Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Could you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I reside in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, in the UK, the location of the world’s longest and unluckiest pleasure pier, where I have run the Atlantean Publishing small press for the last two decades.
Who are some writers that inspire you?
Most pertinently to this anthology, Robert W. Chambers, whose The King in Yellow is what gave me the inspiration for Camille Castaigne’s name and to set her adventures during the Prussian siege of Paris. HP Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Michael Moorcock have also been sources of inspiration.
What have you written?
Lots and lots of short stories and poems, mainly! I’ve had a couple of novellas published, and have some unpublished novels and novellas, but most of my published output has been short fiction and verse.
There are six other published Camille Castaigne stories out there, for a start. My novella, The Yellow House, inspired by Chambers’ Yellow Mythos, is available to order on Amazon and I’ve released a number of chapbooks of poetry and short fiction through Atlantean Publishing. The rest of my work I available in anthologies, magazines, ezines and webzines, links to all of which can be found on my website (see below).
Recent free-to-read online stories can be found at http://www.thesunlightpress.com/2018/05/03/a-gloriously-sunny-day/ , https://horrortree.com/trembling-with-fear-03-11-2018/ , and https://www.spacesquid.com/romantic-scifi/
Give us some insight into your story for the DeadSteam anthology.
Silent Night is set during the Prussian siege of Paris in an alternative timeline in which the supernatural and advanced (for the 19th-century) technology exist side-by-side. Camille Castaigne is an agent of the Emperor trapped within the city and tasked with hunting down those threats endangering it from within – especially those that the mundane authorities are ill-equipped to deal with. Like her master, Napoleon III, she represents an odd mixture of the reactionary and revolutionary at a time when Europe was at a crossroads – a situation exacerbated in this timeline by the headier mix of science and the supernatural that exists.
What are you working on at the moment? What’s it about?
Aside from the usual mix of story and poems to submit the anthologies and magazines, there are three specific projects that I’m working on at the moment. Two involve the Yellow Mythos (which is one of my great passions!) – a novella and a sequence of poems inspired by Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil. The third is a new volume in the Buxton University Press series of fictional non-fiction booklets and is called The Mar Behnam Codices and relates to the Cthulhu Mythos; it should be out later this year.
What genre do you write in, mainly? Are you new to the dreadpunk or steampunk genre, or have you written in the genre before?
I’m one of those awkward people who doesn’t like to be constrained by genre – for example, a lot of my writing has involved the Yellow Mythos, but individual stories and poems could be classified as horror, fantasy, science fiction, surreal, romance, etc. But, I do tend to produce a lot of work that falls within the generally vicinity of Horror or Weird Fiction and am probably best known as a writer of horror fiction, although I’ve had published work in numerous other genres – and those who don’t read genre fiction who are aware of me probably know me as a poet.
Although I wouldn’t have used the term ‘dreadpunk’, several of my stories (including some of the other stories featuring Camille Castaigne, which are all broadly steampunk) fall into the genre. It’s a return to the sort of Victorian weird fiction I love.
What compelled you to write or submit a story to this particular anthology?
I think the main thing that made DeadSteam interesting to submit to was that it introduced me to the attempts to codify dreadpunk – that made it stand out as more than ‘just another anthology’. There are always lots of submission calls, but only a few really catch the imagination, and this was one.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors? Do you enjoy reading the classics or do you tend to read more contemporary writers? What book/s are you reading at present?
I’ve always got multiple books and magazines on the go, seldom novels, as my life is too busy and chaotic, but a mix of non-fiction, short stories and poetry. For enjoyment and research or inspiration, I do favour the classics over more contemporary writers, but as a small press editor and reviewer I do get to see a lot of current writing.
At the moment, I’m reading a lot of poetry – Baudelaire, Clark Ashton Smith, British Decadents – and books about conlanging.
I have something of obsession with RW Chambers and the Brontes and read their work regularly. I also tend to revisit Lovecraft regularly. Tolkien, mainly his lesser-known work, is another favourite, as is Moorcock’s fantasy fiction and The Darksword Trilogy by Weis and Hickman.
Where do your ideas come from?
Anywhere and everywhere! The serendipity of two pieces of fiction resonating together to suggest something new, a what if? left unanswered by an author, an interesting word, a conversation overheard, history, folklore… The difficulty isn’t so much having an idea as finding the right idea to use – whether in terms of fitting with a call to submissions or being able to sustain a story – and avoiding rehashing things that have been done to death before.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
It depends on the story. In the past I almost always grabbed an idea and ran with it and hoped it would go somewhere good. I still do that sometimes, but I’m more likely to plan, at least in broad-strokes, than I was, mainly because I have so many projects on the go I don’t have the luxury of meandering about where the muse takes me. Sometimes you have to take the muse in hand.
If your story is part of a series, could you tell us a little about the series?
My original idea for Camille Castaigne was for a novel or novella set following the liberation of Paris, which remains to be written, but may one day appear. The majority of stories so far have taken place during the siege of Paris (with one set before) and I would like to complete a series running through the siege from beginning to end with an eye to eventually publishing them as a collection. I also have an idea for a novella set just before the siege in which she seeks to save the Emperor from the Prussians and there is plenty of potential for further stories set both earlier and later, if there is interest.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Definitely physical books. I spend so long staring at a screen working that it’s the last thing I want to do when I relax! Which is a shame as there are a lot of excellent ebooks out there. After busting my arm a few years ago, I can only handle paperbacks and smaller hardbacks, meaning a lot of fascinating reference books are largely off limits to me now – the internet can pick up the slack for locating specific facts, but doesn’t take their place for entertaining reading.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/DJ-Tyrer/e/B00IMFT092
Amazon Author Page (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk/DJ-Tyrer/e/B00IMFT092
Book Links: The Yellow House