Short, Sharp Interview: Gareth Spark

sparky1PDB: What the hell is Where The Horses Died?

GS: “Where The Horses Died” is a country noir novella of around 50K words I have been working on for a few months. It’s about a feud between two families, the Staffords and the Cliffords, that has spanned generations and reaches its climax when Jackson Stafford is released from prison, terminally ill and aching for revenge. Events escalate ans others, including a young lawman, are drawn into the bloodshed. It’s about revenge, the furies, old testament morality, forgiveness and corruption.

The title refers to the incident that started the bad blood, and I like the horse as symbol for a vanished world and a kind of innocence too. I’m 80% done with it, then I’ll see if there are any takers for a brutal, symbolist murder ballad of a tale.

PDB: How long have you been writing noir fiction?

GS: I’ve written fiction you could term noir, for a long time, I guess. There’s always been something about human frailty that’s attracted me. The rise and fall of a tragedy is something I’ve found more profound and poetic than any other mode, and the femme fatale has always owned a piece of my heart, in fiction and, unfortunately, life. It’s taken years to find a voice I could call my own, but I like to think I’m getting to a point where I can tell the stories I want to in my own way.

PDB: Your writing in very cinematic, which films float your boat?

GS: The movies I love are, as you can guess, the ones that chime best with my aesthetic. So, you have Eastwood’s Unforgiven and Josey Wales; Miller’s Crossing, The Third Man, Chinatown (if only for that killer ending); Indian Runner; No Country For Old Men and Lawless. Amores Perros and Casablanca are films I return to over and over, Casablanca above all.

PDB: Is the north of England a good place for a writer of dark fiction to live?

GS: The north of England is an excellent place for a writer of dark fiction to live: with its discarded pit villages, industrial wastelands, economic hardships and decaying social structures, an abandoned working class and rising crime rates, it’s a close approximation of some of the bleaker American literary landscapes. In the relative affluence of the south, the rural hinterland has become a refuge for metropolitan escapees and city commuters. A village down there can be lousy with money, WI jam-making contests, and all the things the average bloke pictures when you say ‘English countryside’. I’m interested in what they don’t picture. Plus, in Whitby, we have such a great history of the chthonic and gothic strains of English culture, from houses built on the site of a Viking massacre, to medieval revenants stalking the cobbled streets, to Dracula and Lewis Carroll and Arthur Machen, even through to the Goth weekends, that the atmosphere tends to dilute anything but the darker side of the national character. Whitby is Mecca for the night-side of the imagination, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2013?

GS: I’m working on the novella, naturally, and am 60K words into a novel called Fosse Grim, that draws more from the ‘Horror’ side of the ol’ imagination. I’d call it a Supernoirtural novel if Ian Rogers hadn’t already coined the term. There are a few stories on the go, but mainly it’s getting the longer form stuff done at the moment. Also, there’s my Spanish set crime thriller, The Devil’s Waiting, due out from  Zetabella Press, but that might not be until the New Year.

 PDB: Where can people find out more about your writing?

GS: There are links to a ton of my work over at garethspark.blogspot.com, an excerpt from the novella over at http://katharinehepcat.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/guest-fiction-gareth-spark/ and a handful of my stories over at the excellent Near to the Knuckle, a site everyone seriously interested in Brit Grit should check out…http://www.close2thebone.co.uk/wp/?cat=107