Hi. I’m Rhydderch Wilson, the mortal counterpart of the immortal horror author Richard E. Rock. I was born in Newcastle in January 1971. By complete coincidence, Richard was born on the same day, in the same place and to the same parents. Incredible.
We are both writers. By day, I work as a commercial scriptwriter in the radio biz and contribute ideas to Viz Comic. By night, Richard writes about the dark side. His debut horror novel DEEP LEVEL was published last year by Darkstroke Books.
Rhydderch: So, when did your writing career officially begin?
Richard: Officially, in 2002 when I landed my scriptwriting job in the local commercial radio station.
Rhydderch: Did you have any experience as a scriptwriter prior to that?
Richard: No. When I applied for the position I started paying close attention to the ads on the radio and I sussed out that there was a kind of language to them. Once I’d realised this, I thought, “I can do this!” In the interview I was given a genuine brief to work on. The script I came up with ended up actually being used, so they had to give me the job.
Rhydderch: Were you a keen reader as a child?
Richard: Yes. I was brought up in a house full of books and music and art. I come from a very creative background. My mother is also a published author.
Rhydderch: And what did you read when you were a kid?
Richard: I started off on comics, like most kids. In my day it was The Beano, Whizzer & Chips and so on. Then it was war comics and Marvel superheroes. I was six years old when the original Star Wars came out and the day I saw it was the day my imagination was born. I started devouring sci-fi books after that.
Rhydderch: And now?
Richard: Now I cast my net pretty wide. My favourite authors include Dylan Thomas, Stephen king, Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Zadie Smith. I’ve been going through a bit of a Russian prison literature phase lately, so I’ve been reading Georgi Vladimov and Alexander Solhzenitsyn.
Rhydderch: What led to you writing horror?
Richard: I’m plagued my nightmares and anxiety dreams. After a particularly ferocious nightmare one night I woke up and thought, “Wow! That was amazing!” So I wrote the whole thing down before it had a chance to fade away, as dreams so often do. That nightmare formed the basis of DEEP LEVEL.
Rhydderch: So what’s DEEP LEVEL actually about?
Richard: It’s about four friends who discover a secret underground Vicrotian train network. They take it upon themselves to explore it and soon realise that some things are secret for a reason. It was inspired by a nightmare in which I was being pursued through dark tunnels by a silent, steamless, driverless Victorian steam engine. It was horrific. In another dream, I was being stalked by a demonic entity. If I let it get too close cobwebs would form over my eyes and I’d feel my life-force ebbing away.
Rhydderch: Is it strictly a book for horror fans?
Richard: Not at all. I’d like to think that it’s a horror novel for people who don’t necessarily read horror novels. When I was working on it, my number one concern was the characters. I put a lot of effort into them. I knew that if I could make the readers fall in love with the characters, they’d experience the horror through them. The reviews I’ve received so far have been overwhelmingly positive, so I think I succeeded.
Rhydderch: And what are you working on now?
Richard: My work in progress is a sci-fi horror about two shipwrecked refugees who wash up on a mysterious east African island where incredible experiments have been taking place. The only person who can save them is a lowly spaceport employee half a world away in the US. I’m currently at the editing stage.
Rhydderch: And what does the future hold?
Richard: I’m working on a trilogy of Victorian horror novels, the first one being a vampire story. I’ve also started making notes for a fantasy story for younger readers. They were all inspired by dreams.
Rhydderch: Why did you choose Richard E. Rock as your pen name?
Richard: As my immortal name, you mean? Well, as it came to me in a dream, you could say that it chose me. I was never going to publish under my mortal name of Rhydderch Wilson as it’s so difficult to spell. Richard E. Rock sounds like a horror author. Rhydderch just sounds like someone clearing their throat.
Rhydderch: What does the E stand for?
Richard: The dream didn’t fill in that particular piece of info, so it’s doesn’t stand for anything.
Rhydderch: Finally, if you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
Richard: Three things. One. If you know what you want to do when you grow up, concentrate on that one thing. If you don’t know, that’s okay. You’ve got plenty of time to figure it out. Two. If you want to be a writer, surround yourself with other writers. I really do believe that creativity begets creativity. And three, persevere. You WILL suffer setbacks. Everyone does. You just have to pick yourself up and soldier on. The ones who make it are the ones who didn’t quit.
Rhydderch: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today.
Richard: No problem at all. I’m used to it.
DEEP LEVEL is available now from Amazon in ebook and paperback formats.