How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your books?
Probably more than I realize! I’m sure that on some level, every character, from the main protagonists to the incidental side characters have a little bit of me in them. I have always been a very private person, so I find it great fun to write the larger than life personalities who do thing that I wouldn’t. Even if as a writer you try to make your characters truly unique, it’s impossible because even if it’s only subconsciously, there is still a little of the writer in every one of them.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing?
Many of my stories come from a single random idea, which more often than not pops into my head at the most inopportune times! My novella, MEAT for example, came about in its entirety from a boring trip to the supermarket. I was dutifully following my wife as she stocked up on goods, and as we passed the meat isle, I thought to myself how odd it would be if they stocked prepackaged human meat alongside the regular stuff. The idea grew during the rest of the shopping trip and I went home and immediately wrote it.
How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
I have a blank canvas approach to my characters. I think it’s a mistake to try to influence them too much, and so I usually just throw them into whatever situation the story presents and watch as they deal with it. Certainly, there is no pre planning as such about how character A might develop his relationship with character B. I just toss them into the story and let them figure it out for themselves. They do grow and develop of course, but I consciously try to keep it a very natural, organic process. People who read my work might notice that I don’t tend to go too deeply into the physical descriptions of my characters. That isn’t through laziness, but is a very conscious decision to paint just enough of the character for the reader to fill in the blanks themselves. Although I see a character in a certain way, the reader may have a completely different idea of how they look.
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
Well, when I get an idea that I think would make for a good novel, I tend to try to work out a rough outline of the plot on a chapter-by-chapter basis. I don’t stick to it religiously by any means, in fact, when it comes to the actual writing, the story usually develops in ways I didn’t see coming, and veers off accordingly. The guide helps me to keep track of my initial vision for the story, and if need be helps to steer the story back to its intended finish.
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
I strongly believe that a story should take as long as it needs for the writer to say what he wants to say. I don’t pigeonhole myself into saying ‘this must be a short story’ or this should be a novella etc. I just write and see where the story takes me. For example, with Whisper, that was initially intended as a short story to go in my first novel, an anthology of short stories called Dark Corners, but almost immediately, I saw that there was a much bigger story that I wanted to tell, and so I shelved it until Dark Corners was finished and released, then returned back to it to explore the story in detail. For me, there is no right or wrong time to end a story. I tend to rely on my instincts to tell me when to stop, and so far (fingers crossed), they have served me pretty well.
Is there message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
Not a message as such. I write in the hope that my reader will be entertained enough to escape from the real world for a while and live in the places that I create.
What are you working on right now?
I’m around 30,000 words in on a new novel called From The Deep, which I’m really, really excited about. The story is pretty much writing itself at the moment, and I feel it could be my best work yet. It’s a twist on the classic sea monster story. I would call it part Moby Dick, part Godzilla with a little bit of Jurassic Park thrown in. Although at its roots it’s a monster story, it’s very character oriented. I’m hoping to have it finished later this year, then will be looking to place it with a suitable literary agency if it’s good enough.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
It took a while to find out that writing was for me. I have always been creative, even as a child. I tried art, then graphic design, then music. I had tried my hand at writing on and off over the years, but never really committed to it until a couple of years ago.
At what age did you discover your love of writing?
Following on from the previous question, it was a couple of years ago when the biting bug bit me hard. Up until then, I had been playing guitar in a band, and because we were so busy with writing, recording and playing gigs, it took up almost all of my time. It was only when the band split and we decided to go our separate ways that I found myself with nothing to do and a creative urge that needed to be satisfied in some way. I found some old half-started stories that I had started back in 2007, and read through them. Although there was nothing there worth saving, it sparked something in me, and I started to think about turning my hand to writing. I was watching the movie Pulp Fiction, when I thought how it would be fun to write a collection of stories which were separate, but interconnected in a non-chronological way. If there is such a thing as a eureka moment, that was it. The concept for Dark Corners had been born. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be, but it gave me something to focus my creativity on, and I started there and then to plan out the book.
What was the first story that you wrote?
I started so many stories back in the day that went unfinished, that I was sure there would be a little nugget in there worth salvaging, but it was all pretty woeful stuff. At that time back in 2007, I hadn’t found a voice I was comfortable with, and so I started again. The first story I wrote and finished was actually for Dark Corners, and titled Every little helps.
When were you first published?
I was lucky, as my first published work was actually Dark Corners. I really fell on my feet with it.
How were you discovered?
When Dark Corners was finished, I submitted it to a few small presses in the hope that they might pick it up. I was contacted by Rhode Island based Dark Hall Press who expressed an interest in my sample submission and requested a full manuscript. Shortly after, I received a contract offer for the manuscript, which was an amazing feeling, especially as it was a debut piece. I feel honored that Dark Hall Press were willing to take a chance on me, and it certainly helped to boost my confidence enough to consider that maybe I would be able to make a success of being a writer.
What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?
The editing process can be pretty taxing. I tend to write the entire first draft without editing at all, so when it comes to the time when I need to edit, it’s usually a hefty task. It’s a love hate relationship. Sometimes, I love finding new ways to rewrite passages of the book in a better way, but other times the entire editing process can become tedious, especially by the third of fourth time reading through the manuscript. It’s at this time I’m always itching to move on to a new project, and have to force myself to stay disciplined until the edits are done.
What do you like to read?
I read a lot of different stuff. Of course, I read a lot of horror. I always have, ever since I borrowed Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew from my sister when I was twelve or so. I also really got into Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series, and Steve Alten’s MEG is another of my favorites.
What writer influences you the most?
At the risk of sounding like every other horror author out there, I have to say Stephen King. He really is the best out there in my opinion. I just find his work so accessible, and so good at drawing the reader in that it’s easy to get lost in his stories.
If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, which actors would you like to see playing your characters?
If Meat were to be made into a movie, I think Giancarlo Esposito would make a terrific Bernard. I thought he was spectacularly good as Gustavo Fring in Breaking Bad. For whisper, I think Gary Busey would make an amazing Donovan.
Where can people learn more about you and your books?
I tend to post a lot of my news over on Facebook, which is over at:
My works are also available through my Amazon author page, which can be located here:U.K: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Bray/e/B009GH9XCO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books?
My latest novel, Whisper is out now in both Paperback & kindle through Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc. also, I am always looking to speak to people who like my work, so drop by on Facebook and say hi if you like J
It was supposed to be a fresh start, a place for Steve & Melody Samson to start their new life together away from the noise and crime of the city. However, their new home – an idyllic cottage nestled deep within the dense solitude of Oakwell Forest has a disturbing history, hidden for generations by the local villagers, who are desperate to keep their sleepy town free from potential media attention. As Steve and Melody begin to notice the strange and bizarre things that are happening to them, they begin to unravel the complex web of lies and deceit perpetrated by the locals.
Told both in a modern day narrative and flashbacks to the Buildings construction in the 1800s, we learn of the terrible things that reside within Hope House, and the reasons for the history of murder, suicide and insanity for the previous owners of the house.
As Steve and Melody delve ever deeper, they are plagued not only the malevolent forces that reside within the house, but also the very real attention of the increasingly unstable realtor Donovan, who has horrific secrets of his own that he will go to any lengths to keep a secret.
Michael Bray is a Horror author based in Leeds, England. Influenced from an early age by the suspense horror of authors such as Stephen King, and the trashy pulp TV shows like Tales From The Crypt & The Twilight Zone, he started to work on his own fiction, and spent many years developing his style. After completing his debut novel in May 2012, he signed a deal with the highly reputable Dark Hall Press to print and distribute the book, which was released in September 2012.
A brand new anthology titled FUNHOUSE is scheduled for a 2013 release.