Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
Please welcome Richard E Rock, author of Deep Level, here today. He has kindly answered my questions and allowed me to share his responses with you and that’s what I’m about to do. Read on to find out more about him and this book and discover if, like me, you’ll be tempted to read it, too!
Where did you get the inspiration for the book/series?
From a nightmare. All my writing now is inspired by nightmares and anxiety dreams. Once it occurred to me that I could turn them into stories, I started deliberately inducing them. Now I always keep a notepad handy at the side of the bed.
In the nightmare that inspired Deep Level, I was being chased through a maze of dark tunnels by a silent, driverless Victorian engine that produced no steam. In another part of the dream I remember seeing a humanoid figure with elongated limbs like a spider and glowing eyes. If I let it get too close to me cobwebs would form over my eyes and I would feel my life-force ebbing away. It was both eerie and terrifying. When I awoke from it my first thought was, “Wow! That was incredible! I gotta write that down!”
I first turned the dream into a short story, but as soon as I finished it I knew I could make it work as a novel, and Deep Level was born.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is quite chaotic. I’ll start writing down ideas, scenes and character traits as they come, trying to put them into some sort of order until a narrative evolves. Eventually, something will click and I’ll know what the story is, how it can work, how it’s going to end and so on. Basically, the book will present itself to me. That’s when I start moulding all my disparate ideas into shape. It’s rather like sculpture, really.
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
Both. When the ideas are flowing I’ll jot them down on whatever happens to be handy before typing them up later. I usually end up with a notepad full of random scribblings including bits of dialogue, ideas for scenes, character building stuff and all sorts of other bits and bobs. As I said, it’s pretty chaotic at the start.
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
My favourite character in Deep Level is Rosalind Brown. She was only ever meant to be a supporting character, but she just kind of took over and ended up becoming the heart and soul of the book.
She’s an unusual choice for the hero of a horror novel, I’ll admit. She’s a fifty-something archivist, happily married with two grown up children away in university. She came to London from Sierra Leone as a young girl and soon found her musical tribe on the ska scene. Basically, she’s a rude girl made good.
When I’m devising a sympathetic character, I always ask myself one question: “Would I hang out with this person?” In Rosalind’s case, that would be a big fat YES. I would definitely hang out with her. She’s the character towards whom all the others gravitate. When there’s a decision to be made, they turn to her. When there’s a question hanging in the air, she’s the one they ask.
My goal was to make we as readers fall in love with Rosalind and her friends and come to enjoy their company, so that when they’re thrust into a horrifying situation later in the book, we would experience that terror through them.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
There are four principal characters in Deep Level, only one of whom being male, so by default it would have to be Rich. He’s the one who sets the story in motion, the one who discovers the existence of a secret Victorian underground train system. He’s a frustrated bookseller who dreams of escaping his humdrum life by going viral as an urban explorer. To achieve this he recruits three friends to explore the tunnels while he follows them around with a video camera. However, they soon discover that some things are kept secret for a reason!
I have actually worked as a bookseller in my distant past, so I could sympathise with Rich.
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
I always find that when I start developing the characters in a book, their names will suggest themselves eventually. I never choose them. The four principal characters in Deep Level are Rosalind, Syeeda, Ffion and Rich. I will point out here that any similarity between the character of Rich and myself is completely coincidental! I actually wrote Deep Level long before I ever decided on my pen name (or immortal name, as I call it) of Richard E. Rock.
Why should people read Deep Level?
I like to think of Deep Level as a horror novel for people who don’t necessarily read horror novels. First and foremost, it’s a book about four friends – people just like you and I. The only difference is they find themselves in a situation the rest of us would rather avoid. It’s scary and it’s fun and the feedback I’ve had so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Check out the reviews on Amazon.
Thank you for answering my questions. You have me intrigued now . . . maybe I should have read and reviewed it – I definitely need to do so in future!
When Rich stumbles upon a secret Victorian underground network, he sees not only a great historical discovery, but also a way out of his humdrum life. He convinces three of his friends to join him, and together they venture deep into the maze of tunnels beneath London’s bustling streets.
A rude girl made good. An aspiring writer. A cinema usher from Wales. A bookseller who dreams of being an urban explorer. Four friends trapped together in one nightmarish situation as they realise some things are kept secret for a reason.
Will any of them manage to escape the horror that lurks in the DEEP LEVEL?
By day, Richard E. Rock works as a commercial scriptwriter for radio and contributes ideas to Viz Comic. But by night…he writes horror.
He was inspired to do this after experiencing a series of particularly ferocious nightmares. After waking up and realising he could turn these into utterly horrible stories, he started deliberately inducing them.
Based in Wales, he lives with his girlfriend and their cat. If you’re looking for him, you’ll probably find him wedged up against the barrier at a heavy metal gig, for that is his natural habitat.
Facebook: Richard E. Rock – horror writer