Guest-blog: WILLIAM MEIKLE

Today’s guest-blogger is a Scottish writer with numerous novels published in the genre press and short story credits in thirteen countries. He is the author of the ongoing Midnight Eye series among others, and his work appears in a number of professional anthologies. He now lives in a remote corner of Newfoundland with icebergs, whales and bald eagles for company. His latest book, The Haunting of Esther Cox, is out now. Here, William talks about what prompted him to start writing.

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Why?

I’ve been asked many times why I write what I do. I choose to write mainly at the pulpy end of the market, populating my stories with monsters, myths, men who like a drink and a smoke, and more monsters. People who like this sort of thing like it.

I’ve also been criticised for it by people who don’t get it. Willie Meikle is…”the author of the most cliched, derivative drivel imaginable…the critical acclaim he receives from his peers is virtually non-existent.” is only one of the responses I’ve had.

Now, I don’t write for the critical acclaim of my peers. I couldn’t give a toss what other writers think of me. I’m writing for two reasons… myself and a readership. Posterity, if there is one, can decide on whether it’s any good or not. Besides, the harder I work at it making my writing accessible, the more readers I get, so I’m doing something right.

But that’s still not why I do it. My pat answer has always been the same. “I like monsters.”

But it goes deeper than that.

I write to escape.

I grew up on a West of Scotland council estate in a town where you were either unemployed or working in the steelworks, and sometimes both. Many of the townspeople led hard, miserable lifes of quiet, and sometimes not so quiet desperation. I was relatively lucky in that both my parents worked, but they were both on shifts that rarely coincided, and I spent a lot of time alone or at my grandparent’s house.

My Granddad was housebound, and a voracious reader of popular paperbacks of the time. I got the habit from him, and through him I discovered the Pan Books of Horror and Lovecraft, but I also discovered westerns, science fiction, war novels and the likes of Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, Alistair MacLean, Dennis Wheatley, Nigel Tranter, Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov. When you mix all that together with DC Comics, Tarzan, Gerry Anderson and Dr Who, then, later on, Hammer and Universal movies on the BBC, you can see how the pulp became embedded in my psyche.

When I was at school these books and my guitar were all that kept me sane in a town that was going downhill fast. The steelworks shut and employment got worse. I could have started writing about that, but why bother? All I had to do was walk outside and I’d get it slapped in my face. That horror was all too real.

When I first took up my pen and wrote it was song lyrics, designed (mostly unsuccessfully) to get me closer to girls. I tried my hand at a few short stories but had no confidence in them and hid them away.

And that was that for many years.

I didn’t get the urge again until I was past thirty and trapped in a very boring job. My home town had continued to stagnate and, unless I wanted to spend my whole life drinking (something I was actively considering at the time), returning there wasn’t an option.

As I said before, I write to escape.

My brain needed something, and writing gave it what was required. That point, back nearly twenty years ago, was like switching on an engine, one that has been running steadily ever since.

And most of the time, the things that engine chooses to give me to write are very pulpy.

I think you have to have grown up with pulp to get it. A lot of writers have been told that pulp=bad plotting and that you have to have deep psychological insight in your work for it to be valid. They’ve also been told that pulp=bad writing, and they believe it. Whereas I remember the joy I got from early Moorcock, from Mickey Spillane and further back, A E Merritt and H Rider Haggard. I’d love to have a chance to write a Tarzan, John Carter, Allan Quartermain, Mike Hammer or Conan novel, whereas a lot of writers I know would sniff and turn their noses up at the very thought of it.

I write to escape.

I haven’t managed it yet, but I’m working on it.

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Many thanks to William for taking a moment to write this!! His website can be found here.

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3 Responses to “Guest-blog: WILLIAM MEIKLE”

  1. I used to look through my dad’s bookcase when he was out and read his Mickey Spillane books and when I eventually discovered The Warlord of Mars I decided that I would write one day.

    Interesting blog Willie!

  2. Paul Bradshaw Says:

    It’s not fair, my dad didn’t have any books! Nice piece, thanks.

  3. My dad had lots of books… a whole atticful in fact… iit’s just that most of them weren’t very interesting to a young and extremely curious lad…. there were more than a few though that were…. sci-fi, Tolkien and historical non-fiction… those got the ball rolling…

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