Bio: S P Oldham lives in the beautiful Sirhowy Valley in South Wales. She has always enjoyed writing and has recently ventured into self-publishing. Although she writes mainly horror and dark fiction, she likes to dabble in other genres from time to time. She is also an avid reader.
GJ: What do you find is the hardest part of being an independently published author?
SO: The marketing and self-promotion. You have to be pretty relentless in promoting your work to social media on a daily basis, something I am often not that good at, if I am honest. All the more so when you are on your own and there is no one to take on the promotion aspect for you. I am sure there are many other indie authors out there who would tell you the same thing. Often, writing the story is the easy bit!
GJ: Other than writing, what is your favourite aspect of being an author?
SO: Being able to get the stories out of my head and onto the screen/on paper. Further, getting positive feedback from people who have genuinely enjoyed my work – that is always a real buzz.
GJ: Which genres do you write?
SO: I write primarily in the genre of horror and dark fiction, although I have just released a dark fantasy called The Dragon Has Wings, which I would call grimdark. That said, I feel that there are often elements of dark fantasy even in my horror writing. In truth I write whichever story happens to be making its presence felt inside my mind. I don’t always publish or promote that of course, as my focus is on dark, and now dark fantasy, fiction.
GJ: Can you describe a typical day where you get chance to write? Do you spend long sessions into the early hours with a glass of wine or do you thrash out words at every spare moment?
SO: I rarely if ever drink while I am writing as it makes me tired and I would end up falling asleep at the keyboard. Plus, there would be nothing but gobbledygook on the screen! I used to write into the early hours before I had medication to sort out my lousy sleep pattern (not joking!) Now, I tend to get up, do the chores, walk my dog and try to take some photos of nature to share on my sister’s Facebook page, and then when all the necessary is done, I settle down to some writing. I find that getting all of these things out of the way allows me to focus and to be able to concentrate, rather than having something nagging at me from the back of the mind, telling me I need to walk the dog or go to the shops or something, which I find distracting.
GJ: If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice without breaking the time-space continuum, how old would you be and what would you say?
SO: I would be fifteen and I would say “You are very young, you have time. Don’t rush yourself into something you may end up regretting.” I would also say, “You are fine just as you are. Stop comparing yourself to others and finding yourself lacking; you are not. You are as good as anyone else. Have confidence in yourself.”
Nothing new or earth shattering there, is there? I think so many people, especially young people and especially today, have such crises of confidence, such poor self-esteem and the desire to grow up far too soon. I wish I could give the above advice to all of them; even more, I wish that they would take it to heart.
I think I am getting old!
GJ: What’s your favourite ever book you’ve read and why?
SO: This is a difficult question. I don’t think I could possibly choose just one book. I will have to cheat and give you several, and even then I haven’t covered them all.
The Discworld books and Nation, by the inimitable and much missed Sir Terry Pratchett. Great characters, deeply perceptive writing, a witty and often touching observation of the human condition set against a fictional yet incredibly detailed world. Just wonderful.
Pompeii by Robert Harris – the very definition of ‘unputdownable!’ I read it in one evening. Nothing short of excellent.
The Stand and The Dark Tower by Stephen King – like all his work, great story-telling and immensely readable. Great characters, dark situations written believably, just engrossing stories.
The Conqueror series by Conn Iggulden – just outstanding, in my view. Gripping, brutal, clever, fabulous fictional recounts of actual, historical events. It is almost as if Iggulden was there and saw for himself. I cannot speak too highly of these books, or this author.
Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell – again, like Iggulden, just as if he was there. Very readable and engrossing, fabulous knowledge and historical background.
The Falco Series – set in Ancient Rome and written by Lindsey Davis. Great historical knowledge, intelligent fictional settings and stories with a delicious twist of humour. Brilliant stuff.
There are more, but I won’t go on. To me, although a lot of these books are historical fiction, there are many elements of this that feed into fantasy and dark fantasy, which is why I have such a love of the genre, I suppose.
GJ: What brought you into the world of writing zombie related fiction?
SO: An extremely vivid dream! It was about a very sinister zombie, standing very still and unmoving in a room, almost as if asleep standing up. A man was trapped in there, and his only escape was through a window. He climbed out of it and then my view of my dream shifted, a bit like watching a film.
Now I was looking at this man dangling from the fire escape ladder he had climbed out onto. The ladder was broken, there were no further steps down. He was very high up on the side of this building. It was a hot day and the sun was blazing down on him. I was very distressed at his plight and wanted to know how he would get out of this. The zombie, although unmoving, had a very dangerous air about it, so there was no question of going back into the room and trying to sneak past it. It had an evil glint in its eye, as if it was assessing the situation. I dubbed it a ‘Thinker’ and that is where ‘Sleep, Think, Die’ came from and what prompted the whole trilogy, eventually. I woke up before the poor man in my dream had made any kind of escape.
GJ: What makes your zombie books stand above the crowd?
SO: Well, I have known readers and reviewers to say I have a ‘different slant’ or ‘an unusual take’ on the genre. Another reviewer states that where I start my story – a good while after the apocalyptic event – is not usual in the genre. For me, I like to believe that Thinkers are original. They are not able to think like a whole, undamaged human being; not in the way that you, I or anyone reading this is able to think. Their brand of ‘thinking’ is a leftover from their previously human state. They have the tiniest, feeblest capacity of thought, that nonetheless renders them more dangerous than ‘traditional’ zombies. In addition, Thinkers tend to be grossly out of proportion physically; far bigger, more muscular (regardless of gender) and vastly more violent than other zombies. Just like the one in my dream, they are a force to be reckoned with.
GJ: So what can readers expect from you in 2020?
SO: I am promoting ‘The Dragon Has Wings’ in addition to my previous zombie and horror works, but I am also starting a new story. It has been trying to get my attention for a couple of years now. I finally have time to write it, and I must say I am very excited about it. I will keep it under wraps for now, except to say that it is dystopian and I like (if that is the right word) the main protagonist very much. I hope to get this done by September, but I have a busy year ahead of me with lots of family commitments, not least my youngest son’s wedding in May, so we will see. But yes, I am hugely excited about this one!
GJ: A big thank you to Sue for taking the time to talk to me. S P Oldham currently has five horror fiction books available on Amazon. Three of these make up The Mindless Trilogy – The Zombie Apocalypse: Where a Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing.
You can check out her books on her Amazon author page and follow her on Facebook. Plus if you like nightmarish settings, reluctant heroes, and action-packed adventures, then you’ll love my spine-chilling novels. Tap the link to read the book today!
When humanity faces an undead nightmare, one man’s party turns into a race to survive.
Logan has always taken things a little too seriously. So when his New Year’s Eve attempt to unwind descends into chaos, he’s the first to realize it’s no joke. After Logan and his friends miss the evacuation transport, he’s given a choice: lead the group to safety or watch all of his friends come back from the dead…
When Logan discovers the military and government have no interest in saving them, making it to sanctuary alive may be their only hope. And after he learns his party of survivors might hold the key to a cure, the fate of humanity rests on his shoulders. But saving his species could mean sacrificing himself…
Can Logan stave off the end of the world or will one wrong decision doom humankind?
In The End is a fast-paced post-apocalyptic zombie thriller. If you like nightmarish settings, reluctant heroes, and action-packed adventures, then you’ll love GJ Stevens’ spine-chilling novel.