Meet Etopia Press Author - Steve Emmett

Today sees the release of Diavolino, written by fellow Etopia Press author - Steve Emmett. As we share a liking for the horror genre, I've invited him on to my blog to talk about the novels he enjoys reading.

It seems rather appropriate to be Julia’s guest on the very day that my own novel is released. I first met Julia when Diavolino was in its early stages and I feel that we’ve come a long way together. One thing I enjoy is swapping notes on books we are reading. As we both write horror, it’s not surprising that we often find we’re reading the same things. That doesn’t mean we have the same reaction to them, of course!

My earliest influences were the adventure horrors of Dennis Wheatley. The first I read was The Haunting of Toby Jugg, a tale of good versus evil where Satan is on the side of Communism and God stands with good old Britain. Like all Wheatley’s novels, it’s dated now. I read somewhere that Wheatley is ‘virtually unreadable’ but I disagree entirely. He wrote in a different time. What I like about his work is the big story; adventure, dashing heroes, romantic settings all tied up with evil. That is something that I look for in a story. Simple slasher tales do little for me and, sadly, they seem to abound.

Old as they are, the ghost stories of M R James can still send a tingle down the spine. I guess the proof is the recent showing of Whistle and I’ll Come to You on British TV last Christmas. It was a new production in which actor John Hurt is scared to death. Literally. I think Julia’s short story, Dreaming Not Sleeping, is from the same pedigree.

Before I move on to contemporary writers, I have to mention the master of the art, Clive Barker, who was rocketed to fame in 1984/5 by his Books of Blood. Barker’s work puts ordinary people into extraordinary and terrifying circumstances; he was perhaps the first in the genre to widen the usual narrow themes, showing that a horror story can even be humorous. The Damnation Game is, for me, one if his finest. Since Barker, I’ve found it hard to find satisfaction, rather like a vampire forced to feed on rats through a shortage of humans.
Stephen King’s The Mist gripped me. So did Carrie, but that again is now an old book. I tried Dean Koontz only to find that his style didn’t suit me at all. To me, it wasn’t horror. So, for a while, I began reading genres that I would otherwise have skipped and discovered the brutal crime thrillers of Stuart MacBride. MacBride’s style cuts right to the point and he has some great opening lines. If you haven’t tried him, Flesh House is a good taster.

I also enjoy good humour, weird humour, and am always on the lookout for a writer who can make me laugh out loud. I found James Hamilton Patterson. Cooking with Fernet Branca had me gasping for air. It’s the tale of an antisocial ghost writer who buys an isolated house above Pisa in the Tuscan hills. His culinary ideas are somewhat bizarre, hence the title, and his recipes are scattered among an even more bizarre series of events. He completed the trilogy with Amazing Disgrace and Rancid Pansies.

But I keep coming back to horror and I very recently stumbled on a novella called Vampire Vow by a little-known author, Michael Schiefelbein. It may have languished on Amazon as it’s a gay vampire story but I wouldn’t let that put you off. His writing is crisp and efficient, his imagery so clear you feel as if you’ve been there. Except - you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the terror he has devised.

Many thanks to Steve for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit my blog today!

To find out more about Steve Emmett, visit his website:

Diavolino is available from Etopia Press

To enter a competition to win a poster of the Diavolino cover art, visit Steve's blog:

Harder, better, faster, stronger...

I am supposed to be editing my WIP which at the moment is, quite frankly, an uphill struggle. My mind keeps drifting to short story ideas that are bouncing around in my head... and I've realised the way I write is changing.

Life, of late, has become pretty hectic. It's harder for me to find unbroken chunks of time to concentrate. Where I used to be able to just focus on my writing, I now have to switch in and out of writing mode.

In the past I have always lived and breathed the stories I was writing until they were finished - the characters staying in my head and talking to me late into the night, inspiring/nagging me to carry on with their lives in the morning... I'm no longer able to do that (although sometimes the characters don't quite understand that and they follow me to work the next day!). As a result I find myself writing more and more short fiction - most of it will never be good enough to see the light of day, but at least I am writing, and some of it (I hope) will develop into something stronger with the aid of some rigorous feedback and editing.

I find the same thing is happening to the way I read. I am reading more short fiction and novellas than I have before. Books have always been my escape from the real world. I would love sitting down with a novel, getting to know the characters and following them on their journey. Now, I find I lack patience - I prefer a faster pace, more drama, more intense writing... and a quick resolution. I thought I was just getting fussy in my old age - putting down novels after only a couple of chapters, sometimes because I've failed to engage with either story or characters but, more often that not, it's because the pace is simply too slow.

Perhaps, if I only have half an hour at the end of the day to spend doing the the things I love, I just want that experience to be as fulfilling as possible?

So now I am trying to apply that thinking to my writing. Perhaps my readers feel the same way as me. I'd like to them to grab them at the start of a story and not let go until the end. And I think I can do that with short stories.

When I get back to editing my existing novel I shall keep the same thing in mind.
.. if there is only enough time to read a chapter I want that chapter to be as pacy and dramatic as possible.

Now then, back to the dilemma of which short story to write next...evil...or haunting?

Achieving Dreams

My short story - Dreaming, Not Sleeping - was published by Etopia Press this week. I hope this will be the first of a succession of themed stories, with a novel to follow shortly. I have wanted to see my words in print since I was a teenager and now that I am actually reading the story on my Kindle I'm thrilled.

With at least three other short stories waiting in the wings and my novel at the editing stage I think I am going to be kept busy.


I'd like to be able to say I'm starting the new year with a solid, well thought out plan of action, writing wise - but this year I'm not. Experience has shown me that although you can try and plot your path into the future, it's usually the suprise moments that propel you forward - sometimes faster than you would like, sometimes making you bounce off a few obstacles on the way and sometimes hurling you straight into a brick wall. So, this year I'm going to write when I can, keep my mind open, dream a little, and just wait and see...

I may start the year by thinking a little about how I got to this point and I'll also be talking to some of the people who have helped and inspired me along the way.

I actually got to grips with one of my writing friends,Steve Emmett, last year, shortly after he signed the contract for his novel, Diavolino, to be published by Etopia Press.

You can find the interview at

Embracing the Dark Side

After finally deciding to write what is inside me, rather than what I have been expected write - I am thrilled to be able to say my erotic horror story - Dreaming Not Sleeping - is to be published by Etopia Press in the near future.

Keep watching this space...