all others but I have a wide sphere of reading habits. in terms of writing, I don't have a genre specifically that I write in. I will write in any genre, for me it all about the story, if the story is interesting to me, then I will simply write it and worry about what genre it comes out as after I have let the story go where it wants to go and where it subsequently takes me as it's ringmaster.  


When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?:

I first started writing sometime when I was a child, I don't know what age I would have been, but I remember making up little stories in my head, mainly to amuse myself and interest myself, as i was easily distracted and bored as a child. I would write a few words or a few lines, maybe a paragraph at best on a scrap of paper I had found or in my school books, then read it back to myself and let the world create itself in my head and take me away from what seemed to me to be quite a dull world, with nothing incredible or amazing for me to experience, the stories gave me those worlds and those subsequent experiences.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?:

To date I have self published 3 books of poetry: The Human Condition volumes 1-3 but they have been taken down as I am looking to republish those all together in one volume under another title in the short term future. I have a WW2 drama called Sofiah, which I adapted from the screenplay I wrote to Silentwood films' short film of the same name, which is available now. I also have a humourous book titled Life With Boris Karloff which is available as a second edition both via Stanhopebooks.com. Sofiah as I said is a WW2 drama about two soldiers fighting on the opposites sides for the battle for Europe in 1944. One is a Nazi Officer, the other an English Private. After a failed mission to drop allied men into France to storm the Germans by surprise the Englishman is captured by the Germans. The story centers around these two men as they come face to face and realise they have alot more in common than they could have ver imagined. The overriding question in the story is "what would you do?". Life With Boris Karloff is a humorous fictional journal of a young man who after finding himself homeless manages to secure himself a nice looking apartment, however upon moving in he discovers it is also occupied by people he thought couldn't ever exist. It is a journey of his ability to try and keep life as normal as possible even though everything, reality is now absurd and abnormal. It explores his own exploration of what it means to be a family and what it means to be a monster. Sometimes what seems like one is in fact the other. 

What are your forthcoming writings? 

I have a book of dark short stories coming soon, called The Grays Anatomy, it is very much in the horror frame, but all twisted in different ways, there are strong emotional twists and tangles as well as classic gut wrenching tension and old fashioned jump out of your seat moments as well. Followed by another book of short stories, which may follow on, we haven't decided yet, which has yet to be titled and I am still working on the stories as we speak. I have a few novels I am working slowly towards completing, "The flight" which is a horror/fantasy book, "The Ubiquitous Truth", which is a classic good vs evil, heaven and hell story and a possible follow up to Life With Boris Karloff, but featuring new characters in a different situation. I am currently involved in another short film project, which I have just completed the script for and handed to the director and there are also possible, exciting future plans involving Life With Boris Karloff, but I don't want to go into details as I want to be able to surprise any fans of the book with the news should it all work out.

What are your future plans?:

My plans for the future are to continue writing stories, short or full novels, to build up my fan and friend base, there is always room more plenty more Freakpeeps. And also to hopefully help and inspire other possible authors and artists.  


What four top most things you take care of while writing a book? 

Networking, keeping in touch with what is happening and what other people are doing. Checking my emails, my music playlist and finally keeping my cup filled with coffee. 

How much real life goes into a fiction writing? 

In terms of stories such as "Sofiah", which although fictional, it had to be accurate to the time, including the uniforms, weapons, flags and so on, so quite a lot of reality and history goes into those kinds of stories, but as for my other stories, reality is only there as a minor medium to make it believable, hiding there in the background allowing you into the story, the rest is all pure fantasy. The essence and real point of my stories are to take the reader away from reality, they have enough of that day to day. i want to take them away into my worlds, my dreams and fantasies. To let them explore the strange and sometimes wonderful lands of my mind, safely away from the day to day existence, a place where they are free to do what they want, think what they want, love who they want and dare to be who and what they want to. Pure escapism in it's most basic and beautiful forms. 


Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?

For me, imagination is everything, it is key, it is what unlocks the darker, wider, incredible and fantastical worlds and lives inside you. Imagination is the cornerstone to an authors ability to work and lure readers into their world, and share their secret lives with each other and together.

Your dream destination on Earth?:

Somewhere where as a family we can all agree and that holds the same pull to our hearts, a place that is open, expansive yet close enough to civilization to be able to stay in touch with humanity. So far we can never agree on a place that is perfect with all of us, but one day we will. So long as I have a place to hide with my stories, I personally am happy, but a place close to the sea would be lovely, I love the smell of sea, salt and life washing off the waves.  


Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?

I was born here in England, many moons ago, in Basildon, Essex. I grew up in a small town called Corringham. As for travelling, I have visited many countries in Europe but never been further a field, but hope to change that soon. I'll name a few of the places I have visited over the years that have stuck in my mind. Spain firstly, I have been to Spain many times and never had a bad time. Always a lovely time and always lucky with weather except for one year, but it was mid Feb, so the rain wasn't entirely unexpected. My overriding memory is visiting Palma Nova and the beautiful port and gorgeous little bars around the harbour and of Valldemossa, where I had some of the most wonderful drinks and meals, with wonderful people. I did get a little bit drunk there. Croatia is largest in my memory, being the last major foreign trip. it was boiling hot apart from one day when there was a major electrical storm, which was interesting to experience. But the food was incredible, the country is absolutely stunning and the people are absolutely fantastic, charming, kind, helpful and gorgeous. Everyone, is gorgeous in Croatia, both women and men. Total sexy freakpeeps over in Croatia. And lastly Turkey. Turkey was the funniest holiday I have ever been on. Hot as the inside of a double oven, I remember swimming in the warm springs. The stunning black sand beaches and the unique experience of going to the toilet in the cubicles. Lucky my aim was good. After all they didn't keep much paper and there weren't any beach showers either. 

Your favorite time of the day?:

That would have to be the evening. I get a lot of mind work done then, whether it is writing, or working over ideas for or to do with new stories, letting them swim through my mind as I do whatever, watch TV, listen to music or read a book.


Your zodiac/ sunsign?

My zodiac is Pisces.

Your favorite color and why?

Green. As to why, I am not sure, it just seems to crop up everywhere I go. I can tell you honestly though, from experience, that it looks terrible as a work uniform. But green to me seems to have an earthy, natural sense to it, yet it seems to cry out that there is a story behind it, that it is hiding something that needs to be seen or told. 

Your favorite book and why?:

That would have to be Imagica by Clive Barker. Because the story is just sublime, the characters are rich, dynamic and Clive words them in such a way that you feel like you could really reach out and touch them. The worlds he builds within Imagica are second to none. Just extraordinary and absolutely absorbing, making the whole experience of reading the book like an addiction, you just have to have the book, read it and possess it forever, going back to it and living vicariously through, no matter how much harm it seems to want to do to your nerves and senses.  


Your favorite celebrity and why? 

Peter Kaye. He is brilliantly funny, with wonderfully witty and accurate stories of every day life and experiences. turning the mundane into brilliantly accurate and belly achingly funny scenarios that we have all been through in reality.

Your favorite food?

Chilli foods, I like my chilli food, always looking for a spicy item on the menu. 

Some quickies: Sun or Moon, Laughter or Smile, Morning or Evening, Coffee or Tea, Mountain or Sea, Long Drive or Short Drive, Silence or Conversation, Water or Fire, Air or Earth, Mars or Jupiter, Moon or Sun, Tulip or Rose, Red or Blue, Left or Right, Glance or Stare:

Moon, Laughter, Evening, Coffee, Sea, Long drive, Silence, Fire, Earth, Jupiter, Moon, Rose, Red, Left, Glance.


What three words come to your mind for each – Technology, Life, God, Humanity, Terrorism, Racism, Childhood Abuse, Love, Parenting, Old age

Technology: Intermittent, Confusing, Addictive. Life: Togetherness, opportunity, precious. God: Misrepresented, Hijacked, Lessons. Humanity: Opportunistic, selfish, incredible. Terrorism: Blind, stupid, ignorant. Racism: rediculous, idiotic, self-destructive. Childhood Abuse: Weak, Pathetic, Dominoes. Love: Fragile, Dangerous, Amazing. Parenting: Gifted, rewarding, best. Old age: Inevitable, opportunity, Funny.

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote: 

To write your dreams of fantasy, is to create fantasies in another's dreams. 

The last line of your autobiography would be…

If you don't know me by now then you clearly weren't reading properly were you?

Links:

Twitter handle: @Rob_Shepherd