Interview with Sebastian Gregory, author of The Boy in the Cemetery

I'd like to say a VERY HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY to the incredible Sebastian Gregory. The Boy in the Cemetery is published today by Carina UK, and if you're looking for something weird and unusual to give you a few shivers up the spine, then this is perfect. Also, to celebrate the big day, I'm sharing my interview with the author himself. I was dying to have my questions answered by Sebastian, and thankfully, he obliged. 

~ Interview with Sebastian Gregory ~


 


B - Hi, Sebastian! Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you on Becca's Books. After reading The Boy in the Cemetery, I've been dying to ask you some questions. Your book was completely fascinating in a weird, sort-of gross way, and I would love to have a peek inside of your head to see what's going on in your imagination! Why don't you introduce yourself? 

S - Hello, I am Sebastian Gregory, I live in Manchester England and I write dark nonsense such as The Gruesome Adventures of Alice in Undeadland, The Asylum for Fairy Tale Creatures, and recently The Boy in the Cemetery. I'm also a big fan of this blog. 

B - So, my first question to you Sebastian is all about you as a writer. When would you say you first realised that you could write? Is writing something that you've always done, or did something spark it off? 

S - It was probably when I was at school. I was into drama and theatre; I remember wanting to be a playwright, so my teacher at the time encouraged me to adapt a version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. From that point I was hooked. 

B - Do you have a writing routine? Is there a specific place where you'll go when you're dying to get something written down? How do you plan? 

S - No but I should get one, I'm easily distracted. I used to carry lots of note books... I was a bit obsessed; I couldn't start an idea and use that book again for another idea. Then I would lose interest in what I was doing in the first place. I know other creative people to bounce ideas off - that helps. With technology as it is, I can write on my phone should the mood take me. I wrote parts of my stories while parked in a car on my iPhone. 

B - The Boy in the Cemetery was absolutely brilliant. I loved how you set the scene with the dark and dingy streets, and of course the awful "consumption". Where did your inspiration come from for this book? 

S - I wrote a book of poems and one of them was about a Victorian grave robbing boy who becomes cursed to live and rot forever. I liked the idea of what that would do to a person over time and so I gave the character a more tragic slant and life that would shape him into the creature he became. I love the Victorian setting and the disturbing way they lived. The consumption was rampant at the time and with its name it was almost a character in itself. 

B - Your characters really struck a chord with me. I felt so much sympathy for 'The Boy' and Carrie-Anne. They were both very similar in the way that their lives had not been easy. What made you want to create them this way? 

S - I wanted to make them with a sense of empathy, so even though it's a fantastical situation, they are recognisable as real people. 
With Carrie-Anne there were a few things I needed. She had to be able to accept the strangeness of 'The Boy' and not to be repelled by him. For her, death is not as terrible as her own life is, so the boy is fascinated by her. At the same time the boy had to recognise a lonely, emotionally damaged kindred spirit. Carrie-Anne needed to be inward but not weak. Her experience had not destroyed her, in fact I found her to be quite defiant. She may be forced to act a certain way but her inner monologue is always her own. Likewise the boy could only have a childhood after he died. I also wanted them to be in love in a sense that it was purely based on the fact they are unselfish, where the attraction is not physical. 

B - There was definitely something chilling and creepy about your writing style that I found completely and utterly addictive. It was so unusual and strange, but strange is good! Do you believe in life after death? Have you ever experienced something that you couldn't explain? 

S - I do not believe there is an afterlife where we are basically white suited versions of ourselves now. I do believe in the inner spark that could carry on after our physical forms have finished, as I do believe in a higher power. I think at some point everyone experiences something they cannot explain. Personally I think life would be a little dull if the supernatural was not real in some way. 

B - Your descriptions of 'The Boy' had me cringing, but I still found him completely endearing. Strange, huh? How did you imagine him in your mind? I mean, obviously you could have just created him as a ghost, rather than with pieces of his face missing etc. What were you trying to achieve by making 'The Boy' so gruesome? 

S - I wanted to show that despite his deformity brought on by death, he was only really a child. However I also wanted the reader to make no mistake that as a child he had little boundaries and so was capable of also being dangerous. He's strong and has very little morale compass. It is his love for his mother that stops him being a complete monster. I like ghosts but to me they are terrifying rather than physically dangerous. In a way the boy is like a tiger cub, you can pet him but you may lose a hand! 

B - Carrie-Anne was such a beautiful person, and there were some real serious issues within her life that actually added a sense of unease and discomfort to the story itself. I felt like in 'The Boy' she found someone to relate to, to find comfort in, and it was heart-warming despite the strange circumstances. Was she always meant to make friends with him? Did your plot ever take a different turn to what you had planned? 

S - I always wanted the two to find each other, as both were victims of their upbringing. I think probably what changed more was how much I described Carrie Anne's circumstances. I didn't want to be graphic (this is a young adult story after all.) But I didn't want to shy away from the seriousness of the issues either. I would be worried if people read this book and didn't feel uncomfortable. 

B - You're exceptionally gifted at creating a spooky atmosphere. Are you a fan of Halloween, Seb? 

S - I am a fan of Historical Halloween. I hate the plastic supermarket Halloween. Give me pumpkin patch with buried secrets any day! 

B - Are you a reader as well as a writer? What's your favourite book? Do you take inspiration from any other writers? 

S - I've purposefully avoided reading for the past year as I'm too influenced. You'll be surprised how many Terry Pratchett and Clive Barker stories I've written. I do however read a lot of Poe, especially his poetry. I also like reading spooky articles on the net, like the Winchester House and paranormal investigators The Warrens, abandoned places, that sort of thing. 

B - There was one part, near the end of the story, involving one of Carrie Anne's parents and a basement that had me scrunching up my face in disgust! Do you feel the same when writing gruesome scenes, or are you unaffected by them? 

S - I'm pretty much unaffected by them, not because I'm insensitive, I can't watch medical programmes for example. It's because I'm concentrating on how I can get the reader to scrunch their face. 

B - Seb, what does the future hold for you? Are we going to be seeing more creepy tales? I do hope so. The Boy in the Cemetery was absolutely brilliant, and I'm already dying to read more from you! 

S - Thank you, I'm glad you liked it. I have one more book out in December, "A Christmas Horror Story". It's about a German fairy tale monster Das Kinderfresser (The Child Eater) and three children left alone on Christmas Eve. Then I want to release two longer novels next year. I'm toying with the idea of a faux school report on a haunted orphanage, a kind of Blair Witch Project. And a second book concerning what happened to Edgar Allen Poe in the two weeks he went missing before he was found and died in an asylum. 

B - Wow, that all sounds absolutely AWESOME! Seb, I seriously cannot wait to hear more from you, and that Christmas Horror Story sounds like something I can read to my siblings on Christmas Eve to get them all into bed! ;) 
Thank you so much for taking the time to come on Becca's Books, Seb, it has been an absolute pleasure having you here! 

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You can find Seb on Goodreads & Twitter
The Boy in the Cemetery is available on Amazon UKAmazon US, & Goodreads
You can also find my review of The Boy in the Cemetery by Sebastian Gregory here.



   

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