I was born in a “dormitory town” called Reading, not famous for much, apart from a huge Rock festival, and for the fact that Oscar Wilde was sent to prison there and wrote “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” there. My family then moved to a farm in the country, in Sussex, not too far from London. I was sent aged eight, to a boarding school, so I would spend long periods away from my family. Imagine having regular prison sentences, imposed upon you, as a child. At some of the schools I attended, there were psychotic teachers and cruel nasty children. I used to count the days when I could be reunited with my family. I became a recluse in the art room and painting was my salvation. I had a teacher who encouraged me to paint and introduced me to various artists, including Kandinsky. I went from austere harsh boarding schools to Art College, a very different environment. Like most people I am a complicated mixture of idiosyncrasies. I can be intense, but at the same time very laid back. I have a steely determination that comes from my mother. I feel maybe I am an outsider trying to fit in and yet I am very anti-establishment. I want to be respected, my work to be liked or even admired, but I don’t receive praise well and feel uncomfortable with it. Some people might say I should see a psychiatrist, but at the same time, I can be very inwardly-calm and rational.
My book grew from building up a body of short stories, similar to my contributions in Rat Mort. I also had short stories in a magazine called “Freakwave” as well having short stories published on the internet. I was lucky enough to find a publisher who was prepared to put a whole lot of them together. To some extent my stories are indirectly autobiographical, as I explained my life has not been a smooth journey, with many setbacks along the way. I don’t think I consciously draw a line between real events and the fiction I write. I doubtlessly draw from my experiences, good or bad. The title seemed express an important element in the stories. They are about fate and misfortune and are often like a journey.
How would you define your writing style and the genre of your work?
I write dark fiction…I would not say horror…there are a few terrible events in my stories…in my first story “Arrival” a man slithers out of another man, like in the film “Alien” and then grows into a full sized mzn… It is a bit quirky… as well as being surreal…I would also like to think it is in the style of Edgar Alan Poe, but also contains wit and wisdom. My short stories were influenced by Roald Dahl’s book “Kiss Kiss” in that I try to include a twist at the end of each tale.
You designed the front cover of the book. It is black and white with the exception of the red frame and a sprig of green ivy. What does the ivy represent?
I am not exactly sure why I chose ivy, perhaps because it spreads everywhere and immerses things and has a connection with aging and decay.
I write about outsiders, freaks, oddballs, the oppressed of this world, the cruelty and injustices of this world, as well as those responsible for such situations, the oppressors. I am championing the under-dogs of this world. I want readers maybe to reconsider the world they live in and how they view things. My stories I would say are very “British” in character and are anti-establishment. I dislike the arrogance of the upper-classes…the “hunting” “fishing” types. You should read my story “Bugeyes” to have an example of this.
It is good for every author to have a mentor or mentors. Who do you consider to be your mentor(s) and why?
It has got to be a positive thing. I got some great advice from Alan Clark, who put together Rat Mort. You can always choose to accept or disregard advice.
What advice would you give to writers who are struggling to get their first book published?
Stick at it, don’t fall by the wayside. Find a niche, find a formula that works for you. I met a woman who is an aspiring writer, who told me of the heartbreaks of her rejections. Maybe some people aim too high or have high expectations. If you post stories on the internet, there are sites I have come across like ReadWave and Scriggler, maybe you can get useful feedback, people actually get to read your stories, rather than languishing on a hard drive doing nothing. Even if 50 people read your story, it’s a start.
Where can readers purchase a copy of Flight of Destiny?
If reader would like to follow you on Social Media, how would they find you?
Back cover of Flight of Destiny
Thank You Francis H. Powell for taking the time to visit with me today! (www.cynharris.com)