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Continuing on with editor, Dean M. Drinkel's series of interviews with the authors of Christmas anthology, 12 Dark Days: One Hell Of A Christmas:
For the Eighth Day of Christmas, Heide and Iain really conjured up something special – this story I really enjoyed because it appealed to my sense of humour. Quite a lot of “12 Dark Days: One Hell Of A Christmas” (published by Alex Johnson’s Nocturnicorn Books and supported by John Gilbert / FEAR) is by its very nature, dark – so there is some light relief in this bovine tale…I asked all contributors to the anthology a series of questions, here are Heide’s and Iain’s answers:
Author Name: Heide Goody and Iain Grant
Story Title: Eight Maids A Milking
Q: What inspired you to write this particular story? Did you do any research?
H&I: When there’s two of us writing, it’s hard to know where ideas come from. Heide was the one who thought ‘eight maids a-milking’ would be the ideal day to go for. And then Iain came up with the camping concept. And then…gosh, somewhere along the line there appeared a vengeful cow god and a whole lot of bloody murder. At least when we’re co-writing something we can blame each other for all the mad, crazy, sick and violent stuff.
Q: Are you friends with other writers and do they help you become a better writer?
H&I: We’re both friends with lots of writers. It seems like a very natural group of people to spend time with. Only another writer would understand your internet search history, or not question why you want to know who would win in a fight between a dingo and a python, what the most profane swear is in Dutch or how best to dispose of a body. Those ARE the kinds of important questions you need answering and you don’t have to explain to other writers why you need to ask them.
Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
H&I: Um, go self-publish on Kindle right now. It’s the wave of the future, my son (Yes, turns out my younger self is my own son. One of those horrific time-loop things. I’d rather not talk about it). Oh, and you can’t proof-read your own work, Iain. You really really can’t. Pay someone else to do it.
Q: Describe your typical Christmas Day.
Iain: I think Christmas day is, for many people, a time for silly little traditions. In our house, breakfast is kippers and champagne. I don’t know why. It just is. And then it’s present opening time. We are one of those families where we have to watch each individual person unwrapping their present. Simultaneous present-opening is forbidden. The day then degenerates in a series of blurs that may or may not feature chocolate, overcooked poultry, crackers, the Dr Who Christmas special and sleep. At some point someone will definitely suggest a bracing walk. It’s not very clear what bracing will do for us or what it will brace us against.
Q: As a writer, what would you choose as your emjoi / avatar / tv (or film character) / spirit animal?
Heide: I love clever dog characters. It’s probably because I would really like to have one myself, so I’m going to say that it’s my spirit animal. It’s now turned into a minor admonishment every time we start a project. Iain insists we can’t have any more clever dogs. He has recognized that I will disguise it as a wolf / robot dog / shapeshifter or anything else I might get away with. They are all banned.
Q: Do you base your characters on real people and if so, have they noticed?
H&I: It can be a delightful indulgence to base a character on a real person. If we’ve both met the person it’s like an in-joke, or sometimes if people treat you badly, it’s nice to expose their annoying foibles to the reading public…in terms of people noticing, it’s actually the other way around. Someone I know insists that I must have put him in a novel. I tell him no, I really haven’t. He is crestfallen to hear this. Surely I have? Surely? For the record, we’ve only ever once definitively put a real-life person in one of our books. During our one attempt to get to the Welsh island of Bardsey (home to a fictional bunch of monks in the books Hellzapoppin’) we were given accommodation and were grandly entertained by a grey-haired German who we instantly agreed must be the basis for the prior of St Cadfan’s, Brother Manfred. Those melon-ball recipes that occasionally feature in our books were all based on a genuine and startling breakfast that our German host served us.
Q: How did you select the names for your characters?
H&I: Sometimes we ask for volunteers. The most volunteered-for role was that of a witch. We asked on a Facebook book group and we could have written a dozen witch novels with the number of names that were donated. It’s important to have names that are very distinct from each other, and that was something we were acutely aware of in Eight Maids a-Milking as there are a lot of characters for such a short story.
Q: What do you think is literary success?
H&I: It’s always the next thing, isn’t it? I believe that anyone who manages to write a novel deserves a gold medal anyway. But after that? Is it publication? Is it books sales? Is it having your book bought up by a Hollywood production company? Whatever milestone we reach, we’re always looking for the next one. Last week, someone shared with us a piece of fan fiction based on our Clovenhoof books, which was a first for us. THAT felt like literary success.
Q: What is the best way to market your books?
H&I: We are very fond of entertaining our readers. We have engaged in many ill-advised activities because we thought it might make people smile. Here are some examples:
Taking fun photos of a fake tentacle emerging from the canal
Being writers in residence of a phone box
Documenting the antics of an oddly satanic baby doll
We know that these things won’t sell books, but we enjoyed ourselves enormously, and people do remember us…
Q: Favourite Christmas movie you could watch over and over again.
Iain: It’s got to be one of the Christmas Carol adaptations. I have a huge soft spot for the musical Scrooge, starring Albert Finney, and the Muppet’s Christmas Carol. The best festive movies are ones where people are miserable and heartbroken for most of it (throw in a schmaltzy and mawkish song and I’m in Heaven). I love The Snowman too. It’s got an over-sentimental song and then the protagonist dies. Musical misery with zero redemption. That’s the perfect Christmas story for me.
Q: Do you hide secrets in your stories that only those in the know will find?
Iain: Absolutely. I write secrets into our books that even my co-writer doesn’t know about. Excruciating puns. In Beelzebelle, Clovenhoof gets a monkey helper. A psychotic monkey. I called him Gorky purely because to make a pun on the Welsh indie rock bank, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. There’s a character in the next novel we’re going to publish whose name is an absolutely appalling pun. It won’t even pay off as a joke until the sequel (if we write one).
Q: What is your favourite ever thing about Christmas?
H&I: The anticipation. The lead up is better than the resolution. I was shocked as a child to realise that the twelve days of Christmas START on Christmas day. It made far more sense to me that they were the twelve days leading up to Christmas. These days, Christmas starts around mid-November but definitely stops lunchtime on Boxing Day when everyone discovers that it’s going to be turkey leftovers every meal for the next week.
To read all the amazing stories in the anthology, please follow the UK Link:
A writer - I think that says it all.